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 facts, fraud and bias can creep in.
The case of the missing prayer
Todd Beamer was a passenger on United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. What happened was verified by the telephone supervisor with whom he spoke. They recited the Lord’s Prayer together, and he made her promise to tell his wife and sons he loved them. He then said his timeless words:
God help me. Jesus help me. Are you ready? Let’s roll!
Beamer played a key role in the passengers’ revolt against the terrorists. As a result, the airliner crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, and not into the Capitol Building or the White House, thereby saving many lives. Revealingly, his timeless words were omitted from the film United 93. Hollywood doesn’t like to say anything positive about Christians, even if it is factual.
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 a leftist agenda more important than an accurate and dramatic film?
The case of the missing couple
The 1997 film Titanic includes many verified scenes, as well as many scenes invented for dramatic effect. But one verified scene is omitted.
Among the passengers were Isidor and Ida Straus. Straus was co-owner of Macy’s Department Store. Once it was clear the ship was sinking, the Strauses went to the lifeboat deck with their newly hired English maid. Mrs. Straus refused to get into the lifeboat without her husband, saying, “I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die, together.” A ship’s officer allowed Mr. Straus to board, seeing that he was elderly, but Straus refused to leave until all the women had been boarded.
Mrs. Straus gave her fur coat to her maid as the maid boarded the lifeboat, explaining that she would not be needing it. The couple was last seen on the boat deck, together. Mr. Straus’s body was recovered later; his wife’s was not. A plaque in Macy’s original store on 34th Street commemorated their unbreakable devotion. The plaque was removed when the store was renovated. But this is no excuse to remove the memory.
The 1953 film Titanic, though less realistic, does include a moving scene of Mr. and Mrs. Straus. But the makers of the 1997 film just couldn’t find the time in 3 hours 15 minutes to show this touching and verified event. In fact, the scene was filmed, then cut out, though it lasted only 24 seconds. Was this latent anti-Semitism? Was it a simple oversight? Or was it that marital devotion was thought to be passé? Who knows?
In the 1953 film, when the lookouts sighted the iceberg, one crossed himself and said, “Jesus, Mary!” In the 1997 film, one said, “Bugger me!” No one is sure what the lookouts really said. But what do you say? Which screenplay represented a higher level of civilization? Can upgrading special effects make up for a deteriorating moral compass?
The case of the stolen guns
In the 1993 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, and probably tortured first.
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 delusional, even 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, an editor replied that if it had been included, there might not have been room for other details he found “interesting.” The problem was not what he 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 even one of the 16 recipients of the Medal of Honor in Afghanistan or Iraq. Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse? 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 decades.
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 gained the impression that the truth is something we can fabricate to suit ourselves.
We may have gotten the notion that reality is like a buffet, where we can select what we like and ignore what we don’t. No, reality is like a sit-down dinner, where we take what we are handed and make the best of it.
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 often as revealing as what we select to include. It tells a great deal about our values — or lack of values.
Written by David C. Stolinsky, MD
Dr. Stolinsky is a retired medical oncologist, scholar, and co-author of Firearms: A Handbook for Health Professionals, published by The Claremont Institute. For other articles written by Dr. Stolinsky, check out our search feature on this website.