Words and Wars — Why Musk Terrifies the Establishment

Standard

Some of us are old enough to remember the playground taunt, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  That denial of the power of words, of course, was merely to disempower a bully and quite a bit more effective than crying for mommy in most circumstances.

In this age of online censorship and newly invented categories of offense, it is difficult to even claim that words have absolutely no impact on us.  Being called a “racist” or “domestic terrorist” does matter, it can come with serious social consequences and be used as a pretext for punishment of political opponents.  No laughing matter.

We are governed by words.  If we see a red sign emblazoned with the letters S-T-O-P, we tend to comply (at least partially) without much thought.  And, whether you want to comply or not, because of written laws, you’ll end up giving the IRS a significant portion of your income.  Words can and do hurt your wallet, they limit opportunity and shape outcomes.

We are steered, employed by others to their own ends, by use of description, framing and narratives.  For example, whether a deadly conflict is described as being a “military intervention” (Yemen) or as an “invasion” and “aggression” (Ukraine) has little to do with substantive difference and everything to do with how propagandists wish us to perceive the event. 

Context provided, what is or is not reported, changes the moral equation.  

Those who control social media platforms understand the power of words.  They know that awareness is induced through language and that narrative matters.  This is why they have taken such interest in curtailing speech and the dissemination of information.  Even if corrupted by partisanship, many of them likely see this as their responsibility or a moral obligation.

Unfortunately, regardless of intent, these self-appointed gatekeepers failed.  The same people who routinely “fact-check” hyperbole and satire, even banned people for suspecting the lab origin of the pandemic, have yet to identify the Russian collision narrative as false.  The most egregious act was Twitter using bogus reasons to suspend the account of the New York Post for their sharing the Biden laptop bombshell on the eve of the 2020 Presidential vote. Talk about election interference!

Elon Musk’s announcement of his ownership of a significant stake in Twitter and then subsequent buyout of the far-left’s favorite social media has shook up the political establishment.  Elizabeth Warren, a powerful US Senator, who leveraged a fiction about her Native American heritage to attain her own privileged position, somehow worth $67 million herself, had this to say:

Strange how now she speaks up about potential “dangerous to democracy,” but not when Big Tech was using the pretense of their “community standards” to ban content creators, including a former President, for challenging their ideological agenda and narratives.  Sure, they always could conjure their excuses or hide behind “Twitter is a private business, if you don’t like it start your own internet,” disingenuously while suing individuals who defied their demands, but now the truth comes out, suddenly it is all about democracy:

Credentialism much? I guess we should trust the privileged elites who trust the corporate system instead?

To those of us who have faced algorithmic demotion and punitive measures for our wrong-think, doing things like posting the actual flag of Ukraine’s Azov battalion or a quote of Hitler praising censorship intended as ironic, there is appreciation for Musk as a free speech advocate.  To those who use the word “democracy” as an excuse to trample rights, this represents an enormous threat to the ability to control narrative.

For those of us who have been paying close attention and involved, we know why Yahoo News, along with other far-leftist run online publishers, have shutdown their comment sections.  Sure, they may say this was to prevent misinformation, but the reality is that there would often be factual rebuttals or additional context that would undermine the narrative of the article.  It was always about control, not protection.

The war of words is as important as that which involves tanks, bombs and guns.  It was propaganda and censorship, as much as physical means, that enabled Nazis to put Jews in camps.  This is why Russo-phobia, the demonization and cancelation of a whole ethinic group, over things the the US-led imperial left, is so troubling.  President Obama was not accused of war crimes for a brutal AC-130 attack on an Afghan hospital, despite the dozens of verified casualties, why is that?

It is, of course, how the story is presented that makes all of the difference.  If a writer wants a leader to appear incompetent they might use the words like “bungled” as the description.  If they wish to spin it as positive they’ll say “setbacks” and dwell on framing the cause as righteous instead.  Those who want the public to support one side of the Ukrainian conflict will downplay or even completely ignore important context, like NATO expansion, the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014, and merciless shelling of the Donbass region.

And this is why Musk promising to restore freedom of speech on Twitter is such a big deal and especially to the current power brokers.  The military-industrial complex, which owns the corporate media and many of our politicians, stands to lose billions in revenue if they can’t convince the gullible masses that Vladimir Putin is literally Hitler for leading a US-style “regime change” effort in his own neighborhood.

I mean, how will US political families, like the quid pro quo Biden’s, continue to make their millions in kickbacks (Burisma/Hunter scandal) if Ukrainian’s energy is back under Russian control again?

This is why they’ll fight tooth and nail to keep the presentation of the story as one-sided as possible.  They do not want us to hear the facts that may cause questions.  They only want us to have their prepacked stawman “don’t say gay” version of their enemies, presented by the late-night funnyman for ridicule, rather than allow a truly informed debate. 

Unlike many, the ignorant who accept narratives at face value, the elites with government and corporate power understand that the world is run by ideas.  It is how wars are won.

For the Love of Truth

Standard

“Truth does not need a bodyguard”  (Rhonda Strite)

The news out of Paris today (read here) is a reminder again of the power of ideas.  Twelve people are dead and apparently in killed defense of something deemed sacred.  Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper that showed less than flattering images of the prophet Muhammad, was the target of assassins today who apparently yelled “we have avenged the prophet” and fled the scene.

I do not believe these murderers speak for all Muslims nor even for the one they claim to have avenged and who should all be left to speak for themselves.  However, what the violence does speak for is the power of ideas.  It is obvious those responsible have been influenced to believe that prophets of God need to be honored by spilling of blood.  It is an idea that ‘truth’ must be defended by violence.

Defending the Image of Our God

This idea of violence in the name of honor isn’t exclusively religious territory either.  In fact, it is a quite common theme in personal romances gone sour.  I don’t even know where to start a list of popular songs about the angry and jilted person taking out their wrath on the vehicle of the a former lover who insulted their dignity by choosing to be intimately involved with someone else.  It is the same sentiment that leads a man to kill his wife and her new boyfriend in a fit of rage.  It is a defense of honor. It is an idea that the other person did damage to you or the reputation of what you value and now deserves to be harmed in return. But this kind of behavior does beg a question about character and specifically the character of a person who thinks violence is their right when insulted.

Since I am not an expert on Islamic teachings, I will leave that analysis to those who are and stick to what I do know.  What I do know well are teachings of another man who is recognized as a prophet by Muslims and that is the man named Jesus. The one who is called both “word” and “truth” in the Bible:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:14)

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know  my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”  (John 14:6-7)

We, in this age of democracy and freedom of the press, can easily forget history. But there was a time not too long ago when insulting a king could cost a person their head.  Throughout human history leaders have demanded, upon penalty of death, that their image be honored and even worshipped. In the time Jesus lived and his followers after it was no exception.  There is speculation that the last book of the Bible was written in response to imperial cult in Rome to encourage believers who had to choose between faith and physical life.

A Different Image of God

Jesus was also referred to as a “king” or “lord” in scripture and yet one quite different from others in example.  He was was the king who served in the lowliest capacity and in a way that even confounded his most loyal followers.  He claimed a different type of leadership, a leadership by example and a radical idea even today in a day of competing individual rights:

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:25-28)

It is really an impossible standard in human terms.  Even self-proclaimed Christians are seemingly not able to live out this standard.  I am often caused to wonder about this commitment when I see outrage expressed over a song being played that openly calls religion a lie and overt concern with individual rights among those claiming to be of Christian faith.  It would appear the image of Jesus some claim to defend with their anger is more like the prophet Muhammad than the man described as being stripped naked, beaten mercilessly without a word, humiliated and killed like a common criminal.

Killing as a response to blasphemy is not unique to Islamists and was taught as part of the law of Moses in the Bible.  This Biblical law was enforced in ‘Christian’ United Kingdom (fully up until 1697 and in part until 1921) before falling out of favor.  We could blame religion for this idea of killing to honor or defend a person and idea, but that would be ignorant of the many examples of those who killed only because they themselves felt disrespected.  People have killed in the name of ideas ranging from defense of the Constitution of the United States to Imperialism and Marxism.

Does real truth need to be defended by killing those who dishonor it?

I believe an idea that needs us to kill to defend it is a weakling idea.  A god established on the blood of those who offend is a puny god indeed.  Unfortunately people like little gods and that includes many “people of the book” who confuse Bible for God and their own ideas for truth.  They confine God to the understanding of their own mind and the work of their own hands.  These are the fundamentalists who take offense on behalf of ‘truth’ and kill to defend it.  But I believe in a truth greater than my own mind, one that frees me of need to kill others to defend it and is personified in our following the ultimate example of self-sacrifice:

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:31-32)

Many have killed in the name of Jesus.  Many feel God is honored in their defense of prophets or books.  Many study the scripture diligently without ever finding the word of God despite their best efforts and that is in fact recorded in the Christian scripture in John 5:16-47.  But there is another way to live.  I believe in a “way” a “truth” and “life” that is bigger than mere human knowledge.  I believe in an advocate that is beyond my own efforts to religiously memorize texts or methods.  The truth is a spiritual person and teacher, not a book or religion:

“If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be  in you. […] But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  (John 14:15-17, 26)

A Different Defense and Truth

The bigger view is that God can speak for himself and real truth does not need murder to protect it.  Silencing the voices that oppose us is a weak defense.  Do not kill the messenger and think you are defending truth.  Instead, speak the truth with love, because God is love.  There are many ideas that people use as justification to kill, but just one that is worth dying for and that is love.

“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”  (Luke 12:11-12)

The law brings judgement, but the Spirit brings love and life. That should be our source and guide to all truth.