Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a profound thinker and his arguments were rooted in common sense. One of my favorites is this: “A thinking man always attacks the strongest thing of his time, because the strongest thing is always too strong.” The trick, of course (as he well knew) is to accurately identify what the strongest thing of one’s time really is.
The strongest thing of our time, I believe, is a blend of three things—an unholy trinity, we might say. It is composed of Journalists who prefer manipulating the news to simply reporting it; Politicians of both parties motivated more by self-advancement than service (and who differ only in the paths their motivation takes them and the distance they travel); and Big-Technology executives who by controlling the platforms of communication can dictate which ideas are expressed and which are suppressed. This power is not just over the masses but over politicians and journalists as well, so Big-Tech could be considered the dominant member of the unholy trinity.
I am not speaking of all journalists, all politicians, or all big-tech executives, of course, but only those who fit the above descriptions. Their combined efforts have resulted in Americans hearing only what they want us to hear and, as a result, thinking what they want us to think and saying what they want us to say. The most obvious and troubling example of this phenomenon is the false narratives they have promoted about Donald Trump. There have been many since he became President but I will limit my discussion to five recent ones:
The false narrative that various courts disproved Trump’s claims of electoral fraud. To begin with, the courts didn’t prove or disprove anything—their job is not to do either. Instead, they simply refused to hear the evidence and dismissed his case. Whether this decision was the right one may be debatable. Nevertheless, the evidence of fraud was not just alleged but documented and is therefore indisputable. Two examples: some states changed the election protocols in violation of state law, and videotaped evidence shows that fake ballots were secretly added. These and other examples are detailed in, among other places, Peter Navarro’s report entitled “Immaculate Deception,” which included over 140 supporting citations.
The false narrative that Navarro’s “Immaculate Deception” lacks credibility because Navarro was part of the Trump administration. It has never been intellectually responsible to reject the message by denouncing the messenger, nor is it in this case. If there is evidence in the man’s record that suggests he lacks integrity, it could raise questions about his veracity, but no one has offered such evidence. Quite the contrary: Navarro served in the Peace Corps, earned a Harvard degree in Economics, was a Harvard Research Associate, taught at several CA universities, authored a dozen books on economics, has held various government positions, and is now a Professor Emeritus at UC Irvine. To dismiss his report—and its impressive documentation—merely because he worked in the Trump administration is neither fair nor intellectually responsible.
The false narrative that Trump’s harsh rhetoric outweighed whatever good he did as President. I’ve heard this narrative expressed many times, not only by media types, but by priests as well, and each time I’ve wondered where they got that notion. Not from Scripture, to be sure. Jesus didn’t say, “The way to heaven is to speak nicely but don’t do much.” Quite the opposite. He said, “Not everyone who says to Me,‘ Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Mat 7:21) The torturing of Scripture underlying this false narrative recalls a famous passage in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice: “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. An evil soul producing holy witness is like a villain with a smiling cheek, a goodly apple rotten at the heart. O, what a goodly [exterior] falsehood hath!”
The false narrative that Trump committed treason by his “incitement” of the “mob” on January 6, 2021. No, he certainly did not. It’s not even a close call. I’m basing this conclusion not only on my careful reading of his call for a “peaceful” presence at the Capitol, but on the testimony of George Washington Professor Jonathan Turley and Harvard Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz, both distinguished constitutional experts, that nothing Trump said qualifies as incitement. (They also maintain that impeachment is neither appropriate nor beneficial. And, for those who may wonder, neither man is a Republican.)
The false narrative that Trump inflamed the nation and Biden will unite it. That the nation needs uniting there can be no doubt. Whether Biden can unite it has yet to be established. But to blame Trump for inflaming it sets a new record in audacity. His speech has been inflammatory on occasion, sometimes frequently so, but to focus on that while ignoring the outrageous demonization of him broadcast over the airwaves every hour of every day for FOUR YEARS by legions of media commentators and Democrat officials is beyond absurd.
To these false narratives we could add the increasing examples of individuals, including Trump himself, having their freedom of speech censored on Big Tech platforms and, in at least one case, having an alternative platform (Parler) shut down.
As if these efforts by the Unholy Trinity to control what people think and say were not enough, numerous others aided and abetted the process of manipulating thought and expression. These others include teachers, college professors, and clergymen who more or less mindlessly embraced the Trinity’s false narratives and disseminated them to others, often with great enthusiasm.
The most dramatic example of the power exercised by the Unholy Trinity and their aiders and abettors has been the manipulation of the news and public dialogue leading up to the 2020 election. Even if (for the sake of discussion) we put aside the question of whether there was sufficient fraud to change the vote to Biden’s favor, there is no question that overarching theme of the false narratives was, “Trump is an evil man who is ruining America, and he must be stopped at any cost, fair or foul!” That theme, I submit, not only incited hatred of President Trump, but also created the impetus for panic and fraud among voters.
Copyright © 2021 by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. All rights reserved