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Sorting truth from bias isn't such an easy task

In William T. Define’s letter (“How do we know caravan migrants aren’t criminals?” Nov. 29) in response to The Baltimore Sun’s editorial (“Trump’s tweets and the truth about migrants at the border,” Nov. 26), his observation about knowing the truth is profoundly relevant and necessary. Mr. Define raises the question of the basis for a “factual assertion.” He then asserts that “CNN and the Baltimore Sun share a certain political bias.” Is there truth regarding his assertion? Or is it his bias?

The French writer Simone de Beauvoir in “The Second Sex” stated, “It is doubtless impossible to approach any human problem with a mind free from bias.” If she is correct, then her idea probably applies to all of us, including Mr. Define, myself, CNN and The Baltimore Sun. How does the issue and problem of truth cope with this aspect of human behavior? After all, editorials reflect opinions which may not be subject to verifiable evidence and resulting in absolute truth. Opinions can sometimes be very dangerous.

Mr. Define’s several questions about being able to know for certain whether all of the people in the caravan are decent human beings are logical, understandable given the current time, and there is a possibility if not probability that some of the people in the caravan are not decent (whatever is meant by “decent”) human beings.

If that knowledge of dangerousness cannot be fully known, then what should the immigration policy be? As Boris Epshteyn, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s chief political analyst and a former White House official for President Donald Trump, argued, “American authorities had to use tear gas … to guard against an attempted invasion of the United States.” Was that the only viable strategy to manage U.S. immigration policy? Perhaps. However, if tear gas only focused upon “criminal and gang elements — and bad dudes,” a better case could be made that it helped to protect the United States of America. However, tear gas does not discriminate. It is not selective. It encompasses all on the ground including children. Is this a “comprehensive immigration plan?”

I would point out, additionally, that whatever immigration policy the United States had in the past, they admitted (hopefully unintentionally) criminal elements (such as organized crime syndicates) and direct participants in the Holocaust who murdered millions before fleeing to this country. Obviously, a policy did not prevent this. Perhaps there is not a foolproof way of determining the truth ahead of time about those who seek and desire a renewed life om the U.S.

If we depend upon the current president for truth on the immigration matter then we might still be left searching for verifiable truth. Some people believe that President Donald Trump feeds on fear as a tactic to solidify, maintain his power and fulfill his intentions. The power of truth is undermined by lies — especially if the lying can be revealed with evidence. Many sources (perhaps biased or maybe not) document the lies by indicating verifiable truth. The current president is not Abraham “Honest Abe” Lincoln, he is Donald “Dishonest Don” Trump.”

I do applaud Mr. Define for addressing the issue of wanting to know the truth, how we define the truth and then what we, as a nation, ought to do with that knowledge. Maybe we can live up to Mr. Define’s family name.

Paul Bolenbaugh

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