Political Discourse

The Earth is Flat

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke at the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 18, 2016.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • If facts are the basis for healthy political debates, democracy is imperiled if truth is replaced by what American comedian Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness” – an assertion that “feels right” to believers without regard to such things as evidence and logic.
  • Facts


    • The Washington Post’s fact checker has given many of U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s claims the worst rating of “Four Pinocchios” – a statement that’s a “whopper.”
    • Rudy Giuliani, the Trump supporter who was mayor of New York during the 9/11 terrorism attacks in 2001 when fellow Republican George W. Bush was president, recently said, “Under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States.”
    • Dubious claims have also been made by German politicians including leaders in the ruling center-right Christian Democratic Union and members of the leftist Die Linke and radical-right Alternative for Germany parties.
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I have developed a nasty addiction: I am now addicted to statements from the ranks of the Republican Party. Every morning, I obsessively read through the latest things that Donald Trump and the others have said, this hair-raising gibberish, and every morning what they say gets more insane. The record so far belongs to Rudy Giuliani, who recently claimed there hadn’t been any successful radical Islamic terrorist attacks on American soil before Barack Obama became president.

Please take a moment. Just let Mr. Giuliani’s statement roll around in your mind. Does that statement not make you want to crack up in disbelief? You know as well as I and Mr. Giuliani that September 11 in 2001 represents the greatest terrorist attack in world history and that the U.S. president at the time was George W. Bush. Perhaps you might also remember who was mayor of New York then. It was Rudy G.

If Mr. Giuliani, of all people, is now acting as if there had been no September 11th, then that fascinates me. In the truest sense of the word, his lie has something bewitching about it. It is so blatant it almost feels like an act of violence. You would like to respond in some way to Mr. Giuliani but you are too flabbergasted. And of course, responding would do no good. In fact, the rejoinder, “You’re lying,” would have only proved you had missed the whole point Mr. Giuliani was making. What is interesting is that everybody can see through this lie without effort. Even the people who applauded him must know it was nothing but a lie. Thing is: they don’t care.

The question of whether something corresponds to the facts is apparently losing its relevance. That’s what the American Republicans, and not just they alone, have come to realize, and that’s what I am continually forced to watch, like a form of black magic that I can’t understand.

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