Trump and the Problem of Epistemology

Paul Simon was asked to say a few words during a concert back in 1973. His response? “Let’s hope that we continue… to live.” Like the wise-beyond-his-years singer-songwriter, we believe that every day you spend above ground is a good one. Unless you’re being tortured or something. Or being forced by Brian Kemp to carry your rapist’s fetus, which is exactly the same thing.

The staying-above-ground caucus has had better days, though. Mass shootings continue in America. Yemen continues to suffer outrageous misery at the hands of the Saudis, the worst neighbors and least hospitable people on Earth. (You might scoff; but try spending 17 hours in the Jeddah airport and check back with me.)

And most crucially, the United States seems to be hurtling into another disastrous war in the Middle East. This time, the Republicans aren’t even putting in the effort to fabricate evidence. The endless torment, bullying, and humiliation of Iran is not enough, of course; we have to literally make life as unbearable as possible for people in the country… in the hopes of what exactly? Turning it into Iraq? John Bolton is like the host of the world’s worst HGTV show.

Trump, of course, knows nothing about geography, history, ethics, demographics, logic, or life itself — so the fact that Iran is, like, a pretty big country with 81 million people never crosses his mind. The question is rightly asked: it’s not whether Trump knows things. Does he actually know what it is to know things?

I think you know the answer to that. We’re all off to look for America!

Here’s this week’s best-of-the-public-sphere:

Author: Alex Sayf Cummings

Alex Sayf Cummings is an associate professor of history at Georgia State University, whose work deals with technology, law, public policy, and the political culture of the modern United States. Alex's writing has appeared in Salon, the Brooklyn Rail, the Journal of American History, the Journal of Urban History, Al Jazeera, and Southern Cultures, among other publications, and the book Democracy of Sound was published by Oxford University Press in 2013 (paperback, 2017). Alex can be followed on Twitter at @akbarjenkins.

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