Of Liars and Lying

President Trump's first solo presidential press conference on February 16 proved that we have a whining pathological liar for president. I say "solo" because in the last press conference he held on December 12 he demonstrated his insecurity by surrounding himself with his large family.

In the February 16 press conference Trump whined about threats, not threats to the USA, but the threats to his constant stream of falsehoods. He whined about the organizations we primarily depend on for the truth: the US intelligence agencies and the media. Truth is the only thing that connects these two institutions, one secretive, the other quite open.

Now, lies are neutral, neither good nor bad. An obvious example of a good lie is Santa Claus, the lie about a fat man in a red suit who brings toys to children on Christmas.

For a more serious good lie, imagine yourself living at Prinsengrach 265 in Amsterdam, Holland, in 1944 during the Nazi occupation. Coming home one night you see members of the Frank family entering the Frank spice shop next door at 263. You know they are Jewish, but you are a devout Christian, so you have no prejudice against them.

Later on, you are called before a court and, under oath, you are asked if you know of any Jews in your neighborhood. Now, you know what happens to Jews picked up by the Nazis. You believe deeply in the Bible you have just sworn your oath on. The truth in this case would send the entire Franck family to their deaths; lie and they live. I think any real Christian would tell the good lie.

How do we tell a good lie from a bad one? By following the fundamental rule of Christianity and Democratic Socialism.

Jesus Christ expressed it this way: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and "love thy neighbor as thyself." This is the yardstick by which Christians measure the morality of everything else.

Democratic Socialists call the same rule the Principle of Mutual Aid. Rather than "taking care of Number One", we should admit that we are all in this together and help others. Focus on the "other" rather than the "self." The person you help today, could very well help you tomorrow.

Motivation is what makes a lie good or evil: whether the lie is based on a good principle, or to cover up a self-serving deception that harms others. So, are President Trump's lies good or bad?

(1) He lied about seeing 30,000 Muslims in New Jersey cheering as the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground. With this untruth Trump tried to scare Americans into thinking thousands of Muslims pose a threat to us

(2) He lied about the popular (democratic) election, saying he knew that 3-5 million illegal aliens had all voted against him. In reality, Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by 2.9 million popular votes. This lie was intended to scare Americans into thinking our elections are faulty and undermine our faith in democracy.

(3) He lied about the size of the inauguration crowd, saying it was the largest in history. Obama's inauguration audience was twice as large and the crowds of protesters against him across the country the day following were much, much larger.

The reason for Trump's lies is to cover up his incompetence, unpopularity, and prejudices, and to frighten us into thinking we are less secure than we really are. Someone bereft of any knowledge of the US political system cannot know its faults, let alone how to repair them. That fact needs all the cover-up it can get.

(Sunbury Daily Item, March 2, 2017)
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