Governments lie all the time. It is not only authoritarian, despotic, and totalitarian states that lie, but democracies, or what are alleged to be as such, do so too. Contrary to the cherished view of some liberals, who like to represent the Trump administration as having uniquely departed from the moral standards of previous administrations, especially the Obama administration, which many are now inclined to view nostalgically as some kind of gold standard of moral probity, the entire fabric of American governance has for generations been based on a tissue of falsehoods. Obama lied through his teeth—about the use of drones, the war in Afghanistan, his regime of deportations. We will be told, of course, that “context” matters—that the deportations, for example, were largely of hardened criminals, though one would need a vivid imagination to construe the majority of the two million as falling in this category. Admittedly, in the department of post-truth, Obama is not a patch on Trump, who, it goes without saying, almost always lies—as do most of his henchmen, honchos, and hired guns. Lies, too, take various forms: a lie is not only a patent falsehood, or a statement made with the intention to deceive, but it may also be a promise made with the knowledge that it cannot be kept.
The Citizenship Question: Unsettling Facts and the Ethos of Hospitality