Social Media: www.twitter.com/AbstractPo3tic
On Inauguration Day, BBC America aired one of my favorite Star Trek: The Next Generationepisodes, “Chain of Command.” For the uninitiated, the episode finds Captain Picard on a covert mission against the Cardassians—with a C, not a K—, only to be caught, tortured, and interrogated. Initially, I figured the episode’s resonance would come from watching a peaceful transition of power as Picard has to handover the reigns of the Enterprise to a captain with a very different style than his own.
But time has a way of revealing truth. Since the day that may live in infamy, we’ve been misled, misrepresented, and outright lied to on several occasions. Starting with “alternative facts”, this administration has shown it plans to see truth as relative, not absolute, despite how stingy actual facts truly are. It reminded me of the most memorable scene from “Chain of Command” where Picard’s Cardassian interrogator lays it all out on the table: Remain a prisoner for the rest of your life or go home free. All Picard has to do is tell him he sees five lights when in reality, there are only four.
The Trump Administration, specifically the man in the Oval, wants us all to see five lights and will stop at nothing to accomplish that goal. Misinformation is a deadly thing, especially in a world where social media runs rampant. Why be bothered with the nightly news or a newspaper or true journalism when your people on Facebook or Twitter can tell you everything that’s fit to print? It’s a question many have asked themselves and some—which is way too many—decided that social media is the way to go. Trump and his people know this. They’re betting on you being naive and lacking an ounce of intellectual curiosity.
Actually, they’re betting on you lacking even an ounce of intellect and you’ll believe their word over people who are paid to investigate and hold people like them accountable. If the greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he doesn’t exist, then a similar feat for a political organization or power would be convincing the world their voice is the only one that counts.
When the White House’s chief strategist tells the press they should “shut up” it’s not just because they disagree with them but also because they see them as a threat. Politicians throughout history have made the press their personal enemy and a lot of that has to do with the press’ low standing in damn near every public opinion poll. It makes complete sense from a political standpoint to convince your supporters that the press is out to get you but this is different.
The way this administration is bending the facts on torture, deficits, taxes, crowd size—seriously—and crime would make the world’s greatest contortionist jealous and they believe without people paid to speak truth to power, we’ll all be too stupid to notice. For instance, raise your hand if you knew that on his second day in office, Trump personallycalled the National Parks Service chief to demand more photos of his inauguration in order to not only disprove the media but also nurture his own ego. By itself, it’s a ridiculous story that paints the picture of an insecure man who needs everyone to kiss his behind but let’s step back and look at the bigger picture. If he’s willing to go that far on something so trivial, what’s to stop him from going even further on issues that really matter? If he gets a jobs report he doesn’t like, or crime statistics that don’t jibe with his own narrative, or, God forbid, national security information that doesn’t align to his personal goals? Well then we’re boned.
Which brings me back to that fortuitous episode. The reason the Cardassian wanted Picard to say he saw five lights instead of four is to assert control and dominance. He wants Picard to look at reality, throw it aside, and go with the version he wants him to go with. He wants to convert him. It’s an homage to George Orwell’s 1984, and it, much like Orwell’s book, becomes increasingly relevant as the clock continues to tick.
This administration wants you to see the world the way they do. They want you to believe that Congressman John Lewis resides over a crime-infested district when in reality, Atlanta is booming. They want you to believe Mexico is a problem when it’s one of our biggest and most trusted partners on the global stage. And they want you to believe that everyone else, including me, is a liar.
Sorry, Trump. There are four lights.