Saturday, February 24, 2018

An Epidemic of Dishonesty on the Right

Parkland students have been accused of being "actors" and have received right wing death threats.
For a party that claims to support "Christian values" - something that I was raised to believe included not lying and bearing false witness - the GOP and the political right in general seemed defined by dishonesty and the constant lying about those they dislike or anything that challenges their warped, reality free world view.   The latest example of the phenomenon has been the vicious attacks on the high school students who survived the Marjory Stoneman High School mass shooting and have spoken out in favor of gun control.  Claims have been made that the students are "actors" - perhaps because they do not speak on a 4th grade level like Der Trumpenf├╝hrer - to actual death threats against the teenagers.  (From my own experience writing this blog, it is always the "conservatives: and "godly Christians" who make death threats).  Sadly, much of what the GOP and right have to say about almost any subject now is untrue, be it denials of climate change, to claims that the Trump tax law will benefit the middle class rather than the wealthy, to outright bizarre conspiracy theory claims.  The net result is that thinking rational people dismiss "conservative" talking points out of hand since odds are they are based on lies.  The GOP was not always like this.  In my view, the change came when the Christofascists hijacked the party base.  Over the last 25 years I have found no group to lie more than the "godly folk."  A piece in National Review takes the right to task for the rampant dishonesty that is the mainstay of the wrongly labeled conservative movement.  Here are highlights:
First it was the Holocaust, now Parkland — is there any act of depravity to which the less respectable right-wing media cannot imagine a connection for George Soros?
David Clarke, the sheriff of Fox News, insisted that the Florida students’ reaction to the shooting “has GEORGE SOROS’ FINGERPRINTS all over it,” idiotic capitalization in the original and, one assumes, in his soul. The idiots at Gateway Pundit suggested that one of the student survivors was a fraud because — get this — he’d been interviewed on television before about an unrelated incident. Dinesh D’Souza joined in to mock the students as patsies.
To be fair, D’Souza doesn’t think George Soros is behind Parkland — he thinks George Soros was behind the Holocaust.
The Soros-was-a-Nazi story is a staple of talk radio and the less responsible conservative corners of the Internet. The facts are rather different: Soros was a three-year-old Jew living in Budapest when Adolf Hitler came to power. He was still a child when the war ended. During the Nazi occupation of Hungary, he was ordered to report to the local Jewish registry, where he was given the job of delivering deportation notices to Jewish families, something his father prevented him from doing. The Soros family was well-to-do, and his father was able to purchase fraudulent documents identifying the Soroses as Christian. Toward the end of the war, Soros was under the care of a government official who helped protect Soros — and his own Jewish wife — even as he went about his official task of inventorying the estates of dispossessed Hungarian Jews.
Lying about George Soros is wrong for a number of reasons. The first and most important of them is that lying is wrong, and those of us who play roles in the public discourse have a special responsibility to be scrupulous with the facts, especially those touching our opponents and rivals. That is related to another good reason to avoid this kind of dishonesty: When people get used to hearing prominent conservatives lying about their opponents, it makes it easier for honest and fair-minded people to dismiss conservative arguments and conservative claims out of hand.
D’Souza is hardly the only offender here. Scott Baio suggested on Twitter that the woman presented as Charlottesville murder victim Heather Heyer was the same woman presented as Sandy Hook mother Vicki Soto. . . . .I would not give one furry little rat’s patootie what Chachi says or does, but this is a man who was invited to speak on the opening day of the Republican National Convention in 2016, who is a regular representative of the conservative view on Fox News and other outlets, and who is, therefore, a figure of some cultural consequence, peculiar as that fact may be.
And of course there is the fact, inconvenient for conservatives, that the president of these United States, who is in the habit of denouncing “fake news” from the bully pulpit, spent years trafficking in a daft conspiracy theory about Barack Obama: that he is a Kenyan and possibly (as Baio has suggested) a Muslim, possibly a closet radical Muslim (call him “The Meccan Candidate”) sympathetic to the aims of al-Qaeda et al.
Trump and his apologists have failed to learn the sad lesson of Hillary Rodham Clinton: When people have come to assume that every other word out of your mouth is a lie, it becomes very difficult to tell the truth effectively.
That’s a problem for the president in particular, but it also is a problem for the conservative movement, which has become infected with Trump’s dishonesty.
Dinesh D’Souza should be ashamed of himself. David Clarke should be ashamed of himself, and not just for his ridiculous hat. And conservatives should be ashamed of them, too, and for bending the knee to Scott Baio, Ted Nugent, and every other third-rate celebrity who has something nice to say about a Republican from time to time. And we should be ashamed of ourselves if we come to accept this kind of dishonesty in the service of political expediency. If conservative ideas cannot prevail in the marketplace of ideas without lies, they do not deserve to prevail at all.
Very well said and all too true.  From Fox News to a host of other right wing "news" outlets, lies and false information are now the staple of these faux journalists and self-styled "watch dogs."

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