“Pizzagate” and the Lunatic and Dangerous Lies of the Trump Fascists
December 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 4, a 28-year-old white man from North Carolina walked into Comet Ping Pong, a popular pizza joint in Washington, DC, carrying an assault rifle, and opened fire. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The gunman, who was arrested, told the police that he had come to the restaurant to “self-investigate” a claim that has been spreading on Facebook and various conspiracy and neo-Nazi sites. The claim, which has come to be known as “Pizzagate,” is that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have been running a secret child sex-trafficking ring out of the pizza restaurant. This conspiracy theory has absolutely no basis in actual fact, but it whipped up a storm of threatening messages against the restaurant—and now, an actual armed attack.
“Pizzagate” is far from an isolated phenomenon. There’s a whole huge online industry of fake “news” that garners profits through ad revenue. While this fake “news” covers all kinds of topics, during the year-long presidential campaign a lot of it swirled around supposed revelations about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats—”Pizzagate” being one example. It is true that the regular mainstream media influences people in the interests of the ruling forces in this society through slants, distortions, omissions—and at times outright lies. But fake “news” involves stories that are totally invented out of whole cloth, with zero basis in reality.
There’s an ominous convergence between the fake “news” phenomenon and the Trump-Pence fascists. Right after the gun attack on Comet Ping Pong, Michael G. Flynn, son of retired General Michael T. Flynn (Trump’s national security adviser-to-be) tweeted out, “Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story.” Michael Flynn, who served as chief of staff and book editor for his father, was trying to keep alive a lie for political purposes. Flynn’s tweet caused an uproar in the regular media, and the Trump-Pence team announced he would have no role in the presidential transition team.
But this is just damage control. The senior Flynn wasn’t involved in spreading Pizzagate per se. But he has spread other fake “news” about Clinton—like a tweet on November 2 saying “U decide—NYPD Blows New Whistle on Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc...MUST READ!” Again, “news” with no basis in reality.
And then there’s Trump himself who, for years and up till the last months of the presidential campaign, made public accusations falsely claiming that Barack Obama was not born a U.S. citizen—and therefore that his presidency was illegitimate. Trump was effectively the head of the “birther” movement, whose real aim was to rile up the white supremacists. This is just one of a flood of lies that have come out of Trump—from calling immigrants “criminals” and “rapists” to claiming that millions “voted illegally” in the elections, and countless others.
In a recent interview, close Trump supporter and CNN commentator Scottie Nell Hughes captured the Trumpite fascists’ approach to truth: “People that say facts are facts—they’re not really facts. Everybody has a way—it’s kind of like looking at ratings, or looking at a glass of half-full water. Everybody has a way of interpreting them to be the truth, or not truth. There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts. And so Mr. Trump’s tweet, amongst a certain crowd—a large part of the population—are truth. When he says that millions of people illegally voted, he has some—amongst him and his supporters, and people believe they have facts to back that up.”
This points to Trump’s wholesale attack on scientific epistemology. (Epistemology is the theory of how people acquire knowledge and how they know whether something is true or not.) There is an all-too-prevalent view broadly in this society that everything is a matter of “narrative”—that there is no objective truth and that there are different “truths” for each individual or groups of people. This kind of warped epistemology prevents people from scientifically looking into reality and discovering truths, and acting to transform the existing situation based on that understanding—including overcoming the brutal, oppressive system of capitalism-imperialism that humanity lives under now and getting to a whole new, liberated world through actual revolution. This unscientific approach is being “legitimized” and promoted on a whole new level with Trump.
This is extremely serious. The “truth doesn’t matter” approach is creating a fantasized universe that confirms and further whips up the fears and hatreds of the fascist social base that Trump is cohering. All this is being taken now to even more lunatic and dangerous extremes. That fascist social base—like the Nazi Brownshirts under Hitler—is and will be increasingly acting in violent ways on the basis of the shit coming from the top.
New York Times columnist Charles Blow got at something real when he wrote in a recent column: “Trump and his agents of idiocracy are now engaged in an all-out crusade to exaggerate the scope of his victory, rewrite racial history, justify their vendettas and hostilities and erase the very distinction between true and false.”
Things are heading very quickly toward the rule of this murderous “idiocracy” becoming the “new norm”—unless Trump-Pence is prevented from consolidating its fascist regime through massive society-wide resistance.
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