If the Clintons were not so down-market, they would have fit perfectly into 15th century Florence, the city that gave us Botticelli, Cellini, the Medici, and of course Machiavelli. Renaissance Florence was not confined to painting and literature; in fact, double speak, or lying, was as prevalent in as art and making money, and the greatest exponent of lying was the flattering favorite son of the city, Niccolo himself.
I know I sound a bit of a flatterer by mentioning the Clintons in the same breath as those great—if blood-soaked—Florentines, but it is for a purpose. When the Clintons lied they lied always with a goal in mind: power. They were not the first, nor the last, to prefer lying when the truth was more beneficial. Invention, the withholding of information, fabrication of fact, or whatever one chooses to call it, makes the object of that deceit more comfortable. Words, after all, were invented to veil one’s true thoughts, or so the cynics say. Which brings me to the 45th American president.
I began this column with a Clinton reference in order to compel a gasp of outrage from any member of the mainstream media who reads it. The media minions are in a very irritable state right now, outraged at what they see as egregious lies by The Donald. And, as usual, they’re wrong. The Donald is an embellisher par excellence, a man who became the consummate exaggerator in order to advance his business. He flourished by hyperbole, which is a totally different thing than the outright lies of the Clintons. (I did not have sexual relations with that woman; the Benghazi massacre was due to a video; I neither received nor sent any classified material through my private email server; etc.)
Lying, needless to say, has been hogging the news since Trump declared his candidacy, dominating the headlines in newspapers that have been known to lie consistently via false data and by suggestion, notably the New York Times and Washington Post, which view whites, heterosexuals, Christians, and the police as the country’s main dangers.
Take this Russian nonsense. To suggest false rumors picked up in the internet cesspool are real represents a truly big a lie. Stories of “Americans fleeing to Canada” to escape Trump may seem obvious exaggerations, but in reality they are whoppers. (Few if any have gone through with it though many have threatened, especially in show business.) A Times report that transgender women “walk with fear” because of Trump (the Times mentioned two women who had complained that cops who helped them after a harassment did not speak Spanish) is simply Machiavellian. By producing data by one Charles Blow, a Times columnist who produced his own, the lie turns into scientific proof.
Nietzsche famously declared that there are no truths, only interpretations. (Where Trump is concerned, the media considers only strict truth, hence he’s a liar. The same can be said about me where the Clintons are concerned.) This led to a lot of charlatans called deconstructionists and post-modernists who delighted in the idea that there is no truth. Communist ideology considered truth a bourgeois construct. Our universities are no better. They advertise that they stand for free speech, but only as long as free speech does not involve anything approaching conservatism. How that differs from communist oppression of free speech is a mystery to me. Yet try and find a conservative speaker who is not violently evicted from the podium in places such as Harvard, Yale, or Middlebury. You can’t.
Let’s face it. The biggest lie of all is that we here in America enjoy free speech. When Trump told a black congressman that he should worry about what has happened to the black family, rather than complain about presidential antics, the media reacted like an outraged duchess who had accidentally walked into a brothel. One cannot speak the truth about black crime, about gay promiscuity, about violent Hispanics illegally in the country, and God forbid if one mentions Trump in a favorable way.
Back in 1497 Florence Savonarola tried to purify the city by burning at the stake anyone who didn’t agree with him. But old Savo ended up being fried himself when he took it too far. No wonder Machiavelli wrote, “If indeed sometimes I do happen to tell the truth, I hide it among so many lies that it is hard to find.” Machiavelli survived and died in his bed. So will the liars in the media and in the academy who are Savonarola’s successors. I accept this as a way of life in modern America, but don’t pick on The Donald as someone in need of truth serum. The media needs it more.
Taki Theodoracopulos is a founding editor of The American Conservative.