By Pastor Jim Jenkins
We have all seen them, the State Department spokesperson, the President's Press Secretary, eyes furtively darting to and fro, measured breaths, contorted facial expressions, trying to keep a straight face while giving anything but a straight answer. Here is a word that you will hear in virtually every newscast: narrative.
It may seem like just so much political verbiage right out of the latest pop culture lexicon, but be advised it is far more dangerous than that. When a politician uses the word narrative, he or she is referring to a process by which wordsmiths and consultants craft a story to change your mind about what you actually saw and heard. They are, in point of fact, inventing a story to suit the purpose of advancing a larger story that will further their particular aims.
Take, for instance, the attack on the US embassy at Benghazi and the murder of our ambassador. There are some incontrovertible facts that have never been explained. Where was the President during the live audio feed of the attack? In the situation room? On Air Force One meeting with military leaders? There has yet been no account of his whereabouts. It is also a fact that the administration was painfully slow in commenting, until they emerged with a narrative that went something like this:
The mob that attacked the embassy on September 11th was enraged by a video that was blasphemous in its depiction of Allah. The President, Secretary of State and U.N Ambassador all held to the narrative and went on all the news shows trying to sell the idea that it was a video that prompted a mob to just suddenly show up with very sophisticated weapons. (Including grenade launchers and maps of the compound!)
Worst of all, for me, was watching Hilary Clinton "comforting" the family members as the caskets of the slain were unloaded at Dover Air Force base by saying, "Don't worry we will find the people who made the video and bring them to justice," all the while knowing that the whole account had been doctored and invented out of thin air by the administration! Who does that sort of thing? Who could keep a straight face while looking in the eyes of a family member standing next to a casket?
I hope that Americans will never forget the look on her face and the defiant tone in her voice as Hilary Clinton shouted to an investigative committee of Congress, "What difference, at this point, does it make?"
Recently a terrible drama unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri. A white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black man. Within 24 hours of that incident a narrative was crafted to drive home the message: holding one's arms high and chanting, "I surrender, don't shoot!"
So lemming-like as to be pathetic, the entire cultural narrative machine ran with it. Professional athletes walked in protest and tweeted with their hands up. Movie stars had photos ops with hands up. The Chaplain of the United States Senate led the Black Caucus on the capitol steps with their hands up. Just one problem: it never happened that way.
The Justice Department's own exhaustive report exonerated the officer involved. The man who was killed never held his hands up or uttered "I surrender, don't shoot." In point of fact, he had just robbed a store, assaulted the officer and tried to get the officer's gun before being shot.
I urge you, if you never saw it, to check out the movie, Wag the Dog. It is Hollywood actually bragging about how effectively they can create a false narrative. Given the current climate of deception, just the other day, I was greatly impressed by the integrity of one reporter. Kudos to the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart, who wrote an editorial admitting that the widespread allegation that Michael Brown was shot with his hands up was based on a lie and acknowledged he was wrong to have helped spread it.
Capehart's headline was simple and to the point: "Hands up, don't shoot was built on a lie." In the lead, he explained how he was initially taken in by the prevailing narrative as it was spread on Twitter the night of the shooting and how he repeated the claims the following Sunday morning while guest-hosting MSNBC's "Up w/Steve Kornacki."
Here is my point. Are we so naive as to believe this is not happening on a daily basis? Reporters and press secretaries actually tell us that they are doing it. Count how many times the word "narrative" occurs in the evening news broadcasts. Perhaps it is time to drop the group think posture and form our own opinions based on facts. Perhaps it is time to hold reporters feet to the fire and find out what really happened.
The stakes are high. We have lost any stature we had in the world community. We have put our law enforcement officers in even graver peril than they were already experiencing. Write letters to the editor, call your congressman, do whatever you can to hold people to the truth and challenge every false narrative. Narrative creation is nothing more than a lie with a fancy name. We would do well to call it what it is.
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