Yesterday afternoon, Simon Moya-Smith, a writer for CNN and NBC News, took to Twitter to declare that President Trump had “reject[ed]” Native American Heritage Month, in favor of recognizing National American History and Founders Month. The implication was that President Trump uses his executive office to ignore the left’s obsession with racial victim categories — which the left typically tars as “racist.”
Trump rejects Native American Heritage Month, proclaims November “National American History and Founders Month.” https://t.co/ZnBGIaUcXj
— Simon Moya-Smith (@SimonMoyaSmith) November 5, 2019
Like most matters the media seizes upon with President Trump, this allegation was simply untrue. But that dishonesty didn’t stop the tweet from achieving some form of Twitter glory—24 hours later, the tweet had been retweeted 8,000 times. Indeed, the lie had metastasized, unquestioned.
Federalist Co-Founder Sean Davis swiftly called out the writer for lying, but Moya-Smith did not delete the tweet.
What a blatant, despicable lie. Trump explicitly recognized National Native American Heritage Month last week with a standalone presidential proclamation.
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) November 5, 2019
Moya-Smith responded by declaring that it was his “opinion” that President Trump had “rejected” National Native American Heritage Month.
Oh is it, darling? B/c last I checked I’m an opinion writer (do your research) & it’s my opinion as an *opinion writer* that Trump’s “Founders” proclamation is a clear rejection of what Native American Heritage Month stands for; that it subverts/insults the purpose of this month. https://t.co/5FiWNvjkiS
— Simon Moya-Smith (@SimonMoyaSmith) November 5, 2019
In the age of Trump, many media figures feel little to no remorse when they tell falsehoods about Trump because they have determined that Trump is evil, and therefore, every lie about him feels inherently justified. If it’s not exactly true, it’s true “in spirit.” Here, there is no question that Moya-Smith’s initial tweet would be perceived as asserting Trump flatly denied Native Americans a month of recognition. But that’s not what happened.
President Trump published a presidential proclamation on National Native American Heritage Month on October 31, 2019, in preparation for the month of November. The 650-word proclamation, which can be found here, emphasizes the important role tribal citizens play within the United States. As the proclamation declares, “During National Native American Heritage Month, we reaffirm our commitment to work with tribal communities to address serious issues affecting them and to help protect their rich and diverse heritage.”
To buttress his false accusation, Moya-Smith linked to another proclamation—the Presidential Proclamation on National American History and Founders Month, which also declared November to be devoted to America’s exceptional history, including its Founding. One may note that Native American history is American history.
The American history proclamation, similarly issued on October 31, 2019, stated, “On this inaugural National American History and Founders Month, I encourage all citizens to reflect upon the defining tenets that have always united us as Americans, while also taking time to honor those who have contributed to the great story of our country.” This was the first proclamation of its kind, which likely sparked Moya-Smith’s ire.
Alas, at the heart of Moya-Smith’s complaint is that America should be categorically ashamed of its history, and to celebrate our story as a country or the ideas that belie it is to somehow denigrate Native Americans — who, by the way, are U.S. citizens. Our history is their history, and their history is our history. Indeed, both can be recognized without privileging one over the other. America’s story is an imperfect one, but recognition is not a zero-sum game.
Indeed, Trump’s proclamation on American history discusses the monumental civil rights movement, the importance of educating citizenry on freedom, and eradicating tyranny wherever it is found. Given what likely lies at the root of Moya-Smith’s complaint, it’s hard to imagine a time this proclamation wouldn’t be jeered at by him and others who hold America’s history in total contempt. It’s not just the dual-celebration that likely bothers Moya-Smith, it is the very notion of American exceptionalism that has probably garnered his anger.
More abstractly, what Moya-Smith ignored is that months often are used to commemorate multiple different sentiments, and November is no exception. Because there seems to be a genuine dearth of reporting skills among our firefighting media, I’ve included a link to the corresponding proclamations that President Obama issued on October 31, 2016.
Under both President Obama and President Trump, November was said to honor a variety of individuals, not only Native Americans (Obama’s proclamation here) but also family caregivers (Obama’s proclamation here and Trump’s here), entrepreneurs (Obama’s proclamation here and Trump’s here), and veteran and military families (Obama’s proclamation here and Trump’s here).
Why does it matter that Moya-Smith tweeted false information and neither deleted nor corrected the tweet? Why does it matter that he did so as a self-labeled writer for NBC News and then claimed it to be “opinion”? Because these small “sleight-of-hands,” which all miraculously transpire in one direction, are narrative building blocks that are divorced from the truth.
The popular refrain of “It didn’t happen, but it started a conversation” is probably one of the more toxic assaults on objective truth to come out of the media-led Trump resistance. Trump didn’t actually reject commemorating Native Americans, but we should have that conversation, apparently, in order to indulge the Trump-hating catharsis frequently sought by many within our media apparatus. The truth is merely the rent we as readers must pay for their catharsis of rage.
Instead of accurately discussing the alleged assault of Silai Abrams at the hands of someone within the NBC family or exposing the alleged serial rapist Harvey Weinstein, NBC writers are busy drumming up controversies with no grounding in reality. It’s worth wondering whether all the additional energy devoted to manufacturing falsehoods and Resistance propaganda is distracting our devoted media class from reflecting upon the truth. Democracy dies in darkness, or something like that.
Erielle Davidson is a Staff Writer at the Federalist and a law student at Georgetown University Law Center. Find her on Twitter at @politicalelle.
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