By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — Philosophers, writers, poets and lyricists have used lies they have been told as creative fuel.
The reason is simple. Falsehoods create a crisis of the heart, and a crisis of the soul.
If that sounds familiar – the crisis of the heart and soul part – it is because your president (not mine) went there, with the sincerity of some saccharine Air Supply love ballad, during his Tuesday prime-time address to the nation.
As a cliché, it was just little more than filler in a speech he was reportedly prodded into giving about the national shutdown over the border wall he longs to build as, ostensibly, a monument to himself.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has his own opinion, one that polling shows most Americans are agreeing with, by calling this proposal of a wall – whether built of steel, concrete, brick or cardboard — “a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem.”
Durbin is probably letting your president (not mine) off the hook by a few centuries, but his point his well-taken.
Your president (not mine) wants this wall, as impractical as it is, to stand as some sort of nationalist phallic symbol.
Perhaps it would be more prudent to erect a red, white and blue billboard saying: “We will not press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish anymore!”
The net result? A legitimate crisis of the heart and soul of America.
There is now a humanitarian crisis at the border — particularly in West Texas — that was handmade in the USA.
There are families left struggling to pay bills and put food on the table because of the completely avoidable shutdown.
The First Amendment guarantees your president (not mine) a right to an opinion, but he is asleep at the wheel if he governs by opinion.
Which brings us back to the heart and soul of the crisis.
While a fact-checking scroll running under the screen during Tuesday’s speech would have been ideal, it didn’t take long for scorecards to emerge.
And the grades read like one of his Wharton School report cards.
Here are some of the results (source: NPR):
-“There is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our Southern border”
Fact check: Illegal border crossings in the most recent fiscal year (ending in September 2018) were lower than 2016 or 2014, and significantly lower than their peak in 2000. NPR adds that the recent change is the increase in children and families seeking asylum from countries other than Mexico, presenting different challenges.
-“All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages.”
Fact check: Though studied extensively, the conclusion remains inconclusive. The push and pull of the debate is between immigrant workers (on the decline) taking low-wage/low-skilled jobs from native born workers weighed against reducing production costs for specific industries.
-“Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country.”
Fact check: Though technically correct about the total number of ICE arrests of immigrants with criminal records the past two years, NPR described the number as “misleading,” as the lion’s share of those arrests are immigration-related offenses.
The view here, not of NPR, is that this is a most egregious lie. Why? Because your president (not mine) has spoon fed the base a steady red meat diet of a dangerous false narrative about illegal immigrants going on raping and pillaging sprees when, in actuality, they commit crimes at lower rates than those of us born here.
And if your president (not mine) is as concerned about violent crime as he claims, here is an idea to break the stalemate: How about he consider budging an inch on common sense gun control legislation?
-“Our Southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs.”
Fact check: Well, your president (not mine) tends to believe the KGB (or whatever Putin calls it these days) over the FBI or CIA, so it only stands to reason he would go against the DEA, which has been clear that most illegal drugs imported to the U.S. from Mexico are smuggled in through legal ports of entry.
OK, with kudos to the fact checkers, it’s just not cool to be lied to, especially when it grinds the country to a halt.
So let us not talk falsely now.
There is the overriding lie that gnaws away at what truly is a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.
What I mainly heard, while rubber-necking Tuesday’s prime-time crash on the highway, was the ongoing trope that Democrats “don’t want border security.”
Your president (not mine) doubled-down on it the next day, dubbing them “criminals” for not ceding to his tantrum.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made it clear in a televised rebuttal — that actually had higher ratings than the speech they were rebutting (probably a record in television history) — that they, in essence, want the same thing.
They just won’t sign off on an impractical wall (there already is one covering 700 miles).
Your president (not mine) will not meet them halfway, or even a quarter of the way, making one wonder if it’s more about what Colin Powell recently decried as a dire situation wherein “Me the President” is more important than “We The People.”
Sounds like crisis of the heart and crisis of the soul worthy of a Bob Dylan protest song.
This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Sunday, Jan. 14.