False Witness

One commenter on this site wondered what motivated Izzy Santa, James O’Keefe’s confederate, to tip off CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau before she got on the infamous ‘love boat’. I don’t know much about Izzy, but I have relatives who believe the Republicans are God’s Party. That might become a problem for some of the sleazier operatives.

In the 70’s when I was going to Apponaug Pentecostal Church we read a lot of Christian literature, including ‘The Hiding Place’ by Corrie Ten Boom. This is a powerful story of a Dutch Christian family who resisted the Nazi occupation and hid a Jewish family in their home.

Pentecostals take pride in claiming these heroic people as their own. The Ten Boom sisters practiced an adherence to their faith that was so unbending that Betsie Ten Boom would not lie even to the Nazi soldiers who invaded their house.

I immediately recalled this book when Christine O’Donnell was quoted saying she would not tell a lie even to save Anne Frank.
These coded messages are clear if you spent a lot of time in church. Lots of us read ‘The Hiding Place’, it was even made into a movie. The fact that O’Donnell has a kind of flexible relationship with the truth as it relates to her own life is less important than that she sends this message to the base. She’s read the Word. She may not always follow it, but after all, God forgives.

Interestingly, though the Bible commends truth-telling and abhors deceitfulness, there’s no Biblical episode where a person surrounded by violent enemies refrains from lying to defend themselves and others, and tells the truth relying on God to intervene. In fact, there are many episodes of deception, for reasons good or bad. There’s even a parable of Jesus that seems to praise a steward for dishonesty– and what the Lord meant by that is for theologians to figure out.

There is also no commandment that says, ‘thou shalt not tell a lie.’ The ninth commandment says, ‘thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor’.

‘What’s the difference’, you ask? Well, it’s the difference between a social fib and perjury in court. Between padding your resume and slandering someone to advance your own career. False witness is a damaging lie that ruins a reputation. It’s a malicious and targeted lie, not a ‘mis-speak’.

The question, ‘who is my neighbor’ is answered in the New Testament. Sorry, no wiggle room.

Maybe Izzy Santa, was raised Christian. Maybe the pornified humiliation O’Keefe planned for Abbie Boudreau offended Santa’s morality. Maybe the sense of grievance and desire to ‘get even’ in his memos raised alarm, because almost every woman encounters a perp at some time, and the memos showed the mindset of a sex offender. (SEK at Lawyers, Guns and Money speculates that O’Keefe knew seduction was ridiculous, but thought he had a good chance of getting some video of Abbie Boudreau frightened and confused–his real goal.) Maybe Izzy even thought of the commandment against false witness, and all the lying was just too much.

Liz Farkas, another woman who worked with O’Keefe, opted out when she saw that he was editing and ‘cherry picking’ bits of an interview with a Planned Parenthood nurse to make the organization look bad. Maybe the personal destruction of an unsuspecting woman as collateral damage in the ‘culture war’ violated her morals.

I have family who are Christian. Sometimes they appall me with their casual acceptance of the fiery deaths of millions. They can be very harsh in the abstract, but they are the nicest people face to face. Maybe Izzy and Liz were that kind of Christian, and not able to drive in the knife when they saw the human face of the ‘enemy’. Maybe they had principles.

James O’Keefe, of course, is most famous for the video that helped to take down ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). It’s hard to find neutral reporting on this organization, Wikipedia is the most accessible. I was vaguely aware of them as a local chapter, but never met with them. Several years ago they were fund-raising by standing on the street with buckets. This totally offends me. Teen Challenge, firefighters, some churches do this too.

Anyway, the national organization had its problems, including embezzlement, but was active in voter registration and affordable housing. A House Judiciary Report on de-funding ACORN runs 88 pages and has been cited both as exonerating and implicating the organization. The section on alleged voter fraud is taken from local and national reporting, most partisan. Of the fifteen articles cited, eleven of them are about a serial voter named Darnell Nash of Cleveland, OH, whose votes were invalidated. Mr. Nash is now in jail, or was. I think it’s possible he was mentally ill, he sure doesn’t sound like a criminal genius. The other four articles mention small numbers of suspect ballots in New York, the majority of which proved to be valid. Wikipedia says that ACORN was running a 7% error rate in registration while the average voter drive was 5%, and that they agreed to improve their practices. Undeniably, they registered great numbers of qualified voters, and that may have been the real reason they were on the hit list.

Maybe ACORN should have been de-funded for the kind of complicated issues that come up in an 88 page report on use of funds, partisanship with the Democratic Party, hiring of unqualified personnel and insufficient training. Maybe their policy and procedure was faulty. That was not what did them in.

James O’Keefe approached and secretly taped ACORN workers until he got the footage he was looking for, and then edited the results to make it look like the organization was supporting human trafficking.

He became a young conservative star, and would still be if he had not over-reached. His sponsor, Andrew Breitbart, plays the same way– using personal destruction against a USDA employee, Shirley Sherrod. She’s collateral damage in his culture war. Shame on the Obama administration for falling for lies, but more shame on the liars.

‘A lie goes halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its pants,’ said Mark Twain. Shirley Sherrod is said to be considering a lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart. He caused her serious harm with a lie–sure looks like slander. Maybe that’s the way to go. It’s better than having more ‘reporters’ trolling around with hidden cameras and students secretly taping college lectures hoping for a sound bite.

I’m waiting for the good Christians to get as concerned about the Ninth Commandment as the Sixth. Adultery is a sin, but so is False Witness. And forgive me, Lord, for writing this on the Sabbath.

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5 responses

  1. Actually, the Sabbath starts sundown friday ending on sundown Saturday so by the time you posted this we were back to the normal week. Somewhere along the way the Roman Christians wanted to disassociate themselves with Judaism and there made the weekly holy day Sunday. But we digress.

    I do believe you will find many instances in the Bible where people told the truth versus lying and this generally related to their profession of faith. But, yes folks like Rehab lied to protect the spies of Jericho, so even celebrated heroes did things for greater good in opposition to the tenet of truthfulness. And, in my opinion, religion of today often focuses on the small things and not the bigger things…but again I digress.

    I’m soo not into nor do I like ‘gotcha!’ journalism. These folks don’t appeal to me even if I side with them on issues like ACORN. I prefer truth to fiction and for example, if Moveon.org is truly a lefty org that likes to support other lefty folks, I don’t have a problem with that nor do I immediately think, “Gee we need to find a way to discredit them.” And that’s what I think many do on the left and the right. They try to discredit the person/org and not actually debate the issue. All this ACORN business does obfuscate what they were actually trying to do and here we are talking about this guy and his tactics trying to expose ACORN and their tactics.

    Lost is the actual mission of ACORN and whether that had merits. What a waste, no?

  2. The run on ACORN kind of reminded me of the run on the French, when they didn’t join the ‘coalition of the willing’. I went to a place in Narragansett this summer that is still selling ‘freedom fries’.
    All of a sudden we were supposed to hate the French. We have always been at war with Eastasia. I wonder how many Americans can find France on a map.
    Then we were hearing about Acooorrrnnn. The most evil empire since the Nazis. And I knew these were the same shlubs I used to see on traffic islands begging for change.
    The next target may be the League of Women Voters. Don’t laugh. Some politician is already accusing the Girl Scouts of subversion.

    1. I don’t know what this says about ACORN as an organization,but I was working at the sewer called Lincoln Park some years back,and one day ACORN members and Henry Shelton were picketing and protesting at the PUC over gas shutoffs and rate raises.
      Now,I’m not going to defend the utilities or the PUC here,and the protest was justified insofar as shutoffs in cold weather are inhumane,
      What bugged me wasd that a bunchm of ladies came traipsing into Lincoln Park still wearing their ACORN buttons(brainy move there)and dumping money into the slots.The same people who “can’t”make a partial payment on their gas bills.It kind of made me lose any shred of sympathy for those particular individuals.
      I don’t know Henry Shelton’s connection to ACORN,if any,and he’s a sincere and probably honest man,but I think he got played a lot by some of the folks he was trying to help.
      He got a stroke out of it and I wonder how many of his followers call him to see how he’s doung?
      While we’re on the subject of bucket begging-I notice frequently that a number of groups utilize the intersection of Charles leading to Admiral where it crosses 146 to rush out into traffic waving buckets and demanding a donation.One group is some seedy looking types dressed in camo fatigues calling themselves the Veterans Service Organization-I am a life member of the Disabled American Veterans and I am unaware of this other group.I have suspicions that the money might not be going where you think it should be.Some of the bucket wavers might be vets,but some look like sammers.
      Another two groups whose cause is incomprehensible uses little kids,mostly girls, to run into traffic
      at the same spot with buckets.this is a tragedy waiting to happen beause traffic is heavy and aggressive right there,and many 18 wheelers headed to Home Depot and Walmart use that roadway,and the truckers cannot always see a small kid.
      Esserman needs to tear his sorry butt away from free gobbling at the Whole Foods salad bar and check this out and stop it.

      1. I’m always reminded when i see those kids of the horrible accident years ago at Noth main and Doyle where a trucker accidentally killed a woman and her grandaughter when they fell under his rear wheels trying to negotiate a snowbank.He wasn’t charged because the police found he wasn’t negligent,but imagine how he must have felt,not to mention the family that suffered the loss.I’d raelly hate to see that again on Charles Street.

  3. Very nicely written.

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