If you haven’t watched all of last night’s Full Frontal yet, I’m not sure that I can help you anymore. But I would recommend watching at least Bee’s interview with Masha Gessen , a Russian journalist and dissident who was forced to flee the
tyrannical rule totally safe environment of a Putin-run country. One of the most important things she said in the interview is that resisting Trump’s reality-warping techniques would be difficult, and that the best things individuals could do is to continue panicking. “To stay the hysteric in the room and to continue saying ‘this is not normal.’” I’m a little relieved to learn not panicking was an option. But really it was Full Frontal’s piece on “feminist icon” Kellyanne Conway that brought into focus the most important thing we can do during the coming administration: we need to start calling people liars when they lie.
This is actually harder than it looks. Chris Cuomo tries pretty valiantly to pin Conway down on an answer about the acceptability of Trump’s tweets, but he failed at the end when he let her off the hook. He thanked her for being on the show to answer questions. Which is the equivalent of thanking a cab driver for your ride when he drove you around the block three times and charged you $15. She didn’t do what she is being given credit for. And even worse is the “bravery” we instill in Conway every time she goes on a major news outlet to discuss the things her boss, the highest office civil servant in the land, is doing. Should it be difficult for the spokeswoman of any high profile figure to go onto TV, and answer questions about the things her boss is doing in public? What about that requires anything more than a level of moral integrity to answer questions honestly?
The real reason to call people out on their blatant lies, though, is not to keep them honest. It’s to keep us honest. It’s to prevent us from become complicit in the lie. We’re conditioned to overlook minor lies for social harmony. We accept the white lie when someone is running late or is too ill to attend your kid’s birthday party. Because maintaining the relationship is more important than forcing a strict level of honesty. Those rules don’t apply now. Trump and Co. don’t give any fucks about maintaining a relationship with us, and the lies they’re spewing are too dangerous not to call out. TRAP laws are not designed to protect women from anything (other than their right to choose), Rex Tillerson is interested only in his own bottom line, Betsy DeVos will destroy the public school system, and Republican Congresspeople will take a long deserved break after repealing Obamacare and pretend they never intended to replace it at all. Calling someone a liar is sometimes rude (although it doesn’t have to be. Simply saying the words “I don’t believe you” really gets the point across), but so is looking someone dead in the eye and lying to them. Trump’s power has stemmed from his ability to obfuscate or ignore the truth. Adding to the deceit by pretending we believe anything coming out of their mouths won’t help anyone.