WHEN FACTS ARE DISMISSED AS “LIES” AND “FAKE” THEN THERE’S REALLY NOTHING TO DISCUSS
OR ALTERNATIVELY: WHEN FACTS ARE DERIDED AS FAKE WE ARE BEYOND THE POINT WHERE DISCUSSIONS ARE PRACTICAL OR EFFECTIVE
More pleas from public officials and media types urging our “coming together,” “uniting the country, “setting aside our difference,” “healing the nation” from all quarters as this so-called administration shreds the Constitution and imparts new meaning to the term "political spin." No. Sorry, I’m not buying it. This “coming together” crap is simply a tactic of “normalization” in a situation that is way beyond anything and everything that could possibly be described as “normal.”
And here’s why:
"I'm ecstatic! It's a breath of fresh air," Judy Griffin exclaimed when I asked her about the nascent Trump presidency. "The country was going on a near-death experience collision. Political correctness was about to strangle us all." Judy Griffin, Woodstock GA
"He's the perfect reality show star. He's now starring in his own reality show," she said.
"It's a breath of fresh air!" is one form of probably the most common expression of Trump's supporters feelings about what he is doing. He's shaking things up and his folks are thrilled! You find these sentiments from Trump voters consistently all across the nation. Even when voicing critical comments, they dismiss their own criticisms as “minor elements” compared to the enormous task that Trump has undertaken in saving America. The reality is that Trump supporters don’t see Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States as we do. They see him as a savior. Some avatar sent by God to save them and the country from destruction. A Second Coming. It’s why no matter how egregious are the actions of Trump and his Fascist Trump Team, all is forgiven. After all he’s not your “ordinary” politician, not your Inside The Beltway pol manipulating folks and pocketing millions of dollars as they get re-elected over and over again. No. No. Not Trump. He’s the real deal. He's a man of the people.
It isn’t all that difficult to fathom why it is that Trump voters don’t see him as a dangerous demagogue as the rest of us do. Why? Because we here in the United States of America have never elected a dictator before. But it looks as if our history of electing non-dictatorial Presidents is about to change. From Hitler to Pinochet to Putin – all of whom were “freely elected,” by the way – the tactics of press suppression, feel good but ineffective public policies, the reliance of bombastic spectacle, singling out enemies, blaming minorities for the nation’s problems are all common strategies used by dictators to overthrow democratic institutions all around the world and all throughout the course of history.
Take the Muslim Ban for example. Of course Muslim terrorists have wrecked carnage in many places around the world from Iraq to Paris. But they haven’t here in the U.S. But Trump has picked out Muslims as the enemy and has enacted the Muslim Ban in a show of force designed to show Trump voters that he’s protecting them. Taking action to prevent Islamic Jihadist terrorist attacks in our homeland. This tactic resembles nothing more than Hitler’s selection of Jews as the cause of all of Germany’s post World War II problems. The problems – uncontrolled inflation, loss of industrial capacity, unemployment, hunger, destruction of German cities – were real. The causes Hitler chose to highlight, however, were not.
Same thing with the Muslim Travel Ban. Just yesterday it was revealed that the Department of Homeland Security has authored a memo that actually put the kibosh on the entire Muslim Ban as being ineffective in preventing terrorists from entering the U.S. and attacking us. The Trump Administration bashed their own work – authored by Obama holdovers, presumably – by saying that this was not a full government wide analysis but a “single source” work that is deficient. The facts of the matter show that, indeed, the memo had input from the Justice Department, the State Department and the Intelligence Community.
Here’s the gist of the 3 page memo:
Refugees seeking asylum in the USA from the seven countries listed under President Trump’s controversial travel ban do not pose a significant terrorism threat to the United States, according to an internal Department of Homeland Security memo.
The three-page memo, titled “Citizenship Likely an Unreliable Indicator of Terrorist Threat to the United States” and obtained by the Associated Press, was drafted in response to a White House request and contradicts assertions by the Trump administration that the travel ban was necessary to keep Americans safe.
Remember, this was a request from the White House but they didn't get the kind of "facts" they wanted to support the legitimacy of the Muslim Travel Ban so they dismissed it out of hand. This is the very same tactic used to de-legitimize the press with the dismissal of unflattering facts and factual information calling it "Fake News." Here’s the DHS memo in its entirety:
It’s quite clear in its conclusions that Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban is a bunch of hooey. The memo doesn’t say that the Muslim Travel Ban only incites more extremists to commit acts of terrorism, but I will. Because it does exactly this.
But, and here’s the kicker: the facts cited in the DHS memo are irrelevant to Trump’s voters. They believe that Trump has taken forceful action – extreme vetting – to protect them from terrorists attacks and any claims otherwise are just liberal press lies and fake news. Their President believes the same.
And it is this refusal to accept any fact-based information that goes against their pre-determined beliefs that is inimical to “coming together” and “uniting the country.”
When facts are dismissed as lies, there is really nothing to discuss.
Trump, like any dictator who is proficient in his craft, is a master at manipulating what would otherwise be clear, rational and cogent “words” with agreed upon collective meanings. Anyone the least bit familiar with the processes and procedures of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency would have recognized immediately as I did that Trump’s claim of “Extreme Vetting” was bullshit. These guys at their computers cannot do any “extreme vetting” since their databases are narrowly configured to display the current status of someone entering the country, where someone has travelled outside the United states, to detect folks whose visas have expired, or committed a crime in the U.S. or who have violated some other immigration regulation. None of this information comes anywhere close to the thorough, months long vetting (multiple investigations) process that refugees face with inputs from the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, local police forces and official records from their home countries over a period sometimes lasting up to 18 months. And to think that a 30 second check at an immigration counter at JFK or Dulles airports is going to unearth potential terrorists is just ludicrous. It doesn’t even raise to the level of “misplaced” or “misapplied” public policy efforts. It is just a joke.
The Muslim Travel Ban makes no sense if the aim is to prevent potential terrorists from entering the country. It cannot do this. What it is – and I’m sure that the revised Muslim Travel Ban will fit in this category as well – was simply to burnish Trump’s popularity with his base, telling them that he was taking extreme action, shaking things up and protecting them from harm. And, of course, the Alternate Set of Facts folks who don’t believe in FACTS just eat this shit up.
What we are facing is more of this foolish, harmful, nonsense just as long as Trump and the Trump Team are allowed to continue on their merry way in hoodwinking America. The latest revelation, that the White House jawboned the FBI and the Chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees who are investigating – if reluctantly – the Trump Team’s Russia connections, is just more evidence that Trump sees his Presidency as one where only he can keep America safe. Only he can right the horrible wrongs that have been perpetrated on the American populace. Only he can speak truth to power. Only he can save America from a biased press. Only he can rescue America from liberal and progressive “political correctness.” This is exactly what his supporters believe. He is, in their eyes, a Messiah. His followers are a cult.
While it is painful to even contemplate that any President of the United States aspires to wield dictatorial powers, after only 30 days in office this is precisely what Trump with the assistance of the Trump Team seems bent on achieving. We will have to see if America’s democratic institutions are up to the task of preventing this outcome.
Personally, I am not convinced that they are.