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“..or should have known”

June 15, 2022

Mona Charen is a conservative Catholic. She and I sit far apart on the American political map. It is a scary indicator of how strange the times are that I find myself so much praising her recent columns. Her last makes a crucial point:

Trump had so warped the people around him that there was no expectation of honesty or integrity. Did he know that the election was not stolen or did he sincerely believe that it was? What does it matter? What is sincerity in the mind of a man who lies with every exhale? Asking whether Trump knew the election was free and fair is like asking whether a komodo dragon prefers smooth jazz or hip hop. It’s a category error. .. This emphatically does not let Trump off the hook for his lies. On the contrary. His attempt to blur reality is all the more reason to substitute a different standard — and not just for Trump. In our era of curated news and information silos, we must ask not, “What did he know?” but “What was it that he knew or should have known?”

Hear, hear.

Politics Girl tries to reach (video) those who believed Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. Which seems a good thing to do.

But how much should the justice system try to suss out the innermost thoughts of some Oath Keeper who tried to interrupt the electoral college? Should it matter whether he was all in for the cause, knowingly weaponizing the lies? Or that he is a complete (and completely sincere) dupe? Or that his brain was so fried from past drug use that he was just going with what his brothers said? At some point, people are responsible for the lies they propagate and act upon. Regardless of whether they were manipulative or sincere or uncaring when doing so.

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