When the students on the Ohio State wrestling team began to report they were being sexually abused by the team doctor, the wrestling coach, Jim Jordan, began to learn the techniques of weaponizing ignorance. Although numerous victims claimed that they reported the abuse to Jim Jordan, he claimed he was ignorant of the abuse. In addition, a referee claimed that he had witnessed the doctor masturbating in the common shower and had reported it to Jordan. Jordan responded by minimizing the incident as a personal eccentricity rather than an instance of sexual assault. Jordan had obviously learned that ignorance was a way to shirk his responsibilities.
This knowledge serves him well as a Donald Trump stooge. His skill as an avoider of truth, a falsifier of fact, a purveyor of an alternative reality is well-suited for Republican campaigns of disinformation. His skill as a prevaricator has assured him a place of honor among Republican propagandists. His skill at “muddying the water” with distortions of reality won him a central role in the impeachment hearings.
Trump wanted President Zelenskyy of Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden. Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to extort Zelenskyy’s compliance with his demands. Fortunately, thanks to a courageous whistleblower, Trump got caught. He released that aid only because his illegal extortion scheme was discovered. Jordan’s pretense that he did not know this reality is the epitome of disingenuous. He weaponized his ignorance by claiming that the aid was withheld for “only” 55 days, suggesting that Trump released the aid voluntarily and that 55 days is a short time for a country at war.
However, this pretense of ignorance rested on the foundation of authentic ignorance. The “only 55 days” statement shows a real ignorance of military operations and combat realities. The military situation in Ukraine was and is dire. Russia already occupies Crimea and threatens a vast area in eastern Ukraine. Anyone who has been in a war knows that 55 days of combat is an eternity and facing Russian tanks without antitank missiles approaches infinity. Jordan appears to be too ignorant to even ask the relevant questions. How many Ukrainian soldiers died during the 55 days that Trump withheld the 400 million in military aid? How did the Ukrainians battle Russian tanks without U.S. antitank missiles?
Jim Jordan is not the only clown in the Republican car. Devin Nunes, Louie Gohmert, Doug Collins, Matt Gaetz and Mark Meadows have all discovered that ignorance is the perfect defense in the age of Trump. Every defense of Trump begins with denial of reality, a presentation of a Russian-created conspiracy theory, followed by a hysterical diatribe against American institutions. Fake outrage and yelling are standard operating distractions. These Republicans even see the FBI and the CIA as part of a “Deep State” conspiracy that has a plan to take control of the country. Paranoia has become the last refuge of Republicans seeking to weaponize their own ignorance with conspiracy theories.
Weaponizing ignorance has reached such a level in the Republican party that Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Kennedy have begun to repeat Russian propaganda to defend the indefensible behavior of Donald Trump. If you want to see the ultimate weaponization of ignorance, just tune in to a Trump rally. Rally participates applaud Trump’s lies, revel in his distortions of reality and laugh at his empty drivel. This requires a willing suspension of informed judgment and critical thinking. These Americans have never been so proud of their capacities for ignorance.