Friday, May 19, 2017

Trump's Violent Attack On Truth

The other day, after Trump gave Turkish dictator Erdogan a cordial meeting at the White House, Erdogan watched his personal security detail attack and violently tackle, beat and kick peaceful protesters across the street from the Turkish ambassador's residence. This occurred on our soil while the Turkish president watched.

Reported by the Guardian.

Video at BoingBoing.

This appears to be where Trump is headed. This was a demonstration of the kind of brute force President Trump envies and admires.

Across the country there are new legislative efforts to criminalize peaceful political protest, to criminalize free speech. And what informs free speech? The information and facts we get from a free press. Trump is cracking down on press freedom already.

A reporter asking questions at the FCC was manhandled and arrested.

"Security guards at the Federal Communications Commission headquarters here manhandled a well-regarded reporter at a public hearing today and forced him to leave the premises after he had tried to politely ask questions of FCC commissioners.

"The reporter, John M. Donnelly of CQ Roll Call, is an award-winning journalist. He is also chairman of the National Press Club’s Press Freedom Team and president of the Military Reporters & Editors association. He has chaired the NPC Board of Governors and formerly served on the Standing Committee of Correspondents in the U.S. Congress, which credentials the Washington press corps.

"Donnelly said he ran afoul of plainclothes security personnel at the FCC when he tried to ask commissioners questions when they were not in front of the podium at a scheduled press conference.

"Throughout the FCC meeting, the security guards had shadowed Donnelly as if he were a security threat, he said, even though he continuously displayed his congressional press pass and held a tape recorder and notepad. They even waited for him outside the men’s room at one point.

"When Donnelly strolled in an unthreatening way toward FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to pose a question, two guards pinned Donnelly against the wall with the backs of their bodies until O’Rielly had passed. O’Rielly witnessed this and continued walking…"

In West Virginia, a reporter asking HHS Secretary Price questions was arrested and faces charges. Charges of what? Of asking questions.

"On Tuesday evening, Public News Service reporter Dan Heyman was arrested at the West Virginia State Capitol after asking Price about the Republican health-care bill that passed in the House last week. Heyman wanted to know if domestic violence will be considered a preexisting condition if the bill becomes law.

"Price didn’t respond, so Heyman kept asking his question. He said he followed Price down a hallway and reached past people in his entourage while holding his phone. Then capitol police “decided I was just too persistent in asking this question and trying to do my job and so they arrested me,” Heyman said."

This is the Trump administration’s goal: to suppress, intimidate, and jail journalists for doing their job.

The Pointer Institute reports that Trump asked FBI director Comey to jail journalists who were embarrassing him.

"President Trump asked former FBI Director Jim Comey to lock up journalists for publishing classified information during a February Oval Office meeting, according to a memo written by Comey shortly after the meeting summarized Tuesday by The New York Times.

"Trump urged Comey to imprison journalists at the beginning of an exchange during which he also asked the former FBI chief to back off an investigation into then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, according to the story."

The story reported in The Guardian.

This intimidation predates the inauguration. We saw it on camera. We saw it in his legal intimidation of women who charged him with sexual assault. If Trump dislikes what someone says or reports, even if it’s true, he will retaliate––with all of the power and leverage a billionaire possesses, and with violence. Now he has the power to retaliate with the full force of the federal government and its police agencies.

How violent might this get? Trump has a record of defying rules and limits. He has a record of retaliating with force. Look at the foreign leaders he admires. Putin, whose operatives have been silencing his critics and opponents with lethal poisonings and machine guns and by throwing them from high windows. Trump admires Philippine leader Duterte who has bragged about joining his death squads on killing sprees.

Which brings us back to one of the tyrants Trump is modeling himself after.

Trump invited Turkey’s dictator Erdogan to a warm embrace in the White House, and Erdogan returned this favor by staging a vivid demonstration of how his dictatorship works at home. Kurdish protesters were assembled legally and peacefully across the street from the Turkish Ambassador’s residence, when this happened. The video is shocking. Muscular thugs in dark suits chasing and beating peaceful protesters, knocking them down then kicking them in the head and the groin. Brownshirt behavior in Washington DC carried out by a foreign dictator friend of our president. Think of it as an advertisement for Trump’s kind of leadership. Jackboots worn with business suits.

Reported in The Guardian.

This is not new. Erdogan’s personal security guards beat up journalists outside the Brookings Institution in March of last year.

Donald Trump’s campaign showed an escalating tendency toward violence. Trump himself has shown a tendency to push things as far as he can go and then further. When stopped or discouraged by officials or judges or rules he challenges their validity, questioning the law, discrediting the rules and norms that make the United States a democracy. Trump obviously would much prefer being president of a dictatorship where he can do whatever he likes and destroy whoever opposes him or criticizes him or asks him embarrassing questions.

Trump, the man who brazenly slanders and libels anyone who stands up to him, wants to change the libel laws to enable him to go after his critics. Now he has presidential powers to follow through on his threats. His goal? To undermine Americans’ ability to sort fact from fake and truth from lies.

Reported by Politico.

Newsweek analyzes Trump's threats to the First Amendment and lays out what it means going forward.

Trump fears the truth because truth and facts are our best defense against tyranny.

Trump won the election because of the flood of fake news. His campaign repeatedly cited and pushed fake news stories. They applauded and validated the fake news being produced by Russian proxies to pollute our politics.

The Trump campaign won the election in large part because they adopted the strategic false memes and smears the Russians were producing. They welcomed it and distributed it. They were playing by the Russian playbook and it worked. This according to intelligence expert Clinton Watts, in testimony before Congress.

Video testimony via CNN

The White House staff feeds President Trump a steady diet of fake news stories, which shape his “reality” (which is entirely unreal). And this enables him to shape his devoted followers’ reality to conform with his delusions.

Reported by Newsweek.

This war against truth and information is central to tyranny and Trump’s goal is exactly that. It’s happened before, but earlier tyrants did not have the power and machinery this president has to undermine our free access to good information. Trump is weaponizing the Big Lie, which is the tool Hitler and Stalin used to consolidate their power.

At VOX, historian Timothy Snyder explains how tyrants gain power by first destroying free and reliable information, by destroying truth.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home