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Clive McFarlane

The Lies We Live

Given Republicans’ unabashed denials of President Trump’s documented criminality and abuse of power, it would appear millions of Americans are comfortable living a lie.
But as depressing and alarming as the president and his followers’ blatant embrace of mendacity might seem, it isn’t all that surprising. Not really.
We are all accustomed to Republicans and Democrats alike insisting, as former President Bill Clinton once did, that America’s “great strength is that as a country we do not look down on people because of their race, religion and creed.”
“We embrace people,” Mr. Clinton said of the country in remarks he made at a 1996 Asian-American Democratic Dinner in Los Angeles.
“We say if you follow the law, if you work hard, if you play by the rules, if you are a responsible citizen, you can have a home in the United States. You can do well,”
But that claim, as Authors Nancy Foner and George Fredrickson documented in “Immigration Race and Ethnicity in the United States,” is a longstanding lie.
“When Europeans founded a new society in what was to become the United States, they appropriated the land of the indigenous peoples and imported slaves from Africa to work on their plantations and farms, thus creating a society in which privilege and pigmentation were closely correlated,” the authors wrote.
And notwithstanding the civil rights victories over the years, that basic nexus between privilege and pigmentation remains a foundation of our democracy.
And it was in large part the fuel that propelled Donald Trump to the presidency and it is what protects him now.
Yet, millions of Americans on both sides of the political aisle continue to deny these truths.
President Clinton would have been more truthful had he framed his 1996 remarks thus:
“If you are privileged enough you can divide people, break the law, be an irresponsible citizen and still be embraced, still able to achieve the highest levels of wealth and power here in the United States.
That truth is playing out in front of us right now, even as it is being denied by millions of Americans.
The lies we live.

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