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Words for our times

Authentic, deepfake and gaslighting: three words that characterize the age of Donald Trump. It’s no wonder that these words are, according to Merriam-Webster, recent words of the year.

Uncertainty and doubt create chaos in peoples’ minds and chaos is the playground of a devious and Machiavellian conniver preying on the weak-minded, ill-informed and gullible.

Authentic is what is real, believed to be authentic depends on the individual. Trump found fertile ground in uninformed Americans who rely on internet conspiracy theories conflated with partial truths and deepfake impossible promises for information.

Trump found that if you keep repeating the same lies over and over they are believed and circulated and soon become true in many peoples’ minds — a trick he learned from Adolf Hitler. When confronted with the truth he bears down on the lie until enough Americans gladly become gaslighted, and like lemmings go over the cliff.

Arnoldo Gonzalez

Brownsville

Believing falsehoods

Whom do you trust? I’m not thinking of political leaders, I’m referring to people.

Whether they go to church is as irrelevant as their political party. What matters is whether they put their beliefs above evidence. Do they put tribe above truth? If they are unwilling to look at evidence, then the answer is beware.

We all choose what we believe. But if we’re unwilling to put evidence above ourselves, we can’t even trust ourselves.

We’re all tempted to do it. You know whom I am talking about because we are related to them. They are our friends and neighbors. They are nice people.

Need examples? Think of someone you know who will believe allegations from their favorite “fact” source, but not watch testimony sworn under oath if they think it threatens their belief.

Telling lies is not against the law. False testimony under oath is. That’s why some people do everything they can to avoid it. Cross-examination makes the veracity even stronger. If it’s the truth you fear, don’t watch.

Do you know anyone who refused to watch the Jan. 6 hearings, even if they had the opportunity? I know lots of them. Some even send me uncorroborated stories they find on the internet. If it conforms to what they want to believe, they swallow it like the gospel truth.

All propagandists know that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. We witness today the ease of spreading lies. Millions believe the last presidential election was stolen based on allegations without evidence.

Joseph Goebbels once said: “The more absurd the lie, the more people will believe it.” QAnon conspiracy anyone?

Voltaire wrote during the reign of terror following the French Revolution more than 200 years ago: “If you can get people to believe absurdities, you can get them to commit atrocities.”

Remember Jan. 6, 2021. Times may have changed, but people haven’t.

If you have been following the evidence, you know the former president knew he lost the 2020 election while he was (and still is) telling people he didn’t. He knows his audience. He actually has two: Those who believe what he says because they need to be lied to; and those who don’t care if it’s true because they want power.

James Tweed

Ocean City, N.J.


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