Home/Rod Dreher/The Creation Of A Big Lie

The Creation Of A Big Lie

We know from the recent past how the American news media work. When the Covington Catholic boys, resplendent in MAGA caps, stood accused of attacking a peaceable elderly Indian on the Washington Mall, the media went berserk with stories accusing them of being bigotry-driven bullies. Any ambiguity in the evidence was discarded. The media just knew that these white, Catholic school Trump supporters were the villains, and this poor old Indian man was their target. It fit the narrative.

Almost none of that was true. It turned out that the schoolboys had been cruelly taunted by members of a black racist cult prior to the confrontation with the old Indian — who provoked the boys, and then lied about it. This was all captured on video. The media narrative collapsed. Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic teen who had been at the center of the controversy, sued the Washington Post for $250 million for slander and libel, and later settled the suit for an undisclosed sum.

Our media are eager to believe things that suit their preferred narrative, and to bang away at the story, despite the evidence to the contrary. I’m old enough to remember a time when our media were yes, biased to the Left, but still interested in trying to be fair and accurate. Those days are gone; it’s all moral panic, all the time now.

This brings us to the reporting on the Atlanta massage parlor massacre. It is staggering to see how our media — and our elite class in general — seized on this atrocity to advance the idea that America is seething with white supremacy, and angry white men (especially religious conservatives) are just lying in wait to massacre people.

To this point, there has been no substantial evidence that Robert Long, the confessed massage parlor killer, chose his victims out of anti-Asian animus. It may yet emerge, but it has not yet. To the contrary, we have plenty of evidence that he chose his victims because he was overcome by his own self-hatred and sexual compulsion, and he turned that self-hatred outward to attack the people he held responsible for his unwanted desires.

We know, because his former roommates have said so, that Long visited Asian massage parlors seeking sex. Why did he choose Asian massage parlors? We don’t know for sure, but the probable answer is: because they’re there. We know that in the US, Asian massage parlors are often used as fronts for sex work, and that the Asian immigrant women who work there are often sexually trafficked by the mafia. In 2019, The New York Times did a good piece explaining how this evil business works.  

In a reasonable world, we would be talking now about the scourge of sex trafficking, and how these Asian women are exploited. We would also be talking about the scourge of pornography, with which Long was obsessed. He spent six months in rehab, trying to master his sexual compulsions, and had recently been kicked out of his house by his parents, who were sick and tired of his porn use.

But we are not talking about these real-world problems instantiated in this atrocity, because we are talking about the phony claim that Long murdered these people because he hated Asians.

According to a Times story from several days ago, those two spas where Long shot and killed victims were known for providing sexual services. Excerpts:

The killings of eight people at three massage businesses in Georgia have focused attention on an industry that has long been a target of law enforcement scrutiny.

Although many massage parlors are just that — places to get a massage — experts say there are more than 9,000 such businesses in the United States that are fronts for prostitution, and that many of the women working there are being exploited.

More:

In 2020, Street Grace, a faith-based anti-trafficking organization, used a popular website used by those who frequent such spas to identify 165 illicit massage businesses in Georgia, more than three quarters of which were in the greater Atlanta area. The organization set up cameras outside the shops and reviewed the comments on the review website, RubMaps, to estimate that the illicit massage industry in Georgia has more than 1,000 customers a day and an estimated annual gross revenue of more than $42 million.

Yvonne Chen, an advocate for sex trafficking victims who works with Asian women who work at massage businesses, said not all of them are willing to provide sex to their clients, but those who refuse are often attacked by their customers.

“I don’t think there’s enough discussion of the violence that comes from the buyers,” she said.

Customers often go on membership-only review websites where they describe in detail what sexual services employees at a given spa are willing to provide. The two spas targeted in the attacks in Atlanta, Aromatherapy and Gold Spa, have dozens of comments on RubMaps.

The Atlanta police have said that there is no evidence that this is an anti-Asian hate crime, but that did not stop the Washington Post today from publishing a piece that advances the intersectional claim that this 2021 massacre is tied to a 1997 bombing of a gay club in Atlanta:

And last week, after police in Cherokee County, Ga., appeared to play down the role of race in the spa shootings, many advocates have since called for the incident to be treated as an anti-Asian hate crime. Of eight victims killed at Gold Spa and two other businesses, six were Asian women.

“It’s just an awful thing that happened to them, and the same to us,” McMahon said. “It is a hate crime, and it doesn’t go away.”

The progressive elites who control the means of cultural production — the media, academics, and others — are determined to force the facts to fit their insatiable desire to believe that America is a wicked white supremacist nation.

It is true that there has been an upsurge in bias crimes against Asian-Americans. What you will struggle to find online in news reports is how many suspects in these crimes are non-white. Anecdotal evidence over the past year has shown videos of black people attacking Asian people. Do we have hard numbers on the reported race of suspects in these anti-Asian bias crimes? If so, why are they not being reported by the media? Rather, we have the media and liberal institutions like Brookings rushing to tell people to get back on message, that this idea that there is racial tension between Asians and blacks is nonsense.

If you have lived in a big city, you know that is a lie. One of the most frightening moments of my life was one afternoon at the Korean-owned bodega near my apartment on Capitol Hill, back in 1988. The elderly Korean owner had caught a young black man stealing, and told him to leave. The black man unleashed a torrent of racist invective against the Korean man. The store was full, but none of us had the courage to defend the old Korean man, because at that time, DC was an extremely violent place. It was reasonable to fear that the black man abusing the old Korean man (who held his ground) had a gun. Eventually the black man left before the police arrived, but it was a horrible situation. Korean shop owners in DC in those days reported this kind of thing all the time.

You have to wonder: why are the media, think tanks, and institutional leaders (like college presidents) so eager to believe that the Atlanta atrocity was driven by racial hatred, and that therefore Asian-Americans are in special danger at this moment?

Why did they not sound the alarm when some evidence indicated that Asians were being assaulted disproportionately by blacks?

Why did the six people killed in Chicago on a single weekend earlier this month not merit a mention by the media outside of Chicago, or the attention of President Biden, or statements of solidarity with the victims by college presidents? Could it be because these were black people killed by other black people — that is to say, politically inconvenient perpetrators and victims?

Melissa Chen, writing in The Spectator:

The only piece of evidence so far that potentially supports the racial animus theory is a report in a South Korean newspaper that the shooter had yelled out ‘I want to kill all Asians’. But let’s be real. If the claim had even one iota of credibility, it would already have been reported all over a desperate media in search of a smoking racist gun. Nevertheless, the rumor did the rounds on social media and reporters parroted it unquestioningly.

This murder took place in the wake of a surge in anti-Asian crimes, which first gained momentum during the COVID-19 lockdowns and increased recently. Numerous videos of elderly Asians being assaulted and attacked have gone viral on social media; recent high-profile cases such as the unprovoked attack of a 84-year-old Vietnamese man in San Francisco who died of his injuries forced the national media to pay attention.

Yet the cognoscenti can only think on way, so it ascribed blame on Trump’s rhetoric surrounding the ‘China virus’ and the eternal boogeyman of white supremacy. Vox showcased impressive mental gymnastics to explain that it was white supremacy that fueled the black-Asian racial hostilities while a sitting member of the Oakland City Council wrote in an op-ed that ‘anti-black and anti-Asian violence comes from the same root causes: white supremacy and capitalism’.

Meanwhile, it was plain to see from viral surveillance videos that it wasn’t MAGA-hatted assailants chanting ‘Chy-na virus’ or ‘Kung Flu’ while as they took out defenseless elderly Asians. These attacks, mostly carried out by minorities in progressive cities like Oakland, San Francisco and New York, make it really hard to argue that the rhetoric of a former president is responsible for pulling the puppet strings of constituents who most likely didn’t vote for him. Indeed, Department of Justice statistics show that while victims of violence tend to be targeted by perpetrators within their ethnicities far more than any other, Asian victims are targeted more by other races at the following rates: 27.5 percent black, 24.1 percent white, 21.4 percent Hispanic (compared to 24.1 percent Asian). This seems to suggest that the white supremacy thesis is extremely weak.

What we have instead is an emerging picture, corroborated by friends and family, of a mass shooter who struggled with reconciling the sin of extreme sex addiction and his Christian faith. So much so, he checked into a rehab clinic for sexual addiction, blocked porn sites from his computer and only used a flip phone in order to avoid ‘falling out of God’s grace’. It all culminated in the brutal assassination of the people he believed had led him into temptation and dishonor. In a way, this crime resembles more of an honor killing, a moral crusade steeped in misogynistic vengeance. He’s more Elliot Rodger than Dylann Roof.

The way this story and the discourse surrounding broader trends of anti-Asian violence has played out reveals the media’s commitment to activism, in particular, to view and dissect everything through the prism of critical race theory. It’s why previous anti-Asian assaults perpetrated by other minorities were largely ignored. When such incidents finally entered the national consciousness, they were explained away with white supremacy. NBC News even published an ‘expert’ view that insists that racial hatred inspired the Atlanta shooter because there ‘wasn’t a variety among the victims’. You wonder if murderers now have to adopt Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives into their moral calculus before pulling the trigger so that they would be considered ‘just’ a murderer? Our media class has decided that just because an outcome of the murder is racist — six out of eight victims were Asian women — and the killer, a white male with incel vibes, that there is no doubt that white supremacy was the culprit, long before the authorities have made headway into the investigation. This is a test, and just like the Covington Catholic School and the Jussie Smollett story, the mainstream media is failing it.

Read Chen’s entire piece.

The mainstream media, and the progressive establishment (college presidents, Democratic politicians, think tankers, et alia), are stoking racial hatred and suspicion with their false narratives. They are once again telling a Big Lie. Two years ago, the Huffington Post reported on how everybody got the story of the massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub wrong. It was not an anti-gay hate crime. The killer was a radical Muslim who chose the nightclub at random. But the eagerness of the media to slot this massacre into pre-existing categories was too great to resist.

This keeps happening over and over. The thing is, I don’t think the media are like standard propagandists, knowing that the story they’re telling is untrue or radically distorted. I think they really do believe this garbage — and so do college presidents like Villanova’s Father Donohue. They are all so eager to believe these lies, and to tell them. Why?

For one, it’s plain human frailty. I have said on many occasions in this space how much I fault myself for being eager to believe whatever lies the US Government told about 9/11 and Iraq’s supposed involvement in it, and risk to the national security of the United States. I allowed myself to be a patsy for the propaganda of the Bush administration, because it fit the narrative I wanted to believe. I was enraged over 9/11, and wanted some Arab Muslim SOB to pay for it. If the one to pay for it was to be Saddam Hussein, fair enough: we needed a scapegoat.

Understanding years later how I was manipulated, and how I had allowed myself to be manipulated, was one of the truly formative intellectual experiences of my life. We are all human; we make mistakes. But we should work hard to understand our own biases, and how those biases can mislead us, and cause tremendous harm in the world. I recall to my shame how good it felt to watch bombs falling on Baghdad in 2003 — I remember the Manhattan bar in which I was sitting when the news special report came on. My thought: We are avenged. 

I believe that the people who run institutions like the media, colleges, and so forth, take the same sort of sick pleasure when they hear about atrocities like what happened in Atlanta. They feel vindicated in their view of the world.

But here’s what is harder to understand: why are people like this so happy to frighten themselves and others, and embrace weakness and vulnerability? Why are college presidents so quick to reinforce anxiety among their students, instead of help the students to understand that they are not really at risk, and are going to be okay?

The answer, I believe, is that in our decadent civilization, fragilization is the path to power. 

In a post from a couple of years ago, I explained how Rene Girard’s theories explained why the media and other powerful progressives rushed to scapegoat the Covington Catholic boys. I discussed why it feels so good to find a scapegoat. This is why the progressive media are so eager to deny that there is any meaningful racial tension between blacks and Asians: because it wants to build solidarity between those groups against what these progressives regard as the real menace: white supremacy. Never mind that this line depends on lies. Never mind that by racializing it, we ignore the real problems at the core of the Atlanta massacres: the poisonous role of pornography in conquering the minds of some vulnerable young men, and the hidden scandal of many massage parlors used as fronts for sex work and sex trafficking of vulnerable Asian women.

Neither one of those actual problems can be fitted into the white supremacy narrative, or the sub-narrative that Evangelical Christianity is to blame, because of its sexual prohibitions.

I used to despise Donald Trump for calling the media “the enemy of the people.” It’s a fascist slogan. But I’m a hell of a lot more open to it now than I once was, because these jackals in newsrooms are bound and determined to turn us on each other, using ideological lies.

Tangentially, when I was in Virginia this past weekend, I met a soldier who works at the Pentagon. He told me that he is extremely worried about wokeness being forced onto the armed forces by the senior leadership. He said these lies stand to tear the armed forces apart. I’m going to write about this in a separate post, but I include it hear to point out that these racialist lies propagated by the media and elite culture in America are having and will continue to have terrible consequences.

At the conference where I spoke over the weekend, Georgetown Prof. Joshua Mitchell told the audience that one of his great worries is that these weaponized progressive narratives are creating a social environment in which far-right people simply quit caring what the left has to say about them, and start embracing racial and political extremism as a mode of self-defense. As for myself, whenever the subject is about race, religion, or sexuality, I assume that the media are lying, straight up, unless proven otherwise. I assume that on those subjects, academic institutions are lying, straight up, unless proven otherwise. I also assume that the media, academia, big business, and now the military, are the enemies of people like me, because they consider us to be wicked not because of what we have done or not done, but because of who we are.

I’m a middle-class white male heterosexual conservative Christian American, and I am alienated from almost all the institutions of American life. It’s not that I think any of those institutions were ever perfect, or are perfectible. It’s that I thought that they were at least trying to live towards truth, and fairness for all. I now believe they and the people who run them have been captured by an ideology that demonizes people, and is building a political, social, and economic structure that will seek to disempower, humiliate, punish, and impoverish entire groups of people on the basis of their race, religion, and other factors.

This is what the American ruling class is doing to our country and its people. That soldier I talked to this weekend said that for the first time in his life, he is asking himself about the difference between being a “good Christian” and a “good American.” The Left in power is turning people against their country and its institutions. Even the military. 

From Military.com three days ago:

Some troops have drawn equivalencies between the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and last year’s protests for racial justice during recent stand-downs to address extremism, worrying the military’s top enlisted leader.

In a Thursday briefing with reporters at the Pentagon, Ramón “CZ” Colón-López, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that some troops have asked, when the Jan. 6 riot is brought up, “How come you’re not looking at the situation that was going on in Seattle prior to that?”

He said that is one example of the mindset many military leaders are encountering, and he is “concerned about the way that some people are looking at the current environment.”

More:

The military remains an apolitical organization, Colón-López said, and it doesn’t matter if an extremist group is far right or far left — both are off limits.

“If it’s an organization that is actually imposing harm, threat, destruction, criminal activity and so on, then we don’t condone that behavior,” Colón-López said. “We’re focusing on letting people know exactly what the oath tells us to do when it comes to obeying lawful orders, remaining apolitical and basically being good stewards of society.”

But as the training sessions took place, some themes emerged that worried leaders.

Those conducting the sessions wanted “to make sure that military members understand the difference between Seattle and [the Jan. 6 riot in] Washington, D.C.,” Colón-López said. “But some of our younger members are confused about this, so that’s what we need to go ahead and talk to them about and educate them on, to make sure that they know exactly what they can and cannot do.”

The military remains an apolitical organization. Yeah, so this “apolitical” military is having its senior leadership read and absorb the lessons of Ibram X. Kendi’s neoracist book. The enlisted soldiers understand better than their leadership does that they are being gaslit by all this, that these books are deeply political.

A soldier told me the other day that he fears the only thing that’s going to stop the march of politicization in the military is America losing a major war. He said that the Chinese military is focused like a laser beam on building the mightiest armed forces it can. The new, woke US military, by contrast, is focused on social engineering within the ranks.

The Big Lie will have very big consequences. Live not by lies!

UPDATE: Freddie de Boer is a left-wing journalist that a lot of progressives hate, because he calls them on their b.s. (though from the Left). Progressive media people have been laying into him lately for a small deal he has to write a Substack newsletter for a year. In this new mailing, de Boer cold-cocks the jerks. Excerpt:

Substack might fold tomorrow, but someone would else sell independent media; there’s a market. Substack might kick me and the rest of the unclean off of their platforms tomorrow, but other critics of social justice politics would pop up here; there’s a market. Establishment media’s takeover by this strange brand of academic identity politics might grow even more powerful, if that’s even possible, but dissenters will find a place to sell alternative opinion; there’s a market. What there might not be much of a market for anymore is, well, you – college educated, urban, upwardly striving if not economically improving, woke, ironic, and selling that wokeness and that irony as your only product. Because you flooded the market. Everyone in your entire industry is selling the exact same thing, tired sarcastic jokes and bleating righteousness about injustices they don’t suffer under themselves, and it’s not good in basic economic terms if you’re selling the same thing as everyone else. You add that on to structural problems within your business model and your utter subservience to a Silicon Valley that increasingly hates you, well…. I get why you’re mad. And I get that you don’t like me. But I’m not what you’re mad about. Not really.

In the span of a decade or so, essentially all professional media not explicitly branded as conservative has been taken over by a school of politics that emerged from humanities departments at elite universities and began colonizing the college educated through social media. Those politics are obscure, they are confusing, they are socially and culturally extreme, they are expressed in a bizarre vocabulary, they are deeply alienating to many, and they are very unpopular by any definition. The vast majority of the country is not woke, including the vast majority of women and people of color. How could it possibly be healthy for the entire media industry to be captured by any single niche political movement, let alone one that nobody likes? Why does no one in media seem willing to have an honest, uncomfortable conversation about the near-total takeover of their industry by a fringe ideology?

And the bizarre assumption of almost everyone in media seems to have been that they could adopt this brand of extreme niche politics, in mass, as an industry, and treat those politics as a crusade that trumps every other journalistic value, with no professional or economic consequences. They seem to have thought that Americans were just going to swallow it; they seem to have thought they could paint most of the country as vicious bigots and that their audiences would just come along for the ride. They haven’t. In fact Republicans are making great hay of the collapse of the media into pure unapologetic advocacy journalism. Some people are turning to alternative media to find options that are neither reactionary ideologues or self-righteous woke yelling. Can you blame them? Substack didn’t create this dynamic, and neither did I. The exact same media people who are so angry about Substack did, when they abandoned any pretense to serving the entire country and decided that their only job was to advance a political cause that most ordinary people, of any gender or race, find alienating and wrong. So maybe try and look at where your problems actually come from. They’re not going away.

Now steel yourselves, media people, take a shot of something strong, look yourself in the eye in the mirror, summon you most honest self, and tell me: am I wrong?

Freddie’s Substack is worth subscribing to (click here). I only agree with him some of the time, but he’s a serious economic leftist worth reading.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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