Drinking The Kool-Aid

Colorado Springs shooting suspect Robert Lewis Dear of North Carolina is seen in undated photos provided by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. A gunman burst into a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 and opened fire, launching several gunbattles and an hourslong standoff with police as patients and staff took cover. By the time the shooter surrendered, at least three people were killed, including a police officer and at least nine others were wounded, authorities said. (El Paso County Sheriff's Office via AP)

This is going to be interesting. The organization Center for Medical Progress has reacted to a law suit brought by Planned Parenthood. Despite the name, CMP is not so much a center for medical progress as it is a force working to oppose legal medical abortions in the United States. The full name of Planned Parenthood is Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Its focus is reproductive health services and counseling for women as well as families seeking to manage family growth. Services include legal medical abortions as well as assistance with pregnancy prevention and prenatal health. Abortion services account about 3% of PPFA services, but that is enough to make them a target of the CMP. David Daleiden is the founder of CMP:

Daleiden set up a fake biomedical research company, called Biomax Procurement Services, as a cover to enable activists to pose as buyers of fetal tissues and organs and secretly record Planned Parenthood officials during meetings.

Ten videos produced by Daleiden have been released to the public, and they purport to show PPFA personnel arranging the sale of fetal tissue, for profit, to “Biomax.” Such a business arrangement, if actually entered into, would be a violation of federal law and the laws of several states. Violation of these laws would bring criminal sanctions against individual participants as well as against PPFA. The apparent objective of Daleiden and his cohorts was exactly to do such damage to PPFA.

When Daleiden’s videos were made public the reaction was vehement from certain members of Congress and from a number of current presidential candidates. PPFA stood to lose public funding in the amount of $530 million a year.

The problem with the videos is that the alleged illegal activity never took place. The videos were heavily edited and arranged to give the impression of illegal activity, but investigation by law enforcement agencies failed to find any evidence of criminal activity on the part of PPFA. The videos have turned out to be nothing more than propaganda pieces engineered to cause trouble for PPFA.

Of course, the classic aim of propaganda is to convey wrong impressions to the benefit of the propagandist. It’s an aged and venerable art. One of the masters of the previous century was Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. I have previously reviewed the Heinrich Fraenkel and Roger Manvell book on Goebbels’ life and death.

What can go wrong with a really effective propaganda program is that the perpetrator can fall victim to his own campaign. That’s apparently what happened with Goebbels. When the Nazi regime collapsed he and his wife decided they did not want to live in a world without National Socialism. Neither did they want their children to. They poisoned all six and had guards shoot the parents.

Is Daleiden going the Goebbels route? There’s the possibility. Statements he has made in response to the PPFA suit suggest this:

The Center for Medical Progress’ David Daleiden called the lawsuit “frivolous” and a “last-ditch move of desperation.”

“Game on,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to deposing all the CEOs, medical directors, and their co-conspirators who participated in Planned Parenthood’s illegal baby body parts racket.”

It’s hard to escape that Daleiden actually believes, in the face of strong evidence to the contrary, that his propaganda videos contain an element of truth. If he does, he is not alone. These convictions are shared by a number of otherwise cogent individuals, including at least one notaable candidate for President of the United States:

At Debate, Carly Fiorina Described Scenes Not in Abortion Videos

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina won applause in Wednesday’s debate for her vivid description of a live fetus she said was shown in an antiabortion group’s undercover video about Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

But the image she described isn’t in any of the videos released by the antiabortion group. Instead, one video from the group depicts a former employee of a tissue procurement company stating what she says she saw at a Planned Parenthood clinic. There was never any video that depicted, as Ms. Fiorina stated, a live fetus on a table being prepared for organ harvesting.

In the case of David Daleiden, I don’t think he will go full Jonestown, but it will not be pretty. Daleiden may say he’s looking forward to deposing PPFA, but when the full spotlight is turned onto his enterprise, its hollowness will be unfavorably exposed. He should have taken a lesson from oddball gunman Robert Dear. Also Herr and Frau Goebbels: Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

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One thought on “Drinking The Kool-Aid

  1. Pingback: Drinking The Kool-Aid | Skeptical Analysis

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