Trump lies and America’s violence continuum

I have written the DOJ will not prosecute Trump but absent any  prosecution  American democracy cannot expect to continue on its present trajectory.  The longer Trump goes unpunished the worse his affinity for lying and the use of his bully pulpit to gas light and incite racial, religious hatred will become.  The Washington Post back in 2021 said in it’s article highlighting Trump’s span of lies during his administration

When The Washington Post Fact Checker team first started cataloguing President Donald Trump’s false or misleading claims, we recorded 492 suspect claims in the first 100 days of his presidency. On Nov. 2 alone, the day before the 2020 vote, Trump made 503 false or misleading claims as he barnstormed across the country in a desperate effort to win reelection.

This astonishing jump in falsehoods is the story of Trump’s tumultuous reign. By the end of his term, Trump had accumulated 30,573 untruths during his presidency — averaging about 21 erroneous claims a day.

What is especially striking is how the tsunami of untruths kept rising the longer he served as president and became increasingly unmoored from the truth.

We have learned that Trump’s lies are purposeful.  He has been told some of his statements are lies and even has admitted to others that he knows what he says is not the truth but he says it anyway. Politicians like him are able to strike a chord with elements of society that tend towards violence.  We’ve seen that already in the events of Jan6 and this is why he cannot be allowed to continue to lie unabated.

Lies regarding racial animosity and immigration are themes that have sparked intense murderous violence in America’s past.  Such violence historically has usually led to changes in policy or in one case an entire local govt and that hasn’t been lost on Trump et co. 

The lynching of 11 Italian immigrants in New Orleans in 1891, please make a mental note of that year, who were accused of murdering a police official of the city of New Orleans happened at a time when immigration was a hot button issue in America.  Five of  the people lynched were not tried at all for the murder but were executed. Three were tried and acquitted for that offense and three saw their case end in a mistrial yet all  were victims of a mob mentality that was stoked in anti-immigration rhetoric of the times.  It goes without saying no one responsible for these 11 murders was punished and attempts by the federal govt to compensate the families of the victims was fought by the Congress which managed to reduce the original amount  suggested by the president at the time of $25,000 down to slightly over $2,000 per victim. The practical effect of this act of genocide on a burgeoning Italian community in New Orleans was shortly after the lynching, the city passed an ordinance giving control of all New Orleans dock work to the newly formed Louisiana Construction and Improvement Corporation, a business headed by several of the lynch mob leaders. Italian waterfront merchants and workers, who had been making remarkable economic progress up to then, were thus eliminated as competitors. Left unpunished and essentially rewarded, people aligned with the mob mentality which murdered New Orleans’ Italian immigrants went on to continue lynching of immigrants in the state based on a lie.

Seven short years later in Wilmington, NC an entire govt changed hands.  Described by some in the parlance of the day as a race riot caused by the black citizens of Wilmington what happened in 1898 is also known by many as a violent overthrow of a duly elected government by a group of white supremacists much like the Jan6 insurrection.  It was fomented by lies and simmering white resentment at the political participation and coalition between African-Americans and white Southern Republicans in what was called a fusionist govt.  This agitation resulted in scores of innocent black citizens killed and the complete withdrawal and overthrow of a duly elected local government in Wilmington. 

These two historical examples point to the necessity of dealing with lies in a timely, concise, definitive way. Whataboutism and equivocation have no place in combating the political rhetoric used by Trump and his MAGA movement supporters.  WaPo gets it right when it called the increased number of Trump lies at the end of his term a “tsunami”.  Why are we waiting for a corresponding wave of violence to accompany it?