One of the greatest stories ever told is from my old country. The Mahabharata.
The first time that I read the retelling of it by Rajaji, I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. It was riveting. The complex story that wove together a gazillion characters, and for me to keep track of the connections between the characters ... it was phenomenal.
Every Hindu kid knows that story-line of the Pandavas and the Kauravas, and the build up to the war between the two clans.
(I suppose I have lost the non-Indian audience by now! Come back, come back; the moral of the story is understandable and contemporary.)
The war unfolds. Both the sides are evenly matched. The god--Krishna--is on one side, and you know that this god cannot lose. Therefore, the Pandavas, whom Krishna supports, will win is a given.
But, what you might not have been prepared for is the level of chicanery that Krishna indulges in. The god cheats and fakes. Winning is everything. Win at all costs. Winning is the only thing!
Anyway, after the Pandavas knock off the grand old man, Bhishma, their old teacher, Drona, becomes the commander-in-chief of the Kauravas. Krishna realizes that Drona is way too accomplished a fighter and tactician. So, get this, Krishna develops an elaborate fake news scheme. Yep, fake news in the battlefield.
Of course, in war, any smart fellow will watch out for fake news. Drona is uber-smart. So, Krishna then recruits into his scheme the one guy who always, always, always, tells the truth--Yudhishtra. But, Krishna knows that Yudhishtra will not ever tell a lie. Hence, Krishna--keep in mind that he is a god who gets into such planning--hatches an idea.
The idea is this: Drona has a son named Ashwatthama, who is also a warrior on the other side. If Drona could be informed that his son is dead, then Drona will be heartbroken and, then, can be easily killed.
The plot thickens.
Krishna tells the physically powerful Bhima to kill an elephant named Ashwatthama. Bhima does as told.
Now, Ashwatthama is dead. But, it is an elephant, of course.
Krishna has Yudhishtra announce that Ashwatthama is dead. But, something like this: Ashwatthama, the elephant, is dead. While "Ashwatthama" and "dead" are yelled loudly, "the elephant" is practically muted.
Drona hears that Ashwatthama is dead. Coming from Yudhishtra, who only speaks the truth, it has to be true. Drona is devastated that his son is dead. He lets his guard down. His head is chopped off. End of Drona.
The Pandavas are well on to their victory. Thanks to fake news. Fake news hatched by a god. Go figure!
The birther story and other fake news created by this president and Faux News cannot even begin to match such heroics, unless and until this president begins to lop a few heads off ;)
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