The Universal Notebook: Ignorance triumphant

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In the 19th century, machine wrecker Ned Ludd gave his name to the Luddite movement of people who opposed the new.

If America survives his presidency, Donald Trump may well sell his name to the Trumpite movement of people who oppose the truth.

Trump’s victory was nothing more nor less than a triumph of ignorance. Trump and his supporters have made a virtue of being anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-fact, anti-truth. But the real brilliance of Trump’s epistemological coup is that the rest of us no longer have any appeal to the rational. Trump has managed to discredit knowledge entirely. The irrational reigns supreme.

What scholars and experts have to say is bogus. What scientists conclude is just their opinion. What the legitimate media reports is all establishment lies. What educated people think is snobbery. Tell some people what they want to hear, confirm their darkest fears and deepest prejudices and they will follow a charlatan anywhere. Not to applaud and approve this blue-collar blarney and bigotry is now considered elitist.

Trump has no regard whatsoever for the facts or the truth. America narrowly elected (if, in fact it did) a president who thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax. When we should be making public policy to mitigate all the catastrophes that follow from climate change, we will be pretending it isn’t happening at all, making it worse as a matter of deliberate Trumpite policy. Praise the Lord and pass the coal.

President-elect Trump believe all sorts of things that are demonstrably not true, but his supporters choose to ignore his untruths – that he saw Muslims dancing on the rooftops of New Jersey on 9/11, that President Obama is not an American, that millions of people voted illegally in an election he apparently won.

Trump complained that the election was rigged against him, but it now seems far more likely that FBI Director James Comey and Russian strongman Vladimir Putin sabotaged the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t want any recounts or investigations of voting irregularities.

Prior to the election, Trump refused to promise to accept the election results unless he won. Well, withholding acceptance is a two-way street. Tens of millions of Americans are refusing to accept Trump’s surprising victory unless and until it has been thoroughly examined. Trust but verify.

Meanwhile, Trump, who ran as an outsider, has surrounded himself with has-beens, retreads, hangers-on, conspiracy theorists, white supremacists and more of the same Washington and Wall Street insiders who brought us economic collapse. Trump drained the swamp and what he found was slime. Goldman Sachs to head the treasury? ExxonMobil secretary of state? Amway as education chief? So much for the anti-establishment president Trump supporters thought they voted for. He’s a billionaire’s best friend.

The fact that the people who have the president-elect’s ear include kooks like Alex Jones, who maintains the Sandy Hook massacre never happened, and Breitboy Steve Bannon, the alt-right extremist-in-chief, should give Americans serious cause to withhold support for Trump. When Mitt Romney, who sold his soul in hopes of becoming secretary of state, starts looking like the sane one in a roomful of crazies, you know this country is in big trouble.

I keep reading that we have to listen to what the American people were saying by voting for Trump, that it is an insult to Trump voters to dismiss them as ignorant and prejudiced. Well, electing Donald J. Trump is a far bigger insult to America than badmouthing his supporters. Working-class people have legitimate complaints about how the U.S. and world economies have left many of them in limbo, but that does not justify falling for Trump’s line of baloney and bull.

It’s the triumph of ignorance. Most of what Trump sold the American people was lies. He has not even taken the oath of office and it’s already clear that he is not going to deliver on most of the campaign promises that got him elected. He’s not going to put Hillary in jail, because she’s not guilty of anything. He’s not going to get Mexico to build a wall. He may repeal Obamacare, but wait until the suckers who voted for him find out what they get instead.

And President Trump is not going to ban all Muslims from entering this country, nor is he going to register them. If he tries, patriot Americans will take to the streets in record numbers to resist the Know-Nothing agenda of the Trumpites. Blacks, Native Americans and women are already on the march. I am very much afraid we are in for four years of great civil unrest.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.