“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
— Albert Einstein
Over the better part of a year I’ve been wondering if the fringe-right — and by that I mean those individuals who are predominately white, often poorly educated and overwhelmingly male — would stand up and repudiate Donald Trump. But I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been seriously overestimating their mental capacity. Here is a man who has openly demonstrated that he is not only an arrogant, egotistical narcissist, but a compulsive liar, racist and misogynist.
Apparently, it hasn’t occurred to these people why Trump has the backing of men like David Duke, Louisiana Senate candidate and a leading white supremacist, anti-Semite and former senior member of the Ku Klux Klan. To understand why you only need to listen to his speeches or read a few of his quotes.
Trump is an expert at pandering to people’s baser instincts with his birther issue, itself rooted in racism. Only recently did he reluctantly admit that President Obama was born in the United States, but within that statement oozed forth another lie that it was Hillary Clinton who started the “birther” controversy. Yet none of his obvious lies seem to affect his rabid supporters. If anything, it makes them even more fanatical.
Why is it that an increasing percentage of our citizenry seem incapable of rational thought or objective reasoning? And why is it that we can be so easily duped into believing lies? It certainly didn’t just happen overnight — it’s been festering for years. The cause? There are many. But high on the list has to be America’s failure to properly educate its children.
Making matters worse is the fact that education itself has failed America. H.L. Mencken was prescient when he said 70 years ago that education’s aim is not “… to fill the young with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. … Nothing could be further from the truth.” The aim “… is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality (of thought).”
Katharine Biner, editor-in-chief of Guardian News and Media, offers some insight about facts and lies:
“Increasingly, what counts as a fact is merely a view that someone feels to be true,” she says, continuing, “When a fact begins to resemble whatever you feel is true, it becomes very difficult for anyone to tell the difference between facts that are true and ‘facts’ that are not.
At the same time, the leveling of the information landscape has unleashed new torrents of racism and sexism and new means of shaming and harassment, suggesting a world in which the loudest and crudest arguments will prevail. It is an atmosphere that has proved particularly hostile to women and people of color, revealing that the inequalities of the physical world are reproduced all too easily …
“What is common to these struggles — and what makes their resolution an urgent matter — is that they all involve the diminishing status of truth. This does not mean that there are no truths. It simply means … that we cannot agree on what those truths are, and when there is no consensus about the truth and no way to achieve it, chaos soon follows.”
I believe that we are a nation at a crossroads. Will we finally awaken from our slumber, take a long, hard look at ourselves and then find the courage to take Donald Trump down — this repugnant blight who embodies everything we ought not to stand for? It is we, after all, who created the monster.
Mencken also said this: “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.”
If Donald Trump represents the “inner soul” of America, then God help our republic.
Steve McMacken is a resident of Lihue.