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A White House of Lies

2017-11-17

According to an op-ed in (what else?) the New York Times, we have become unable to distinguish truth from lies.  The Russian disinformation campaign that upset our presidential election was only possible because Americans cannot tell what is true and what is not.  Here is a  quote from the NYT article:

We have a White House of lies because a huge percentage of the population can’t tell fact from fiction. But a huge percentage is also clueless about the basic laws of the land. In a democracy, we the people are supposed to understand our role in this power-sharing thing.  Nearly one in three Americans cannot name a single branch of government. When NPR tweeted out sections of the Declaration of Independence last year, many people were outraged. They mistook Thomas Jefferson’s fighting words for anti-Trump propaganda.

This is the capper, a seriously political question that is a principal cause of most white people’s inability to understand the status of black people:

A related concern is historical ignorance. By a 48 percent to 38 percent margin Americans think states’ rights, rather than slavery, caused the Civil War. So Trump’s chief of staff, John F. Kelly, can say something demonstrably false about the war, because most people are just as clueless as he is.

When not just Don the Con, but his entire executive staff can lie with impunity, there is something seriously wrong with US, the intended audience for this deliberate obfuscation.

Here is a comment attached to the op-ed that describes how complex and deeply rooted the problem is (and it’s not of recent origin either):

William

Manchester, CT 5 hours ago

Good essay, with which I agree. The educational system has collapsed to the point where it is now impossible to produce an educated citizenry.

But there was no golden age either. I went to school in the Midwest in the 1950s when the high school curriculum was laced with civics and history lessons. At least 90% of my classmates, despite that, voted for Trump in 2016. I presumed that they might have remembered and acted on some of what we were all taught. I was wrong.

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