Donald Trump and the seduction of ignorance
Trump has made himself available to the media, which has prioritized all news related to him
US President Barack Obama has ridiculed the possibility of Donald Trump, the repugnant reality-show figure, becoming president, adding that assuming the presidency is not the same as managing a reality show.
However, a Trump victory is now closer than ever to reality. He has succeeded in his game of attracting media coverage, even if it is negative. This has not stopped his hateful, racist rhetoric that conveys naivety and ignorance.
Trump has made himself available to the media, which has prioritized all news related to him. In all interviews and programs, he appears as a racist demagogue skilled at manipulating people’s feelings and spreading patriotic myths. Media coverage has helped Trump win the support of Republican voters.
Electing a man who wants to build a wall on the southern US border, who advocates the use of torture, and who despises women and Mexican and Chinese immigrants would not be possible without so much media attention. The angry and scared media, which wanted to convince voters that he would be the worst president in U.S. history, has become an indirect marketing tool for Trump.
Trump is an example of ignorance becoming a patriotic tool, whereby good citizens are incapable of distinguishing between truth and nonsenseDiana Moukalled
He is an example of ignorance becoming a patriotic tool, whereby good citizens are incapable of distinguishing between truth and nonsense. He is an example of rising populism generally, as each country has its own Trump. Our fear of the spread of this phenomenon is legitimate.
Deceiving people is an active industry. What worries those who market ignorance is the presence of a well-informed, educated audience. Those who try to think seriously and independently are met with suppression and contempt.
The ignorance from which we suffer in the Middle East is the product of years of polarization by political regimes and extremists. This has enabled the spread of lies regarding many events, past and present.
Technology and social media have allowed the spread of misinformation in a manner that was not possible before. However, to believe such false information requires a badly-educated nation that is not used to verification.
In the past, if someone was not informed and talked nonsense, no one would listen to him. Today, such people are celebrated by the press, which publishes their news without pointing out their faults.
For an ignorant man claiming to be patriotic, lying always seems more attractive than telling the truth. US society is not poorly educated, so hopefully Americans will not elect Trump. However, when will we correct our own mistakes?
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May. 09, 2016.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.