On Lying

If the Clintons were not as downmarket as they are, they would have fit perfectly into 15th century Florence, the city that gave us Botticelli and Cellini, and also the Medicis, the Borgias and, of course, Machiavelli. Renaissance Florence was not confined to painting and literature; quite the opposite, in fact. Doublespeak, or lying, was as prevalent in the city as art and making money, and the greatest exponent of lying was the flattering favorite son of the city, Niccolò Machiavelli himself.

I know I sound a like bit of a flatterer by mentioning the Clintons in the same breath as those great­­—if blood-soaked —Florentines, but it is for a purpose. The Clintons lied and lied with one goal in mind: power. They were not the first, nor the last, to prefer lying when the truth was more beneficial to them. Invention, the withholding of information, fabrication of fact, or whatever one chooses to call it, makes the object of that deceit more comfortable. Words were invented in order to veil one’s true thoughts, or so the cynics say. Which brings me to the 45th American president.

I began this column with a Clinton reference in order to compel a gasp of outrage by any member of the mainstream media who happens to read it. The media minions are in a very irritable state right now, outraged at what they see as egregious lies by The Donald. And as usually, they’re wrong. The Donald is an embellisher par excellence, a man who became the consummate exaggerator in order to advance his business. He flourished by hyperbole, which is a totally different thing than the outright lies of the Clintons. (I did not have sex with that woman; the Benghazi massacre was due to a video etc.)

Lying, needless to say, has been hogging the headlines since Trump declared his candidacy, dominating the headlines in newspapers that have been known to lie consistently via false data and by suggestion: Step forward and take a bow the New York Times and the Washington Post, two papers that view whites, heterosexuals, Christians, and the police as the main dangers to this country.

Take, for example, the Russian nonsense. Suggesting that false rumors—picked up in the cesspool of the Internet—are real is, in my book, as big a lie as it gets. Publishing stories of “Americans fleeing to Canada” to escape Trump is an obvious exaggeration (a few have actually gone through with it, although many, especially in show business, have threatened) but in reality it’s a very big whopper of a lie. The Times reporting that transgender women “walk with fear” because of Trump (the Times mentioned two women who had complained that cops who helped them after a harassment did not speak Spanish) is, for lack of a better word, Machiavellian. Data was used by one Charles Blow, a Times columnist who produced his own, and the lie turns into scientific proof. I could go on.

Nietzsche famously declared that there are no truths, only interpretations. (Where Trump is concerned, the media considers only strict truth, hence he’s a liar. The same can be said about me where the Clintons are concerned.) This led to a lot of charlatans called deconstructionists and post-modernists who delighted in the idea that there is no truth. Communist ideology considered truth a bourgeois construct. Our universities are no better. They pretend and advertize that they stand for free speech, but only as long as free speech does not involve anything that is in favor of conservatism. How that differs from communist oppression of free speech is a mystery to me. Yet try and find a conservative speaker that is not violently evicted from the podium in places like Harvard, Yale, or Columbia, and I will make my boat available to the Clintons.

Let’s face it. The biggest lie of all is that we here in America enjoy free speech. When Trump told a black Congressman that he should worry about what has happened to the black family, rather than complain about presidential antics, the media reacted like an outraged duchess that had walked into a brothel by mistake. One cannot speak the truth about black crime, about gay promiscuity, about violent Hispanics illegally in the country, and God forbid if one mentions Trump in a favorable way.

Back in Florence in 1497, Girolamo Savonarola tried to purify the city by burning everyone who didn’t agree with him at the stake. But old Savo ended up being fried himself when he took it too far. No wonder Machiavelli wrote that “If sometimes I do happen to tell the truth, I hide it among so many lies that it is hard to find.” Machiavelli survived and died in his bed. So, too, will the liars in the media and in the academy who are Savonarola’s successors. I accept this as a way of life in modern America, but don’t pick on The Donald as someone in need of truth serum. The media needs it more than he does.