political lies

Tulsa 1921 Revisited

Tulsa 1921 Revisited

            Robert A. Levine

During the Jim Crow era in the United States, stretching from the end of Reconstruction through World War II, lynchings were common in the South, analysts believing they averaged about three per week. However, there were also a number of massacres of multiple Blacks by whites occurring for various reasons. Envy of Black entrepreneurs and shopkeepers by poor whites was one of the driving forces as they did not want to see Blacks who were wealthier and more successful than they were. One of the most appalling of these racial massacres took place in the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma over a century ago during about an eighteen hour period on May 31 and June 1, 1921. The Greenwood area of Tulsa with about 10,000 residents had been known as the Black Wall Street because of the large number of successful businesses and affluent men and women, some of whom lived in beautiful homes. Tulsa was a thriving city of about 100,000 people that was greatly segregated and had high crime rates. The oil boom flooded the city with money and many Southerners migrated there for jobs.

Prior to the vehement white action against Greenwood, there was a story circulating that a Black teenager had sexually assaulted a white female elevator operator and had been arrested by the police. When a white mob assembled around the courthouse and demanded that the sheriff hand over the supposed perpetrator to them, the sheriff refused, barricading the building and angering the mob. Seventy-five armed Black men gathered near the courthouse and asked the sheriff to let them aid him in protecting the teenager, but he turned them down. At the same time, the white mob at the courthouse grew to about 1500 men, many of them also armed. Some shots were fired and in the ensuing chaos, the Black men withdrew to Greenwood. More white Tulsans arrived at the scene and some of them were deputized by city officials and given weapons. Groups of these white men engaged in many violent acts against peaceful Blacks, including murder.

False rumors then spread that a major insurrection by armed Black Tulsans had started, with Black reinforcements from neighboring towns and cities. By morning, thousands of white men with weapons surged into the Greenwood section, looting and torching homes and businesses over an area of thirty-five city blocks. Firefighters who tried to put out some of the fires were threatened by the white mob and had to withdraw. Some days later, the Red Cross estimated that over 1200 homes were burned, with an additional 215 looted. In addition, two newspapers, a school, a library, a hospital, churches, hotels and numerous businesses owned by Blacks were destroyed by arson. Though the official count noted 36 deaths, historians have put the death toll at over 300, the vast majority being Black, and over 8,000 were made homeless. The Tulsa massacre was believed to have been one of the worst riots in American history, though it was virtually unknown until recent years.

Officials in Tulsa and Oklahoma downplayed the event right from the beginning, hoping to keep the stigma of the massacre from interfering with the city’s economic growth. The cover-up included removing the newspaper archives in Tulsa with reports about the riot, and removing the police and National Guard reports relating to the massacre. There was little about it in the history books and nothing about it was taught in the schools. From the 70s on, however, more information about the massacre was obtained by scholars and historians and in 1997, a state government commission was formed to investigate the massacre to present a reliable depiction of what had happened. Of interest, the Black teenager was released from jail without a trial when the white elevator girl denied that he had sexually assaulted her.

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Advertising and Fake News

Advertising and Fake News                                                                                                                         Robert A. Levine

From the moment our parents allow us to sit in front of a television screen or listen to a radio, we are inundated almost continuously with advertisements trying to sell us various products. And during campaigns for elective offices, campaign managers and their staffs try and sell us on the virtues of the candidates they support or the vices of their opponents. The information we receive about both products and people may be valid, partially true, or false and it is usually difficult to differentiate. To capture our attention and obtain our votes for a candidate or a product, exaggerations or bald-faced lies may be utilized. And these may be repeated over and over again.

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As difficult as it is for adults to discern what is true and what is false or exaggerated on TV, it is impossible for a child. Thus, children as they grow up start believing what they see on television or hear on the radio. Information that adults may question is accepted as true by youngsters because they saw or heard it repeatedly. This also happens with the news or with speeches given by politicians. Because of their lifetime exposure to advertising, many people in our nation cannot tell what information is real and what is fake. Politicians take advantage of this inability by propagating fake news which many Americans believe. This allows them to propose policies that mainly benefit the affluent people who fund them, though their ordinary constituents also think it helps them.

The biggest proponents of fake news have been Donald Trump and the Republican Party, pushing the theme that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump. Republican politicians know this is a lie but continue to repeat this fiction, convincing their base that it is true and retaining the support of Trump. In a major disservice to the nation, many Republicans also have declared that the Covid vaccine is dangerous and that people should not be vaccinated. And large numbers of ignorant Americans have not received the protection of the Covid vaccination because they have believed those who claim it is dangerous, leaving themselves and their families unprotected against the virus. Americans have also been told that global warming is not real and nothing has to be done about it.

In addition to exposure to TV advertising of questionable validity, many of those who accept fake news never investigate information that may be questionable, but just accept it because it sounds credible and is from a media source that they trust. And besides, their friends and neighbors accept the information as true. However, a large proportion of Americans are misinformed or uninformed about news or politics and cannot be trusted to validate what is true or not. Whether advertising or supposed news, American citizens have to be more suspicious about what they see and hear and investigate whether or not it is true.                                                  www.robertlevinebooks.com                                                                                                             Buy The Uninformed Voter on Amazon or Barnes and Noble


Advertising and Fake News

Advertising and Fake News                                                                                                                         Robert A. Levine

From the moment our parents allow us to sit in front of a television screen or listen to a radio, we are inundated almost continuously with advertisements trying to sell us various products. And during campaigns for elective offices, campaign managers and their staffs try and sell us on the virtues of the candidates they support or the vices of their opponents. The information we receive about both products and people may be valid, partially true, or false and it is usually difficult to differentiate. To capture our attention and obtain our votes for a candidate or a product, exaggerations or bald-faced lies may be utilized. And these may be repeated over and over again.

Use so and so for beautiful skin. Use so and so to improve your memory. Use so and so to improve your sex life. Use so and so for lustrous hair.

As difficult as it is for adults to discern what is true and what is false or exaggerated on TV, it is impossible for a child. Thus, children as they grow up start believing what they see on television or hear on the radio. Information that adults may question is accepted as true by youngsters because they saw or heard it repeatedly. This also happens with the news or with speeches given by politicians. Because of their lifetime exposure to advertising, many people in our nation cannot tell what information is real and what is fake. Politicians take advantage of this inability by propagating fake news which many Americans believe. This allows them to propose policies that mainly benefit the affluent people who fund them, though their ordinary constituents also think it helps them.

The biggest proponents of fake news have been Donald Trump and the Republican Party, pushing the theme that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump. Republican politicians know this is a lie but continue to repeat this fiction, convincing their base that it is true and retaining the support of Trump. In a major disservice to the nation, many Republicans also have declared that the Covid vaccine is dangerous and that people should not be vaccinated. And large numbers of ignorant Americans have not received the protection of the Covid vaccination because they have believed those who claim it is dangerous, leaving themselves and their families unprotected against the virus. Americans have also been told that global warming is not real and nothing has to be done about it.

In addition to exposure to TV advertising of questionable validity, many of those who accept fake news never investigate information that may be questionable, but just accept it because it sounds credible and is from a media source that they trust. And besides, their friends and neighbors accept the information as true. However, a large proportion of Americans are misinformed or uninformed about news or politics and cannot be trusted to validate what is true or not. Whether advertising or supposed news, American citizens have to be more suspicious about what they see and hear and investigate whether or not it is true.                                                  www.robertlevinebooks.com                                                                                                             Buy The Uninformed Voter on Amazon or Barnes and Noble


Facts Don't Matter

Facts Don’t Matter                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Robert A.  Levine

Facts still don’t matter. Perception does. Half a year after Donald Trump unwillingly stepped down from the Presidency, his lies and falsehoods are still accepted as facts by the vast majority of his acolytes. The most damaging of his lies for America’s democracy is his insistence that he won the presidential election and that it was stolen from him by Joe Biden. Because of this lie, a large proportion of Republican voters (between one third and two thirds depending on the poll) believe that Biden is an illegal president and that Trump actually won the election..

Some of Trump’s base believe that somehow Trump will be restored to the presidency in August, though it is unclear how this will happen. There is some talk of a civil war against the current government or other violent means for Trump to be reinstated. All of these ideas to destroy our democracy flow from Trump’s big lie that the election was stolen from him and that he should really be the president. All of his challenges in the courts and in different states have been rejected or shown to be false, but this does not stop Trump from denying the facts.

Hitler’s propaganda machine was based on the concept that if you repeatedly tell a lie, after a time it is accepted as a fact by a large proportion of the population, particularly those who are uninformed or uneducated. These are people who do not get their news from multiple sources to decide what is accurate and what is not. In general, they read very little, particularly about politics. They would rather stick to a media source that echoes their own beliefs even if they are untrue since they don’t know the difference. Often, they follow a tribal path in assessing what is real and what is not, taking their cues from friends, family and neighbors. In other words, they do not think for themselves.

On the other hand, Republican politicians at all levels know what is true and what is not but are afraid to say what is true. Instead, they are repeating and supporting the big lie because they are frightened of Trump’s power and worried that he will not back them when they run in their GOP primaries. Their cowardice and unwillingness to stand up to Trump aside from a few brave souls has completely distorted our democracy and made it harder for Joe Biden to get anything done. Actually, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Minority Leader of the Senate and Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Minority Leader of the House have stated that they will fight Biden’s agenda and don’t want him to be successful. Republicans do not care that Biden’s legislative successes will help America and they care more about their party than they do about the country. These are people who know what the facts are but deny them constantly to win Trump’s approval. For America to function well as a democracy, the two parties have to agree on the facts publically. They can react to them in different ways, but the facts are still the facts.                                                 www.robertlevinebooks.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Buy The Uninformed Voter on Amazon and Barnes and Noble