Dear President Trump,
The other day I said that one of the chapters in your “Dictatorship for Dummies” book ought to be “Make Sure They Know You Are Lying.” I’ve had second thoughts about this one so I want to unpack and possibly amend it.
In his (real) book, Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson describes how in our collective history, innocent African American men (and some women) have repeatedly, knowingly, falsely been accused and convicted of major crimes, sentenced to death, and executed. As he describes it, the more blatant the miscarriage of justice, the more the rest of the community is terrorized. The sham of due process in these cases puts the official state stamp on what amounts to a lynching and the lie sends the message loud and clear that no one who is at all like the convicted person (e.g., black, poor) is safe from the whims of the racists in charge. It is an incredibly powerful form of social control. The people one is trying to control need to get that the cases are built on lies and they could be next.
What I wasn’t factoring in with my Dummies chapter title is that it’s also important that there be an other side that is convinced the lies are not lies, that the accused really is the killer even if he couldn’t have been at the murder site and there is nothing linking him to the crime. In his WP column this morning Larry Madowo quoted the fallen Cambridge Analytica director Alexander Nix, as saying things “don’t necessarily need to be true as long as they are believed.” In fact, it seems to me that people can end up believing something patently false with more fervor and righteous fury if it’s not really true and there are clear holes in the argument that fuel the need to go all in on the belief. Basically, lizard brain takes over and critical thinking is checked at some distant door.
You seem to be a master at orchestrating things so that it’s abundantly clear to everyone who is the least bit skeptical of you that you are lying through your teeth and simultaneously coming across as the second coming of truth telling to your supporters. It’s scary as shit, but quite fascinating. It’s not very catchy, but how about “Lying So Your Enemies Know You Are Lying and Your Allies Believe You 200%”.
May we be safe from sick liars.
May we be happy to keep calling out sick liars.
May sick liars mend their ways.
May we never make peace with the sick lies of sick liars.