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CSotD: When Loyalty becomes Collaboration

Juxtaposition of the Truth

(Michael de Adder)

(Ann Telnaes)

Start with the truth: The danger posed by the coronavirus is no more a matter of opinion than is the roundness of the Earth.

Michael de Adder mocks a delusional president who cannot see bad news as anything but a conspiracy against himself.

It isn’t just “pride.” Humble people don’t strive to become president of anything, much less of a major nation. All presidents are proud.

It’s a level of self-delusion that should remind us that narcissists believe their own mythology. Jeff MacDonald truly believes a group of hippies killed his wife and daughters, and OJ would like to find the murderer of his ex-wife.

 

And Donald Trump believes the coronavirus is a “hoax” because, as Steve Sack suggests, it represents the same threat to his presidency that Hurricane Katrina did to W’s.

I’m not suggesting that the President took in all the information and made a rational, cynical decision to underplay the crisis and blame his political opponents.

I’m suggesting, rather, that he honestly sees it all as a plot against him, or, at best, that he cannot bring himself to confront the facts.

It’s not his fault. Nor did he change once in office; he is who he has always been.

Moreover, I don’t think this is what legislators had in mind when they proposed the 25th Amendment, which allows removal of a President who becomes unable to fulfill his duties.

They were thinking of Wilson’s stroke and of what might have been, had Ike’s heart attack been worse or Kennedy’s head wound survivable.

No, the Founders set four years as a reasonable period between elections, and backed it up with an impeachment process in case things got out of control in the meantime.

Insider books about the Trump White House universally depict an administration in which those loyal to the nation attempt to distract the President to keep him from doing harmful things, while those more loyal to the President indulge his odd foibles.

But Telnaes suggests that we have hit a crisis in which loyalty to the President is disloyalty to the nation.

It doesn’t matter whether the crowd for Trump’s inauguration was 10,000 or 100,000 or 10,000,000. Let him believe what he needs to believe, and let his followers believe his headcount.

And if they think giving childish, bullying nicknames to your rivals is how grown-ups function, their lack of class is not a threat to the nation.

But when the President uses his position to spread the idea that the coronavirus is no more harmful than common flu, and that the warnings being issued are partisan politics, he’s putting lives at risk.

And not just the lives of his Deplorables: Just as anti-vaxxers’ infections can impact even those who have had their shots, encouraging people to not take the coronavirus seriously will allow it to spread more readily into the general population.

This lie will kill innocent people.

In his letter to Edward Carrington  — famous for the line about preferring newspapers without government to government without newspapers — Jefferson was discussing Shay’s Rebellion, which had flared up but then flamed out.

Writing from Paris, he noted that, while you might expect it to have convinced Europeans that our infant government was out of control, the outcome had been quite the opposite.

The interposition of the people themselves on the side of government has had a great effect on the opinion here. I am persuaded myself that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution.

He went on, however, to emphasize the importance of the media, hence his newspapers-without-government remark: People have to know what is going on so that they can keep the government properly on course.

It’s true that, once in office, Jefferson found plenty of reason to hate the newspapers, but he had overturned his predecessor’s Alien and Sedition Act, which stood in opposition to a free press, and he went on to found the University of Virginia to encourage an educated and intelligent population.

 

Now John Cole presents the state of affairs, in which the president promotes — out of paranoia or sheer ignorance — the notion that the coronavirus is a harmless, easily controlled germ that is being hyped in order to attack his administration.

He makes statements that are in clear contradiction to what his own experts have said. Is it because he is consciously dishonest, or does he hear only what he wants to hear?

What difference would it make?

When a child begins to stick a fork into an electrical socket, it doesn’t matter if he is 2 years old or 14, nor does it matter if he should know the outcome.

We need to pull him away before he harms himself and maybe burns down the house.

 

Rather than one of the several cartoons that reinforce Trump’s self-serving conspiracy theory, I’m inserting a blank frame, because I don’t want to turn this into a personal pissing-match.

Besides, you won’t have to look hard to find editorial cartoons agreeing that the coronavirus is relatively harmless and that Democrats are exaggerating it in order to attack the President.

And I don’t want to apply the term “collaborator” to a specific cartoonist.

But that is the term.

Look: It is fine to draw goofy donkeys and silly-looking liberals, and I grant the First Amendment right, for instance, to deliberately misrepresent what Bernie Sanders did and didn’t say about Cuba.

But Jefferson’s reliance on the media to keep people informed so that they can best direct the country remains a constant in our form of government.

And when cartoonists misuse their influence to persuade trusting readers to believe in a potentially fatal lie, that’s not “loyalty.”

It’s “collaboration.”

The deaths of innocent people will be on their hands.

 

Community Comments

#1 David Reaves
March/4/2020
@ 9:23 am

For those who may miss the reference in the photo of the millstones, here’s a reference. From the Christian Bible, the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 18, verses 6 and 7:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!

#2 Kip Williams
March/4/2020
@ 9:57 am

Pretty sure the official position will soon be condemnation of “death actors,” chosen for their ability to hold their breath for months at a time just to make the administration look bad.

Anyway, the virus will die off when it runs out of human hosts to inhabit, so what’s the problem?

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