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Even in a pandemic, the work of a propagandist is never done.  

Today’s Post and Courier brings another reason-defying feat of illogic from columnist, and National Review editor, Rich Lowry.  For Lowry, the most important thing we can learn from the abject failure of the administration’s response to the coronavirus is—wait for it—the hypocrisy of “the left.”

Because you see, the fact that critics of the President wanted him to act more swiftly and more decisively to meet a public health threat somehow demonstrates that the charge that the President is an aspiring authoritarian is without foundation.  After all, if he was ignorant and indecisive about an issue of importance then he can’t really be a tyrant since “tyrants aren’t bystanders” and “they don’t have to be pushed to declare a national emergency.” Trump, says Lowry, isn’t an authoritarian but rather “he has a highly personalized view of the Presidency.”

My colleague in philosophy and fellow GSH columnist Larry Krasnoff could no doubt shred this absurdity more concisely and fully than I can (he may well be writing at this moment) but let us consider just two points:

  1. Authoritarian leaders do not generally assert control and bypass legal restrictions with regard to all aspects of a political community—this confuses authoritarianism with totalitarianism.  Instead, they establish control with respect to activity that they view as a threat to their power or if they see opportunities to expand their political power.  There is a great deal of relatively free activity in China, until the communist party decides that the activity is a threat to their power.
  2. President Trump did not see the threat of a pandemic as important because he only sees the world through the lens of his own personal interests and power.  This is what helps define an authoritarian ruler.

Further evidence of the rise of authoritarianism is when propaganda replaces honest commentary and debate. Lowry’s column is more than a cheap and baseless shot at “the left;” it is meant to obscure the voluminous evidence that Trump has rejected legitimate legislative oversight, used his office to enrich family and business associates, purged his administration and party of those deemed insufficiently loyal, used the threat of conspiracy to undermine the press and government institutions, and dismissed evidence that a foreign power has and is continuing to disrupt free and fair elections.

4 thoughts on “Pandemic Propaganda

  1. Thanks, Phil. I would add that Trump’s response prior to last week had been totally authoritarian, in that he was telling the American public: don’t believe the independent media, or the medical professionals, believe me (as I tell you what you want to hear rather than the truth).

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  2. Indeed. That is a go to play in the authoritarian’s playbook, isn’t it. Very scary when there is no longer even a reasonable approximation of information sources that are respected across a large swath of society. I think this is the area where it is most clear that Trump is the product of 40 years of denegrating experts as arrogant and government as incompetent and sinister. Thanks for the comment. Posting a few depressing bits of misinformation from out President later today.

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  3. I find, more so with formats like this one, to share where my views might understood, but for the readers. I have discovered the apparent “cleverness” of people and the usage of language. This is good, for awareness is essential to understanding.
    Many people like to belong. They want to be part of movements. They want to be part of group think tanks. They want to be in the know. Or, they want to be seen as different and having rare understanding. I have none of that. The difficulty is, in these efforts, many actually give up their understanding in exchange for the group, entity, or otherwise. The only honest person is the one who says what they say, see what they see, realize what they realize, and care not for adulation, accolades, or thumbs ups.
    I suppose this format has its problems in that people will determine the successfulness of their blogs by support. Those who understand honesty won’t worry about that. They’ll say what needs to be said, forget the thumbs ups. And a president who’s determined to do the right thing won’t worry about blogs or panels. We have a president like that. He could always go back to making his billions. He’s not getting rich as president, giving his salary back, and he could be making more running the Trump empire.
    I explained to a friend that in this day and age, we would be hard pressed to find or get a president who would follow the constitution unless he/she were rich and successful in his/her own right. For only such a person, strong in their convictions, could withstand the onslaught of progressives, politics, and many who are easily led into certain ways of thinking. For, we looked about, and in every walk of life, we see virtually similar things, wondering how it all came about. Looking for people who are truly individuals, think and see for themselves, and aren’t looking to make a book deal or get thumbs ups. We’re looking for people who see clearly, like George Washington, and say without any thought for gain. Just for the country.
    I suppose, that’s why, in our walks, the most honest people don’t look for applause. They work, have families, discuss and argue, eat out or at home, and live their lives of responsibility without applause. They don’t even think about notoriety.
    I truly believe, to begin, our president didn’t want the job. We think he was going along, as he’d thought about it before, but more so to shake things up, perhaps encourage the one’s he liked to truly speak their minds for the country. What he discovered, during those debates was he couldn’t find one who would be strong and independent. Probably thought the others were bought out to some degree, or just not strong enough, and he realized the seriousness of what was and has been happening in America. We’re so close to socialism, if we’re not there already, that I’m still amazed how so many don’t know the lesson of the black sheep. It’s the few who make a difference, for they provide an example to others. But never to be seen as such.
    What you’re seeing is an individual who thinks and realizes for himself, follows the constitution and believes in America and what America stands for. Most people aren’t used to seeing that. Most have had to lower expectations, rationalize, and go along to get along. He doesn’t. And that’s a breath of fresh air. And look what he’s been able to withstand, and he seems to be getting younger. Why? Because he sees it. We see it. And we know how serious his job is. And he’s right. Some of the other countries are salivating in the hopes that someone without understanding and individual thinking gets in so they can walk all over us. And the people. Well…..

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