By BILL WATANABE
I was taught in school that we should be truthful and honest. We were taught about young George Washington confessing he chopped down the cherry tree and that Abraham Lincoln was called “Honest Abe” because of his reputation for honesty.
I was taught in church that it was wrong to lie and to deceive others – as the Ten Commandments states that “we should not bear false witness against our neighbors.” Jesus said that “the Devil is the father of lies.”
We have a president who, by his own words and tweets, could be categorized as a pathological liar – that is, he can’t help lying because it’s a part of his personality, and words just come out of his mouth without any concern of whether they are true or not.
When I was working at the Little Tokyo Service Center, I noticed that in the field of real estate development, the developer acts like a promoter whose job is to embellish or put on the best spin to a project that is being sold, but most people stop short of telling outright blatant lies. I suppose the same could be said about many real estate agents and used-car dealers.
Some may even use hyperbole such as: “This development is the greatest deal in the history of the world” or “This property could become the most valuable real estate in the country.” It’s what developers do, and unfortunately this president doesn’t seem able to draw a distinction between what is truth, embellishment, or lies.
To make matters worse, this president talks about the media and “fake news” as though you can’t believe the media because they lie but you can believe him because he “tells it like it is.” This president says you can’t trust science, you can’t trust academia, you can’t trust the FBI — you should only trust the words of him who is a consummate liar.
Barack Obama said in a speech recently that all politicians lie to some extent so no one is pure, but he also said that in the past, once they were caught in a lie, they “fessed up” and took responsibility for it, but not today. Today the lies are compounded with a string of more lies so that the original lie gets buried.
This is very dangerous ground – where truth is being dictated by someone who is a pernicious liar who is incapable of telling the truth except perhaps when it is self-serving and even then it is probably misleading.
Sen. Joe McCarthy spearheaded the “Red Scare” during the 1940s and ’50s, when people were made to be afraid that there were communist sympathizers around every corner and in the government, the military, the universities, and the media. He told lie after lie so quickly that no one could keep up – a tactic used today by the most powerful, ego-driven human being on the planet.
Many who voted for this prevaricating president continue to stand by him, I suppose because he supports some of the causes they believe in or they admire his success and unbridled nature. But I am fearful that the erosion of the integrity of the high office of the presidency caused by our current Liar-in-Chief will have a far greater and longer-lasting negative impact on our society than any of our other current political issues.
Another well-known quote from Jesus says that “we should know the truth and the truth shall set us free,” which implies that not knowing the truth in turn reduces our freedom. I fear for the future of this country wherein too many of its citizens do not put their trust in God nor in people of proven integrity but in the false claims of he whose main ability seems to be in spinning lies. Where will we go from here?
Bill Watanabe writes from Silverlake near downtown Los Angeles and can be contacted at email@example.com. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.