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Admit it, we all use little white lies to keep from hurting others, especially youngsters; it’s a basic part of life. Softening the blow, postponing bad news of even the simple realities we think others aren’t ready to hear are part of the purpose of the white lie. However, in the Soviet Union the Russian word for white lies, “vranyo,” evolved into an entirely different meaning.

Unlike German propaganda during the Nazi era, Soviet propaganda didn’t contain any truth. That may sound odd, but Josef Goebbels, the infamous Nazi minister of propaganda, demanded that all of the Reich’s propaganda contain some truth. So even as the war was being lost, Germany’s people were given some honest facts with extreme Nazi spin. Soviet propaganda, however, required pure obedience and belief, as was demonstrated in Orwell’s “1984.” The sheer power of the State was focused on the people, and the people learned to passively act as if they were in complete agreement.

The word vranyo came to mean a game the people played to remain sane. In her best-selling memoir, “A Mountain of Crumbs,” author Elena Gorokhova describes life in the Soviet Union and explains what she means by vranyo. “The rules are simple: They lie to us, we know they are lying, they know we know they are lying, but they keep lying to us, and we keep pretending to believe them.”

Wow! When you think about the horrors of a totalitarian state, you realize how lucky we are to have the Constitution and freedom of speech to deny the lie. But do we? Fail to believe the lies we are given day to day against law enforcement, against our beliefs, against our nation, and the price can be painful. Losing your job, your reputation, your credit, are all possible today if you deny an obvious lie spread by the government or other elites. Pity the Border Patrol officer who scoffs when he hears the administration say the border is secure. Question the efficacy and safety of the COVID jab? You can be fired, ostracized, judged instantly.

Watch any mainstream media news broadcast and you will be fed propaganda before the show is over. People are all branded in the broadcast and demonized as racists, Fascists, homophobes, ableists, white supremacists, transphobes, and more. And there is no time to question, just nod and agree. Tune in at eleven for the Two Minutes of Hate that is just like the start of Orwell’s “1984,” but with only nice, smiling talking heads and commenting “experts.” The really creepy part is that when we find out the truth regarding what we have been told, they knew we knew it was a lie and they just kept lying to us, and the vast majority of Americans just kept pretending to believe them.

Anti-police rhetoric has now reached a crescendo with hardly any blowback from law enforcement leadership. We were told crime is caused by a racist system and criminals should be sent back to their loving families. Every real criminologist, every street cop, every corrections officer, and the vast majority of the population knew it was a lie, but we all pretended to believe. “Something must be done. Defund the police, resist, disarm the populace, let the people riot and pillage because it is a form of reparations, and men can have babies, and 2+2 is 5, and on and on…. The state demands you at least act as if you believe, but way too many of us eventually actually do.

The straw that broke the Soviet Union’s back was when the great writer Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, who was arrested and then exiled in 1974, published his remarkable essay “Live Not by Lies!” He was exiled for the crime of challenging the Soviet people to simply stop accepting the lies. Even though the people couldn’t stop the State, they could stop themselves from passing on to others something they believed was false. Solzhenitsyn said the following about those too afraid to deny the lies:

“And if we get cold feet, even taking this step, then we are worthless and hopeless, and the scorn of Pushkin should be directed to us: why should cattle have the gifts of freedom? Their heritage from generation to generation is the belled yoke and the lash.”

The warning in all of this for us, as law enforcement professionals, is to deny the lies. Stand against them. Is there a potential cost? Absolutely. But what is our role as peacekeepers, protectors of freedom, and a group entrusted by vast majority of people, to stand against lies? Ask yourself what you will do when confronted by the lies: deny them or propagate them?

I encourage you to deny them.

Dave Smith is an internationally recognized law enforcement trainer and is the creator of “JD Buck Savage.” You can follow Buck on Twitter at @thebucksavage

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