Though the news media has placed Donald Trump’s “final lie tally” above 30,000 (that means Trump must have lied on average 21 times a day), the truth is, Trump lied every single time he opened that anus-shaped mouth of his. For starters, there’s “The Big Lie” itself. We have a political party hewing to what everyone agrees is “a big lie”. Think about that! But then, Trump’s entire presidency was a lie. Trump was never, EVER, the legitimate POTUS. That’s not a political assessment, it’s a criminal justice assessment.
Just because we can’t officially call a car thief “a car thief” until he’s convicted for his car thievery, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a car thief every moment before we convicted him. In fact, he was a car thief the entire time. For reasons of fairness to the thief, we refused to acknowledge the stone cold truth about him until late in the game. In a sense, we were living inside a kind of “lie-adjacent” that the car thief was an honest actor and a good citizen when the truth stayed the same the whole time: he was and remains a criminal. At least, that’s a lie with a higher purpose.
The authority to govern flows from the election process. We elect people to govern us on our behalf. The assumption, of course, is that our elections are free and fair as is their tabulation. I’m not sure that’s ever really been the case here in America. White people have actively worked to keep everyone not them from voting since the founders stood by “All men are created equal” without actually meaning it. The truth of America has always been “E Pluribus Unum”. But white people — the descendants of white, Christian, mostly Northern European heritage — have always seen America through blinders of their own invention. That’s why America remains a great idea as yet unrealized. Because we persist in living not just one lie, but multiple lies — and every last one of them is a product of racism.
As Virginia holds an election today, our (always perspective-free) news media has made the tightening poll numbers for Virginia’s governor a referendum on Joe Biden, completely ignoring the fact that the Republican candidate — Glenn Youngkin — has made “critical race theory” the entire thrust of his campaign. The news media understands — they report it — that everything about the “critical race theory” debate is utter horse shit. More to the point — that it’s racist! But, because our news media never aggregates stories about Republicans (they still think Republicans — even as they stand beside insurrection and insurrectionists — are “honest actors”) and never questions their motives the way they question every Progressive’s, Youngkin tossing overt racism into the mix is just another “legitimate campaign strategy”. It’s not! It’s racism,, pure and simple! And that means that the reason the gubernatorial election in Virginia is close has zero to do with Joe Biden (who our news media insists this is about) and everything to do with racism.
But then, our news media thinks it’s up to racists to decide if they’re racists — so, when it comes to the whole topic of racism, our news media remains intensely white in their framing and viewpoint. Why would a journalist ask a racist if they’re racist? How the hell would they know? Unless they want to be a pariah, of course they’re going to deny being racist. FFS, Trump still insists he’s the “least racist person ever”. Anyone buying? No? So why ask this racist his opinion about anything related to race?
Right — because we insist on living inside a lie that racists can determine whether or not they’re racist.
Having been born in 1959, fourteen years after the death camps were liberated, I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust in a large, upper middle class Jewish suburb of Baltimore. My community didn’t shy away from the murder that had just been visited upon us. Even Jews who couldn’t point to an actual family member, felt the camps’ breath on them. I grew up identifying completely with the boy in this famous photo —
“Why me?” his eyes shout. “What did I ever do?”
The Holocaust was the product of nearly two thousand years of aggregated Jew hatred. What made Germany’s take on genocide so much more successful than any previous genocide was industrialization. Germany applied factory work dynamics to the murder of human beings. Jews became a commodity. If an individual Jew had value as a slave worker (that’s what you are when you work for free — a slave), they were kept alive (and then worked to death). If they had no value upon entering the camps, they were disposed of in the cheapest way possible. My first Hebrew School teache had a number tattooed into her forearm. She wasn’t shy about reminding us that she was among the “lucky ones”.
Where did such intense, homicidal anger come from? Why, it came from a lie, of course…
Ask almost one hundred percent of Christians where Christianity came from — what it’s actual origin story was — and they will get it wrong. More likely, they have no idea. The Truth was made irrelevant at the start, having been replaced by pure, unadulterated mythology. Jesus did not invent Christianity. He was born, lived his entire life and died a Jew. He taught Jewish lessons and mythology to other Jews who understood the context in which Jesus taught and spoke. When the priestly Saul of Tarsus “came to Jesus” on the road to Damascus and reinvented himself as “The Apostle Paul”, he set out to spread what he said was Jesus’s message. But, when he arrived in Jerusalem, Paul got pushback from Jesus’s family. The Jesus Paul had in his head wasn’t actual Jesus (Jeshua ben Joseph).
But, Paul persisted. Whether Jesus’s family believed (as Paul did) that their family member was the messiah, we don’t know. Regardless, Paul was better at it. And, when Paul turned away from the Jews (who’d rejected him and his version of Jesus) and took his version out to the Gentiles, he did it knowing he now had free rein to make “Jesus” into anything he wanted “Jesus” to be. None of the Greeks or Romans living in the far flung communities of Asia Minor to whom Paul wrote his letters and epistles were familiar with any of the Jewish mythology Paul was altering to make his version of Jesus fit into the larger accumulated Jewish messiah myths.
To appreciate Paul (and I think the guy was an absolute genius!), you have to see the world he was marketing his ideas to. He was, mostly, converting polytheists to monotheism (well, a kind of monotheism). Polytheist gods weren’t divine the way Yahweh (the Hebrews’ God — the one we now call “God”) was. And polytheistic gods weren’t really concerned with humans in any significant way. They certainly didn’t see humans as their creation the way Yahweh did. That was the first major disruptive change: Yahweh was a god who cared about humans because he personally created us.
Paul took that spiritual innovation and improved upon it. By the time Paul was done reimagining the Jewish mythology, he had this construct. All human beings are sinful because of Eve’s original sin in Eden. The only redemption available to sinning humans is via Jesus, who died in order to redeem humanity’s sins. And — bonus points (the point of the whole exercise in fact) — if the believer is willing to believe in Jesus and his story exactly the way the church teaches (to the letter!) then that believer can, like Jesus, conquer death.
That, in a nutshell, is Christianity’s sales pitch: believe in it and beat death. You can’t take away from its genius because we’re still talking about it.
Now, once you get into the actual tick tock of Jesus’s story (as cobbled together by the early church fathers from various third, fourth and fifth-hand accounts), you bump into myriad contradictions and fractured logic. Just for starters, if the whole point of Jesus is to redeem humanity via his death, then Jesus NOT dying would be a problem for Christianity. Does Paul have the same vision on the road to Damascus if Jesus dies in his bed, an old man surrounded by his loved ones (including wife and many children)? What’s his basis for Jesus’s messiah-hood then?
For the story/mythology logic to work, Jesus must die. Well, if that’s the case, then Judas’ betrayal is as essential to eternal life as Jesus’s dying. No betrayal, no crucifixion. No crucifixion, no Christianity. I won’t even bother with all the factual problems Paul’s (and the early Church’s) version of events presents. But then, Paul didn’t care about historical accuracy. In fact, historical accuracy was Paul’s enemy.
As it was the enemy of the church Paul’s letters and epistles was forming.
“Do unto others” is a simple teaching with profound implications. That did not interest Paul. In his defense, new religions need new rules. If new rules are going to stick (or be held out as divine), they have to carry weight. Ritual is essential to religion (as it is to most things humans do). But, the moment ritual becomes dogmatic, it starts to service itself and not the person performing the ritual. “Do unto others” becomes “Do what we say — or else!” Those aren’t the same messages.
“Jews killed Jesus” is, top to bottom, no true. Paul spreading it — knowing it wasn’t true — made it a lie. It has always been thus. The entire history of European anti-Semitism is based on this lie. The Holocaust was that lie’s biggest, ugliest, cruelest, most successful iteration.
So, lying on a cultural level is nothing new to us. Hey, “War On Christmas” anyone? “All men are created equal” is a bit of a lie if you consider that the men who wrote and stood by it didn’t mean “all men” though they did mean “only men”. Our news media is a product of white hegemony culture. That’s what pays the bills and their salaries. So, it’s hardly surprising that they frame everything from an embarrassingly white perspective. But, part of that bad framing insists that bad actors are good actors and criminals acting for political purposes are no different from the victims of their criminal behavior; a vote suppressor and the voter being suppressed “both do it” by this thinking.
That is a stinking lie.
Living a lie is exhausting. Living the GOP’s lie is potentially lethal to the republic. We The People need to call this lie out for every bit of the lie that it is. For the majority of Americans, the Truth will absolutely set us free. That same Truth will put a whole lot of Republicans behind bars forever.