Questions & Answers: Politics and Fake News

This question comes from someone in the UK. It is in response to my article “Leftist Anarchy, not Trumpian Fascism, is the Real Threat to Democracy” recently published in The American Spectator. I’m guessing this reader forwarded the article to a friend and received an unhappy reply. He then sent that reply to me. 

Dear Mr. Taunton,

How do I best respond to this comment from my friend. She is far left and does not know Christ. [She wrote:]

I thought that Spectator had a reputation for mostly publishing accurate literary pieces. This one, doesn’t hit that mark, tho. It’s rubbish.

‪I won’t go in to this author’s inaccurate narrative about facism and socialism. The most disturbing and blatant lie is his representation of Rosa Brooks’ discussion of a military coup in her opinion piece for Foreign Policy. It’s as if he didn’t read the piece at all, but instead simply read about it in conservative tabloids. If you read Ms Brooks’ piece you will see that she never “suggests” or advocates a military coup. Instead, she explains that for the first time she “can imagine plausible scenarios” where A President would give an order for the Military to do something that it’s leaders believe to be dangerous, and that they might say “no Sir, we’re not doing that”. And she explains that she can imagine these things based on Trump’s behavior pattern.

‪Quite frankly, if we all sit back and think about his behavior pattern, and if we are honest about it, we would have to say we can also imagine plausible scenarios where the same thing would happen.

I think it’s up to all of us to demand the whole truth and nothing but the truth from writers nowadays. It doesn’t help to spread pieces that are otherwise.

So how do I respond to her?


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Dear Jim,

Don’t bother responding. What part of my essay is inaccurate? That fascists are responsible for the deaths of millions? That socialists are responsible for the deaths of many millions more? That both of these political ideologies are godless in the extreme? That the Left is fomenting an atmosphere of “resistance”? There is nothing inaccurate here. She might quibble with the particulars, but these are facts. She has simply decided to dismiss them as “fake news” because they do not agree with her political position.

As for Ms. Brooks’s piece in Foreign Policy, I linked it in the article (and I link it again here) so people could read it for themselves. My characterization of the article is accurate. The whole thrust of her column is “ways to get rid of Trump,” not “ways Trump might fail as president.” At the beginning of her argument, Ms. Brooks writes:

“Thus the question: Are we truly stuck with Donald Trump? It depends. There are essentially four ways to get rid of a crummy president.”

This is not the language of someone who is concerned that the President of the United States might not be able to fulfill the duties of his office; this is a woman offering a strategy, hope, to other Lefties. She walks readers through the first three “ways to get rid of Trump”:

  1. Vote him out of office. This is a sensible enough way to get rid of a president you dont like. Americans have been doing it for more than two centuries now. But Ms. Brooks reject this because “four years seems like a long time to wait.”
  2. Impeachment. She rejects this for similar reasons: “Anyway, impeachments take time: months, if not longer — even with an enthusiastic Congress.” The implication here is that we can’t wait that long. Trump must go now.
  3. Oust Trump with “an appeal to Vice President Mike Pence’s ambitions.” Pence is, she says, “unappealing,” but “he does not appear to actually be insane.”  By suggesting Trump is, in fact, insane, Ms. Brooks thereby lays the groundwork for, and gives justification to, her fourth “way to get rid of Trump.”
  4. A Military Coup. Of this, she writes, “The fourth possibility is one that until recently I would have said was unthinkable in the United States of America: a military coup.” The fourth possibility to do what?  “To get rid of Trump.” Ms. Brooks is not merely saying that she can imagine a scenario where there is a military coup against this President of the United States; she is offering it as a “way to get rid of Trump.” To her, this is no longer “unthinkable.” Indeed, she has thought of it and has written this article about it.

It is precisely this sort of talk that has led me to begin addressing political issues more aggressively. And lest there be any misunderstanding here, I would regard Rosa Brooks’s column just as irresponsible and stupid if Hillary Clinton were President of the United States instead of Donald Trump. To casually toss out the idea of a military overthrow of our lawfully elected government is dangerous in the extreme. It is the stuff of banana republics. It is to encourage the continued breakdown of the Rule of Law.

Are there times when an overthrow of the government is justified? Our founding fathers certainly thought so, but this is not one of them. Ms. Brooks and her allies simply do not like the fact that they lost the election in November and they (rightly) fear that their radical vision for America will be dismantled. But instead retooling for the next presidential election as defeated candidates and parties usually do in stable democratic countries, the Left has sought to undermine this president’s legitimacy while encouraging disorder in our streets.

Jim, your friend is ideologically entrenched. You will not move her. But that doesn’t mean you cannot have fruitful dialogue with her on some other topic or at some point in the future. May I suggest that instead of discussing politics with her, that you introduce her to someone whose platform is a great deal more controversial than those of a Donald Trump or a Barack Obama? I am, of course, referring to Jesus Christ. Even if your friend changes her mind and accepts your political position (which is very unlikely), that will get her no closer to the Cross.