But I also want to emphasize in my work that, no, America has never been great. But the idea of America can be great. It’s a future thing, our greatness, not a past thing. The past is something we’re trying to overcome, and we’re trying to realize our greatness with certain ideals. But of course, our past is replete with fake news; we are an empire, we’re a military empire. Whenever you find a military empire, it’s going to justify its invasions on the basis of fake news. Think of the European invasion of the United States that resulted in the genocide of our native population. That was based on complete fakery, that the Native American population was somehow uncivilized, and the barbarian savages who were slaughtering them were civilized. When you have mass violence, it’s going to be based – because humans need this in order to justify mass violence – it’s going to be based on these deep myths and fake news. And so since we’re an empire, we have this long history of fake news.
And a particularly dangerous moment is when the empire starts to lose its status; when it starts to lose its status, then the myths are no longer so comforting, and a fascist leader can come and say, look how we used to be great, we used to be happy with our myths. So, that’s how the structure works. The structure wouldn’t work if you didn’t have an empire that was based on fake news. We had this past. And sometimes Trump shows his hand; so he said, you know, we’re not so great; look at the Iraq War. So he was very explicit about that. What you have happening with some of these figures is they want to say, well, let’s go back and not fake it; let’s just say we’ll invade people and take their oil, let’s not pretend. And so that’s seen as more authentic. Like any military empire, we’ve had a titanic amount of fake news. And what I’m hoping is that people can now recognize how dangerous that is. Because the danger is that then someone can come and say, the mainstream media? Really? Look at the Iraq War, look at all the lying we’ve done in the past. So insofar as elites care about even the simulacrum of democracy that we’ve had in the United States, even the sort of vague shadow of democracy that we’ve had in the United States, even keeping up the pretenses – they shouldn’t lie anymore.
– Jason Stanley