The Problem With Condemning Trump’s “Baby Murder” Lie

By condemning it, we’re spreading it. Trump’s counting on this.

Pointing out “old friend” in the crowd at weekend rally in Wisconsin

If Trump’s taught us anything, it’s keep repeating a lie enough on a large enough stage, and it becomes true. Trump’s many times accused Democrats of wanting to “allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth”, including back in January during the State of the Union Address, when he stated on the floor of the House that Democrats cheered with delight” at that prospect.

This weekend he amplified that message (which actually he’s done before, it just got a lot more attention this time): now Democrats want to murder babies after they’re born.

Here’s what Trump said at a rally this weekend in Wisconsin:

“The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”

And here’s the clip of him saying it, eliciting great response from the crowd:

Acting out murdering a baby at weekend rally in Wisconsin

Clearly the President thinks he’s got a “winner” in this lie when it comes to getting himself reelected.

And he also knows the more that’s repeated by anybody, in any context, the more people it reaches. So any attempt to debunk his lie runs the risk of popularizing it.

That’s because the people who know it’s not true already know it’s not true. But the people who don’t know it’s not true will at least question whether the President is bringing something to their attention that’s new and terrible.

Trump knows this too, which is why when he recounts this story, he emphasizes it’s “newness”:

Until this crazy man in Virginia said it, nobody even thought of that, right?”.

Right. Because it doesn’t exist.

Trump’s crediting this “new idea” to Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam (whom you might also remember from the blackface scandal). And Northam does share some of the blame for giving shape to the lie Trump’s spreading by making one of the most boneheaded statements possible. Northam, who’s a pediatrician by training, was trying to describe real-life situations where parents might choose to allow nature to take its course with a mortally sick infant. And why it’s important that parents and doctors, not politicians, make that decision. But he ended up saying something that sounded like kind of the exact the opposite of what he was trying to say. Here’s a clip of Northam’s full comment, which we’ve cued up to the pertinent part (because it comes at the end of a very long interview, which was mainly focused on improving traffic on Virginia’s highways, not because we’re trying to hide something):

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s fateful appearance and poorly elucidated statement back in January

So what do we do on this and so many other things Trump lies about? (This is just a very extreme example). If we toil to debunk his lies, that leaves us no time to discuss anything else. And at best it’ll only be partially effective.

Do we keep our mouths shut and allow Trump to “educate” only his base, only at his rallies, who’ll believe or be tickled by anything he has to say anyway? Or encourage people to battle him on his lie, which might correct it for a few folks who might’ve otherwise believed it, but will also pour fuel on the lie he told in the first place?

We think we know the answer.

Silence in the face of big lies is the worst. The President just can’t be running amok as he delivers more and more incendiary and untrue material.

Especially since it emboldens others in his party, who under “normal” circumstances might not repeat such big lies, but now feel free to jump on the bandwagon because the only downside politically is not to.

Or maybe not

Interestingly, right in the middle of his “baby murder” rant, Trump points out former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in the crowd, saying Walker’s “got a big future”. Maybe so, but fact is, Walker lost in the Midterm Elections to Democrat Tony Evers. Not by a lot, but was a significant enough victory that Republicans could not demand a recount. Trump backed Walker vigorously during the campaign.

First of all, we didn’t think Trump associated with losers, and we also didn’t think any Republican Trump actively campaigned for lost. At least according to Trump they didn’t.

So maybe now there is some political risk to association with this kind of disgusting behavior by the President. It all hinges on being able to keep the momentum up that we saw last November despite the President’s best efforts.

Let’s hope so