There are those who believe the Earth is flat. There are those who believe the moon landing was a hoax. People think that naturally occurring contrails from high flying aircraft are “chemtrails,” intended to do everything from control the weather to manipulate or poison the population. And let’s not forget the 5G and microchips-in-vaccines conspiracies popular last year. There is a metric crap-ton of bad information out there (alternative facts, if you will), easily disseminated through social media.
Let’s start with the mac-daddy, the genesis of a lot of today’s alternative facts: the Birther theory. Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya and was a secret Muslim sent to infiltrate the highest echelons of U.S. government. If true, someone would have had to possess the amazing foresight to place a false birth announcement in the Honolulu Star Bulletin in August 1961 to set up the back story and create the illusion that there really was a Barack H. Obama born in Hawaii — just because they were plotting ahead to take over the government in 2008.
People believe many crazy things. Take, for example, the QAnon conspiracy theory. Q followers actually believe that there is a Deep State made up of a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles who run a global sex-trafficking ring. Members of this cabal include top Democrats and some Republicans in Washington, D.C., as well as Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Hollywood elites like Tom Hanks. Of course, we can’t forget the evil bogeyman of the left — George Soros. He is the alleged billionaire financier of this cabal.
According to Q, President Donald Trump is the only one fighting the cabal, and a day of reckoning known as The Storm is still coming. Traitorous Democrats, Republicans, government officials, the mainstream media and those evil Hollywood elites will be exposed, rounded up and shipped to Guantanamo. There, they will be tried and executed. It sounds totally insane. Yet I know people who really believe this.
The conspiracy theories get even worse. Trump attorney L. Lin Wood has made incredible — and incredulous — claims that have millions of people actually believing that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. (Fact check: there is not a shred of evidence proving any of his claims.) Wood actually claimed that Trump won with 70% of the vote, and that a secret cabal of international communists, Chinese intelligence and Republican officials conspired to steal the election from Trump. Wood tweeted that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was involved in the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and suggested that Roberts is also a child trafficker.
Perhaps craziest of all is Wood’s assertion that Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be arrested and possibly face execution by firing squad for treason for failing to overturn the election. He also accused Pence of being a child molester. The really scary part, as if this isn’t bad enough, is that Wood is far from the only one out there who is spreading this stuff.
Now let’s combine everything from Birther-ism to racism, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy. Add in a heaping helping of people who feel their country has been taken from them. Season with encouraging words from the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Stir it up in a huge resonant social media echo chamber. What could possibly go wrong?
Last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol was an attack on our American democracy. It was an insurrectionist attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election — an election that was ratified by Democratic and Republican officials in all 50 states. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died as a result of the tragic events of that day. Our nation was very fortunate that some of these so-called “Patriots” — equipped with zip-ties, firearms, and explosives — didn’t get their hands on any legislators. Almost certainly, more blood would have been spilled.
Believe what you will, but let’s not mince words: those who stormed the citadel of our Democracy are not patriots — they’re insurrectionists and domestic terrorists.
Catch John Wednesdays at Herbie’s, Thursdays at Sparky’s Landing, Fridays on Facebook Live for the Social Distancing Concerts, and Saturday night at the Key Colony Inn. Music available wherever you get your streaming. www.facebook.com/john.bartus