Have you noticed that media tend to present what they call “news” with a distinctive political slant?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #116 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
“Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? How often have you heard this question on television courtroom dramas?
The phrase “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” is believed to have initially been coined in Old English, and to have become a staple of English trials by approximately the 13th century. The exact wording of the oath can vary, but the general principle of swearing to tell the truth remains a fundamental part of the legal system.
The oath recognizes that it is possible to tell the truth yet fail to tell the whole truth, and thus to misrepresent an occurrence. Notice, too, the oath recognizes it is possible to tell the truth mixed with non-truth—falsehood, lies—and thus to misrepresent an occurrence.
In the wake of the Oct 7 Hamas massacre in the Holy Land and the subsequent military response of the Israeli Defense Force, it’s become increasingly difficult to discern whether we’re hearing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
I’m often perplexed by people who seem to arrive at what they consider the right and only interpretation, full blown and unassailable—no doubts, rarely any humble admission they might have missed something or simply be wrong—in highly complex circumstances like the current Holy Land crisis.
Partisans, both Democrat and Republican, without a whisper of doubt often look to their leaders or at some calculus regarding political advantage and, boom, they take a rock-solid position. This kind of approach saves time. They don’t have to think. There are a lot of these people in Washington, D.C. and in media.
Then there are ideologues, people who are intellectually and philosophically committed to a particular sociopolitical worldview, who assume positions in lockstep with their cohorts and what they consider the prevailing acceptable narrative. They rarely change their positions, even in the face of facts.
I’m not suggesting partisans or ideologues shouldn’t be free to hold their own views. I’m just wondering how they get to a point they are so certain their non-nuanced position is correct, especially when many have arrived at these positions based upon something less than the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
As a human being, I have biases too, and I am not omniscient. But as a Christian, I want to critique my own thinking and the thinking of others so that I will not be captive to culture, my own history, or as Scripture says, to “hollow and deceptive philosophy” (Col. 2:8).
The gut-wrenching nature of the Holy Land crisis has produced white-hot sensitivities. Yet discerning, thinking, and acting with moral clarity may not be as easy it first seems.
On one level, given the heinous, debased nature of the gruesome Oct 7 Hamas terrorist attack upon unsuspecting, innocent, unarmed Israelis, isn’t moral clarity starkly obvious for any right-thinking person?
Yet on another level, given the large body of Palestinian civilians now in harm’s way, enduring daily massive bombing onslaughts, maybe the morally correct response is not as easy to discern as we first thought.
Israel’s mission to eradicate Hamas. But these terrorists hide amid an urban, civilian population. High casualty rates among innocents are inevitable. People who have questioned Israel’s tactics have been accused of antisemitism. Pro-Israel supporters say Hamas, not Israel, is responsible for death of civilians.
Others, including those who support Israel, note that Israel is a nation state, which is not the same as the Jewish people. It is not ipso facto antisemitic to critique the state’s actions.
Legacy media reports, pundits on both sides of the issue, protestors, and many posting online engage in selective hearing.
Not all, but certainly many, “speak the truth,” but intentionally or maybe because they are uninformed, do not speak “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” In other words, their biases lead them to tell only part of the story.
Proponents build their seemingly incontrovertible statement upon their confirmation bias by selectively seeking, interpreting, and remembering information that supports their existing beliefs or opinions while ignoring or dismissing information that contradicts those beliefs. This failure to grasp the whole truth can lead to a skewed perception of reality and hinder objective decision-making and critical thinking.
For example, memes have been making the rounds on social media stating that Israel has been a Jewish homeland for 4,000 years and never a Palestinian state.
This is historically demonstrable. Some of these memes are simply presented as a show of solidarity with Israel. But some go beyond this, making derogatory remarks about Palestinians as people, or ignoring entirely the fact that they exist.
Without using the phrase, these sorts of meme comments often come off as an in-your-face “No Two State solution—ever” blast at Palestinians. They are boldly saying Palestinians are illegitimate because they did not exist as an organized political entity hundreds of years ago. OK, what do these pro-Israel people, including some Christians, recommend for 5.4 million Palestinians?
You could also say that before 1776 there was no USA. Is the USA illegitimate?
Frankly, these pro-Israel statements sound a lot like many Pro-Palestinian statements aimed the other direction, like those who chant “From the River to the Sea, Palestine must be free!” OK, what then do these pro-Palestine people recommend for 9.8 million Israelis?
Pro-Palestinian arguments frequently say Israel has treated Gaza as “occupied territory” for fifty years. It’s true, that in 1967, Israel seized control of Gaza in the Six-Day War with Egypt, Jordan and Syria, and held it for nearly 40 years, but Israel has not “occupied” Gaza since it voluntarily withdrew its troops and settlers in 2005. Hamas was elected in 2006, and began threatening its terrorist actions, so Israel, in coordination with Egypt, imposed blockades. Critics say this transformed Gaza into “the world’s largest open-air prison.” Others say Hamas is responsible for Gaza residents’ living conditions.
Pro-Palestinian arguments say Israel is an apartheid state. Meanwhile, those who support Israel note that the Israelis have extended an opportunity for territory ceded to Palestinians and a two-state solution five separate times. Yet each time, Palestinian leaders rejected these overtures. Why? Because the leaders were influenced by extremists who do not under any circumstances acknowledge Israel’s legitimate right to exist and who call for annihilation of the Jewish people
Pro-Israel people support the IDF’s bombardment, while others claim the loss of lives is disproportionate to the Hamas massacre, that killing civilians even if inadvertently is a “war crime,” and it is immoral to hold an entire people collectively responsible for the actions of a terrorist organization. Question is, how should Israel respond?
I read a lot of articles and try to read representative arguments on both or several sides of the issue. What I find, over and over, is that a given media outlet presents events based upon selected, incomplete histories filtered by its left, liberal, or conservative perspective, or filtered by its pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian biases.
What this means is, a given media outlet may present truth, but rarely the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
In the face of the Holy Land crisis, I find it mind-blowing to watch American university students, later all ages, protesting not simply on behalf of an admirable concern for Palestinian lives, but chanting “Gas the Jews,” “Israel, Israel, you can’t hide, we want Jewish genocide,” “Long live the Intifada,” “Divest from Zionist genocide now,” “F___ Israel,” “Glory to our martyrs,” etc. American universities have become the source of the very anti-civilizational, barbaric values they were designed to obviate. I never thought I would see open antisemitism, particularly coming largely from those in the political spectrum who have been preaching about hate speech and political correctness for the past decade. But it’s there and it is full blown.
It’s also been disturbing to read commentary, Left and Right, even some Christians, calling for genocide of either Israelis or Palestinians. But on no level is genocide morally justified.
For a few decades now, American culture has been systematically jettisoning the idea of right and wrong in favor of morally relativistic hedonism. The nihilistic chaos we see now is what you get with moral relativism.
While it’s interesting to debate these things, on the ground, people are dying. If you were in the Oval Office, or you were in a position of influence, what would you do?
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
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