The Abandonment of Truth as a Value.
Some of Trump’s defenders now openly acknowledge that he is a chronic liar. For some of these, it’s not just that they overlook or excuse his lying, they actually embrace it as a positive trait.
I recently saw this argument (again) in this post from the TexAgs.com political forum. [Full disclosure, I’m permanently banned from posting there]. In response to another poster stating “Trump is a compulsive liar,” the response of interest is as follows:
You gotta fight fire with fire.
Bush was as honest as anyone and the media and Libs ate him alive.
I don’t care how much he lies or about what…. he’s battling a dishonest media and dishonest criminal Libs.
I care about what he does. So far so good.
After smearing Hillary Clinton as a liar, the post concludes with “thank God this liar won.” I wonder what God would think about that statement? When someone thanks God for lies and a liar, I doubt very much that it is God who smiles.
A fair number of fellow Aggies liked that response. I’ve seen similar arguments before on that Board, and in other places, but this articulation of it is stunningly clear and shameless in its endorsement of lying, and the liars that one likes.
The attack on the media is not well based in fact either. For all its failings, as I have pointed out, the media is largely very good at self policing and self correcting.
But moving past that, let’s examine the logic. The core argument is that the media lies, therefore that makes Trump’s lying (often about the media) okay. Actually, not merely okay, but great, something to be admired and encouraged to the point of giving thanks to God for it.
As kids we were taught to dismiss such evil justifications for lying as “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Because putting it that way would undermine the endorsement of lying it is instead rephrased as “fighting fire with fire.”
But this is not a fire. While building a backfire may deprive an undesirable fire of fuel, telling more lies does not increase truth. It’s just more lying.
Does the 8th Commandment provide an exception for lying in circumstances where you think others lie? Ephesians 6:14 instructs that when facing evil one shall “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.” 2 Corinthians 6:7 provides that even in great adversity the faithful will find strength “in truthful speech.” “Your law is truth.” Psalm 119:142. If the Bible ever endorses lying and liars as something good and desirable, I am unaware of it.
TexAgs is a website for enthusiasts of Texas A&M University, the “Aggies,” and my alma mater. The Aggie Code of Honor, states simply and directly:
An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those that do.
Here we see Aggies not merely tolerating a chronic liar, but flat out cheering him on. Not a single post in the thread challenges this endorsement of lying and a liar. I don’t believe such thinking is representative of most Aggies, but I found this example particularly disturbing.
I’m not the first to comment on the impact of Donald Trump in driving America to a “Post-Truth World.” Jennifer Rubin for the Washington Post warned that in such a world “there is no democracy.” The Oxford Dictionary made “post-truth” its 2016 word of the year, defining it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
But this goes way beyond that definition of “post-truth.” This is evolving towards the pro-lie and pro-liar world, an even more dangerous place.