If you’ve been keeping up with our weekly coverage of the Trump administration’s seemingly interminable downward spiral, then you’ve no doubt noticed that the White House has a funny way of dealing with the past. Since the days of the campaign (and probably well before then if we're honest), Trump's understanding of American history has been spotty at best, which puts his press team in between a rock and a hard place when they have to attempt to translate his ramblings. Listening to Trump on history is like listening to a child talk about what they learned in school that day. His speeches are filled with incoherent ramblings that are baffling at best, and factually bankrupt at worst.
The Trump administration has reconstructed history through their particular lens, and, by doing so, they whitewash significant events while attempting to turn America into a kind of GOP Disneyland. When Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly discussed the Civil War with Fox News, he pushed aside the notion that the war was fought over slavery – which it was – and claimed that it was about a "lack of compromise." This line of thought is offensive on a molecular level, and it also shows the depths that the Trump White House will go to in order to realign history with its values.
In a few instances, there have been Trump staff resignations over how bad his employees have been at lying to the American people and the press, but unfortunately, everyone that’s left in the White House seems to be A-OK with just making stuff up. Steel yourself, and keep reading to find out all the ways that the Trump administration is wrong about history. Brought to you by the administration that coined "alternative facts."
Sean Spicer Claims Hitler Never Used Chemical Weapons
On April 11, 2017, Sean Spicer didn't just shove his foot in his mouth. He somehow managed to swallow himself whole, leaving nothing more than a pin-sized hole where the former Press Secretary once stood. After President Bashar al-Assad of Syria used sarin gas to attack a village, Spicer claimed that al-Assad was worse than Hitler because Hitler, at least, didn't use chemical weapons.
Spicer's statement ignores the fact that Hitler used gas chambers to commit genocide during the Holocaust. To make matters worse, Spicer said all of this in the middle of Passover.
Donald Trump Inaccurately Praises General Pershing's Alleged Treatment Of Muslims
There's a story about General Pershing, a senior United States Army officer who served as the commander of the American Expeditionary Force on the Western Front in World War I, that involves him dipping his bullets in pig's blood before executing POWs in order to inspire fear in Muslims during a conflict in the Phillipines. The story goes that this inspired so much fear in Pershing's Muslim enemies (Muslims consider pig’s blood to be unholy and ingesting pork to be a sin) that the conflict ended. This story is a straight-up lie, but Trump used it over and over at campaign rallies, and he even tweeted about it in 2017.
Christopher Capozzola, a history professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology said "There were deliberate efforts to offend Muslim Filipinos’ religious sensibilities, And yes, there was large-scale violence against their communities. But I know of no event like the one that Mr. Trump describes.”
Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
The Trump Administration Distorts Birth Control Research
In October 2017, the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era mandates that compelled employers to offer insurance that covered contraception for female employees. In this new formula, if employers feel like they have a religious or moral obligation to have a say over a woman's body, then they can put a stop to their birth control coverage.
In order to pull this kind of garbage, the Trump administration claimed that there's no evidence linking birth control access to lower rates of unintended pregnancies. By saying that “association and causality can be hard to disentangle," they mean that scientists can't prove whether or not giving birth control to women helps curtail unwanted pregnancies.
However, there's no way to actually test causality. Because birth control reduces risk of pregnancy, you can't just go around and test it on women. It would be highly unethical to have a test group where some sexually active women receive birth control while others receive placebos. By trying to prove causality you would be giving these women a human life to take care of.
So, when it comes to history, where does this go off the rails? Oh, you know, the entire history of research concerning the efficacy of birth control gets ignored and obfuscated in misleading scientific jargon.
Sean Spicer Straight Up Lies About Trump's Inauguration Crowd Size
In more recent history, who can forget Inauguration-Gate? Oh those halcyon days when all anyone had to worry about was the size of Trump's inaugural crowd. The whole thing started when the Twitter feed for the National Parks Service tweeted a side-by-side comparison of Trump's inauguration crowd with President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. Much to the President's chagrin, even Bernie Sanders got in on the fun.
The day after the inauguration, the debacle was left to Sean Spicer to clean up, and instead of being honest about the crowd size, he threw down one of the first big lies to come from the Press Secretary's podium:
“Yesterday, at a time when our nation and the world was watching the peaceful transition of power and, as the president said, the transition and the balance of power from Washington to the citizens of the United States, some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting.”
He went after The New York Times for tweeting photos of the crowd/doing their jobs, and then he dropped the lie that would become the basis for Trump's presidency: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration—period—both in person and around the globe.”