It’s a quote attributed to Mark Twain, but the sentiment is as old as the human race.
A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can put its boots on.
That’s especially the case when the lie is something that people want to believe. All good con jobs start with a lie that the mark desperately wishes were true.
It becomes particularly problematic when the lie itself is so despicable, and so many are willing to take it as truth.
That’s the case right now in North Carolina, where our governor — and his strongest opponent in the coming election — are both embracing the notion that the frightened, nearly starving Syrian refugees pose a serious terrorist threat to the people of this state.
About half of Americans feel the same way, with a few points leaning either way depending on which poll you cite. More interesting is the Gallup poll that found only 6 percent of the 4 million or so people who have fled that war-torn nation have any desire to come to North America. Europe, 39 percent, and the Middle East, 35 percent, were much more desirable destinations among those polled.
The other truth is that Syrian refugees pose about as much a threat to North Carolina as Montagnards — which is to say none at all, unless what we fear is a new infusion of authentic restaurants and markets. And the Syrian Menace is nothing when compared to the actual residents of North Carolina, born and bred, who have unleashed a wave of domestic terrorism on this nation dating back to 1996, when Eric Rudolph of Macon County set off a bomb during the Olympics in Atlanta, and even further back if you count the Klan.
Slate has a neat accounting of five violent terrorists from the Old North State, culminating with the most recent offender, Robert Lewis Dear, a white man who moved from Black Mountain to Colorado Springs, Colo., apparently for the express purpose of shooting up a Planned Parenthood clinic.
He left three dead, including a 44-year-old police officer, and 10 injured. But more chilling than even the blood spilled after the five-hour standoff was the lie repeated by Dear after he was apprehended — alive, for those of us who keep track of such things.
“No more baby parts,” he said, alluding to a debunked video that accused Planned Parenthood of selling aborted tissue.
But while the lie was discredited almost immediately upon being uploaded to the internet, it has become a talking point among those who wish to represent the Republican Party in the presidential election and has echoed through the low-information ranks, gaining traction and gravity as it did.
It is likely the truth has not yet found its way to Dear. Nor has the truth made contact with GOP candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, who described the overtly religious Dear as a “transgendered leftist activist,” which is a lie so big that even Dear himself might not believe it.