Letter: A plague of lies in the Disinformation Age

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To the Editor:

I applaud the Banner's recent defense of Bernie Sanders against the claim that in 1972 he praised segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace (Our Opinion: Sanders remains consistently on point, February 3). But why was a defense even necessary? Any thinking person should have known that Sanders, a lifelong, outspoken progressive, would never have been friendly to Wallace's monstrous racism.

Chasing every misleading, out-of-context quote from decades past is like swatting houseflies at a time when the sky is dark with locusts. We need to use our common sense in distinguishing truth from the alternate reality of propaganda this election season as manipulated facts and outright fictions flood the information sphere.

The Trump campaign is unleashing an unprecedented barrage of disinformation, to be efficiently disseminated by the usual network of partisan-run broadcast affiliates and hate-spewing right-wing media, now amplified by mind-boggling digital tricks, designed to distort reality.

Trump's billion-dollar propaganda machine, modeled on authoritarian tactics from Moscow to Manila, is engineered to intimidate and silence the free press and to inflame and gaslight voters into a state of confusion, fear, and ultimately, submission to the dictatorial ambitions of this president. Expect to see everything from fake "community" web pages spreading viral propaganda, to micro-targeted ad messaging, to text-bombing fictitious narratives to personal cell phones, all augmented by Twitter mobs threatening journalists and lawmakers.

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Facing this dystopian tide of brainwashing, Democrats cannot be perpetually playing defense. It's crucial that we both think for ourselves and avoid being sidetracked by minor issues like who "really" won Iowa by a sliver of a percentage point, or what Bernie said in 1972. At this perilous moment in American politics, we must focus, not flinch.

We are sliding fast into a dictatorial state. A Republican win in November ensures four more years of blowhard theatrics, shameless profiteering and graft, but, far worse, it seriously threatens the future of our democracy.

The law, "more than all other human forces, directs the progress of events," wrote 19th century author William Allen Butler. Given recent events—the stacking of partisan federal judgeships, a sham impeachment trial that shunned witnesses, a skeleton cabinet deliberately staffed with acting positions so as to avoid congressional oversight, the escalating imperial entitlement of this president — the law is no longer directing our destiny. Let's not let a plague of lies replace it.

Robin Vaughan Kolderie,

Hoosick, New York


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