In a Washington Post column, conservative George Will — who recently turned on the Republican Party over its embrace of Donald Trump — took a swing at the president for willfully lying to the public in order to cater to America’s conspiracy-minded lunatic fringe who will believe anything.
Following USA Today’s decision to run an op-ed — supposedly written by the president — that was riddled with outright lies, Will said that the intent of the piece fell in line with former White House adviser Steve Bannon’s advice to “flood the zone with sh*t.”
Using an essay by the Brookings Institution’s Jonathan Rauch as a jumping off point, Will wrote, “Trump’s presidential lying, which began concerning the size of his inauguration crowd, reflects ‘a strategy, not merely a character flaw or pathology,’ and is aimed at disarming ‘Americans’ collective ability to distinguish truth from falsehood.'”
As Rauch stated, “Some Americans believe Elvis Presley is alive. Should we send him a Social Security check? Many people believe that vaccines cause autism, or that Barack Obama was born in Africa, or that the murder rate has risen. Who should decide who is right? And who should decide who gets to decide?”
Will continues on with that stream of thought, writing: “Modernity began when humanity ‘removed reality-making from the authoritarian control of priests and princes’ and outsourced it to no one in particular. It was given over to ‘a decentralized, globe-spanning community of critical testers who hunt for each other’s errors.'”
“This is why today’s foremost enemy of modernity is populism, which cannot abide the idea that majorities are not self-validating, and neither are intense minorities (e.g., the ‘Elvis lives’ cohort),” the conservative columnist lectured. “Validation comes from the ‘critical testers’ who are the bane of populists’ existence because the testers are, by dint of training and effort, superior to the crowd, ‘no matter how many’ are in it.”
Will added that “Rauch says Trump’s ‘trolling of the American mind’ has enjoyed ‘the advantage of surprise,'” but that it may be fading as his act grows old — as indicated by Fox News deciding to cut away from the president’s campaign rallies.
“As this diminishes, the constitution of knowledge can prevail because, although trolling has ‘some institutional nodes’ (e.g., Russia’s Internet Research Agency and Trump’s Twitter account), they are, over time, much inferior in intellectual firepower to the institutions of the constitution of knowledge,” he concluded.
You can read the whole piece here.