We have been blind, but can learn to see

Summary: How clearly do we see our world? For an answer, look back to the early 1960s. Hindsight reveals that we were wrapped in illusions about our government. These were ripped away during the 1970s. Then we were fed new lies, and many of those have been revealed to be false. Do we still see the world as poorly as we did in 1963? We cannot govern ourselves until we learn to do better.

Truth paid for in blood - Dreamstime_24169126
ID 24169126 © Photowitch | Dreamstime.

How we saw the world in 1963

In the 1960s we were wrapped in illusions about the nature of our government.

We knew that Kennedy was the star of Camelot, an ideal President. He was an athletic man, a devoted father, an author and a war hero. But he was almost a cripple, sustained by a diet of powerful drugs. He was the very opposite of a “family man” (I’ve long suspected Jackie had him killed; no jury of women would convict her). He received a Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage, which was mostly written by Ted Sorensen. He was a war hero. JFK might have stolen the election of 1960 (we will never know for sure).

We knew that FBI agents were honest, incorruptible guardians just like Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. on “The FBI” TV show (1965-1974; see Wikipedia). The reality was quite different. The FBI denied even the existence of the Mafia until public pressure forced action after 1957. The fabled FBI crime lab was found to be corrupt (Wikipedia). Much of the FBI’s effort went into illegal political operations, such as COINTELPRO.

We knew the CIA was an effective secret organization, like the Mission: Impossible Force. In fact, generations of revelations (most recently in Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA) reveal it to be a clown show, with a long history of failed forecasts, missed major developments (e.g., surprised by Iranian Revolution and collapse of the Soviet Union), and repeatedly botched its operations (e.g,, the Bay of Pigs).

We knew that only the massive waves of military spending fended off the Soviet Union gaining superiority during the Bomber Gap and Missile Gap. In fact, both were fake news to boost military spending.

We knew that America’s troops were the Knights in the Vietnam War, fighting evil. In November 1969 news broke about the My Lai Massacre.

Bleeding eye
“Bleeding Eye” by C. Bayraktaroglu.

Shocking revelations of the 1970s

“Telemachus, now is the time to be angry.”
— Odysseus, when the time came to deal with the Suitors. From the film The Odyssey (1997).

Sadly, that is only a partial list of our delusions in the 1960s. The revelations of the 1970s shattered our delusions. These revelations began the era of cynicism about government and about America that continues today. A few of the highlights …

  • In 1971, the New York Times published The Pentagon Papers, the secret DoD study of the Vietnam War 1945-1967, showing its foundation of lies and incompetent execution.
  • In 1971 newspapers published information about CONTELPRO stolen by the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI from an FBI field office in Media, Pennsylvania.
  • In  1975 Church Committee revealed large-scale long-term violations of laws and basic constitutional rights by FBI, CIA, and NSA. See their reports here. on US government assassinations of foreign leaders.

Our reaction to the news is the real news

There were reforms in response to those revelations that seemed substantial at the time. Such as Executive Order 11905 in 1976, banning assassinations. But they were criticized at the time, and proved shallowly rooted in the US political system.

“Early on, critics in the entertainment and news media such as Bing Crosby and Paul Harvey accused the committee of treasonous activity. The 1975 assassination of Richard Welch, a CIA station chief in Greece, intensified the public backlash against its mission. The Committee’s work has more recently been criticized after the September 11 attacks, for leading to legislation reducing the ability of the CIA to gather human intelligence.” {Wikipedia.}

To learn more about this, see …

  1. Congressional Oversight and the Crippling of the CIA” by Stephen F. Knott (Prof National Security, West Point) on the History News Network (2001).
  2. Back to Church” by Chris Mooney at The American Prospect (2001) – The Church-bashing started before the WTC’s ashes cooled.

Our reactions to the other incidents were even milder. Failure to learn is one of our greatest weaknesses.

We are still learning

“Unless you expect the unexpected you will never find truth, for it is difficult to discover.”
— Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic “Weeping Philosopher” of Ionia.

Have we learned anything from the revelations of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning and Edward Snowden? Many people believed their government conducted surveillance of us, but the scale and power of its programs were beyond the worst that many of us imagined.

Have we learned anything from the recently released government reports about our Afghanistan War describing the military’s lies and incompetent execution?

Have we learned anything from the Horowitz Report about the FBI’s misconduct in the RussiaGate investigation?

We are even still learning more about the Cold War. We were often in greater danger from our generals than from the USSR. Tapes of meetings of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOM) during the Cuban Missile Crisis revealed our generals to be eager for war, willing to take insane risks of nuclear war for no rational reason. The eventual compromise – removing our nukes in Turkey for the USSR’s on Cuba (kept secret from us) – could have been made without taking us to the verge of WW3. For about this mad story see …

  1. Recommended: the amazing story told in Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived.
  2. Audio tapes of the EXCOMM meetings (JFK is often the only same man in the room).
  3. The World On the Brink: John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis“, an Interactive Exhibits at the John F. Kennedy Library.

We prefer to keep our eyes closed and dream of a nicer world.

Girl with pretty closed eyes.
Photo 5297383 © Maxim Petrichuk – Dreamstime.

Have we opened our eyes?

Do we see the world clearly today, or are we as lost in dreams as we were 50 years ago?

Our credulity about what we are told suggests that nothing has changed. We accepted the bizarre government stories about the 2001 anthrax attacks that helped pass the Patriot Act. We accepted the Big Lies that justified our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of the US population accepted the bizarre RussiaGate stories – obviously disinformation (perhaps from Russian sources) washed through Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS.

I will bet that many such discoveries lie ahead of us about things only crazy people on the fringes see today – but will be revealed to all in the coming years. While we cannot know the future, today at least we can be skeptical about what we are told. Gullibility is a choice.

As a first step we can resolve to remember the Big List of Lies by Our Government Officials. They lie because we credulously believe them. When we treat them as liars, perhaps they will change. Either way, we will be less easily fooled. Then we can take the next steps: learning to keep our minds open, to see the world clearly, to evaluate information as best we can.

For More Information

Ideas! For some holiday shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a story about our future: “Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

We can fix America. See the suggestions in Reforming America: steps to a new politics.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the importance of clear vision, and especially these…

  1. Important advice: Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America. About “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.
  2. The missing but essential key to building a better America – Clear sight about our condition.
  3. Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
  4. We live in an age of ignorance, but can decide to fix this – today.
  5. Ways to deal with those guilty of causing the fake news epidemic.
  6. The secret source of fake news. Its discovery will change America.
  7. How they use pretty graphics in the news to fool us.

Some books about critical thinking

One of the classics: How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff.

Thinking & Living Skills: General Semantics for Critical Thinking edited by Gregory Sawin.

How to Lie with Statistics
Available at Amazon.
Thinking & Living Skills: General Semantics for Critical Thinking
Available at Amazon.


17 thoughts on “We have been blind, but can learn to see”

  1. Excellent post Larry. And let us not forget the Catholic Church’s role in all of this. In the 1960″s the Church unleashed Vatican II which allowed for moral permissiveness, weakening of authority by inculcating a heightened role of the laity in Church affairs, a diminishment of the Church’s fight against Communism, etc. Now we have anti-pope Bergoglio who is the apotheosis of Vatican II with his open embrace of Communism, approval of homosexuality, and advocation of a One World government.

    All of this, including all you say, is a full court press by the devil who knows his time is running out. The near term future is very black. Prepare yourself.

    1. Michael,

      I know little about the modern Catholic Church. But the Church’s tacit cooperation with Hitler (to preserve its property), then the massive pedophile rings – and their later protection – were more serious signs of internal decay.

      “The near term future is very black.”

      Humanity has gone through horrific periods before, and will again. It’s life. But the future is unknown, and I am skeptical of people who believe they can predict it with accuracy and certainty.

      “Prepare yourself.”

      By doing what?

      1. Larry–

        “Prepare yourself.” By doing what?

        Well, forewarned is forearmed. Begin to believe in God and ask for His help. Lower your expectations. Fight the evil system as you do.

  2. LK: I will bet that many such discoveries lie ahead of us about things only crazy people on the fringes see today – but will be revealed to all in the coming years.

    Apparently that is already true for the never trumpers who cannot even bother to read the few truths governments allow us.

    Two additions: 1) One of my favorites was the lies by Nixon and the military that we were not in Laos and Cambodia; when if you knew returning Air Force personnel, they would tell you aircraft HAVE to know where they are going. Thus the only people not in possession of the truth were the American public. 2) I understand concentrating on our government. An occasional reminder that other governments help ours with their lies is appropriate IMO.

  3. I love the “Truth” graphic at the top, Larry. I’ve thought of similar images (though not so well drawn) many times when I’ve seen you use your pen like a sword to repeatedly cut through to the core of the issue.

    The only rebuttal I can offer on behalf of our leaders (and I fully admit its weakness) is that politicians are attempting to govern by building coalitions of willing participants. Throughout history this has been done by bending the truth to one degree or another. Example: FDR pushed the Japanese into attacking the US to enable him to push for war against Germany (though I strongly suspect that Pearl Harbor was a horrific shock for him).

    At the same time, I cannot think of a single long-lasting democracy that has not endured similar massive lapses in honesty. At the same time, I also cannot think of a single government (of any form) that survived more than 30 years without having some way for the truth to be brought forward in a timely manner (Example, the Soviets didn’t start getting seriously corrupt until the late 1950’s, they collapsed when their own leaders tried to make the government more effective in the mid 1980’s. A little truth proved to be too dangerous for the good of their own leaders).

    This is a powerful article about the need for our people to stop being vassals of the state and start taking back the controls by being citizens; we must ask the hard questions of those who would lead us and demand verifiable answers. We must also hold them accountable for their past actions and punish the guilty. To do otherwise will doom the American experiment.

    I will recommend this article to my contacts and urge all other readers to do the same. Thanks for the early Christmas gift, Larry!

    1. Pluto,

      “I cannot think of a single long-lasting democracy that has not endured similar massive lapses in honesty.”

      I’d like to see examples. In US and British history, a senior minister caught in a big lie resigned. Often his career was finished. There were narrow examples – secret treaties, military operations, etc. But they were significant as exceptions.

    2. Larry: “I’d like to see examples.”

      In thinking about this I realized that there are a lot of issues of scale and what the reader would consider to be packs of lies. Although I’ve tried to find a similar pattern of consistent lies in other governments and times that are as large as the current pattern, I cannot.

      The acceptance of repeated lies affecting domestic policies is the most troubling. People can be more easily forgiven for accept lies about events and attitudes in far-away countries than at home.

      This leads me to consider the possibility that, like the Soviet Union, the US, in its current configuration has been doomed by past inaction by its citizens. That the entire fabric of the US government will melt away when a little truth comes to light. What do you think of that possibility?

      1. Pluto,

        “has been doomed by past inaction by its citizens.”

        No regime is doomed if its people decide it should be reformed. It’s all about choice.

        “That the entire fabric of the US government will melt away when a little truth comes to light.”

        I’m endlessly amazed by the fantastic range of excuses Americans give for predicting doom. As if past political regimes anywhere anywhen were clean as the new-fallen snow. The revolutionary urge – wipe away “the entire fabric” and build upon a blank slate – is madness with a proven history of ending very badly.

      2. Larry: “I’m endlessly amazed by the fantastic range of excuses Americans give for predicting doom.”

        You read too much into my comment. We both know that a crisis point is coming in the US, when and in what form has yet to become clear. I had been more complacent about the situation until your latest round of articles.

        I am NOT arguing that we will have a blank slate if the government falls (which I DO NOT EXPECT, but I didn’t expect the fall of the Soviet government either). Quite the opposite, I would expect a Gordian knot of extraordinary dimensions if the US government effectively falls apart (as opposed to a complete collapse).

        I strongly agree that any sort of revolutionary urge to wipe the slate clean is sheer madness.

        What I was asking for was your opinion of what can and should happen if the Federal government (which is already partly paralyzed) continues to fall into paralysis regardless of what happens with the impeachment mess. This possibility seems to have a fairly high chance of occurring in the current political situation.

        I know you hate to consider the possibility but I think we cannot afford to ignore as the crisis point comes closer and I value your opinion.

  4. Voter turnout in the United States presidential elections – Wikipedia
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org › wiki › Voter_turnout_in_the_United_States_pre…

    45%+ don’t vote, say 20% of those that do only vote out of habit/tradition my father and mother were … so am I etc.
    Can’t site US examples, but in UK where I have born a dead monkey could (and was ) the Labour Party candidate and they won by a mile. Left the area as soon as I could.

    I reckon at least 50% of the population believe in none of the politicians.

    Pluto’s point carries in UK and Australia to my knowledge, crisis is coming not sure in quite what form. Students from China, India, Pakistan and Nepal all say the same. Nepal has passed a law that effectively stops you criticizing China, or so a student from Nepal told be – 25 M.B.A and trying to get PR here.

    1. Just a guy,

      “I reckon at least 50% of the population believe in none of the politicians.”

      That’s a clear example of why the Republic is in trouble. Citizens don’t “believe” in politicians like paleolithic tribes believe in their shamans.

      We choose politicians. Not like customers in a restaurant choose from the menu. We work the political machinery to choose candidates, then have elections to see which has the most support. If we don’t like the people we elect, that is our failure. Not the “system’s” fault. Not the politicians’ fault.

      As your comment shows, large numbers of people have forgotten this. Until we remember how our system works, its failure is guaranteed.

      1. Many are deplorables and they are not represented.

        I live in Australia, my State produces seafood, wine, fruit and some vegetables. We make virtually nothing now due to free trade globalism, it all comes from low cost countries.

        What do we survive on:

        Tourism, a steady earner, but not a great earner.

        The big earner – International Students – Degree $30,000/ semester and Masters $50,000/semester., then their children have to pay $6000/term (four terms a year here) until Permanent Residency granted. My International Students tell me these costs all the time.

        90% of the students are coming for Permanent Residency, the University is growing fast, they fail no one unless it is just hopeless. It is a way for the rich to get out of China, India, Nepal and bring their money with them.

        In short we sell Passports dressed up as education and included in the Tourism figures to lie to the people.

        Three news clips on TV on how the local Hospitality College should be separate to the State Vocational Training Sector, then saw my sister in law, who is a manager in English Language for Migrants in schools. 20 Chinese Instructors with average IELTS 4 (ie very low English) are doing an accelerated Australian Teaching Qualification at the local University to instruct in the new Chinese Hotel / Hospitality School being set up. My sister in law has been given the task of helping them get through at any cost time or money – so they have a full time ESL Teacher helping them, From ex colleagues at the University I heard they are doing some sort of co-operation with a Chinese Hospitality University as one of these old colleagues has been asked to do the Business Unit, but set the reading to a minimum (so for International Students). She asked me if I wanted Tutorial work. Old colleague is Malaysian Chinese and is appalled at the way the University is behaving – passing everyone.

        My guess on these factors, separate the Hospitality Section starve it of money, so it fails, at the same time full fee paying International Hospitality School will do well, sell failing public school at rock bottom price to private Hospitality School – has huge valuable kitchens etc. Hospitality training for the whole State will be Chinese owned by a company with part CCP ownership. As sops the local University will get to do the business units and make a fortune on these, at least for a while.

        I know this is happening, I would be shut up as a Racist if I said anything, being a white male over 50 and I would loose my job in State Vocational Education.

        The Silent Invasion Clive Hamilton predicted Tasmania would be the soft underbelly and it is.

      2. Just a Guy,

        “What do we survive on”

        Australia runs a trade surplus. Australia is the 20th largest exporter in the world (and the 14th largest GDP). So it “survives on” (in a trade sense) its major exports — which are all natural resources: Iron Ore ($48.2B), Coal ($47B), Gold ($29.1B), Petroleum Gas ($20.3B) and Wheat ($4.88B).

        As for the rest, I guess Australia’s geographic isolation has not prevented infection by Leftist ideology.

  5. Some people believe that Jackie actually shot JFK in Dallas, although it was not the fatal headshot among several shooters that day. (The headshot was, apparently, from the driver.) When she crawls over the back trunk immediately afterwards, people suspect that she is handing over the very small custom pistol.

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