Jokes and derision poked at Americans limited understandings of far-away places like Africa seemed to diminish over the last few years. I guess not.
I couldn’t have told you who Louise Linton was until yesterday, when her juvenile, unethical behavior while accompanying our treasury secretary on an official event set off a firestorm.
Linton’s infamy began several years ago with a book she wrote, allegedly about her GAP year in Africa. Here are some of the more material examples as excised in a New York Times op-ed:
“I soon learned that Africa is rife with hidden danger,” she wrote in “In Congo’s Shadow: One Girl’s Perilous Journey to the Heart of Africa”.
“I witnessed random acts of violence, contracted malaria and had close encounters with lions, elephants, crocodiles and snakes. As monsoon season came and went, the Hutu-Tutsi conflict in neighboring Congo began to escalate and then spill over into Zambia with repercussions all along the lake.”
“I try to remember a smiling gaptoothed child with H.I.V whose greatest joy was to sit on my lap and drink from a bottle of Coca-Cola.”
So let’s fact-check this.
The Hutu-Tutsi conflict was in Rwanda, not the Congo, and it ended 23 years ago. Unless she was taking a GAP year between grade school and junior high, Louise Linton was not in Africa anytime near the Rwandan genocide.
Even 23 years ago the ethnic conflict between the Hutus and Watutsis never extended into Zambia. It would have had to have extended first into Tanzania, which is in between, and it didn’t do that, either.
The Rwandan genocide is not some random incident.
According to the Times analyst, her book is rife with such made-up facts. This leads us inexorably to doubt that she had “close encounters” with anything more than customs officials.
What’s the point? I mean this in two ways: what’s the significance of her writing all this clear falsehood in the first place, and second, why should we care?
Louise Linton did exactly what everyone in Trump’s circle does: lie. They don’t start off intending specifically to lie, pulling some random topic out of the ethosphere. Something excites them, and their self-importance elevates that to privileged discovery. They believe – believe is the key word – they know more about it than anybody else, after which they go on willy nilly, impatient or otherwise incapable of fact-checking themselves.
They are so confident albeit self-indulgent, that their entire being can’t fathom that there is more to what they know than what they know. So making something up additionally won’t hurt. Creating such vulnerability to being called out takes up no less space in their id than their belief that reality is created not experienced.
Louise Linton did go to Africa. She doesn’t process that others have, too. That would be a leap into syllogistic thinking that would interrupt her lie. To her Africa is about as far away from her and by extension other’s lives as heaven.
To some that would be the end of it: mystical wonder. But to Louise and Donald and the rest of the crew who has succeeded exploiting disreality to the millions of poorly educated Americans who also tread in it, exploit they will: Louise to sell chiffon scarves and Donald to run the world.
It’s a sad, sad commentary on the empowered ignorant, those who America has created in droves by several generations of defunding public education.