Redacting The Truth
As the country tries to lay out a rationale for the murderous rampage of Omar Mateen in Orlando, the FBI went through their normal process of withholding information from the public. There are legitimate concerns around information being divulged that could compromise our foreign policy engagements. But the FBI took the Orwellian step of redacting any mention of radical Islamic terrorism, and only released the full transcripts after public outcry. They furthered their descent into to 1984 by claiming that they may never have any idea why Mateen did what he did. Why are we so scared of the truth?
Truth in politics is as subjective as color. When do blue and green cross over into teal territory? But this election cycle has seen a new form of "truth." Both candidates have tenuous relationships with objective reality and believe that they are above the law. Each side screams that the other is under investigation or a liar. The truth of the left and the truth of the right are based on completely different lenses and are incompatible. The left tends to favor the oppressed against the oppressor. The right is (sometimes) concerned about government abuse towards its citizens.
With this in mind, the reactions to the now fully released transcript fit into these narratives. Whatever the real rationale behind the redaction of any mention of Islam in the Mateen calls, it ended up having the opposite effect. By forcing people to question what the content of the 911 calls, it elevates it to a special status that shows We are so afraid of the conception of ISIS that we are choosing to literally not talk about it. We redact the truth to make ourselves feel better.
The other redaction of truth we've seen regarding Orlando is the nature of the gun used in the shooting. One can scream that it doesn't matter what kind of gun it was since it was a gun. This discounts an honest assessment about the "gun control epidemic" in our country. An AR-15 was initially cited as the weapon used in the attack, but later turned out to be false. That hasn't stopped the anti-2nd amendment groups from claiming that the AR-15 is the embodiment of all of our problems.
Those of us who know anything about gun statistics are quick to truthfully point out numeric facts about rates of homicide with guns, which have consistently declined every year since 1993, or the fact that a majority of people are killed by handguns instead of the frightening military-style assault semi-automatic machines of terror. But in a world where you redact the truth, you also get to redact government statistics if it goes against your narrative. This is exactly what the anti-2nd amendment crowd has to do to achieve their aims, and it's the exact same thing the government will do to protect their interests.
The reason we are so scared of the truth, and why the state benefits from our fear, is that we are unwilling to collectively acknowledge that our current situation is not one of partisan gridlock or polarization. It is one where partisan polarization occurs because we no longer accept an objective truth that law abiding gun owners aren't the ones killing people, most deaths are caused by handguns, and that the nation's strictest gun control city, Chicago, is a war zone where the deaths of dozens of black kids seems to be less of a concern than if it happened in any other city in America. Like our gun "issue", very little actual progress will be made until we stop redacting the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us.