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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/17/20

Conspiracy Thinking and the "Alternative Political Universe"

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"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the state State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." - Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister.

There is a school of thought, borne out by empirical evidence and data, that the practice and promotion of conspiracy theories and thinking is as old as the founding of the American republic. And without a doubt the peddlers and creators of all conspiracy theories are now elevated to national prominence in the era of the Trump presidency. In fact, the most recent of such theories is the one coined by none other than the present occupant of the White House called "Obamagate." To date, neither Mr. Trump or his minions in the right-wing media, selected talking heads, and those who, like the president, have a vitriolic hatred for America's first Black president, have presented not an iota of evidence to substantiate this scurrilous and outlandish claim. But nobody should be surprised at the present state of affairs. Mr. Trump and company have long been adroit and expert at pushing false narratives for political ends.

Remember Mr. Trump's debunked "Obama was not born in America" meme? Despite the fact that Obama was thoroughly vetted by the FBI, and other law enforcement organizations, Mr. Trump persisted doggedly with this false and divisive line of attack that stuck and cemented among the right-wing echo chamber, enhanced and expanded by willing and eager "talk show," TV, and radio co-conspirators all united in white-hot hatred for President Obama.

Today, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Trump and company are again at it. Aside from the "Obamagate" meme, there are other dangerous conspiracies contaminating and confusing the public national discourse. For example, Mr. Trump's "China did it" pivot after his Administration's monumental incompetence, slothful, and disorganized response to the pandemic, is classic conspiracy peddling that underscores an inability to take responsibility for ANY mistakes. And the recent, "we prevailed" statement by the POTUS is another example of deflection, and the deliberate creation of an "alternative political reality and universe." The inherent danger in this conspiratorial mesh-mash is not only the thousands of gullible Americans that will believe it, but that it adds to the national confusion, anxiety, and fear now riddling the American populace.

All over the world, and certainly here in America, conspiracism has destroyed many great institutions, eroded and ultimately eradicated knowledge, put democracy in danger, and needlessly ended many lives. Today, this insidious practice has been weaponized by the Internet, a putrid partisan media, and the POTUS. In America today paranoid thinking is more powerful, and far more dangerous as a result, than ever before. Modern day conspiracy theories and contrived, deliberately created "alternative political realities and facts," are threatening not just our notion of truth but the idea that empirical facts and evidence do not really matter. And like all conspiracy theories the individual or individuals spreading them have developed a fanatic base of support and possess the qualities that kooks and crackpots look for in their so-called leaders.

Take the POTUS and his willing minions who never question, challenge or seek to prove him wrong. For them what he says is THE gospel truth and fact, lies or doctored evidence do not matter. What history tells us is that those "leaders" always come over as angry, combative, bullying, and hailed erroneously as "counter punchers" even when their counter punching is really undisguised pettiness, stupid nicknaming, and absurd political theater, posturing and a mangling of facts and truth.

Mr. Trump has mastered this technique. He has continued to attack President Obama at every turn as he tries desperately to obliterate his predecessor's successes. But more than that. Mr. Trump cannot abide the fact that Mr. Obama is, well, "cool," and is a class act, educated, poised and possessed of that rare thing called grace. Comparing both men objectively, Mr. Trump comes over as classless, devoid of charm, lacking credibility, empathy and compassion, wisdom or honor, and the kind of common sense that ALL Americans presidents - before him - possessed to varying degrees.

And this is what so galls Mr. Trump - the realization that he'll never ever measure up to the 44th President of the United States no matter what he does. That and the fact that his innate racism does not allow him to concede that even his very best is not enough when compared to THAT Black man. So, Mr. Trump is ALWAYS angry and frowning, he does not laugh, and is in a state of perpetual combat just spoiling for a fight. Attacking anyone who disagrees with him or have a dissenting view to his own is, like the press, an enemy that he must do battle with; demonizing and belittling detractors while spinning and spreading unfounded and created conspiracy theories is his stock in trade. The truth is the first casualty, facts do not matter, only the hollow, stinking sound coming from the right-wing echo chamber singing in unison "all hail the king."

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)
 

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