Truth matters

By Clay Hodges

Recently, a citizen wrote a letter to the editor of The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., criticizing the documentary on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The letter took exception to the science undergirding the film, claiming that “detailed research and studies” contradicted “nearly everything” that Al Gore “and his fellow greenies” presented as fact in the documentary.

Several weeks ago, a firestorm erupted over the ABC miniseries, “The Path to 9/11.”

By virtually all accounts, the program fabricated key events from the Clinton administration regarding the pursuit of Osama bin Laden, and advocates for Clinton protested.

Conservative pundits and groups immediately shouted outrage at these protesters for attempting to influence the final edit of the miniseries.

Has it come to this? Have we abandoned the truth in favor of a fleeting political advantage? Have we become this polarized and cynical?

The questions grow more personal and more ominous:  Are you part of the problem? Am I? Do you ignore valid evidence when offered by the political party you oppose? Would I exploit a scandalous — though false — news story if it helped my political party win an election?

I cannot accept that many of us desire to mislead, or to be misled.

If there are studies disputing the conclusion that humans are the cause of a dangerous acceleration of our global climate, it seems to me liberals and conservatives should demand to see this research.

On the other hand, if the scientific community concludes without legitimate dissent that human activities are indeed responsible for the increase in global warming, all of us should rally around this knowledge and work to solve the problem.

Similarly, if any dramatization of an important historical event fabricates scenes from any administration, whether Democratic or Republican, we should all be outraged.

I may well be naive. Perhaps valid evidence and scientific consensus are the last things many interest groups desire.

The question, then, is worth asking: What compromises will each of us accept to achieve a victory for a political party or for a set of principles we support?

This country is in desperate need of honest self-reflection and appraisal. Only then can we hope to get the leaders we deserve.

Clay Hodges is an attorney in he firm of Harris, Winfield & Hodges in Raleigh, N.C., and a member of the 2003-05 class of the William C. Friday Fellowships for Human Relations, a program of the Wildacres Leadership Initiative in Durham, N.C.

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