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One thing I love about classical music – you can’t fake it. You can’t pick up the violin and fake Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The notes are on the page, they are black and white and if you can’t play them properly people know in an instant. You simply can’t bullshit your way through the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.
But you can bullshit your way to the White House in a stream of fake news and alternative facts. Whatever your politics, the current US president is an enemy of the truth. He is the equivalent of someone picking up the violin, scratching two notes that sound like cat’s claws on a blackboard and proudly asserting on Twitter that they have just given a performance of the Tchaikovsky that was the best EVER.
He seems to be missing a gene for embarrassment. The website Politifact keeps a scorecard on Donald Trump. Of the statements he has made, 5% are completely true, 15% half true, 20% mostly false, 32% false and 16% outright lies. So adding up the figures, Trump is talking rubbish consciously or unconsciously for a staggering 72% of the time. (To be fair, Politicfact also lists four webpages of falsehoods that Barack Obama told as well)
Unashamed lying seems to be perfectly acceptable now. Would that Mr Trump was subject to the same physiological response that afflicted Pinocchio when he made things up. Trump’s nose would be too long for a stretch limo. He wouldn’t be able to get through the door of Air Force One. In November 2015, Trump told a rally in Alabama “Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering. So something’s going on. We’ve got to find out what it is.” What it is was not true. The cheering thousands never happened. Yet even having been made aware of this lack of truth, he later compounded the lie with further lies about its veracity.
“There is no need to provide the evidence. Opinion becomes fact,” said Deborah Lipstadt of Trump’s 9/11 lie. Lipstadt was the American academic sued for libel by the odious historian David Irving for claiming in a book he was a Holocaust denier. The 355-page libel judgment found Irving was indeed a Holocaust denier and his comments during the trial confirmed he was an “antisemite” and a “racist”. He was unable to pay the court costs of £2million and declared bankruptcy. Four years later he was imprisoned in Austria where Holocaust denial is a crime. Irving discovered that truth matters, but will Trump?
What would the orange-haired man think of Galileo, tried by the Inquisition when he suggested that the Earth might circle the Sun and not the other way round? Galileo went on to write the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems that landed him again in hot water. He was commanded to “abstain completely from teaching or defending this doctrine and opinion or from discussing it... to abandon completely... the opinion that the sun stands still at the centre of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.” We all know now he was right, but for speaking the truth that Galileo saw down the end of his telescope he was confined to house arrest till the end of his life nine years later.
This is the cost of truth, but what is the cost of falsehood? Will Donald Trump ever have to face up to the music? Will his supporters ever come to the realisation that the president is not a master violinist but a charlatan fiddler?