I wrote five years ago: “This was the question that Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, although it is doubtful he was too anxious to find the answer, for shortly after he condemned this innocent man to death and released a notorious murderer in his stead, in order to placate the crowd. One of the key driving forces behind my community activism is the quest for truth. It is not an academic exercise, because dealing with the real world, and the messy situations I am confronted with all the time, means I don’t always have the luxury to pontificate over philosophical niceties. However, in my calmer, more reflective, moments, I often agonise over the truth question, because that, for me, has to be the reason why writing this book, and doing the things I have written about matters, even if I don’t always have the answers. Neither do I set myself up as a paragon of virtue, and often feel despondent for being such a hypocrite. But truth remains truth, irrespective who speaks it. Some of the most profound truths recorded in the Bible were spoken by Balaam, a man hired to curse Israel, and his donkey! Truth is not the domain of the irreligious people, with religious folk humoured and consigned to consort with imaginary fairies. Some of our great scientists were associated with the Cavendish Laboratories, Cambridge, yet were men of faith. I am intrigued by the sign inscribed over its entrance: “the works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein”, Psalm 111v2, as that should be our aim. I love science and I believe the Bible. I am not a creationist because I don’t believe scripture requires me to hold that position, and the science would suggest otherwise, but I do believe in the divine inspiration and authority of the Genesis account, as well as of the rest of the Bible. I don’t believe Christians should impose their views on society, but I do believe they need to seek its good. They also need to speak truth into every situation of public and private life as it is truth that sets us free and declaring it is part of loving our neighbour. Truth is paramount; it is axiomatic; it is not relative; it is not negotiable. As far as I am concerned, truth coupled with love must inform and inspire community activism.” Outside the Camp – What is Truth?
The truth question has been very much to the fore in recent days as President Trump has gone on a counter attack, accusing the media of perpetuating “very fake news”, and unsympathetic onlookers taking him to task over yet another lie from his own lips. The latest is when in a speech two days ago he made mention of Sweden being subject to terrorist attack. There is no shortage of righteous indignation, seen both in the reports that can be found from a basic google search and the pontification of people, including friends who ought to know better, on social media. In trying to clarify his statement later, Trump referred to a Fox News piece pointing to all sorts of attacks by immigrants (legal as well as illegal), mainly Muslim. In checking out what is being referred to, there is no shortage of commentary by Alt Right commentators like Alex Jones, Paul Watson and Milo Yiannopoulos, as well as here, here and here. It seems the issue is Sweden has been letting in many, mainly Muslim, immigrants over recent years, who have been responsible for attacks on women and other crimes and anti-social behavior and the authorities, beholden as they are to being politically correct etc., have not made mention of who it is (or even tried to identify who) that have been doing these crimes so not to appear Islamophobic. I should add a note of caution though and one Mr Trump should take note off: we do well not to demonise groups of people (like Muslim refugees) because it can, even unintentionally, incite hatred. Many such are innocent, who have themselves fled terror.
One friend, who takes a different line to some other friends, wrote to me thus: “I have just watched 20 minutes of Channel Four’s anti-Trump propaganda. It was so sickening – aggressively anti-Trump and very dishonest. Jon Snow’s hatred for Donald Trump is so evident that he is happy to latch onto all the lies, and then interrogate one of Trump’s campaign advisors who actually handled it very well indeed. Today the media have been highlighting Trump’s Sweden statement – they have twisted what he meant. As Trump himself would say, it is so dishonest. In a strange way, it reminds me of how Jesus was treated. Having grown up in a society that was far more polite and civil than today’s “elite”, as a teenager I could not visualize the angry Pharisees as they tried to set traps for Jesus – I had no experience in those days of seeing adults treating other adults with such utter contempt. But we see it today in the way Trump is treated. The media and establishment hate him so much that they will catch any word or phrase that they can trap him with and use it against him. Then they will accuse him of lying. Of course, the difference with Jesus is that there was no sin that anyone could accuse Him of, and His supernatural wisdom meant that no-one could successfully catch Him out. With the hostility of Channel Four, it is not difficult to see how the media fuels the anger on the streets as people come out in protest against Trump’s forthcoming visit. If Jesus Himself were here today, the anger and the protests would be many times greater because of people’s hatred of righteousness – except that when He does come again, He will come not as a Lamb but as the Lion of Judah, with a two-edged sword in His mouth!” I share here (with permission) given that many of my Christian brothers and sisters, who I would otherwise respect, have been venting their righteous indignation toward Trump in public, because he tells lies, and having been sucked into the fake news narrative are conveniently ignoring worse lies being dished out.
As I have repeated many times, I am not an apologist of Trump (in fact a recent “Trump” blog was critical on some of his behavior) and I am also of the view that he has perpetrated falsehoods and this matters because truth matters, as the above quote relating to something I wrote some five years ago indicates. But in the scheme of things, I wonder if he is better or worse than his predecessors in this regard or whether his falsehoods are any worse than those put out by them defending the status quo, which he is reacting to. It strikes me that many of Trump’s falsehoods are silly gaffs that can be easily disproved that are put out by one whose style is gladiatorial as opposed to the likes of an Obama or a Hillary Clinton who measure their words and end up saying little by way of content and when they do it is difficult to prove or disprove. Is Trump any worse than I wonder than President Bill Clinton, who claimed he never had sex with that woman, or President George W Bush, who justified going to war with Iraq on the basis they had weapons of mass destruction, or President Barrack Obama who defended his record and denied his policies had anything to do with the rise of ISIS? I suspect, even if politicians refrain from telling verifiable lies, they often withhold truth by only referring to facts that back up their opinions, ignoring those that don’t. Some years ago someone coined the phrase “being economical with the truth” and that is what we see. I upset one anti-Trump, politically savvy friend when I said most politicians are dishonest to some extent. For the record, the politicians over the years I have regarded as least dishonest are Tony Benn, Enoch Powell and my own former MP, Teddy Taylor. They weren’t always right but they acted according to their convictions and were prepared to suffer being isolated as a result. What I hope for is a new generation of honest, principled, conviction, active politicians, who, irrespective of their ideologies, are of such an ilk.
We are living in dangerous and interesting times and America and the World is in a mess. While Trump does come out with a measure of **** he is imho no worse than most other politicians and is better than most because he candidly not only says what he really thinks and why (and while not agreeing with everything, I agree with much of what he says, and already he has done a lot of good), he gets on with doing what he says he will do. I have no doubt there is a swamp to be drained and I reckon Trump is the right man to drain it. He has ruffled many feathers and can be abrasive and divisive. His style can be embarrassing. He doesn’t always score high regarding my “true, necessary and kind” scale. My hope and prayer is that truth overcomes error, light dispels darkness and good triumphs over evil.
And as for me, I rather like Trump despite his many faults!