The second lesson is a bigger one. In the Internet age anybody can create a front group, and no one has to disclose where the money is coming from. A full-page ad in the New York Times costs about $168,000. Did the people listed on the Defcon website pay for the ad? If not, who did? Non-profit groups file with the IRS, and anybody can find out who funds them. But you can create a phantom group on the Internet and smear people with impunity. This is wrong.
And it goes over the top. If he were alive today, I think Sen. McCarthy would look at this and be embarrassed. Defcon gives McCarthyism a bad name.
With McCarthy the nation’s conscience finally kicked in. Joe Welsh, the legendary council for the Army, famously asked him, “Have you no sense of decency, sir . . . ?” That galvanized decent Americans, and the tide shifted as the press began condemning McCarthy’s vicious tactics. They were rightly outraged, and McCarthy was censured by the Senate. Where is the press outrage today?
Now, this is not a time for Christians to strike back in anger. But we ought to be calling people to moral indignation. And we ought to remember that when we fight evil, we will be attacked by unprincipled people. Take it in stride. As my friend Richard Neuhaus said some years ago, “Undaunted, we are enlisted for the duration bearing witness to the truth.”
BreakPoint offer: Subscribe today to BreakPoint WorldView magazine! Call 1-877-322-5527.
See Defcon’s website to learn more about the group. View Defcon’s ad against James Dobson, Ralph Reed, and Lou Sheldon. (Adobe Acrobat Reader required.)
Steve Jordahl, “Opponents Try to Tie Dobson to Abramoff,” Family News in Focus, 9 March 2006.
“Group Targets Dobson for Alleged Ties to Lobbyist,” Associated Press, 8 March 2006.
Max Blumenthal, “Abramoff Splits the Christian Right,” Yahoo! News, 7 March 2006.
Mike Soraghan, “Liberal Group Targets Dobson,” Denver Post, 7 March 2006.
M. E. Sprengelmeyer and Jean Torkelson, “Group Targets Focus Founder,” Rocky Mountain News, 8 March 2006.
BreakPoint Commentary No. 060113, “Revolution to Revulsion: Ambidextrous Corruption.”