Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lenin v. Roosevelt

Tonight, I want to compare the perspective of Vladimir Lenin to that of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But first I need to set the stage.

For well over a month now, various Butler offices, from that of the president through those of various vice presidents to many in the public relations office, have been saying fairly incredible things about me and The True BU. Regularly, they say that the blog threatened the safety of the campus. They say that the blog intimidated senior administrators on campus. They have regularly talked negatively about an email they admit they have no evidence I wrote at the same time they talk of The True BU in an attempt to conflate the authorship of the two. They note that “Butler does not tolerate racial and sexual epithets in the name of free exchange of ideas,” while discussing The True BU, but never once have they pointed to any such slurs.

From what I’ve seen on campus, and frankly from what I’ve seen through many contacts off campus, most people have not actually read what I’ve written in The True BU. Many people, having heard or read the Butler message, say that what I’ve done was wrong. They say it isn’t right to threaten people or to intimidate people or to use racial and sexual slurs. Who could argue with that? Certainly not me. But I didn’t actually do any of those things – despite the message repeated loudly and often by Butler to the contrary.

Which brings me to Vladimir Lenin – or to a quotation that has regularly been attributed to him. (I have been unable to track down the actual source of the quotation so, despite the frequency with which the attribution has been made, I don’t actually know if he said it or not.) “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”

The Butler administration seems to have wholeheartedly endorsed that sentiment. They present no evidence, but they keep repeating their statements. This is as cynical a way to influence public opinion as possible.

While I can’t stop their repetitions, I can embrace an alternative and far less cynical philosophy – one articulated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a radio address on October 26, 1939: “Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.”

I know what the truth about The True BU is and no amount of repetition will change the truth into something else. I am also very pleased by the fact that when people actually have taken the time to read what I’ve written, they too have overwhelmingly come to the same conclusion as I have.

You’d think that those in charge of an institution of higher education would come down on Roosevelt’s side of the divide – or at least you’d hope that they would. After all, education is about knowledge, about reducing ignorance. Or, as Anatole France has said (in yet another quotation that I can’t verify beyond pointing to the fact that “everyone” says it’s real): “An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't.” Unfortunately, some at Butler seem to want you to confuse the two.


  1. Perhaps it should be "a lie told often enough becomes perceived as the truth, but repitition doesn't transform that lie into a truth".

  2. It wasn't Lenin.

    It was Himmler.