By Christopher Cudworth
So much of history depends on chance. Recently a man named Omar Gonzalez jumped the White House fence and entered the building. He was armed, but not with guns. The Las Vegas Review–– a media company based in the gambling mecca––carried the story online:
“President Barack Obama and his daughters had just left the White House by helicopter on Friday evening when the Secret Service says 42-year-old Omar J. Gonzalez scaled the fence, darting across the lawn and through the unlocked North Portico doors before officers finally tackled him.”
It’s only speculation to wonder what might have happened had Obama been home to encounter an intruder carrying a knife. Surely the fit and adroit President would not just have stood there and waited for an attack. They must train the President to protect himself in some ways? Yet even if the Secret Service does not provide such training, good old gut instincts would take over for Obama, a man young enough to stay fit playing sports on a regular (but not excessive) basis.
Suppose the intruder had stumbled onto Obama working at his desk. The two might have scuffled and knife or not, Obama likely could have overpowered the man eventually. There might have been blood spilled and shouts, whereupon the Secret Service would finally arrive and the intruder would indeed have been subdued.
If such personal heroics had ensued, what would the reaction of the media have been? We might recall the coverage given to the incident in which George W. Bush reportedly gagged on a chunk of dry pretzel. The President almost succumbed to a salty snack. It made the headlines for sure.
But a President fighting off an intruder by his own power? That would have made major headlines. And had there been video released by the White House that showed the President in action saving his own life, such footage would go viral. Experts would scrutinize its verity. Ultimately someone would accuse the President of wagging the dog, trying to shore up his reputation as a tough guy in the latter stages of his presidency.
The conspiracy theories would have dominated coverage by Fox News especially. Already during Obama’s presidency the news network has demonstrated a major propensity to lead with specious questions about Benghazi and complaints about whether Obama actually deserved any credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden.
It is a unique point in American history when news media wielding the power and scope of Fox News invest so much time and effort digging into such non-stories, and presenting speculation as fact while simultaneously giving so much time and support to people whose ideologies serve as “real news” and “fair and balanced” ideas about issues such as global climate change or teaching religion public school classrooms.
Such topsy turvy “reporting” has created a climate in which it is suitable for even a Supreme Court Justice such as Antonin Scalia to spout the opinion (and it is his own) that the United States Constitution serves the purpose of religion over the rights of all others.
That’s where all this is going, and it has poisoned the flow of reason in public discourse. So much so that had an intruder reached President Obama, and had he fought for himself in the face of Secret Service failures, no one would have believed the event. Not completely.
It may be that the game is played both ways. As a result of so much falseness in the media, there is no doubt that Presidents long ago learned to play the media game to the point where Americans cannot really trust what anyone, not even the President, has to say about anything.
We’ve never gotten the full truth even about the Kennedy assassination back in 1963. Recent releases from the Kennedy library reveal that Jackie Kennedy Onassis believed the then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson had motive to kill her husband and assume the Presidency.
That was Democrat vs. Democrat. Or was it really? Could a man with such bully motives and methods as LBJ truly be grouped with any particular political party? There were so many interests that wanted JFK dead it was truly no one man that did it. The mob or the CIA certainly had their reasons to participate (cooperate?) in such actions.
But that remains speculation until that day the one line of evidence is revealed that points a finger at the exact incident or moment where the motives and actions are revealed.
That’s why Fox News can get away with what it does these days. Because lacking hard evidence that such conspiracies actually do have consequence, and without proof that both liberal and conservative causes have the audacity to ignore reason and law in pursuit of power, the rest of us are left guessing about the truth.
Even our fullest sources of truth such as the Bible are subject to gross speculations and wild interpretations. Some of these are anachronistic in their literalism while others engage in flat-out denials of modern knowledge to the point of insincerity. Yet some 30% of Americans still believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible and millions fall prey to ridiculous theories about the Rapture that the Bible itself clearly debunks as sinful and stupid to abide.
News outlets such as Fox know they can exploit and manipulate such naive and cynical, angry and feckless minds to their own advantage. It has occurred to such a degree that half the Fox audience would have questioned the verity of any report of a President defending himself while the other half might have welcomed a different, less positive outcome.
Have you any doubt this is true, simply visit the websites where Obama-haters regularly reside. Try the Tea Party News Network for starters, whose very headlines contain a leading bias in many cases. Then witness the barely disguised racism in the commentary on those stories, and absorb the hatred for our current President. It would obviously not take much for a person driven by the hatred apparent in such places to take up arms and make a charge for the White House on his or her own.
Ask Gabby Giffords about how anger-driven violence can enter your life, changing it forever. And consider how other politicians fail to act even when challenged again and again by violent forces to legislate change in our nation.
What we can really learn from recent attempts to attack the President is that its hard to believe how far we’ve come from that day in 1963 when the nation and the world stood in shock at news that Kennedy had been assassinated. Those were not more innocent times, we all now know. Instead what we know now is that corrupt influences have become more bold and adept at the lies they are willing to tell and the acts they are willing to perpetrate in order to gain and maintain power.
Sometimes it only takes one man and one “lucky” shot at murder to change history. Abraham Lincoln fell to such a shooter, but it was an uncivil society that gave birth to his motives and the courage to act.
Because it is never just one man and one gun who does the killing. It is all of us, and how we abide by truth or accept something far less as fact. That’s the lesson we have long failed to learn.