One of the first consolidations of power moves of most fascist and totalitarian leaders is to control information. Last week we saw the first concrete moves at censorship by Donald Trump. With that and a bit more in mind, let’s explore.
I’m not privy to the Washington Post’s daily tally but they must have Trump approaching 20,000 lies (that doesn’t count the ones they can’t definitively prove yet) since taking office. That is the primary reason Trump is at war with its owner, Jeff Bezos.
Trump has made the best use of Twitter (it’s free and Trump loves spending money as long as it isn’t his) of any politician to date. The Obama campaign prided itself on its use of social media but they were rank amateurs compared to Trump. (Why do you think Trump named Brad Parscale as his 2020 campaign manager?) Last week Twitter finally “fact checked” Trump and he went ballistic!
Trump posted two tweets about mail-in voting, both of which contained false information (or what we called lies where I grew up). Twitter posted links to the truth. Trump called foul, claiming Twitter was censoring him in violation of his First Amendment rights. (Of late the right wing has suddenly recognized the First Amendment in addition to the Second and Tenth. I guess we should view that as an improvement; only 24 left to go boys and girls.) I have two comments on that front: I guess I missed the part of the First Amendment that guaranteed a citizen’s the right to lie. Also, Twitter didn’t remove the tweet; it merely linked it to true and therefore refuting information. Those are big differences!
Later in the week in response to protests of the murder of George Floyd (and a not so subtle appeal to his racist base) Trump posted a tweet using an old segregationist, civil rights era slogan, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter called it out for promotion violence, which is exactly what it did then and now. Trump then signed an executive order challenging Twitter’s action with Attorney General Bill Barr adoringly looking over his shoulder for the publicity shot. (Do you think Barr might be a future Minister of Propaganda? Perhaps holding a duel role?)
In the coverage of the protests in Minneapolis a CNN crew was arrested. Based on the video evidence I’ve seen the crew both identified themselves and cooperative with police.
Trump is buddies with and admires strongmen like Vladimir Putin of Russia, Recipe Erdogan of Turkey, Kim Jung-un of North Korea, Abdel el-Sisi of Egypt, Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) of Saudi Arabia and Viktor Orban of Hungary. All those regimes are oppressive and none of them are exactly friendly to journalists – they tend to imprison and/or murder them. Trump wants to emulate them.
Trump is an isolationist. He stole the slogan America First (trace the history of that one) which in his practice means America alone. Last week Trump pulled out of the World Health Organization (WHO). That means Trump wants to go it alone against the coronavirus. How has that worked out so far Mr. Trump? Trump’s beef with the WHO is that they (imperfect as they have been) have done a better job of combatting the coronavirus (who hasn’t?) and they told the truth on him by calling out one of his many lies about testing.
Last week Trump announced, (prior to advising the other members), that the G-7 would meet in next month in the DC area, probably at Camp David. As of this writing Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel has prudently announced she would only attend virtually. Trump wants to sound the all clear on the coronavirus and many of his minions are following him. Merkel can actually read and interpret statistics, even manipulated ones.
This is the same idiot that wants to stop all of America’s problems by building a wall along its southern border. The tiny portion of the wall that has already been built (in a waste of taxpayers’ money) has been breached several times already.
The way to make lies most effective is to stop any rebuttal. That’s what censorship is and censorship is the “wall” Trump is trying to build. The executive order – which won’t hold up in a fair court – is just another “brick” in it.
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