Guest Blog: ‘to trumplicate’

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“I am inventing a verb, to trumplicate, from which the noun is trumplication and the adjective trumplicated.

The definition of trumplicate is to disguise untruth by complicating what is essentially straightforward, so that most people are misled; a practice frequently used to defend the indefensible without actually lying outright.

An example of trumplication is the excuse given by President Trump (the eponymous founder of the technique) for restricting access to the United States from seven countries who happen to have Muslim majority populations, in order to convince people that this is not a Muslim ban.

Here is what the Trumplicator said: ‘The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.’

So the intended trumplicity is to give an impression that the policy is soundly based on president set by the previous precedent. (Trumplifiers often confuse their words, as the Great Trumplicator has been known to do on twitter, for example inventing the apt mis-spelling ‘unpresidented’. Mr Trump’s actions are already way into ‘unpresidented’ territory.)

If it was OK for Obama, why are so many soggy liberals marching up and down? This is the underlying question, intended to confuse and create doubt.

The point of trumplication is not to persuade elites, like the bosses of Apple, Google and Coca-Cola, who are so distant from real people’s lives as to be critical of restrictions on the seven coincidentally Moslem-majority countries: the target is those real people.

It works. My wife came home from her pilates class saying that people there were saying – but didn’t Obama select these seven countries? I don’t suppose they went home and found a reliably old-fashioned media outlet for an accurate account.

Here is what AP Fact Check (Associated Press) says about the above quote from the Great Trumplicator:

‘That is misleading. The Republican-led Congress in 2015 voted to require visas and additional security checks for foreign citizens who normally wouldn’t need visas — such as those from Britain — if they had visited the seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. This was included in a large spending bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed by Obama.

As the law was enacted, the Obama administration announced that journalists, aid workers and others who travelled to the listed countries for official work could apply for exemptions. There were no special U.S. travel restrictions on citizens of those seven countries.’

So there was no Obama ban on those seven countries, but only an extra layer of checks. This demonstrates how trumplication is not the same as lying – it is true that President Obama was party to a decision involving these countries, in a very specific and limited way, unlike the unspecific, unlimited way in which entire populations are now subject to blanket restrictions. A carefully calibrated measure of caution is not the same thing as wholesale and arbitrary actions. Trump campaigned on banning Muslims and is delivering: it’s as straightforward as that. A lie is easy to spot, but unravelling a trumplication needs a little effort (as in Jan Masaryk’s saying about the truth being a chore – see last blog)

This piece of trumplication has also had some effect on elites. The Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief, Gerard Baker, has instructed his reporters not to use the term Muslim-majority because it is ‘very loaded’. It is also very factual.”

From ‘Word for Word‘, by John Williams. Read more here.

John was director of communications and press secretary at the Foreign Office for six years. Working for Robin Cook, Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett, he was the chief media advisor to the Foreign Office on every major international event since the Kosovo conflict, and was heavily involved in the negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme. He was also political correspondent of the London Evening Standard, and political editor and columnist for the Daily Mirror, in a journalistic career that spanned 25 years.

John is also author of IndieBooks’ ‘Robin Cook: Power and Principles’ and ‘Williams on Public Diplomacy’.

TPBP Winter Showcase

We were delighted to see IndieBooks’ titles selected in all categories for The People’s Book Prize Winter Showcase: charity fundraising title, From Syria With Love in non-fiction; Richard Major’s Quintember in fiction; and the timeless Worrals series in children’s books.

The People’s Book Prize spoke to Richard Major about Quintember, and what he has planned for the future:

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  1. Have you got a message for your readers?

 I hope people thoroughly enjoy Quintember! It’s supposed to break out of the usual genre divisions – it’s a satire as well as a thriller, a novel of ideas as well as a romp, a fantasia but also a comedy of manners  – and to be neither high-brow and serious nor low-brow fluff. And if you do enjoy it, there’s lots more to come.

  1. What can we expect from you in the future?

There are five more installments of the misdemeanours of Felix Culpepper written, and they’ll appear over the next few years. He doesn’t become any better behaved.

My short novella Attu appeared as an ebook at Christmas. It’s about a mischievous president who announces the end of the world. He’s joking, he’s just kidding about with comets – isn’t he? Eight billion people around the world aren’t so sure.

A more serious political novella, begat, will be published spring. It’s a blackly comic tale set in a grisly, too pre-failed to fail, English university, where the students invent a mascot: an imaginary student, who bodes larger and larger as they empty into him all the worst of themselves. He’s monstrous, he even looks monstrous (being a bad online montage, a photoshop Frankenstein); but his nastiness is oddly irresistible, especially on social media; he effortlessly rises to national power, and inflicts national destruction, without having to exist. begat’s a satirical study of how an apocalyptic monster is created: how the mob drains all the evil stowed within their ids into one phantasmagorical abortion of a human, cherished for his deformities. For what it’s worth, it was written fourteen months ago, before I had heard of Donald Trump.

  1. Any suggestions to support libraries?

Like (I imagine) most children, I discovered the joy and importance of reading at my local public library — and not at school — and therefore owe libraries a debt that can never be repaid. It’s worth saying this, perhaps, in a time when arts funding of all sorts is under question in this country and elsewhere. So nothing would make me prouder than bringing this tiny addition to literature in English back to libraries by way of talks or readings or displays.

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Richard Major

You can vote for Quintember here.

Guest Blog: John Williams

If current events have left you at a bit of a loss for words, we can recommend one of our own in-house political experts to help make sense of it all. John Williams, author of IndieBooks’ ‘Robin Cook: Power and Principles’ and ‘Williams on Public Diplomacy’, has started his own blog, and there are some tasters below.

John was director of communications and press secretary at the Foreign Office for six years. Working for Robin Cook, Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett, he was the chief media advisor to the Foreign Office on every major international event since the Kosovo conflict, and was heavily involved in the negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme. He was also political correspondent of the London Evening Standard, and political editor and columnist for the Daily Mirror, in a journalistic career that spanned 25 years.

President of the Parallel Universe

‘The reality is even more shocking than the expectation. Within days of becoming President, Donald Trump has made all predictions lame by comparison with the daily spectacle of leader and his spokespeople telling aggressive untruths.

Falsehoods have been re-branded ‘alternative facts’, by Kellyanne Conway, who glories in the title Counselor to the President, while defending the White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, for insisting that the Inauguration had been the most well-attended ever.

This is a parallel universe in which the President is always right, the truth is whatever he says. [‘House Science Committee chairman: Americans should get news from Trump, not media‘]. This will be the strategy when things start to go wrong. The objective is to make all evidence suspect if it counters what the President tells his supporters to believe.

As George Orwell put it in describing the one-party state in his 1984: ‘The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command…’

I wish I were confident that the President and his spokespeople will fail, but there are millions of voters who see no alternative and hear no alternative, to the leader’s truth. This is a sinister political correctness – only the leader can be right.

I saw a quote somewhere this morning from Jan Masaryk, a great Czech opponent of tyranny: ‘The truth prevails, but it’s a chore’.’ Read more…

Fact and Fiction in the Post Trump era

‘Donald Trump has changed the rules of politics and challenged the whole basis of strategic communication, with his disregard for facts and evidence. Trump is not the first politician to succeed by getting away with some distortion, but he has put blatant falsehood at the centre of his strategy for capturing the most important democratic position in the world. So it is no longer possible to say that strategic communication – in politics – has to respect facts and reject knowing falsehood, or pay the price in defeat.

It is the speed of social media that has made the Trump technique possible, of instantly setting the agenda by bewildering opponents and reducing old-fashioned fact-based journalism to flat-footed irrelevance.

The paradox of social media is that its miraculous potential for free speech and open minds has given strength to narrow minds and hatefulness. Some social media outlets regard facts as whatever you want to believe. False or distorted news echoes round them, and the more people react, like them, post angry comments about them, the more their readers believe this is the truth because the volume the internet traffic gives falsehoods the credibility of quantity. The sheer quantity of this internet traffic seems to its consumers to be a validation of what they are reading.’ Read more…