USA: A lie told enough times is still a lie, even in the age of Donald Trump – By Mohamed Hamaludin

 — By MOHAMED HAMALUDIN

Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Goebbels and Mao Tse-Tung are variously credited with being the first to say, “A lie told enough times becomes the truth.” They did not. According to the Skeptics Stack Exchange website, a woman, Isa Blagden — full name Isabella Jane Blagden —  a novelist and poet born in India, wrote in her book, “The Crown of a Life” in 1869, “If a lie is only printed often enough, it becomes a quasi-truth, and if such a truth is repeated often enough, it becomes an article of belief, a dogma, and men will die for it.”

Blagden’s remark resonates 150 years later at a time of seeming uncertainty as to what is real and what is unreal, what is truth and what is falsehood, what is news and what is “fake news.”         

The Washington Post’s ongoing Fact Checker’s database reported that President Donald Trump “made 13,435 false or misleading claims” in his first 993 days in office, averaging about 13 per day. One in five of the statements concerned immigration; others, trade, the economy, the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and other topics.

The Post also reported that, as of last December, the number of Americans who believed Trump averaged less than three in 10. “Only among a pool of strong Trump approvers — about one in six adults in the survey — did large majorities accept several, although not all, of his falsehoods as true,” the paper said.

It should be a surprise that anyone would believe a claim which can be disproved. But Trump makes his statements against a background which he began cultivating even before he entered the presidential race. He insults his critics and describes newspapers such as The Post and journalists who work for them as “enemies of the people.”

In making “false or misleading claims” the truth, the president has created an alternative information reality and his adoring supporters, deeply skeptical of establishment politics and journalism, eagerly embrace him as their bearer of truth who would never lie to them, because lying is what those other people do. When any statement is patently false or action ill-advised, self-serving sycophants quickly line up with spades to try to clean up the mess, as seen with his efforts, according to media reports, to strong-arm a foreign government to dig up dirt on his Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

In the rare case where Trump acknowledges a mistake, he only grudgingly reverses course, as in his awarding the federal contract for hosting the Group of Seven conference to his Doral resort. He claimed “Crazed and Irrational hostility” from Democrats and the media forced him to back off.

But there is method to what may appear to be madness. In the Ukraine affair, it would seem that Trump miscalculated when he released a transcript of his phone call to the president, Volodymyr Zelensky, which seemingly confirmed that federal election laws were broken. He could not have been under any illusion that the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives would at least open an impeachment inquiry. But the final impeachment verdict will come from the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate and about 20 Republicans will have to join with the Democratic minority for any vote to remove him from office, an unlikely event. Meanwhile, Trump has succeeded in tainting Biden’s campaign and his gamble will likely pay off because of the Senate firewall.

But it will be more than a year before the election, enough time for Americans to look closer at Trump and his thousands of “false or misleading claims” and what in his psychological makeup enables him to continue making them.

A Nov. 3, 2018 article in Psychology Today said that never admitting to being wrong relates to a person’s ego and sense of self. “Some people have such a fragile ego, such brittle self-esteem, such a weak ‘psychological constitution,’ that admitting they made a mistake or that they were wrong is fundamentally too threatening for their egos to tolerate,” Psychology Today stated. “Accepting they were wrong, absorbing that reality, would be so psychologically shattering, their defense mechanisms do something remarkable to avoid doing so — they literally distort their perception of reality to make it less threatening. Their defense mechanisms protect their fragile ego by changing the very facts in their mind, so they are no longer wrong or culpable.”

The report said that “when people are constitutionally unable to admit they’re wrong, when they cannot tolerate the very notion that they are capable of mistakes, it is because they suffer from an ego so fragile that they cannot sulk and get over it — they need to warp their very perception of reality and challenge obvious facts in order to defend their not being wrong in the first place.”

It added, “How we respond to such people is up to us. The one mistake we should not make is to consider their persistent and rigid refusal to admit they’re wrong as a sign of strength or conviction, because it is the absolute opposite — psychological weakness and fragility.”

But then, does it really matter when there are “men who would die” for the lie, rather than accept the truth?

Mohamed Hamaludin is a Guyana-born journalist who  worked for several years at The Chronicle in the 1970s and on publications in the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands before emigrating to the United States in 1984 where he worked at The Miami Times, the Miami Herald and the South Florida Times.  Though now retired, he writes a commentary every week or two for The South Florida Times (sfltimes.com) in which the above column first appeared. He may be reached at hamal1942@gmail.com

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Comments

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 24, 2019 at 7:14 am

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 24, 2019 at 7:53 am

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 24, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

    The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 59 and 60 degrees north latitude and between 107 and 108 degrees west longitude.”

    “You must be an engineer,” said the balloonist.

    “I am,” replied the woman, “How did you know?”

    “Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.”

    The woman below responded, “You must be a politician?”

    “I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

    “Well,” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”

  • Linda  On October 24, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Great analogy Clyde.

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 25, 2019 at 11:27 am

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