False accusations can confuse the political scene and ruin personal
reputation. Some false accusations can be politically manipulative
by using an emotional connection to history's injustices and by
appealing to the conscience of caring people. How can we contain our
emotions, maintain our ability to care, and yet pierce through the
falsehoods which aim at our humanity? Let's look at four ways to
confront a false accusation, including a discussion of an example
from recent political events.
(1) Find the
Does the accusation stand up to reality and truth?
(2) Find the
Does the accusation stand up to reason
and common sense?
(3) Find the
underlying messages and messengers.
There are three possible
(A) Expressed message. This is the face value of any
Insinuated message. This is what is said without directly
saying it. The purpose is to make oneself look good and others
Hidden messengers. Who is really instigating the accusation?
Who gains what?
(4) Approach the
accusation from different angles.
This is what I call my
Cardboard Box Method. Turn the accusation around, upside down, and
inside out. Turn the box around and look at the other side. Open the
box and pull out the contents. Turn the box upside down and look at
the scrapes and scratches on the bottom.
(A) Turn it around. Reverse the direction of the accusation.
Point the accusation back to the accuser. People sometimes accuse
others of their own thoughts and actions. Give the accusatory box
back to its deliverer.
Turn it inside out. Unwrap and expose the real intention
of the accusation. Is there a twisting of fact and a manipulation
of emotion? Is the truth buried? Dig through all the packaging
material and make sure nothing is left in the box.
Turn it upside down. Is there an underlying agenda? How
many places had the box been before it reached your destination?
Do a little detective work and trace the markings to discern the
substance from which the accusatory box is made.
AN EXAMPLE FROM POLITICS
There was a story on
T.V. news in which a Hispanic woman, presumably an illegal immigrant,
accused I.C.E. of committing the ethnic cleansing of Hispanics because
I.C.E. was arresting and deporting them. Let's inspect this accusation
according to my four points of confrontation.
(1) Does the accusation
stand up to fact? No. I.C.E. has a legitimate job to do, and that job
does not include terrorizing and eliminating a population of people.
In fact, only a small fraction of illegal immigrants are deported.
Moreover, those with dependent children or other hardship issues are
usually released to their U.S. homes. Illegal immigrants have broken
U.S. immigration laws, and the purpose of I.C.E. is to enforce these
laws. If you break the law, no matter how understandable your reasons
might be, you risk getting caught and encountering negative
(2) Does the accusation
stand up to common knowledge? No. Instead of living in fear of a
massive ethnic-cleansing sweep, illegal immigrants can work in
America's sanctuary cities and find refuge in sanctuary churches. This
arrangement has been a laiseé faire condition for many
years. There has been, and there continues to be, an unofficial
partnership between the U.S. government and the businesses which hire
America welcomes legal
immigrants and encourages assimilation. Assimilation is the opposite
of ethnic cleansing.* Many Americans enjoy diversity, but also expect
immigrants to identify as Americans and to show loyalty. The
melting-pot concept means that we can all live as united Americans
despite our different origins and while cherishing our cultural
(3-A) What is the
expressed message? The U.S. government is committing ethnic cleansing
against Hispanic people. However, if this were true, Hispanics would
not continue to cross the border illegally and would not seek amnesty
and citizenship. This underscores the reality that the falsely-called
ethnic-cleansing conditions of America are better than the poverty of
Mexico. It might be suspected that the Mexican government is cleansing
its country of its poor.
(3-B) What is the
insinuated message? America is a bad, racist nation. Therefore,
ethnic cleansing is within American values and capability. The U.S.
should not enforce laws which interfere with innocent foreigners who
must illegally cross the border to find jobs, and should not set
manageable quotas on the number of immigrants permitted to enter the
country. Illegal immigrants should be able to cross back and forth
freely. There should be no border, period. Border enforcement and
deportation are proof of racism.
(3-C) Who is really
instigating the accusation? Who might have introduced the accusing
woman to the term ethnic cleansing. We might speculate that she
was encouraged, if not coached, by businessmen making profits in the
sanctuary cities, by misguided clergy who misinterpret the Bible, and
by illegal-immigration activists. What can they gain? They gain or
stand to gain: cheap labor, self-righteous leadership, and raw
(4-A) What would happen
if we reversed the direction of the accusation? We would have to
accuse certain illegal immigrants and their advocates of committing
reconquista. That is to say, their goal is to reconquer the
southwestern United States for Mexico. The concept of reconquista
involves more than the fringe politics of extremist Mexicans, and it
goes deeper than any paranoid perception of nativist Americans; it
also centers around feelings of entitlement to settle in the U.S.
without renouncing allegiance to the mother-country. It means there
are certain pro-illegal immigration groups which want to cleanse
mainstream Americans of self-determination, to dominate culturally and
politically, and to replace America's diverse heritages with
culture-bound Mexican ways and the Spanish language.
(4-B) What would happen
if we exposed the emotional wrappings of the accusation? The intention
seems to be to demonize America with reference to the ugly innards of
our history. America approved of and utilized slavery. America
slaughtered Native Americans and took their lands. The accusation
reinforces the cruel practices of the past, and compels mainstream
Americans to hide their faces in shame and guilt. Therefore, the only
way Americans can atone for the past, or prove the accusation wrong, is
to stop enforcing immigration laws.
(4-C) What is the
underlying agenda? Unfortunately for hardworking illegal immigrants,
legal immigrants, and everyday Americans, the accusation serves as a
mere prop in the theatre of identity politics. It seems that the
agenda is to hold America accountable for the poverty of the
mother-countries, and responsible for providing jobs and humanitarian
services to foreign people. The agenda harbors demands and
entitlements, justified by an emotional connection between past abuses
and current legitimate laws. The instigators of the agenda achieve a
stage for the performance of their self-serving ambitions.
The four confrontations
can be applied to various types of accusations: political,
professional, and personal. It can help people to balance truth,
reason, and emotion, and not to be swayed by the warping and
manipulation of these qualities. It is not wrong for kind-hearted
Americans to question and analyze the motivation that might be stuffed
inside statements presented as facts, or to set limits on out-of-control
behaviors and situations. Not to do so would be naive and ultimately
self-destructive. (Written 04/07/08)
[*ADDED NOTE: The
statement, "Assimilation is the opposite of ethnic cleansing,"
was meant to suggest a contrasting and positive alternative as well as
to emphasize America's humanitarian values. It could also be stated,
from a different viewpoint, that anarchy is the opposite of ethnic
cleansing. Anarchy might more accurately describe the current illegal
immigration situation inasmuch as border laws are broken, Social
Security cards are forged, and wages are sometimes off-the-books (no
taxes are paid); and inasmuch as these crimes are committed with few or
no negative consequences.
The attempt to control this out-of-control situation, to bring order
out of chaos, is a matter of law enforcement and not ethnic cleansing.
Since Hispanics have been illegally crossing the border for many years,
one might say that there has been an ethnic preference for Hispanics in
the low-wage labor market. Hispanic and other foreigners are preferred
over American citizens because they are willing to work for low wages.
The cleansing, therefore, has been that of the American working class.]
Until we meet