Blame Victims For Lies

Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Since gullible people tend to believe what they are told, other folks are more tempted to lie to them. So if one chooses to be gullible, one must accept a lot of responsibility for the lies one hears. Case in point: voters are greatly responsible for the lies their leaders tell them. A Post book review:

The leaders most likely to lie are precisely those in Western democracies, those whose traditions of democracy perversely push them to mislead the very public that elected them. In fact … leaders tend to lie to their own citizens more often than they lie to each other. In his disheartening yet fascinating book, “Why Leaders Lie,” Mearsheimer offers a treatise on the biggest of big fat lies, breaking down the deceptions the world’s presidents and generals and strongmen engage in — when, why and how they lie, and how effective those falsehoods can be.

First are “inter-state lies,” deceptions aimed at other countries to gain or retain some advantage over them. … Such state-to-state lies are relatively uncommon … and successful ones are even less so. In a world where each state must fend for itself, leaders are unlikely to take each other’s word on serious stuff. … Also, if you lie too often, no one will trust you, so what’s the point?… “Fearmongering” — when leaders cannot convince the public of the threats they foresee and so deceive the people “for their own good” — is far more prevalent and effective. …

Next is the “strategic cover-up,” in which a leader misleads in order to cover up a policy that has gone badly wrong, or to hide a smart but potentially controversial strategy. … National myths fuel solidarity by putting a country’s history in the best possible light. … Liberal lies … are used to justify odious behavior that conflicts with traditional ideals. For example, Winston Churchill and FDR served up a generous helping of deceit when depicting Stalin as a good guy (friendly ol’ “Uncle Joe”) to justify their cooperation with the Soviet leader during World War II. …

Depending on the situation, lies can be “clever, necessary, and maybe even virtuous.” … [But] widespread lying makes it harder for citizens to make good choices in the voting booth. …. And in fragile democracies, pervasive lying can so alienate the public that they are willing to embrace more authoritarian leadership.

Because voters tend to be gullible, politicians lie more to them. Much of that gullibility seems to me to be by choice; people seem to see themselves as good people if they give their leaders the benefit of the doubt.  Then they express righteous indignation if they discover that their leaders lied. But really, they are themselves mostly to blame.

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