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The forgotten lesson of 9/11: Political misinformation long predates Trump

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Liberals have a tendency to paint Trump as a unique prevaricator, in a class of his own as a habitual and malicious liar. And yet, on this 18th anniversary of 9/11, in the midst of Trump’s misrule, it is critical that we keep track of the body count generated by the bold-faced lies issued to us by government officials — long before the prevaricator-in-chief came to power.

The specter of needless civilian deaths, the expansion of the military-industrial complex, and the decay of our democracy long predate Trump. But 9/11 represented a particular political turning point for us. And in the years since the attack, assorted political lies have permitted the marshaling of the entire economy, while transforming Congress into a robotic shadow, sitting on the sidelines re-electing and enriching itself. In the 18 years since 9/11, the United States has spent and obligated close to $6 trillion dollars on fighting wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and in dozens of countries. We are in so many places even Congress has lost track.

And just what do we have to show for it?

Failed nation states, hundreds of thousands of dead civilians, a massive refugee problem we can see from space, an army of homeless veterans, a mental health crisis in the military, a degraded environment, a much warmer planet, and mass shootings here at home by lone gunmen.

In the corporate media narrative, our republic has been subverted by Trump’s unique brand of sociopathic calumny, with the help of his party’s commitment to voter disenfranchisement and gerrymandering. Yet, we must ask why was the nation so vulnerable to such perfidy?

Because it was already rotten to the core.

The awful truth is that we’ve been living in an age of government disinformation for a long time now. If anything, Trump merely exploited the cynicism and despair generated by the post-9/11/Great Recession period — where only the rich made off well, while the ranks of the struggling swelled.

Both the anti-Trump right and many liberals perpetuate the notion that Trump’s lying constitutes a bloodless coup........

© Salon