Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Truth, Lies and Bullshit: Notes from Trump's Kakistocracy

Trump's kakistocracy does not merely attack honesty and justice, but arms itself with bullshit bombs so powerful that it assaults the very concept of truth. Greg Sargent puts this well:
To date, Trump has made over 1,600 false or misleading claims as president. Routinely, the lies are demonstrably false, often laughably so. But this actually serves his ends. It is impossible to disentangle this from his constant effort to undermine the news media, seen again in today’s NBC tweet. In many cases the attacks on the media are outlandishly ridiculous, dating back to the tone-setting assertion that the media deliberately diminished his inaugural crowd sizes, even though the evidence was decisive to the contrary. Here again, the absurdity is the whole point: In both the volume and outsize defiance of his lies, Trump is asserting the power to declare the irrelevance of verifiable, contradictory facts, and with them, the legitimate institutional role of the free press, which at its best brings us within striking distance of the truth.
Referencing the odious James O'Keefe, he reflects:
Trump is not responsible for O’Keefe’s antics, but they are fellow travelers. Margaret Sullivan, summing up the mindset they are both trying to achieve in their followers, quotes Hannah Arendt: “If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobo.dy believes anything any longer.” Others with similar missions have gravitated to Trump. Brian Beutler points to former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon’s deep admiration for history’s most successful wielders of the power of disinformation as agitprop.
Trumpers are liars, yes, but more than that, they are bullshitters. As such, as Frankfurt warned a generation ago, they pose more dangers than traditional liars. Liars are careless with truth; bullshitters don't care about it. They don't reject a truth in favor of a convenient falsehood, as liars do; they reject the relevance of truth.

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