We rely on our Freedom of Press and the media protected by it to help us out. We need journalists to take the time to research and write/talk about what the truth is about a subject. We need journalists to persevere in pulling out of arrogant "politicians" just how much they know about a subject to reveal their ignorance. I'm not seeing that happen enough right now during the American campaign for president.
Let's take a recent example. Donald J. Trump claimed over and over and over that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton co-founded ISIS. And not only in one day's news cycle, but over 7-10 days he repeated this claim, embellishing it at times with derogatory adjectives for Obama and Clinton. Trump insisted over and over that what he said was true. Obama and Clinton had co-founded ISIS. (He's since "clarified" his statements by saying their policies made ISIS strong.)
What is the history of ISIS?
Who really founded ISIS? Let's take a look at its history. If you'd like to read more lengthy articles about this group, try The Atlantic's "What ISIS Really Wants" or the Wikipedia entry for ISIS.
To summarize, this group was founded in 1999 under the name Jamāʻat al-Tawḥīd wa-al-Jihād by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who eventually led al-Qaeda in Iraq. It wasn't known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) until after Zarqawi was killed in 2006. So, long before Obama became President, in fact, when first Bill Clinton, then George W. Bush were President, this group came into being. In response to Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003, Zarqawi aligned the group with al-Qaeda and joined the insurgency.
In 2010, after the leaders of ISI were killed by US and Iraqi forces, the current leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, took over. The Syrian Civil War, begun in 2011, has served to grow this group into what it is today, i.e. the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Syrian government's response to the Arab Spring uprisings opened the door for ISIL to capture territory. Al-Qaeda cut all ties with ISIL in 2014. ISIL operates on its own, and al-Baghdadi has developed it into an extremist Islamic war machine bent on creating a world-wide Caliphate and destroying every other religion and the people who follow them or go down in a blaze of glory.
As far as U.S. policy toward ISIL, it has had to respect the sovereignty of Iraq in developing operations against the group. As for Syria, I suspect that much more is going on behind the scenes than is available for the general public to know. Trump's ideas about nuking ISIL mean that he'd be nuking the countries of Iraq and Syria in the process. I doubt any Middle Eastern country would stand for that much less Iraq and Syria. Not to mention their allies -- Russia is one of Syria's staunchest allies.
And really, all Trump has to do is a little reading to educate himself on the history of ISIS (ISIL). The fact that he doesn't and that he fails to demonstrate that he has tried to educate himself only affirms his ignorance of how to deal with an enemy of the country.
Trump's ignorance of the Constitution
The U.S. Constitution is the foundation and organizing document of the American government. With the Bill of Rights and subsequent Amendments, it is the law of the land. When Trump states that Obama, our current President, and former Secretary of State Clinton co-founded ISIS which is an enemy of the United States, he betrays his ignorance not only of recent international history, but also ignorance of the U.S. Constitution. And this guy wants to hold the highest elected office in the country and swear to uphold a document that he clearly knows nothing about?
"So what?" you might ask. Well, if Trump is going to lead our country and head our government, he needs to know, at the very minimum, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as well as the subsequent Amendments. Trump has demonstrated only ignorance. Why?
In Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levy-ing War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giv-ing them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convictedof Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to thesame overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Since ISIS is an enemy of the U.S. and is at war against us, saying that Obama and Clinton co-founded it is the same as accusing them of treason against the U.S. by "levying War against them (the U.S.), or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." That is a serious charge. Trump needs to have one or more other witnesses for this co-founding and substantial evidence to prove the claim. By making this claim, Trump demonstrates just how ignorant he is of ISIS, of the U.S. Constitution, and of his own ignorance which is probably the most dangerous thing about his loose lips.The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishmentof Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corrup-tion of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
So in addition to not being familiar with the law of the land, of the documents that organize our democratic government, Trump has demonstrated an ignorance of the meaning of his own words in the context of the U.S. Constitution.
I fervently wish the Media would point these things out to Trump, call him out, make him uncomfortable, show him that he needs to do the work and not just stand at a lectern and spout lies and ignorance. I just have not seen it, and you know what? I doubt I will. Why?
First of all, educated people and people who seek out the truth (not mutually exclusive groups, by the way) already know about Trump's ignorance. Second, Trump's followers probably really don't care. They care only that Trump has the moxie and the influence to say in public what so many think. They believe he's right because Trump says he's right. They are not the kind of skeptical minds that think critically about what politicians say. And Trump believes he's the best person for the job. Sad but true.
Trump will continue to spout his ignorance, even though he's begun to try to sound statesmanlike. He will continue to alienate women, minorities, people of all religions with his ideas and policies for "making America great again." His followers will agree with him. I can only hope that come November, Clinton routs him in the election. And then perhaps our public education system can be improved to teach kids how to be skeptical, to research and educate themselves, and to think critically.