When our ethically bankrupt president declared that Kim Jong Un “loves his people,” and that “his people love him,” I was reminded of a Party slogan in George Orwell’s novel “1984” – “War is peace/freedom is slavery/ignorance is strength.”
In “1984,” the Party manipulated people by conditioning them to believe it possible to accept two mutually opposing, contradictory beliefs.
This is exactly what Trump now asks of us. He would have us accept the proposition that total repression and violence is love, that people who have been cowed into complete submission love the man who terrorizes them.
Is it an act of love to rape? Is it an act of love to torture? Is it an act of love to force a woman against her will to have an abortion? Is it an act of love to imprison and enslave? Is it an act of love to exterminate? Is it an act of love to starve people to death?
Is mass murder of hundreds of thousands of people an act of love?
Of course none of these atrocities are acts of love. They are the very opposite. And these are the acts by which Kim Jong Un terrorizes his people and demands absolute and unquestioning devotion. Loyalty born of fear isn’t real. It’s a twisted terror-stricken distortion of loyalty, and it certainly isn’t love.
“Double-speak” is a form of propaganda that is both illogical and irrational; it contradicts empirical evidence and buries the truth. It enables a dictator to control the people by stripping them of their humanity, to maintain power in perpetuity by destroying the capacity for independent thought.
If Trump can sell us the absurd notion that Kim Jong Un loves his people when his regime routinely oppresses, tortures, and murders them, then he can sell us anything.
For instance, he can make us believe that he, Trump, “loves” the children forcibly taken from their parents’ arms at our southern border and warehoused like animals in cages; or he can make us believe that he “loves” the victims of gun violence even as his policies ensure that there will be many more such victims.
He wants us to disbelieve the evidence of our own senses – from the trivial (e.g. the size of the crowd at his Inauguration) to the critical (the collective consensus of the scientific community on climate change).
Many of our fellow citizens have succumbed to Trump’s unrelenting propaganda campaign. They believe the lies. And the more lies they hear, the bigger the lies they are told, the more they believe.
Resistance requires mental toughness. Every time you hear a Trump lie, register it as a lie. Call it by its name. Accept the fact that this battle for truth, for norms, for our country’s very soul is not a 50 yard sprint; it’s a marathon.
We must remain mentally tough. We must never acquiesce to double-speak. And we must never conflate hate with love.