The words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”, from America’s Declaration of Independence, stands as one of the finest historical examples of what Hitler, and later Goebbels, called the big lie. Hitler wrote in Mein Kamf (1925) “that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily…” In Jill Lepore’s These Truths– A History of the United States (2018), she painstakingly exposes the truth that America is founded on hypocrisy.
The greatest fear of the Founding Fathers was democracy. Their intent was to establish a white aristocracy of wealth largely based on the productivity of African slaves. Lepore shows that they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams of avarice and power. She shows that big lies and little lies have subsequently sustained the illusion of democracy in the United States and the façade of inclusivity and freedom it presents to the world. The nation’s underlying hypocrisy is rarely challenged; instead, political factions compete to demonstrate (or at least propagandize) their fealty to its foundational “truths”. Along the way, the means of communication, from broadsheet to newspaper, radio, TV, computers and now the internet have serially compounded the ability of partisans to disseminate their truths – to propogandize more effectively.
The narrative she weaves, over almost 800 pages, is more requiem than history – the ship of state, in her telling, now wallows adrift on a rising ocean bereft of a mainsail.
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