Less than a week into his presidency, Donald Trump and his administration appear to be all-in on the “post-truth” movement.
“Post-truth” became Oxford Dictionary’s word of 2016 after Trump’s campaign convinced millions of voters that no truth can be held as self-evident anymore. In Trump’s America, any information, no matter the source or amount of evidence, can be countered with #AlternativeFacts.
Judging from Trump’s first weekend in office, the campaign was just a warm-up for America’s first post-truth Presidency.
Friday, newly-appointed Press Secretary Sean Spicer and loyal Trump counselor Kelly Anne Conway were thrown onto the front lines of the president’s war against the truth. Their first weekend on duty, both Trump flunkies fought valiantly to protect their leader’s fragile ego against claims that his inaugural ceremony was less popular than Barack Obama‘s.
Spicer was promptly lit up on social media when his lies about Friday’s attendance numbers were disproved by aerial photos showing the White House lawn in 2009 and 2017. Conway rushed to cover Spicer’s back on Meet The Press the next day, claiming her colleague was simply reporting “alternative facts.”
Below, @CoupCoup40Cal shares 6 #AlternativeFacts that still define American history.
1. America Was Discovered By European Settlers
By now, we all know that Christopher Columbus, the Pilgrims and the many other settlers who claimed to discover America really just Debo’d it from unsuspecting residents who had been there for centuries. Armed with gun powder, small pox blankets and centuries of unchecked White privilege, these settlers quickly displaced and decimated Natives who’d spent generations living in harmony with the “New World.”
2. The Alternative Truths Of America’s Founding Fathers
The men who founded America were almost as skilled as President Trump at the art of propaganda. Some are immortalized with giant monuments and currency that bears their image. But were the American heroes who rocked powdered wigs and white tights really as awesome has the history books make them out to be?
George Washington‘s legend is defined by a children’s story about a cherry tree that’s meant to show his unflappable honor and absolute honesty. Thanks to consistent branding, the story of Washington’s truth-telling has endured as a fact of American history for centuries, despite opposing accounts of his false teeth, dishonest politics and brutal treatment of African slaves.
Thomas Jefferson, the author of America’s Declaration of Independence, wrote beautiful prose about all men being equal while simultaneously beating and raping his own human slaves. Historians agree that Jefferson fathered multiple children with lifelong servant Sally Hemmings, and logic suggests she likely wasn’t the only one. The U.S.’s fourth president eventually granted his “half-human” children freedom but retained ownership of their mother until his death, when his daughter Martha freed her.
3. The Alternative Truth Of “Protect And Serve”
U.S. law enforcement and military are generally viewed as heroes by the majority of the American public. But many who have interacted with or served in these institutions paint a much different picture of America’s police and armed forces when given the platform.
Sadly, most whistle-blowers are silenced, shamed or worse by the Espionage Act and “blue code of silence.” These “no snitching codes” help the police and military operate more like America’s two largest gangs than it’s most trusted defenders of the public.
Although citizens are guaranteed certain rights upon arrest — including right to a fair and speedy trial — U.S. authorities have shown a tendency to take the law into their own hands whenever the opportunity presents itself. Historians are clear that the roots of America’s police forces can be traced back to “slave patrols” and The Department of Justice confirmed in multiple 2016 reports that widespread racism and corruption are deeply ingrained in many of our nation’s departments.
Although America’s foreign policy leaders claim to fight for democracy and peace across the globe, citizens of color throughout America and abroad have much different experiences with America the beautiful. Even a president as beloved as Barack Obama can’t shake the blood of countless domestic and global civilians off his hands. But thanks to the massive and unchecked power America’s armed forces have enjoyed forever, he never has to.
Whether the U.S. is dropping nukes, launching drones or shooting 12-year-olds holding toy guns, it never answers for its crimes or even so much as apologizes; begging the question of who exactly these forces are protecting and serving?
4. The “Land Of The Free” … “With Liberty And Justice For All”
America’s national anthem labels it the “land of the free” and its pledge of allegiance promises “liberty and justice for all.” But those labels get more complicated when you consider the #AlternativeFact that almost 25-percent of the world’s prison population resides in this “land of the free;” Or that many citizens experience very different forms of “liberty and justice” based on their race, class, religion or gender identity.
No famous rallying cry or historic saying can discount the fact that Flint, Michigan has been without clean water for nearly 1000 days; Or that countless prison inmates are living in third-world conditions and performing work for modern slave wages.
Muslim citizens continue to be victimized by America’s irrational fear of “terrorism,” and LGBTQ citizens have their basic rights mocked, questioned and threatened on a consistent basis. Not to mention the millions of working women who earn less than their male colleagues for dong the same work. All of which, again, beg the question, who exactly is the “all” that gets to experience all this liberty and justice?
5. “The Land Of Opportunity” And “The War On Drugs”
While countless immigrants continue to flock to the states for the promise of unlimited freedom and opportunity, they’re often met by an alternate reality upon arrival.
Although some of America’s most powerful figures, including presidents John F. Kennedy and Donald Trump, inherited their family fortunes from the illegal trades of liquor and prostitution, America has been vigilant in limiting the scarce opportunities its minority groups have managed to create outside of the establishment. Sure, Kennedy and Trump were the sons of immigrants themselves. But their examples only serve as further proof that no matter where you’re from or how you make your way, America will always forgive the sins of a White male.
In the 1980’s Ronald and Nancy Reagan led an unprecedented attack on America’s inner cities, criminalizing an entire generation of young Black and Latino men. Without fair access to higher education or employment opportunities in the booming corporate sector, countless young men gravitated to the highly profitable trade of crack cocaine, which became curiously ominous in America’s ghetto’s almost overnight.
Still, evidence that the American government was complicit in importing and distributing crack to these vulnerable communities is routinely swept under the rug in most political discourse. Thankfully, the extremely biased mandatory sentencing laws passed in Bill Clinton‘s 1994 crime bill, which made possession of crack far more punishable than possession of equivalent amounts of pure cocaine, have become a major talking point of the current war against mass incarceration.
Still, Barack Obama’s decision to commute the sentences of hundreds of non-violent offenders only made a small splash in the ocean of Americans who are currently incarcerated without hope of a second chance. Even after serving their time, some of their most basic rights (including voting) will be revoked because of their status as felons.
The most egregious #AlternativeFact that has come from the rise of Trump and his post-truthism is the phrase, “All Lives Matter,” a wickedly insensitive response to the countless recorded executions that helped the #BlackLivesMatter movement go viral on social media.
While #BLM started as a non-violent, grassroots effort to bring awareness to the murders of unarmed children like Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice by both law enforcement and vigilante citizens, it was quickly spun by America’s establishment using #AlternativeFacts.
False stats about “Black-on-Black crime” and narratives that blamed the victims for the perceived threats they posed and their lack of compliance spread rapidly on conservative Facebook feeds. This “alt-right” campaign of #AlternativeTruths went a long way in undermining mounting evidence of racist policing across America. Comments from politicians and law enforcement officials labeling #BLM activists “terrorists,” are troubling enough for those planning to resist the new administration’s policies; When combined with new laws that propose charging citizens who resist arrest with hate crimes and granting police the right to use lethal force on protestors, it’s clear that things will be getting worse before they get better.
But while the phrase “All Lives Matter” was originally meant to insult the Black citizens who live in constant fear of police brutality and biased laws, it’s also a slap in the face to America’s other minority groups who are told more explicitly with each passing day that their lives are not as valuable as the White majority that elected Trump.
“All Lives Matter” insults the women who are currently having their reproductive rights snatched from them to ease the nerves of rich conservatives and religious fanatics.
“All Lives Matter” is also offensive to the countless women and children abroad who can no longer depend on the U.S. military’s intervention in human rights issues. Everyone from factory workers to sex slaves are more vulnerable than ever under the Trump administration. And with his blinders focused on “saving” an economy that his predecessor already revived from the dead, Trump will likely neglect these communities without a second thought; Thus ending America’s long tenure as “protector” of the free world and beginning an era that promises to treat anyone without a direct tie to the White establishment that founded the United States without so much as a lifeline to the American Dream.
In the era of “post-truth” and #AlternativeFacts, the #WokeBaby who went viral following Saturday’s Women’s March may have uncovered the key to exposing and sharing truth in the new America:
If you want people to believe in your message or support your cause, simply blurt out or scribble down the first thing that comes to mind and demand it be accepted as a fact of reality. One day or another, it will make sense to somebody, somewhere. Until then, you’re no less credible than the President of the United States of America.