Sunday, January 22, 2017

Gaslighting defined; an example of what it is: Trump's inflating his inauguration audience size

A version in print in the Sky Hi Daily News, January 27, 2017

A recent CNN report defined a tactic known as gaslighting. It is a manipulative technique used by dictators and abusing spouses, to throw the public or victims off balance, confusing, contradicting, and leaving them so confused, they cannot find what is reality so they just believe the "great leader" or the abuser.
That President Trump's complaint that the press got the size of his turnout for the inauguration wrong  is the text book example of gaslighting. His spokesperson, Sean Spicer,  claimed the TV view audience was the largest in history and complained about press coverage.. Nielsen ratings also showed viewership  was down seven million from the Obama 2009 inauguration.  Spicer seemed to be saying what you see in pictures is a lie; and what Trump or his spokesperson says to the contrary is the truth. Kellyanne Conway, Trump's other spokesperson, the next day called Spicer's statement "presenting alternative facts". Her NBC interviewer, Chuck Todd,  called her out with  "Alternative facts are just falsehoods"  On MSNBC's Morning Joe  program, panelists compared this  to double speak as illustrated in George Orwell's book, 1984.  It reminded me of the nightmare aspects of Alice in Wonderland or her trip through the looking glass.

The first rule of political communication is to remember that a picture is worth a thousand words.The side by side comparisons with the photos of the Obama and Trump crowds attending their inaugurations flooded the social media, putting a visual lie to the Trump's administration claiming that the Trump inauguration crowds were the largest turn out for such similar events  in history.. The photos of the millions world wide who amassed in the Women's March the day after the inauguration in protest were virtually ignored. These pictures  were significant because, while so many were asleep at the voting wheel in November, it showed they now have the wakeup call and the beginning of an activist  movement with the potential of the anti-Viet Nam war  movement of the '70's. The lists and emails of the attendees provide an incomplete but  huge data base of those willing to act on their political beliefs and  can be called on to act politically in the future.

 What is notable was the leadership of this movement did not arise from the Democratic party organization.. It was clearly grass roots and later  issue oriented organizations, and organized, promoted  by social media. However, it struck such a chord with so many who were not activists in those interest groups or political parties,  that it caught fire and surpassed all expectations.This demonstration was no illusion to be dismissed as alternative facts by the gaslighters. If they do, it is at their own political peril. And dismissive they are. Kellyane Conway on January 23, Good Morning America, said she saw no point to the Women's March.
There were also many in small town Colorado who held their own local marches.  My county of residence, Grand County, has a population of 15,000, yet 28 took a chartered bus to Denver to join in and another equal number from the co found their own way there, including men and women. Those bus riders with whom I rode  were overwhelmingly  not the usual political activists of the county, but they were women who were in fear they were going lose gains their  interests in rights and equality over the past 40 or so years.  What I saw in Denver was there were also those who marched from many generations.  Joining me, for example, were my  fifty something daughter and her millennial aged son and girlfriend. .There were many  strollers with  young children pushed or carried by  the millennial, too.  Looking through the 100,000 plus  Denver crowd, this multigenerational  and gender attendance was the rule and not the exception. This movement is not confined to narrow demographics, but widespread and deep.

Each march participant had her/his reasons for marching. I posted mine in advance of my participation in the march on both my blog and Facebook. (The Muftic Forum)  " For the first time in my 79 years I will be participating in a protest march, the women's march being held in Denver. I am doing it for my grandchildren and my children. Some on the right consider this un Patriotic. What is patriotic is preservation of our democracy. Donald Trump neither understands or respects .Instead he admires dictators and his style is like demagogues we have abhorred in the past. Civil rights, freedom of the press, and and lower income citizen's and women's access to health care we have come to take for granted ...all are in jeopardy unless we take action during these next four years. It is not enough to march; this is only the beginning, the kick-off for future action."

In comments afterward, the issue of patriotism arose again. Some commented that they pledged allegiance to the Constitution in their minds, their Viet Nam protest era left a bitter taste of pledging allegiance to the Flag.  I note that the Pledge of Allegiance is both to the flag and the Republic for which it stands" which infers the Constitution since that is the document establishing the form of the Republic. while those who object to the demonstrations consider it un-patriotic and disrespectful of the new president, the Pledge of Allegiance is not to the president whoever he/she is, but to the Republic. Respect for the president has got to be earned by the president.  Donald Trump has a chance to earn that respect, but his gaslighting got him off to a terrible beginning for that quest.

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