July 20, 2019 | 78° F

THURAVIL: President Trump’s claims about ‘fake news’ are dangerous

Opinions Column: Sip on Your Chai

From the day he began his campaign, President Donald J. Trump echoed a single rhetoric — that hate and division would solve all the problems of America. And divide the country he has, wielding a single phrase quite carelessly — “fake news.” Trump has waged war with the media throughout his campaign and his current dismal state of affairs (also known as his presidency), and it does not seem like he is going to stop anytime soon.

There are countless instances where Trump claims that the mainstream media is reporting false information and that they are biased in what they broadcast. But all of this simply tells us that the only things that would satisfy the thin-skinned man in the White House are “alternative facts” — courtesy of Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway — and polls and news features that paint an unrealistically good picture of him. But here is a question to ponder: Who else loved to bash media until they gained complete control over it?

Adolf Hitler, the tyrannical dictator that Trump has been likened to time and again.

Censorship and bashing of the free media is a typical characteristic of most up-and-coming fascist governments and dictatorships throughout history. Think about it: Along with an unreasonably low tolerance to resistance faced both online and in person, Trump possess talents in making things sound like what they are not. He and his team were able to solidify his entire campaign around a lot of truly false information, such as made up statistics and polls that seem to emphasize crime within immigrant-dominated areas, “inner cities” and false voter turnouts. Rewinding the clock, the similarities between his campaign and the Nazis' are astonishing — after Hitler and his army turned Germany into a dictatorship and abolished democracy, he put his efforts into a massive propaganda campaign that was aimed to win the loyalty of the German people. He took control of everything that was being published, read and seen by the people and made sure that none of it echoed any anti-Nazi sentiment. And to a large extent, this worked. Books were burned, the news industry was wiped clean, and school children were being taught to unconditionally love the Nazi party and practice antisemitism.

This looks like the route Trump is choosing to take, and if he does, it will not end well for many of us. Having control over the media would give the controller power over the people’s opinions, and in a possibly terrifying "1984"-esque turn of events, it would even give the controller the power to dictate what we think by whittling down the broad spectrum of news we have today down to a propaganda-like, dictator-glorifying point. And then what? We go from being people to being the government’s minions, spewing the heavily censored facts and information they feed us regardless of whether those facts and opinions are harmful to other groups and people or not. And especially with the extreme right-wing platform of the current administration (in all its anti-feminist, anti-racial diversity, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-environment, anti-science and anti-anti-Trump entirety) controlling what we see, hear and read, America will be conditioned to go back at least 40 years in time to the exclusive, harmful and toxic society it was to people who weren’t straight, white males.

This is especially damning because a large portion of the American population is not, in fact, entirely constituted of straight white males. America is vast, diverse, and encompasses citizens from nearly every country on the planet. Over half of its population are women, and many identify as LGBTQ+. This toxic brainwashing as a result of Trump’s attack on mainstream media, if successful, could throw us back into the times of internment camps, heavily reminiscent of genocide and even slavery.

We, as the most diverse generation of young people till date, need to fight this massive media delegitimizing and overthrow. We need to share our stories and thoughts and ideas and make sure they’re heard and recorded and safely stored away in the minds of people, away from the clutches of Trump’s pseudo-fascist dictatorship. We need to bring people to understand that free thought and free speech and everything and everyone that Trump is signing executive orders against are what really make this country great. George Orwell was about 30 years off, and Big Brother is not the man we imagined him to be. But we can fight, we can resist, and we can bring about a better ending with our voices, thoughts, and minds completely intact and independent.

Neeharika Thuravil is a School of Arts and Sciences freshman majoring in computer science and astrophysics. Her column, "Sip on Your Chai," runs on alternate Tuesdays.

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Neeharika Thuravil

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