Donald Trump’s Lies Are Dangerous

February 13, 2017 Carol No comments exist
Donald Trump's lies are dangerous
In his inauguration speech, Donald Trump alluded to abandoned factories littered across America “like tombstones”, in a nod to the people who elected him. Patrick Semansky / AP Photo

Donald J. Trump has been lying to us. These are not the ordinary lies of ordinary politicians. No –These lies have been carefully designed to further the interests of the liar himself. His thirst for power. His narcissistic personality disorder. Personal financial gain. To sanction and enable some deplorable attitudes and actions – sexism, racism, bigotry, and the like. 

The Politics of Fear

You see, Donald Trump is a master of the politics of fear.

 

Fear is in the air, and fear is surging. Americans are more afraid today than they have been in a long time: Polls show majorities of Americans worried about being victims of terrorism and crime, numbers that have surged over the past year to highs not seen for more than a decade. Every week seems to bring a new large- or small-scale terrorist attack, at home or abroad. Mass shootings form a constant drumbeat. Protests have shut down large cities repeatedly, and some have turned violent. Overall crime rates may be down, but a sense of disorder is constant.

 

Fear pervades Americans’ lives—and American politics. Trump is a master of fear, invoking it in concrete and abstract ways, summoning and validating it. More than most politicians, he grasps and channels the fear coursing through the electorate. And if Trump still stands a chance to win in November, fear could be the key. – Ball, Molly. “Donald Trump and the Politics of Fear.” The Atlantic 2 September 2016.

 

Examples

Travel Ban on Citizens from Mainly Muslim Countries

In this example, we see how Trump preys on Americans’ fears about being victims of terrorism.

 

“From start to finish, the 2016 presidential election vividly revealed that Islamaphobia is alive, and potent and politically resonant as ever,” writes University of Detroit Professor Khaled Baydoun. “Scapegoating Islam and vilifying Muslims was far more than merely campaign messaging; for Donald Trump it was a winning strategy.”

 

The above quote is included in “What Trump team has said about Islam,” by BBC News reporter Anthony Zurcher, published on February 7, 2017.  

On January 27, 2017, Trump signed an executive order suspending the arrival of all refugees for at least 120 days, Syrian refugees indefinitely – and barring citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

 

On February 7, 2017, a federal appeals court unanimously rejected a Trump administration request to allow its travel ban to take effect. Acknowledging the government’s interest in combating terrorism, the judges nonetheless wrote, “The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States. Rather than present evidence to explain the need for the Executive Order, the Government has taken the position that we must not review the decision at all.”

Abandoned Factories

Americans are nervous about the economy. Here we see how Trump capitalizes on this fear in order to “establish a politics of fear, render the very notion of facts irrelevant and exploit the anger of the white working class to start a revolution in the American political establishment.”

In his inauguration speech, Mr Trump alluded to abandoned factories littered across America “like tombstones”, in a nod to the people who elected him. And yet, those factories have been abandoned thanks in part to a transformation in the American economy that many of Mr Trump’s own advisers orchestrated in their positions in finance companies such as Goldman Sachs.

 

The optics of his inauguration address, delivered with his fist in the air, demonstrate the underlying objectives of his administration: establish a politics of fear, render the very notion of facts irrelevant and exploit the anger of the white working class to start a revolution in the American political establishment.

– Dana, Joseph. “Trump’s America is a fearful place. We must remain vigilant.” The National 29 January 2017.

Six Serious Untruths in the First Five Weeks After His Election

On December 19, 2016, Washington Monthly published “Trump’s Most Dangerous Lies.” Senior writer Anne Kim details “six serious untruths” in the first five weeks after Trump’s election.

 

Here is the introductory paragraph:

 

The most egregious – and most dangerous – untruths promoted by our president-elect to date are what seem to be the deliberate lies – the ones intended to undermine Trump’s opposition, shore up his base and sow the dissension and chaos that help to consolidate his hold on power. They are red flag markers of his authoritarian tendencies, and they’ve been happening with distressing regularity. So far, Trump has managed to generate at least six such serious untruths in just the first five weeks after his election: 

Similarities between Trump and Hitler’s Propaganda Tactics

German conservatives did not see Hitler as Hitler — they saw Hitler as Trump – Chait, Jonathan. “How Hitler’s Rise to Power Explains Why Republicans Accept Donald Trump.” Daily Intelligencer 7 July  2016.

While the scholars I “consulted,” (via the internet) did not see Trump as another Hitler, they did point out some startling similarities between Trump and Hitler’s propaganda tactics.

 

Nicholas O’Shaughnessy is Professor of Communication at Queen Mary, University of London and currently Visiting Professor at King’s College London. His book Selling Hitler: Propaganda and the Nazi Brand has just been published by Hurst in the UK and distributed by Oxford University Press in the USA.

 

O’Shaughnessy summarizes these for us:

  • The key similarity is the emotional strategy and, specifically, the way in which both maestros of rhetoric exploited the primal emotions of Pride, Fear and Anger.
  • The second similarity lies in the manipulative tactics which both employed—the maneuvers, the panaceas, the frauds.

Read his full article here: Expert on Nazism explains the shocking similarities between Trump and Hitler’s propaganda tactics.

Donald Trump’s Lies Are Dangerous

Lies made by the likes of Donald Trump are dangerous because:

  • They poison our democracy
  • They worsen political divisions
  • They put vulnerable people at risk
  • They empower the liar to make bad and even dangerous decisions

We Must Remain Vigilant

If we are going to counteract the dangerous consequences of Trump’s lies, we must all maintain a high degree of vigilance.

The Mis-Education of America

We cannot allow ourselves to “be distracted by the trivial and the trashy.”

Donald Trump learned a key lesson from his forays into football, boxing and wrestling: if you give the people bread and circuses, you can get away with anything. He may be able to get away with authoritarianism so long as enough Americans are distracted by the trivial and the trashy. It is right to be concerned that despite the high-profile havoc of the past three weeks, too few Americans realize that what Betsy DeVos, Scott Pruitt and Rex Tillerson will do to this country (and in the cases of Pruitt and Tillerson, this planet) is far more important than what Tom Brady and the Patriots did last weekend. – Tucker, D,R.. “The Mis-Education of America (or, How Trump Won the Big Game).” Washington Monthly 11 February 2017.

Fight Lies With The Truth

The best way to fight lies is with the truth.

Internet Fact-Checkers

I recommend these two internet fact-checkers:

The Press

In 1929, Hitler chose Josef Goebbels as his Minister of Propaganda. Control of the mass media was at the heart of Goebbels plan as he developed the cult of personality around Hitler.

 

Donald Trump ran what has been widely acknowledged as the most mendacious, racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, and anti-immigrant presidential campaign in U.S. history. He also ruthlessly attacked the media, alternately whining about how he was portrayed and castigating the press for investigating his business dealings, statements, and personal behavior. And as if that were not enough, he also targeted individual journalists—like MSNBC’s Katy Tur, who found herself the focus of the wrath of angry mobs at Trump rallies.

 

Attacking the press was part of the plan all along; that much is obvious. Authoritarians attack institutions to channel anger and distract attention from the needs of real people. And now that he has been elected, Trump is trying to control the media. In a democracy, this cannot stand. In fact, a democracy cannot stand without the free press.

– Jacobsen, Jody. “Media Watch: Trump Is Trying to Control the Press, and We Must Not Let Him.” Rewire 22 November. 2016.

I recommend these news outlets for fact-based reporting:

Mr. Trump seems to fancy himself an autocrat who can rule by fear. Let’s not, I pray, prove him right. Rather, let’s maintain a high degree of vigilance. Let’s follow the news, fact-check what Trump and his administration are telling us. Hold Trump and his administration responsible at every turn.

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