President Trump with Nadia Murad, left, in the Oval Office on July 17.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the Harvard professor and four-term United States senator from New York, famously observed, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
Today, everyone is entitled to his own facts, or their own facts, since even grammar has changed. The message from the Trump White House, and from Boris Johnson’s rise to prime minister in Britain, is that facts don’t matter. The bald-faced lie is perfectly acceptable, so long as it keeps you at the center of what passes today for attention. The important thing is to feed the machine. Shock is the best fodder. Social media dies without outrage.
In the mid-1930s, a few years before World War II, Robert Musil, the author of “The Man Without Qualities” wrote, “No culture can rest on a crooked relationship to truth.” The political culture of both the United States and Britain is sick. It is unserious, crooked and lethal. There is no honest way to dissociate the rise of Trump and Johnson from the societies that produced them.