Speaker: Dan Carter
Classical writers, the Christian Bible, the Jewish Talmud, and the Quran all condemn lying. It is instructive to note that the Ten Commandments prohibits only the bearing of false witness against our neighbors, leaving a great deal of wiggle room for those who wish to play fast and loose with the truth. When an insufferably boring English aristocrat invited the writer Oscar Wilde to a weekend game shoot, Wilde responded by telegram: “Circumstances prevent me accepting your gracious invitation. Lie to follow.” We are amused.
Not all lies are equal. But how do we make distinctions in a culture in which the boundaries between facts and “alternative facts” seem to have disappeared? Are we simply witnessing the most recent chapter in the long struggle between truth and falsehood? Or have we turned the page and entered into a new era in which the past offers no precedents? Dan Carter will examine some of the forces that have blurred the boundaries between truth and lies in American politics over the last half century, that we may be better equipped to respond with skepticism rather than cynicism and despair.
Dan Carter is a retired University of South Carolina professor who taught US history at five American Universities, as well as in England, Italy and the Netherlands. He is the author of four prize-winning books and more than 40 scholarly articles as well as essays and articles in many magazines and newspapers. He has also appeared in sixteen documentaries on CNN, PBS and the History Channel.