Yale professor addresses Trump’s use of the Big Lie

Yale history professor Timothy Snyder, The New York Times Magazine, January 9, 2021, provides the analysis, context and details of former president Donald Trump’s use of the Big Lie to radicalize a large segment of the public that resulted in the January 6 insurrection. With the acquiescence of Republican members of Congress Trump established himself as the only reliable source of truth. Everyone else lies. His coup failed for lack of military support, but the Big Lie lives on, in the minds of supporters to right the wrong of a stolen election. Snyder warns that we must recommit to the truth without which no democracy can survive: “When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around, and the era of Trump — like the era of Vladimir Putin in Russia — is one of the decline of local news. Social media is no substitute: It supercharges the mental habits by which we seek emotional stimulation and comfort, which means losing the distinction between what feels true and what actually is true.”

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