Governing by Fear and Lies
Franklin Roosevelt reassured a nation facing economic chaos and a war brewing across the ocean that “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Trump, on the other hand, using the authoritarian’s tools of fear and lies, is doing all he can to instill fear from within and from abroad. Only he can save us from crime in the cities and staunch the inflow of Islamic terrorist immigrants and refugees.
Not to say there is no domestic problem–we in Chicagoans and others cities face it daily. We have also suffered terrorist attacks, but all since 9/11 have come from home-grown terrorists who were actually citizens or long-time legal residents, with the exception of the wife of the San Bernardino shooter, who did not come from a banned country. The incumbent, however, lies outright about crime statistics and facts. Ludicrously, he says most Chicago murders are perpetrated by illegal immigrants.
He resembles Richard Nixon, who once said that whatever the president does is always legal. Nixon was soon disabused of the notion–and it didn’t go over very well when Trump tried to tell the courts that they had no business reviewing his executive edicts. Imagine telling federal judges that the danger of terrorist attack is so imminent that if they rule against him, they, the judges, will bear the guilt for an attack. Fortunately they were not bullied.
Nixon lied about a lot of things, but Trump constantly goes him miles better, totally making up what has been dubbed by his own administration as “alternative facts.” In effect he is saying that anything the president says is true and any fact to the contrary, whether from major print and broadcast media or academic research is “fake news.”
Unfortunately, a substantial portion of our fellow Americans believe he is legally infallible and is a truth-teller. His lies are aimed at innate fears of “the other”–racism and xenophobia. He chooses his words carefully. The problems are “bad hombres” and “bad dudes.” Use of “hombres” is hardly a dog-whistle–it’s a siren. “Dudes” we know was once black slang for “guys,” and though it’s been appropriated by hipsters, when a 70ish billionaire businessman uses it we know exactly the color of those “dudes.” Trump once retweeted the lie that blacks committed 80 percent of the murders of white people–it’s 13 percent.
But be scared, he says, because the murder rate is at a 47-year high. Except it ain’t. It is, despite a small spike in the past two years, actually at a 33-year low.
Another thing we have to be scared about is all the terrorist acts in the country and around the world that “the media” are not reporting or under-reporting because they have some kind of hidden agenda. Sheesh! The media love reporting about terrorist attacks anywhere and everywhere–it builds their audiences.
Trump even published a list of 57 terrorist attacks that he claimed went unreported or under-reported. Except they were all well covered–many for days on end. The only attack that went unreported was Kellyanne Conway’s “Bowling Green massacre.” That’s because it never happened.
Perhaps the biggest thing we have to fear is Trump himself.
Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer