The Era of Fashionable Lies

Dec. 21, 2016, photo, President-elect Donald Trump (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

In the Trump era, sometimes it’s hard to think of a better lede than “So this happened.”

So, this happened:

“Sources: Trump executive order allowing anti-LGBTQ discrimination is coming soon”


This showed up on Facebook, posted by a number of people. A lot of people. Here’s the first little bit of the story:

An executive order from President Donald Trump opening up discrimination against the LGBTQ community on the basis of religious belief is expected sometime this week, possibly as soon as today.

Several sources spoke with LGBTQ Nation on the condition of anonymity who have told us that the order will allow for discrimination in a number of areas, including employment, social services, business, and adoption.

When a friend posted a link to this, I advised him to look for a better source, because I’d been seeing a lot of lies that had suddenly become fashionable. For example:

  • The Washington Post (and lots of others) report that the entire senior staff at the State Department resigned rather than serve under Trump. The reality? Four political appointees whose resignations had been requested by President Obama, as is customary at a change of administration, had their resignations accepted.

One of them, Patrick Kennedy, was involved in the Clinton email scandal, but will be allowed to retire; the other three are career Foreign Service Officers, who resigned from their political appointments but remained in the Foreign Service.


This fashionable lie was quickly debunked by practically everyone, including Vox. Here’s more:

  • The Trump administration was muzzling the EPA and USDA. The reality? It was, again, a customary step at the change of administration.Science, among others, debunked this fashionable lie.
  • The famous Muslim ban. Reality? It was a (temporary) ban on entrance from seven countries that had been identified as being so chaotic as to make effective vetting difficult — under a law passed in 2015, modified in 2016, and signed by Obama (remember him?). The law itself had been supported by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — who was in tears this weekend after it was implemented.Look folks: if the executive order blocks Christians from Iraq, but it doesn’t block a Muslim cleric from Mecca, where only Muslims are permitted to enter by law, it just isn’t a Muslim ban. “It’s a Muslim ban” is just another fashionable lie.
  • Trump excluded countries from the “Muslim ban” (see above) that he has business dealings with. Reality? Let’s look back at that same law: the list of countries comes from 2016. I think it’s pretty clever of Trump to arrange for the Obama administration to craft that list to give Trump’s businesses an advantage, don’t you? But lying about Trump’s executive orders has become fashionable.

There are a lot more examples, but that’s enough. Everett Mickey on Facebook said (I’m paraphrasing because I didn’t save a link) that people should learn to read news stories like a reformist judge reading search warrant applications from a corrupt police department.


That’s probably a universal truth (except for my stories, of course). But, no matter the debunkings, once these lies get started, they hang around.

Another friend, who became closely associated with the local community of Iranian expatriates, contacted me, saying that a lot of his friends were very upset with this “Muslim ban.” Which, were it a Muslim ban, would make sense. But the fashionable lies, being passed around by the fashionable liars, are what’s responsible, and frankly I don’t think the fashionable liars give one good … care, even a little bit, about the effect they’re having, except to the extent it provides another weapon to muster public opinion against Trump.

They don’t care about the way they’re upsetting good honest Muslims in the U.S. (most of them are, you know).

They just want to use them, and the other people who fall for their fashionable lies, as tools for their own political machine shop.

P.S.: Oh, and the LGBTQ executive order? Didn’t happen.


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