The Gaslighter in Chief
By Jorge D. H. Prósperi, 2020
Language is the common denominator by which our brains think, decipher, observe, describe, label, conceptualize, comprehend . . . not to mention enabling reading and writing. Language is both cognitive and affective. It pulls at the mind and heart. It is relentless and all encompassing.
A constant outgoing and incoming tsunami of knowledge . . . dependent on veracity.
Regardless of the LANGUAGE that is presented to us at birth, we adapt to one of the 12 most common known languages, aside from the 6500 other languages and dialects spoken throughout the world. Yes, we are remarkable! Name the place of birth and we will begin to babble away!
LANGUAGE – a marvelous human ability that allows all of us to COMMUNICATE. It is said to be POWERFUL in its relationship to KNOWLEDGE.
But this ingenious ability does not guarantee that what we say or what we hear will be the TRUTH. That ability is left up to each of us.
Quite an ability . . . quite a responsibility for speaker-writer – listener-reader.
The responsibility is directly connected to two of the most crucial elements regarding the quality of our lives as human beings . . . CREDIBILITY AND TRUST.
When credibility and trust is damaged, one solution is to seek the causation – expose it – identify the source and renew our efforts to critically seek alternatives.
The truth will remain waiting . . . but it will be up to us to unearth it.
So let’s communicate about some of the language and responsibility associated with language by those we rely on, depend upon, and vote for to tell us the TRUTH.
While we may differ on policies and issues, should any of us settle for lies? Should any of us expect higher authorities to lie to us, time after time, after time?
Let’s break down language in the 21st Century that is being used to describe, define, interpret and comprehend the LANGUAGE and its RESPONSIBILITY to the TRUTH by the highest of authority figures . . . the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
While I write this critique, with all of the rights and guidelines of the 1st Amendment, I am calling upon every cognitive and affective domain I possess to edit every word, its meaning, purpose and intent.
This is every writer’s responsibility – to be fair to the topic, in this case a man and his current dedicated followers – some being members of my family, colleagues, neighbors and citizens.
I don’t know if I would call at this point a trumper-thumper a friend. Especially after having three years of exposure. Friendship to me has its perimeters, its values requiring mutual respect, empathy, compassion, sense of justice, inclusivity, tolerance, honesty and conscience. I even expect advocacy for those most in need and most vulnerable. It is what I hope a genuine friend would expect of me.
So while I advocate and promote “going beyond tolerance”, I find myself only tolerating those who profess divisiveness, confirmation bias and absolute thinking. As a wise mentor shared, “You will not change the world – you can try – but try as you may, there will always be those who will die with teeth grit holding on to fear and hate.”
That said, since 2016, Donald Trump has a history of being divisive -stoking fear and hate. He is a PATHOLOGICAL LIAR by way of his own documented language – via verified radio and telephone interviews, video and now thousands of tweets. We do not need much time or effort to Google a Trump lie, after lie, after lie. The tendency is compulsive and obsessive.
The lies are documented in black, white and every other color of the rainbow. The lies are there, in surround sound and HD. No hair plugs, orange makeup, fancy suits and ties (made in China) can alter what we are hearing and viewing with our own ears and eyes. It is a reality TV scene each and every time playing out in front of our eyes.
I can remember when there was a serious pause before calling someone a liar. Even if it was true, reporters and pundits masked untruths with words as “misspeaking.” Now the lies are out in the open for judge and jury to see and hear.
On January 20, 2020 The Washington Post writers, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly reported “that since taking office Donald Trump made 26,200 statements to be false, misleading and/or suspect of not being the truth.”
Donald Trump may sound like a middle schooler acting-out hissy fits during recess, but he is an adult – and The President of the United States! He does not get a pass, after pass, after pass for lying.
This is The President of the United States with the vocabulary of my 4 year old grandson! (Sorry Calvin). Has Trump heard of synonyms, antonyms? Yes, I expect him to be more coherent and articulate than me. English is my second language. English is his first.
The article in the Post also points out, “that since January 19, his 1,095th day in office, Trump had made 16,241 false or misleading claims.” OK – let’s give him a pass. Let’s say that it was 1/2 as many. OK – another pass – 1/2 as many again. How many lies does it take to damage CREDIBILITY AND TRUST?
I persist . . . he is The President of the United States with a pathology of lying. As soon as he beings to speak, credibility and trust is up for grabs.
I would surmise that most of us would not, could not hold a job or a meaningful relationship if we constantly lied. Think about it.
In other words, he utters language without responsibility to the truth. He uses, by choice and design language to distort, falsify, manipulate and charlatanize for personal aggrandizement, to deflect ownership of responsibility, to defend what is proven to be indefensible and/or to produce fabrications in order to mislead the listener.
To gaslight for political gain during a presidential campaign is bad enough, but to lie during a worldwide pandemic is unconscionable . . . and there is the rub . . . conscience . . . consistent dependable character. Isn’t that what we also vote for . . . character?
The ploy by a pathological liar to constantly lie with intent is called GASLIGHTING. Yes, by all means Google the word or better yet, read one of the many books on the subject that define and provide strategies by which to recognize it.
The word is not new and became popular in the 1930s by way of a play rather than a socio-cultural-political insidious construct. But the plot – the intent was the same. By choice and design to deceive, manipulate and control.
End of Part I of III – Go to Part II