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The mendacity of greatness in Trump's America

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As America mourns and burns, US President Donald Trump continues to fan the flames of hatred and division in the country. His menacing, polarising rhetoric has sent some searching for parallels in history. They have found two pretty dark ones: Roman emperor Nero, who fiddled as Rome burned, and French King Louis XV, who warned - "after me, the deluge".

Others have tried to make analogies with Middle Eastern leaders who are good friends with the US president. They have compared him to Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman, Egypt's Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Indeed, many Middle Easterners wonder how and why Americans would, of their own free will, elect a man with a penchant for Middle Eastern-style leadership.

Trump's supporters, on the other hand, see him as a consequential president who is saving America from itself and restoring its lost glory as the world's leading great power by ending its never-ending wars and renegotiating bad international agreements.

Trump, for his part, thinks of himself as an Abraham Lincoln. Except better and greater. He has repeatedly compared himself to the highly admired 19th-century US president. He has boasted of being like "honest Abe" and claimed falsely that his poll numbers were higher than his, given that there were no polls at the time of Lincoln's presidency (1861-1865).

He has also claimed in a recent interview conducted in the shadows of the Lincoln memorial, that he has been "treated worse" than Lincoln, even though the 16th US president was assassinated basically for ending slavery.

Paradoxically, the only true comparison between Trump and Lincoln rests in their "polarisation" influence. Relative to past US presidents, experts say, Trump and Lincoln are by far the most polarising.

Why paradoxically?

Well, because Lincoln alienated many white landowners to end slavery and unite the country. Trump, for his part, is alienating people of colour to divide the........

© Al Jazeera