Robert Azzi: America’s challenge: Distinguishing what’s true from what’s false

For the Monitor
Published: 12/13/2020 6:10:17 AM

“If we do not have the capacity to distinguish what’s true from what’s false,” former president Barack Obama recently told the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, “then by definition the marketplace of ideas doesn’t work. And by definition our democracy doesn’t work.”

Recently much of America was either repulsed by – or inspired by – a 46-minute fantasy video presented by President Trump from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.

Defined by profane streams of ignorance and in defiance of reality, it ignored both facts and truth as Trump whined that he was in danger of being dethroned unjustly by malign forces.

A dystopian litany of unsubstantiated conspiracies and allegations, grievances, misrepresentations, and lies, it represented all that matters to Donald Trump.

Himself!

Trump ignored, as is his custom, the pandemic ravaging America that has killed over 285,000 Americans – a pandemic now killing one of our neighbors every 30 seconds.

He ignored the deaths, economic devastation, hunger and poverty, evictions, loss of education, loss of health care, and the trauma and fear of communities of color and essential workers being inordinately afflicted – and exploited and sacrificed – by a government unwilling to protect them.

He ignores them today – as he has for his lifetime – because they don’t matter to him. As Olivia Troye, Vice President Mike Pence’s former homeland security adviser claimed Trump once said, “Maybe this COVID thing is a good thing. I don’t like shaking hands with people. I don’t have to shake hands with these disgusting people.”

Trump’s video was a deranged, callous, cynical screed intended to further convince his obsequious, mostly white, cis-gendered high-school-educated, base - for whom oppressing the Other is more important than keeping America, or themselves, healthy and safe – that they are being victimized by Satan-worshiping, child-sex-trafficking, pedophile, educated globalist cannibalistic elites.

A base which would rather believe QAnon, Alex Jones, and Chanel Rion rather than testimony from Attorney General William Barr, rather believe retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney – who falsely claimed that U.S. Special Forces were killed while seizing computer servers in Germany as part of a CIA operation – than believe Christopher Krebs, director of America’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency until Trump fired him.

It was a tour de force of self-pity, lies, and deception; no real surprise to most Americans who have come to know him well.

To his sycophants, however, it was a call to arms.

The recently pardoned, and guilty, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, recently granted a presidential pardon, retweeted a full-page ad in the Washington Times calling on President Trump to suspend the Constitution and declare martial law in order to re-do the election.

To his sycophants it was a call to arms.

“What a great speech, fraud was rampant in this election, many witnesses and the media is silent,” one N.H. politician posted on Facebook. “Our Veterans who fought for our freedom, who made the ultimate sacrifice, must be rolling over in their graves. God help America!”

Indeed, God help America.

Help the America for which true patriots have fought for generations to preserve an America defined by “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal …”

God help an America where a president holds democracy in contempt, an America that under its present administration continues to reveal something really ugly about itself – ugly about many Americans – that they are willing to sacrifice the vulnerable, the weak, and the aged among us in order to preserve the profits and privilege of a few.

To support such goals well over $200 million has been raised online by Trump – much of it by small donors who can ill-afford to support his grift – much of it for a nonexistent “Election Defense Fund” where 75% of every donation goes to Save America, Trump’s new leadership PAC.

It’s the ultimate grift – and it’s working for Trump.

It’s just not working for most Americans.

Today, it was announced that over 3,000 Americans died just yesterday, that there were approximately 100,000 new hospitalizations, 200,000 new cases, and that the projection is that by February 450,000 people will have died in the year following the arrival of COVID-19 in America.

We’ve exceeded, day after day, the number of American fatalities in Afghanistan, the death count of Pearl Harbor – exceeded, yesterday, even the horrific losses inflicted upon the United States by terrorists on 9/11.

Here in New Hampshire there are over 180,000 food insecure residents, up 55,000 (69%) as a result of the pandemic, according to new estimates from the New Hampshire Food Bank.

Over the course of the pandemic – from Jan. 26 to Oct. 3 – 299,028 more people died than on average during the same stretch from 2015 to 2019. As analyzed by Stat: “Excess deaths also occurred at higher rates among Latinx, Asian, American Indian, and Black people than among white people, mirroring the disparities in official U.S. COVID-19 death counts.”

In the 324 days since the first COVID-19 case was reported in the United States there have been over 15,392,979 total cases; of which it is believed that nearly 6 million are believed to be fully recovered – of which over 289,000 have died.

Two-hundred and eighty-nine thousand of our neighbors have died – most of whom died unnecessarily because of the negligence and incompetence of the Trump administration.

The blood is on their hands – and on the hands of those complicit with Trump.

This December, as some Americans prepare to winter on islands in Florida – as many more prepare for illness and eviction in 2021 – daily, on social media, in opinion pages, on talk radio, we witness a marked lack of empathy, of humility, from those who have both been able to stay safe – and profit – during this presidency and pandemic while marginalized workers, including some from within Trump’s base, unable to isolate – with no relief in sight – have continued to serve the pleasures and greed of the privileged.

Lacking a moral core, lacking empathy for the less fortunate, they don’t challenge the grievances, misrepresentations, and lies expressed for their benefit. Rather, they acquiesce, and become complicit in the diminishing of a great nation, denying humanity to all unlike themselves.

Let us not be complicit. Let us be known as a nation that embraces humanity, embraces the least among us as ourselves.

That is true. That is our truth.

(Robert Azzi, a photographer and writer who lives in Exeter, can be reached at theother.azzi@gmail.com. His columns are archived at theotherazzi.wordpress.com.)


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