Belmont Club

Like a lion in mid-day

There are few preset limits to human stupidity or credulity. For example, the Turkish police discovered an Istanbul villa where nine women were being secretly filmed in their underwear “after being tricked into believing they were reality TV show contestants”.

The women were apparently made to believe they were being filmed for a Big Brother-type television show, according to the private Dogan news agency. Instead, their naked images were sold on the Internet, reports said. The women had responded to an advert searching for contestants for a reality show that would be aired on a major Turkish television station.

How could anyone be so dumb? Right. Well in Baltimore, not far from the nation’s capital, CNN reports that  “two employees at … the liberal community organizing group ACORN were caught on tape allegedly offering advice to a pair posing as a pimp and prostitute on setting up a prostitution ring and evading the IRS.”

The video footage — which has been edited and goes to black in some areas — was recorded and and posted online Thursday by James O’Keefe, a conservative activist. He was joined on the video by another conservative, Hannah Giles, who posed as the prostitute in the filmmakers’ undercover sting. The video shows the pair approaching two women working at the ACORN Baltimore office and asking them for advice on how to set up a prostitution ring involving more than a dozen underage girls from El Salvador. One of the ACORN workers suggests that Giles refer to herself as a “performing artist” on tax forms and declare some of the girls as dependents to receive child tax credits. “Stop saying prostitution,” the woman, identified by the filmmaker as an ACORN tax expert, tells Giles. The other woman tells them, “You want to keep them clean … make sure they go to school.

It’s hard to decide which is more astounding, the height of venality displayed by these so-called “community organizers” or the abysmal depth of their IQs at not even being able to see through the setup.  The common denominator in both cases is the character of the wrapper around which both the peep-show house and the street crime consulting outfit were encased. In each case they were surrounded by some magic words and that was enough to keep the illusion going.  Unfortunately for many people, things are true because they are packaged in a famous brand. You could probably sell tap water for big bucks by giving it  fancy European name. “Stop saying prostitution,” the ACORN tax expert says. They are “performing artists”.  Sure. We laugh, but in reality they had probably been getting away with it for a long time.

According to CS Lewis, the greatest trick the devil pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist. But I think Lewis may have been wrong.  And even better trick is to convince stupid people they are cool. If you can debase the conscience and make ignoring its warnings trendy and fashionable then you are well on your way to accomplishing the ultimate transformation. They you can make your victims do anything and make them feel good about it. They become your tools; part of a scam they don’t even know is going on. That is the ultimate sleight of hand:  convincing the poor addled victim he is experiencing self-esteem when he is about to say that he hates what he does.

Then you’ll always be doing things for their welfare.

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