Big Lies of Our Time in the United States

Nancy

A writer I follow in Facebook, Paul Street, just wrote an article called "The American Sea of Deception" (https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-american-sea-of-deception/) where he asked people what they consider the biggest lies we are told about our country.  He came up with 50 and then wrote the article about the top 10.  

This is the introduction:

Four days ago, The Washington Post reported that the epic pathological liar Donald Trump made 4,229 false statements during his first 558 days as United States president. Trump spoke or tweeted falsely, on average, an astonishing 7.6 times per day during that time.
We have no historical database of presidential untruth on which to rely to make detailed comparisons, but it is certain that Trump’s rate of falsehood is beyond anything ever seen in the White House. Armed with Twitter and a mad and malignantly narcissistic penchant for twisting facts and truth in accord with his own ever-shifting sense of what serves his interests and hurts his perceived foes, this monstrosity is gaslighting the last flickering embers of civic democracy at a velocity that would make Goebbels green with envy.
Keeping up with Trump’s erroneous and duplicitous statements is exhausting work, hazardous to one’s own sanity. Just as depressing as Trump’s serial fabrication and invention is the apparent willingness of tens of millions of ostensibly decent and honest ordinary Americans to tolerate, dismiss or even believe the endless stream of nonsense and ********. 
Still, if much of the populace has become inured to presidential lying and misstatement, it’s hardly all the current president’s fault.
Deception and misstatement are “as American as Cherry Pie” (to quote H. Rap Brown on violence)—though here perhaps I should say “as American as George Washington’s childhood cherry tree fable.”
While we’ve never seen anything on Trump’s psychotic scale, the problem of U.S. presidential deception goes way back in American history.
Eager for a back-door pretext to enter the war against German fascism (a good thing in the opinion of many), for example, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt lied to Congress and the American people when he claimed that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was “unprovoked” by the U.S. and a complete “surprise” to the U.S. military.
President Dwight Eisenhower flatly lied to the American people and the world when he denied the existence of American U-2 spy plane flights over Russia.
President John F. Kennedy lied about the supposed missile gap between the United States and the Soviet Union. And Kennedy lied when he claimed that the United States sought democracy in Latin America, Southeast Asia and around the world.
President Lyndon Johnson lied on Aug. 4, 1965, when he claimed that North Vietnam attacked U.S. Navy destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. This provided a false pretext for a massive escalation of the U.S. war on Vietnam, resulting in the deaths of more than 50,000 U.S. military personnel and millions of Southeast Asians.
Regarding Vietnam, Daniel Ellsberg recalled 17 years ago that his 1971 release of the Pentagon Papers exposed U.S. military and intelligence documents “proving that the government had long lied to the country. Indeed, the papers revealed a policy of concealment and quite deliberate deception from the Truman administration onward. … A generation of presidents,” Ellsberg noted, “chose to conceal from Congress and the public what the real policy was. …”
President Richard Nixon lied about wanting peace in Vietnam (his agent, Henry Kissinger, actively undermined a peace accord with Hanoi before the 1968 election) and about respecting the neutrality of Cambodia. He lied through secrecy and omission about the criminal and fateful U.S. bombing of Cambodia—a far bigger crime than the burglarizing of the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate complex, about which he of course famously lied.
The serial fabricator Ronald Reagan made a special address to the nation in which he lied by saying, “We did not—repeat—we did not trade weapons or anything else [to Iran] for hostages, nor will we.”
President George H.W. Bush falsely claimed on at least five occasions in the run-up to the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War that Iraqi forces, after invading Kuwait, had pulled babies from incubators and left them to die.
President Bill Clinton shamelessly lied about his White House sexual shenanigans with Monica Lewinsky. He falsely claimed to be upholding international law and to be opposing genocide when he bombed Serbia for more than two months in early 1999.
The serial liar George W. Bush and his administration infamously, openly and elaborately lied about Saddam Hussein’s alleged Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” and about Iraq’s purported links to al Qaida and the 9/11 jetliner attacks. After the WMD fabrication was exposed, Bush falsely claimed to have invaded Iraq to spread liberty and democracy.
Bill Clinton (subject of a useful Christopher Hitchens book titled “No One Left to Lie To”) and Barack Obama were both silver-tongued corporate-neoliberal Wall Street and Pentagon Democrats who falsely claimed to be progressive friends of working people and the poor. President Obama lied repeatedly, as when he falsely claimed that he would have his Department of Justice investigate and prosecute abusive lenders for cheating and defrauding ordinary homeowners. Obama misrepresented the facts badly when he repeatedly claimed (in what PolitiFact determined to be “The Lie of the Year” in 2013) that, under his Affordable Care Act, “If Americans like their doctor, they will keep their doctor. And if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it.”
In a grotesque lie early in his presidency, Obama’s White House claimed that the carnage caused by its bombing of the Afghan village of Bola Boluk (where dozens of children were blown to pieces by U.S. ordnance) had really been inflicted by “Taliban grenades.”
But presidential lies are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to an American political, media, intellectual and educational culture that has long been drenched in a vast sea of fable, deception, ideological selection and flat-out propagandistic falsification. The biggest and most relevant lies of our time don’t just issue from the mouths, press releases and now, sadly, Twitter feeds of presidents. They are major historical and societal myths and grand narratives of broad falsehood widely shared across the major party spectrum by “responsible” and “respectable” authorities in politics, business, education, literature, religion, media and public affairs.
I recently asked a dozen or so online associates and friends for their top five nominations under the category of the Big Lies of Our Time in the United States. We came up with fully 50 great national fairy tales and untruths (one for each U.S. state). Here are my nominations for the Top 10 Big National Lies:

Wondering if people agree/disagree or have a favorite.

The full list is on his website: https://www.paulstreet.org/fifty-great-united-states-lies/


dave23

Yes, fighting Hitler was a "a good thing in the opinion of many." And presidents lie.


Nancy
dave23 said:
Yes, fighting Hitler was a "a good thing in the opinion of many." And presidents lie.

 That's the introduction.  Go to the link and scroll below it for the list: https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-american-sea-of-deception/


dave23
nan said:


dave23 said:
Yes, fighting Hitler was a "a good thing in the opinion of many." And presidents lie.
 That's the introduction.  Go to the link and scroll below it for the list: https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-american-sea-of-deception/

 Yes, I read it.


NoraCharles

I also think that fighting Hitler was a good thing. And by the way the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was not what finally dragged us into the war against German fascism.  What did it was that on December 8, 1941 (the day after Pearl Harbor) Germany declared war on the US.  Many scholars of World War II think that if he hadn't done that we still would not have gone to war against Germany and many wonder why Hitler did it since it was a disaster (long range) for him.   


drummerboy

Not quite sure of the point of this thread. Yes, presidents, politicians and even people in my own life have lied.

But even though Mr. Street goes to some lengths to try and separate what Trump does from what past Presidents have done, he really doesn't go far enough, and to even put Trump into the discussion and to say that we are "inured" to Trump's lies (are we?) because of past lying really misses the boat. What has happened in the past is nothing like what Trump does. 

Nothing.

Street does a great disservice in trying to equivocate the two. Furthermore, based on how he characterizes Trump's lying, he doesn't seem to actually understand why he does it.

But, to top it off, he lists the ultimate, number 1, top lie on his list that is "We are a democracy".But, when he gets to the big payoff, which is the top ten lies of all time, he lists this as number 2.

Capitalism is about democracy.

Funny, how the 2nd most endemic lie in our society is a phrase that I don't think I've ever heard. Maybe I just don't pay attention.


His explanation for #7, "Hard work and individual brilliance is the key to individual wealth, and the lack of such work and brains is the source of individual poverty."is kind of silly and simply describes how wealth accumulates in our system (though I happen to think that it is a top lie myself, just not for the reasons he states. He never mentions, for example, the role of luck.)


BG9
drummerboy said:
Not quite sure of the point of this thread. Yes, presidents, politicians and even people in my own life have lied.

But even though Mr. Street goes to some lengths to try and separate what Trump does from what past Presidents have done, he really doesn't go far enough, and to even put Trump into the discussion and to say that we are "inured" to Trump's lies (are we?) because of past lying really misses the boat. What has happened in the past is nothing like what Trump does. 
Nothing.

 Agree. Street is doing what some want. That is, the normalization of Trump.


ml1

I think a great many Americans are already well aware that the rationales for many of our country's wars have been untrue.  Listing all of those as separate lies is redundant.  Our country goes to war for reasons that are opaque, and the stated reasons are typically lies.  

What Trump is doing is something very different and more dangerous.  To be fair about it, the problem predates Trump.  It was Karl Rove who talked about creating an alternative reality.  And with the help of Fox News and the other right-wing news outlets, they've more or less succeeded.  And now our country is essentially helpless on the federal level to truly attack any problem.  Because half the country can't even be convinced that any problems exist.  And if they do believe there are problems we face, they are phony outrages made up by so-called conservatives to distract (the supposed attacks on Christianity, the phony border crisis, etc.).

We are screwed because of the destruction of truth over the past 30 years.  And it is something far worse and far more damaging than the lies of the past.


paulsurovell

Here's a major war in which we're allied with Al Qaeda. How much outcry can we expect from The Resistance?  Or should we excuse The Resistance because its major cable network doesn't cover the war?

Or are we just coming full circle to our creation of Al Qaeda when we funded and trained Bin Laden to fight the Russians in Afghanistan?

https://apnews.com/f38788a561d74ca78c77cb43612d50da

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35630194


drummerboy
paulsurovell said:
Here's a major war in which we're allied with Al Qaeda. How much outcry can we expect from The Resistance?  Or should we excuse The Resistance because its major cable network doesn't cover the war?
Or are we just coming full circle to our creation of Al Qaeda when we funded and trained Bin Laden to fight the Russians in Afghanistan?

https://apnews.com/f38788a561d74ca78c77cb43612d50da
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35630194

 This is on topic how?


LOST
nan said:



 Obama misrepresented the facts badly when he repeatedly claimed (in what PolitiFact determined to be “The Lie of the Year” in 2013) that, under his Affordable Care Act, “If Americans like their doctor, they will keep their doctor. And if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it.”

One of the great myths. Aside from the issue of whether a prediction about the future can ever be a lie, there was nothing in the ACA which compelled anyone to change doctors or insurance companies.


LOST
drummerboy said:


paulsurovell said:
Here's a major war in which we're allied with Al Qaeda. How much outcry can we expect from The Resistance?  Or should we excuse The Resistance because its major cable network doesn't cover the war?
Or are we just coming full circle to our creation of Al Qaeda when we funded and trained Bin Laden to fight the Russians in Afghanistan?

https://apnews.com/f38788a561d74ca78c77cb43612d50da
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35630194
 This is on topic how?

 There is no rule requiring one to stay on topic.

The conflict in Syria and the Middle-East in general has always reminded me of the Spanish Civil War.


drummerboy
LOST said:


drummerboy said:

paulsurovell said:
Here's a major war in which we're allied with Al Qaeda. How much outcry can we expect from The Resistance?  Or should we excuse The Resistance because its major cable network doesn't cover the war?
Or are we just coming full circle to our creation of Al Qaeda when we funded and trained Bin Laden to fight the Russians in Afghanistan?

https://apnews.com/f38788a561d74ca78c77cb43612d50da
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35630194
 This is on topic how?
 There is no rule requiring one to stay on topic.
The conflict in Syria and the Middle-East in general has always reminded me of the Spanish Civil War.

 No rules perhaps, but there are norms! Standards! Etiquette!


paulsurovell
drummerboy said:


paulsurovell said:
Here's a major war in which we're allied with Al Qaeda. How much outcry can we expect from The Resistance?  Or should we excuse The Resistance because its major cable network doesn't cover the war?
Or are we just coming full circle to our creation of Al Qaeda when we funded and trained Bin Laden to fight the Russians in Afghanistan?

https://apnews.com/f38788a561d74ca78c77cb43612d50da
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35630194
 This is on topic how?

War lies include deceptions about the forces we were/are supporting, or are aligned with. Vietnam is a classic example.


LOST
ml1 said:
I think a great many Americans are already well aware that the rationales for many of our country's wars have been untrue.  Listing all of those as separate lies is redundant.  Our country goes to war for reasons that are opaque, and the stated reasons are typically lies.  
What Trump is doing is something very different and more dangerous.  To be fair about it, the problem predates Trump.  It was Karl Rove who talked about creating an alternative reality.  And with the help of Fox News and the other right-wing news outlets, they've more or less succeeded.  And now our country is essentially helpless on the federal level to truly attack any problem.  Because half the country can't even be convinced that any problems exist.  And if they do believe there are problems we face, they are phony outrages made up by so-called conservatives to distract (the supposed attacks on Christianity, the phony border crisis, etc.).
We are screwed because of the destruction of truth over the past 30 years.  And it is something far worse and far more damaging than the lies of the past.

 A voter was asked what the most important issue was and replied "illegal immigration". Trump's base believes this country faces the following serious problems:

Massive invasion by illegal aliens many of whom are criminal gang members.

"Fake news" propagated by the "liberal media".

The corrupt "witch hunt" by Mueller.


The fact that if those "problems" go away it would not make one iota of in their material well-being does not seem to matter. They have their "circuses" so they do not miss the "bread". 


LOST
paulsurovell said:



War lies include deceptions about the forces we were/are supporting, or are aligned with. Vietnam is a classic example.

 I do not recall the lies about Vietnam being about whom we were supporting. We were supporting the South Vietnamese regime. Of course the government lied about the fact that that was a totally corrupt and undemocratic puppet regime but people soon caught on.


ml1

the lies about foreign policies and war are terrible an inexcusable.  But while we were being lied into wars around the globe, the country still managed the Civil Rights Act, The Voting Rights Act, Medicare, the creation of the EPA, the Clean Water Act, etc.  So we need to put the present day assault on truth and reality into that context.  We now cannot get any movement forward on climate change or health care. And we're seeing the rollback of voting rights and environmental protection.

Anyone who is doing anything to normalize the right-wing and Trumpian destruction of truth, reality and science is only serving the purposes of the people who are making this country worse for working people, people of color, and the environment.


annielou

Well said. I don’t even get the purpose of this thread. Leaders have lied so it’s nothing new? 


Klinker

Yeah, I don't think anyone is saying that Trump invented lying.  This thread seems like something of a non starter to me.

I find myself wondering what point the OP was trying to make. Perhaps I missed it.


drummerboy
Klinker said:
Yeah, I don't think anyone is saying that Trump invented lying.  This thread seems like something of a non starter to me.
I find myself wondering what point the OP was trying to make. Perhaps I missed it.

 If I may - the OP is probably trying to make the following points:

1. the u.s. sucks

2. the u.s. has always sucked

3. why worry about Russia if the u.s. sucks?

Unless she's actually trying to excuse Trump, because lies have always existed, so why are we upset at him now? It's just the same ol'  same ol'


Nancy
drummerboy said:
Not quite sure of the point of this thread. Yes, presidents, politicians and even people in my own life have lied.

But even though Mr. Street goes to some lengths to try and separate what Trump does from what past Presidents have done, he really doesn't go far enough, and to even put Trump into the discussion and to say that we are "inured" to Trump's lies (are we?) because of past lying really misses the boat. What has happened in the past is nothing like what Trump does. 
Nothing.
Street does a great disservice in trying to equivocate the two. Furthermore, based on how he characterizes Trump's lying, he doesn't seem to actually understand why he does it.
But, to top it off, he lists the ultimate, number 1, top lie on his list that is "We are a democracy".But, when he gets to the big payoff, which is the top ten lies of all time, he lists this as number 2.

Capitalism is about democracy.

Funny, how the 2nd most endemic lie in our society is a phrase that I don't think I've ever heard. Maybe I just don't pay attention.


His explanation for #7, "Hard work and individual brilliance is the key to individual wealth, and the lack of such work and brains is the source of individual poverty."is kind of silly and simply describes how wealth accumulates in our system (though I happen to think that it is a top lie myself, just not for the reasons he states. He never mentions, for example, the role of luck.)

 The point of this article is to counter the ten biggest pervasive lies (assumptions) about the US.  The point of this thread is to discuss/debate these.  I thought it might be interesting to talk in larger terms than just "Trump Bad," voter shaming and Russia, Russia, Russia.  I like this article and I thought it would stimulate some ideas.  

The  thing I noticed in the responses is that many seem to think that any list about what's bad in the US don't think much of any list not headlined by Trump.  But, as I have been saying, Trump is not so much the problem as a symptom of the problem and this list (which mentions Trump is horrible terms) focuses on those. 

I think you should view your surprised reaction to the Capitalism is about democracy lie is positive, cause you sound like you are taken aback and a bit confused but thinking about it.  That's what good articles do--make you think. 

I don't speak for Paul Street, but in general, I think he is going for the biggest, most pervasive lies.  The role of luck does not figure in systematic problems, unless you are saying that the system is set up to screw you over unless you get lucky.


Nancy
annielou said:
Well said. I don’t even get the purpose of this thread. Leaders have lied so it’s nothing new? 

 Leaders lying is covered in the introduction.  Check out the list that follows in the article.


Nancy
BG9 said:


drummerboy said:
Not quite sure of the point of this thread. Yes, presidents, politicians and even people in my own life have lied.

But even though Mr. Street goes to some lengths to try and separate what Trump does from what past Presidents have done, he really doesn't go far enough, and to even put Trump into the discussion and to say that we are "inured" to Trump's lies (are we?) because of past lying really misses the boat. What has happened in the past is nothing like what Trump does. 
Nothing.
 Agree. Street is doing what some want. That is, the normalization of Trump.

 Steet does not depict Trump as in any way normal.  He points out that Trump lies more than anyone else, but when you look at the things others have lied about they are just as bad as anything Trump says.  We should not be elevating these people just because they don't offend us the way Trump does and think they are OK.  People who lie to start wars and blow up innocent children should not get a pass.  


Klinker
drummerboy said:


Klinker said:
Yeah, I don't think anyone is saying that Trump invented lying.  This thread seems like something of a non starter to me.
I find myself wondering what point the OP was trying to make. Perhaps I missed it.
 If I may - the OP is probably trying to make the following points:


Mansplain away.  Your understanding of what Nan really means is legendary. 


Klinker
nan said:


 The point of this article is to counter the ten biggest pervasive lies (assumptions) about the US.  

 I like Howard Zinn as much as the next guy but, when your boat is sinking, I think it is probably best to focus on bailing and leave the discussion of historical ship wrecks for another time. 

The context is fascinating but Trump's embrace of America's enemies, his apparent inability to tell the truth on issues as non partisan as the cause of forest fires, his unabashed racism and his history of sexual assault really make him remarkable in the context of the history of the Presidency.


Nancy
Klinker said:


nan said:


 The point of this article is to counter the ten biggest pervasive lies (assumptions) about the US.  
 I like Howard Zinn as much as the next guy but, when your boat is sinking, I think it is probably best to focus on bailing and leave the discussion of historical ship wrecks for another time. 
The context is fascinating but Trump's embrace of America's enemies, his apparent inability to tell the truth on issues as non partisan as the cause of forest fires, his unabashed racism and his history of sexual assault really make him remarkable in the context of the history of the Presidency.

 But, the article is not about Trump.  It mentions him in the overview.  Someday Trump will be gone, but those lies were there before and may remain.  Some of them may be causing as much damage as Trump.  This is about the system that elected Trump.  Any system that elects aTrump is worth an investigation.


sbenois
nan said:


BG9 said:

drummerboy said:
Not quite sure of the point of this thread. Yes, presidents, politicians and even people in my own life have lied.

But even though Mr. Street goes to some lengths to try and separate what Trump does from what past Presidents have done, he really doesn't go far enough, and to even put Trump into the discussion and to say that we are "inured" to Trump's lies (are we?) because of past lying really misses the boat. What has happened in the past is nothing like what Trump does. 
Nothing.
 Agree. Street is doing what some want. That is, the normalization of Trump.
 Steet does not depict Trump as in anyway normal.  He points out that Trump lies more than anyone else, but when you look at the things others have lied about they are NOT EVEN CLOSE TO WHAT TRUMP ACTUALLY DOES.  PERIOD.

 Fixed that for you.   You're welcome.


Nancy
sbenois said:


nan said:

BG9 said:

drummerboy said:
Not quite sure of the point of this thread. Yes, presidents, politicians and even people in my own life have lied.

But even though Mr. Street goes to some lengths to try and separate what Trump does from what past Presidents have done, he really doesn't go far enough, and to even put Trump into the discussion and to say that we are "inured" to Trump's lies (are we?) because of past lying really misses the boat. What has happened in the past is nothing like what Trump does. 
Nothing.
 Agree. Street is doing what some want. That is, the normalization of Trump.
 Steet does not depict Trump as in anyway normal.  He points out that Trump lies more than anyone else, but when you look at the things others have lied about they are NOT EVEN CLOSE TO WHAT TRUMP ACTUALLY DOES.  PERIOD.
 Fixed that for you.   You're welcome.

 Evidently, Trump Derangement Syndrome is a real thing.

I blame this on #9 lie:  We have an “independent” and “mainstream” media. 

False. We have neither. For elaboration (I am running of word count), please see my 2015 ZNet essay “On the Nature and Mission of U.S. Corporate Mass Media.” 

Manufacturing Idiocy
Seen broadly in its many-sided and multiply delivered reality, U.S. corporate media’s dark, power-serving mission actually goes further than the manufacture of consent. A deeper goal is the manufacture of mass idiocy, with “idiocy” understood in the original Greek and Athenian sense not of stupidity but of childish selfishness and willful indifference to public affairs and concerns.  (An “idiot” in Athenian democracy was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private instead of public affairs.). As the U.S. Latin Americanist Cathy Schneider noted, the U.S.-backed military coup and dictatorship headed by Augusto Pinochet “transformed Chile, both culturally and politically, from a country of active participatory grassroots communities, to a land of disconnected, apolitical individuals”[7] – into a nation of “idiots” understood in this classic Athenian sense.

sbenois

Nan, is the very real possibility that Roe V. Wade is in jeopardy an example of Trump Derangement Syndrome?    


Just curious to see where the derangement really is.


Nancy
sbenois said:
Nan, is the very real possibility that Roe V. Wade is in jeopardy an example of Trump Derangement Syndrome?    


Just curious to see where the derangement really is.

 No, that's a reality brought to us by the DNC and Hillary Clinton.  But it was "her turn" so I'm sure they feel the pied piper strategy of promoting Donald Trump cause they needed to find someone she could win against was a worthwhile pursuit.  

File this one under #9 too with a mention to #12 on the longer list:  

We Get Meaningful Input on Policy Through Voting.



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