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Culture and Religion

The face of fake news

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Megyn Kelly took on more than just Alex Jones in her NBC “Sunday Night” interview. She took on fake news. I’m glad she did.

Honestly, I was very worried that Kelly would equivocate and underperform like she did with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I was worried that Jones would get a pass and use the performance to pick up even more viewers–and believers.

It turns out I was wrong, as were others who believed the interview was a bad idea.

It was important to expose the abhorrent conspiracies and ideals that Jones represents.

But motivations are really key here. I have to believe that Jones’ motivations are personal. He suffers from the same need for importance and recognition that the other main topic of Kelly’s piece–President Trump–succumbs to. Jones simply wants the clicks, the influence, and the power.

There are plenty of Twitter, Facebook, and web-based Jones wannabes, and some in the main stream media. The New York Times and the Washington Post are not immune from what Kelly termed “reckless accusation, followed by equivocations and excuses.” The MSM simply couches their version in “bombshell” headlines, unnamed sources and back-of-the-paper retractions.

There’s nothing inherently wrong, or un-American, about people like Jones. They’ve been around since before Erwin Wardman coined the term “yellow journalism” in 1998.

But there’s a more pernicious motive floating out there: foreign governments using people like Jones, and teenagers in Eastern European basements, to float their own anti-U.S. propaganda. The Russians are experts at disinformation–they call it “Dezinformatsiya.”

The Washington Post delved deep into the history of Russian fake news right after the election. In 2015, Adrian Chen published a chilling New York Times Magazine piece titled “The Agency” about Russian efforts to create fake news events and use social media “trolls” to promote their own interests.

Russia’s information war might be thought of as the biggest trolling operation in history, and its target is nothing less than the utility of the Internet as a democratic space. In the midst of such a war, the Runet (as the Russian Internet is often called) can be an unpleasant place for anyone caught in the crossfire. Soon after I met Leonid Volkov, he wrote a post on his Facebook wall about our interview, saying that he had spoken with someone from The New York Times. A former pro-Kremlin blogger later warned me about this. Kremlin allies, he explained, monitored Volkov’s page, and now they would be on guard. “That was not smart,” he said.

The fact that President Trump relies on the very same social media tools that the Russians have thoroughly infiltrated and corrupted in order to make his points and win political power–that translates to actual government power–is more than troubling.

It means that Alex Jones, President Trump, and the Russians are all feeding the same cancer of fake news.

I submit there’s very little difference in Trump claiming he’s the victim of a “Witch Hunt” by “deep state” operatives (or hinting at “tapes” of conversations with James Comey), Alex Jones claims that Sandy Hook was a hoax, and the “Internet Research Agency” creating a fake story about a chemical disaster in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana. They are all set ups not in service of truth, but in service of other motives.

But when we can’t tell the difference between real Russian interference and the president’s tweetstorms and Jones’ conspiracies, in a culture where these events lead to political violence, injury and death, someone’s got to call foul.

Kelly took the opportunity to call foul on Jones. I applaud that she did. If the main stream media, including her employer, NBC, would take the hint and back off from their one-sided attacks on Trump, conservatives, and Republicans, maybe her message would begin to spread.

If the media itself doesn’t take the high road in combatting fake news, not leaping to conclusions, burying stories that offend their own world view, and projecting pure opinion as objective fact, then how can we expect anyone to believe them?

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Culture and Religion

The truth about Thanksgiving

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The truth about Thanksfiving

Thanksgiving for many of us has been presented as a time when diversity worked. When a group of people who came seeking refuge from religious persecution was saved by another group of people. A time when different cultures could come together and share what they had to offer one another, culminating in a feast consisting of corn and turkey that was made to honor that moment.

Sadly, the most recent depiction of this pivotal moment in our history has been turned into an American horror story. A story that depicts white Europeans who came to wipe out all the innocent natives by disease and war. The evil white man brought with them more evil white men who only wanted to destroy and kill, to take land that didn’t belong to them and annihilate anyone who wasn’t white. Because that’s all white people want.

Neither of these versions are remotely true.

The Pilgrims were not fleeing from persecution. Nor did they spread disease or kill an entire village of Native Americans. They simply came to a new world filled with the hope of freedom – freedom to live by the values and principles as defined by the word of God. They came to the new world to give their families that chance rather than being overtaken by a society they felt did not reflect those values. It was so important to them that they risked their lives and the lives of their children to make the voyage. A voyage that landed them far from where they were expecting.

After arriving to the new world it was clear that God had a plan. The circumstances which led up to the first thanksgiving – for both the Europeans and the Native American that helped them – could only be explained by divine providence.

Despite being told this is a time to apologize or to be shameful for our history as a nation, the truth is Thanksgiving should be the most important and revered time for all Americans. A time of remembrance of God’s grace and divine providence for a group of people that risked everything to honor Him, including a Native American by the name of Squanto.

The diversity of God’s grace is what we, Americans, should be celebrating. Not multiculturalism.

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Culture and Religion

Marco Rubio whips out Bible verse that goes after the Florida recount debacle

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Marco Rubio whips out Bible verse that goes after the Florida recount debacle

There are two prevailing opinions pertaining to the Florida election and subsequent recounts. Democrats generally feel like it’s good to “count every ballot” until they win, even if that means “finding” more ballots to add to their candidates’ tallies. Republicans have been fighting against the recounts despite that play coming across ingenuously to voters on both sides.

We should want every valid vote counted. The operative word there is “valid.”

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a Catholic, Tweeted a Bible verse that seemed apropos to the current debacle in Florida.

One might even say this draws in one of the favorite punching bags for Republicans, former presidential candidate “Crooked” Hillary Clinton. That wasn’t the intent, I’m sure, but it’s always fun to laugh at Hillary.

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Culture and Religion

3 reasons President Trump should offer Asia Bibi asylum

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3 reasons President Trump should offer Asia Bibi asylum

There are certain political moves that can be considered “no-brainers” for anyone in Washington DC. Offering persecuted Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi asylum is one of them.

The drawbacks of doing so are few but potent. It would enrage hardline Muslims in the United States who may go after Bibi and her family, but that’s a risk she’ll face anywhere she goes. It would put US citizens and military personnel at greater risk than they already are when traveling abroad, especially in Muslim majority nations like Pakistan. Lastly, it would spark negative press against the President who would ask whether or not he would do the same for a Muslim in a similar circumstance.

All of those negatives are mitigated by three important positives.

  1. It goes against the bigotry narrative. Don’t get me wrong. Mainstream media and leftists will still try to paint the act of offering asylum to a persecuted Pakistani family as racist because she’s Christian. Thankfully, most Americans are smart enough to see through that false narrative.
  2. Pakistan won’t mind. If anything, their preference would be for America, which is already evil in the eyes of most hardline Islamic Pakistanis, to accept a burden that will only perpetuate a narrative that already exists.
  3. It’s the right thing to do. Any time the President of the United States can do the right thing, he should. Lately, there just haven’t been many opportunities to do so.

Every day that passes brings Asia Bibi and her family closer to the dangers that are closing in on them in Pakistan. They need to be taken in as soon as possible. Italy, Germany, and even Canada have offered to step up. The United States needs to do the same.

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