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First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.

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What We Omit Says a Lot - Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 00:01


What We Omit Says a Lot

David C. Stolinsky, MD
April 29, 2010

In one of his most famous cases, Sherlock Holmes noted that a dog didn’t bark in the night. Holmes concluded that the dog knew the intruder and thus solved the case. “The dog that didn’t bark” became an expression for something that should have happened − but didn’t.

If Holmes were here today, he would have many similar cases. If the dog fails to bark, intruders can enter. If media moguls, journalists and “experts” tamper with the facts, fraud and bias can creep in.

The case of the missing First Amendment.

“South Park” is notoriously irreverent. It has caricatured famous political and religious figures. This provoked criticism, but never threats. There are about 2.1 billion Christians in the world, but to my knowledge, not one threatened “South Park” because of insults to Jesus.

When “South Park” depicted Jesus, Moses, Muhammad and Buddha together, it received no death threats − but that was before 9/11. Recently, the episode was removed from the website. This time, “South Park” caricatured not Muhammad, but the inability to depict him. He was shown completely enclosed in a bear suit. But even caricaturing the inability to caricature Muhammad brought death threats to Comedy Central, so these images were also removed.

There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, and insulting their prophet brings death threats. Recall the Danish cartoons, which caused riots resulting in deaths. Recall Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh, who was murdered because he made a film documenting mistreatment of women in some Muslim nations.

If there are 2.1 billion Christians in the world, why are there no death threats when “artists” exhibit photos of an actual crucifix immersed in urine, or a painting of the Virgin Mary covered with dung? Why do threats of violence come from only one side? And why do cowards give in to the threats?

It is said that discretion is the better part of valor. But for Comedy Central, it’s excretion. Clearly, they soiled their drawers. If people are afraid to stand up for their values, can they remain free? I wouldn’t bet on it.

The case of the altered speech.

In the film “Pearl Harbor,” Jon Voigt gives a fine performance as President Roosevelt asking Congress for a declaration of war against Japan in the “Day of Infamy” speech. The screen version follows the actual speech, but with a major omission. Roosevelt declared:

With confidence in our armed forces − with the unbounded determination of our people − we will gain the inevitable triumph − so help us God.

The film version omitted “so help us God.” Why? Did it detract from the drama? No, it was very dramatic. Was it irrelevant? No, it was entirely appropriate for a respected leader to ask for God’s help in an hour of danger.

So what was the problem with those four words? Or rather, what was the problem with that one word? When people are frightened of dying, or of their loved ones dying, many call upon God. The screenwriters apparently would not do so − fine. But why pretend that others wouldn’t?

Why construct an artificial world where nobody is religious? Why not depict the real world as dramatically as possible? Is an agenda more important than an accurate and dramatic film?

The case of the stolen guns.

In the film “Schindler’s List,” Liam Neeson gives an outstanding performance as Oskar Schindler, a womanizing, hard-drinking German who was a Nazi Party member. Yet during World War II, he saved about 1200 Jews from extermination by putting them to work in his factory. They now have over 6000 descendants.

Schindler escaped the clutches of the Gestapo by claiming that “his” Jews were doing essential war work. But Schindler was even braver. He did something that could not have been explained away. Had it been discovered, he would have been executed.

He stole guns and gave them to “his” Jews, so that if they were discovered, they could defend themselves. The film ran 3 hours 15 minutes, yet somehow there was no time to include this incident, which would have taken a minute or two.

Was the incident boring? No, it would have been dramatic. Was it violent? No, the film depicted awful violence. The problem was that an anti-gun agenda was more important to the film makers than depiction of a dramatic and revealing incident.

To believe that today’s Americans shouldn’t have guns is illogical. Careful studies show that allowing law-abiding citizens to carry guns reduces the rate of violent crime. But to believe that Jews during the Holocaust shouldn’t have had guns borders on being genocidal.

The guns were stolen twice − by Schindler to help the Jews, and by the film makers to further their leftist agenda.

The case of the unrecognized heroes.

Some time ago, a respected TV newscaster died in Los Angeles. His grieving colleagues gave him an extensive tribute, including details of his distinguished career in journalism.

Also noted was that during World War II, he served in the Army Air Forces and flew 29 combat missions, for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Photos of him and his youthful buddies were shown.

The Los Angeles Times ran a lengthy obituary, including details of his TV career, but omitting his military service entirely. When I asked why, a spokesman replied that if it had been included, there might not have been room for other details I found “interesting.” The problem was not what I found “interesting,” but what was important. The editors thought it unimportant that this man risked his life 29 times to defend our country.

If I depended on the mainstream media, I never would have heard of Paul Smith, Jason Dunham, Michael Murphy, Michael Monsoor, Ross McGinnis or Jared Monti. Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse? It’s on the front page of the New York Times for 32 consecutive days. But courage and sacrifice by our troops? Positive role models for young people? Honoring those who defend our freedoms, including freedom of the press? It’s not “interesting.”

The case of the missing corpses.

Whether America should make reparations for slavery is a subject that exacerbates the debate on race. But the question implies something untrue − that no reparations have yet been paid.

The total death toll for both sides in the Civil War was about 624,511. About one-third of a million white men and boys died fighting for the Union. This does not include African American soldiers who died, nor does it include Confederate deaths.

Approximately one in four Union soldiers who served died in the war. The total population of the Union was about 20 million. One-third of a million deaths represented an enormous loss of life.

In addition, all serious arm or leg wounds were treated by amputation. Veterans on crutches or with pinned-up sleeves were a common sight on American streets for many years.

If all those severed limbs, and all the blood that soaked into the earth from the dead and wounded, do not constitute reparations, nothing ever could. Yet these facts are rarely mentioned when the subject of reparations is raised. Why? Are the dead and wounded unimportant? Or are they merely inconvenient?

Perhaps we have watched too many televised trials and seen famous, high-priced lawyers make mountains of evidence “disappear” to get their clients acquitted.

Perhaps we have watched too many politicians posturing for the media, while accomplishing nothing even remotely useful.

Perhaps we have watched too much TV and seen mousse-haired “talking heads” shamelessly slanting the news, while omitting inconvenient facts.

We may have gotten the impression that the truth is something we can fabricate to suit ourselves.

People judge us by what we say. But it is equally logical to judge us by what we don’t say. What we choose to omit is as revealing as what we select to include. It tells a great deal about our values.

Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: