How will history view Trumps's deployment of the 'lie'?

MIDDLE ISRAEL: Whether or not it is about to end, Trump’s presidency will be recalled as the emblem of an era that industrialized the lie.

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump pulls off his protective face mask as he poses atop the Truman Balcony of the White House on October 5 after returning from being hospitalized for coronavirus disease treatment. (photo credit: REUTERS)
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump pulls off his protective face mask as he poses atop the Truman Balcony of the White House on October 5 after returning from being hospitalized for coronavirus disease treatment.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Humanity began to lie the day it began to sin.
Adam was still in Eden when, in response to God’s simple question “did you eat of the tree?” he tried to shift the blame (to Eve) and to change the subject (from what he did to what made him do what he did), and thus introduced what to this day remain two of the liar’s most effective tools.
Lying then became a part of life. Sarah lied to Pharaoh that she was Abraham’s sister, Jacob lied to Isaac that he was Esau, and Jacob’s sons dipped Joseph’s coat in blood so their father would think an animal ate his son alive.
Such lies were local and situational, but bigger lying, the kind that is concocted by empires as a matter of strategy, is also no modern invention, harking back to the Pharaonic insistence that the king is God.
Now, with the Trump Era potentially ending next month, the question arises: how will history view his deployment of the lie?
IN THEIR substance, Trump’s lies were often small potatoes compared with those of previous imperial liars.
How is “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally” any worse than Lyndon Johnson’s campaign vow “we are not about to send American boys 9 or 10 thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves”?
Yes, Trump’s lying was big, so big that nearly every presidential morning began with a lie, considering that in spring 2016 he told an audience in Warwick, Rhode Island, that as president he will not tweet. “Don’t worry,” he assured America, “I’ll give it up after I’m president; we won’t tweet anymore; I don’t know; not presidential.”
Yet big though that lie was, it dwarfs compared with Neville Chamberlain’s “the settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem” is “the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace,” as he said in autumn 1938 upon his return from Munich.
Trump’s lying was also no groundbreaker in its usage of cyberspace, which, by the time he became president, had already served crime in almost all its forms, from gambling and narcotics to prostitution and fraud.
What distinguished Trump’s lying was therefore not its substance, but its frequency, its premeditation and the role it played in the Second War on Truth; the war that came to involve once unthinkable weaponry, troops, and targets; the war that has come to threaten the future of the free world.
THE FIRST War on Truth was waged by powers like the Medieval Church, which wanted people to believe the Jews killed God; or Nazi Germany, which wanted people to believe Aryans are biologically superior; or the Soviet Union, which wanted its people to believe they live in a socialist paradise.
The common denominators between such efforts was that they came from above and owned propaganda machines, whether those be a network of bishops, priests and monks, or batteries of state-run newspapers, radio stations, film studios and movie theaters.
Such was the First War on Truth. The Second War on Truth parted with those origins, in two ways: First, it privatized the grand lie, and then it industrialized it.
The privatization happened thanks to the Internet, which enabled anyone to lie about anything in the presence of a big audience. The industrialization happened through social media, which restored the link between government, mammon and the grand lie.
Yes, social media has done wonderful things, from matching lovers who might otherwise have never met to getting organ donations to the critically ill. But social media has also become a monstrous propaganda tool that now challenges truth in a way it has not been challenged since Adam tried to lie to God.
Make no mistake about it: everyone is in this war, you too, and the only question is whether you are in it as a sniper or a target.
Everyone understands, by now, that there is an industry that deploys fake bloggers, talk-backers and entire websites to manufacture “facts” and spread them. It is also clear that this effort today involves governments which this way target Western interests and tarnish our ideals.
The products of these efforts are visible daily in major news-sites’ talkbacks, but most of the lying industry is stealthy, deploying fake Facebook and Twitter personalities and cohorts of paid hate processors who spread rumor, defamation and character assassination.
This is besides the non-political side of this scourge, the corporate abuse of cyberspace, whether actively – by hooking us to commercial algorithms without our permission or knowledge – or passively, by cybernetic giants’ failure to fight hatred’s ride of the platforms they own.
Now, with the free world’s leader openly challenging science, the crisis of truth has become so glaring that reason’s counterattack, something like the anti-trust legislation that once streamlined American oil and railroad behemoths, may well be on its way.
Yet even if this happens, there will be no forgetting the Second War on Truth, a time when lying became so common, loud, massive and unabashed that it was joined from within the White House, so much so that its tenant even denied the existence of the plague that became his presidency’s bane.
No, Donald Trump did not start the Second War on Truth, but when he called the entire journalistic workforce “some of the most dishonest human beings on earth,” he gleefully joined the war, and gave its troops priceless legitimacy, fuel and pride.
It follows, that even if his presidency soon ends, Trump’s place in history is already secure: He was the Second War on Truth’s most famous soldier, and most notorious result.
The writer’s bestselling Mitzad Ha’ivelet Ha’yehudi (The Jewish March of Folly, Yediot Sefarim, 2019), is a revisionist history of the Jewish people’s leadership from antiquity to modernity.