The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
I once lived near a small town where carnivals came to town. They had booths and rides and sideshows, often manned by crusty, drunken carnival folk.
There was the Wild Man of Borneo in a cage. Scraggly-haired and mud-streaked, he chased chickens. There was the Thin Man, the Fat Lady and the Queen of the Nile.
“Step right up and see the Mysteries of Egypt!” said the barker as the Queen swirled.
We see such experiences for what they are; outrageous, bizarre entertainment.
There are conspiracies. Some are harmless, like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster. Some are more destructive.
Since the 2020 election, it seems that conspiracies have grown. Consider the latest bizarre one about JFK Junior being alive and coming to Dallas.
Where could that have originated? Perhaps from the same source that believes Democrats run child sex rings, and that Lizard People run the government. It is part of a group of irrational beliefs that most people could not create in their wildest imaginations. None of it is discouraged by those who benefit.
Then there is the Trump-inspired “Stolen 2020 Election” rhetoric. Some are convinced that the “Communist Liberals” stole the election. For months in advance, Trump repeatedly said that he would only lose if the election was fixed, despite every poll showing him losing significantly. Enough people were tired of the attention-seeking chaos and dishonesty that they voted him out by 8 million votes. He would have claimed fraud had he lost by 80 million. He gains attention by riling those most susceptible to conspiracies, giving him meaningless power. That will not stop as long as there are true believers. If even a small segment of his cult-like following took up arms and started attacking others, would Trump take responsibility?
Some people do nothing but traffic in conspiracies. Alex Jones is a prime example. His online rants are called Info Wars. Some examples: The New World Order and Globalists are out to enslave us all. The government has a weather machine that creates hurricanes and tornadoes. Climate change is a hoax. Vaccines cause autism, and paralysis. Millions of undocumented immigrants voted. Rampant election fraud.The latest is that Pfizer has added a heart attack drug to children’s COVID vaccines. The list is limited only by the extremes of delusion.
The worst was that Jones claimed the Newtown mass shooting of 20 children was a hoax, and actors were hired to destroy the Second Amendment. That was not only horribly false, but evil. Imagine the pain those children’s parents felt. He has been found liable for not providing financial and analytics data regarding the matter. Financial settlements are undetermined. Jones has said that a psychotic episode caused his actions.
After a Las Vegas shooting, Jones claimed that Democrats would kill many people. “They’ve been calling for a civil war, they’ve been calling to kill conservatives. They want our guns.”
Jones has millions of followers, and sells Super Male Vitality and other snake oil.
Most people realize that he is appealing to a certain segment of society for his own personal gain. It is the very definition of Fake News.
You might never imagine that a political leader would utilize such methods. You would be wrong.
Donald Trump used many of Jones’ claims: The birther conspiracy, climate change, vaccines, illegal voters. Trump once appeared on Infowars, praising Jones’ “amazing reputation.”
Before we can deal with a severe problem, it must be exposed. This is destructive, not to be minimized as inconsequential.
Fear-fueled rantings will continue from Trump, Jones and others, without consideration for the harm done to friendships, families and the country. It is all for attention and drama, making those who engage in spreading division wealthy, without a shred of guilt. Those buying into conspiracies are being used by the originators.
McCreary was raised on an Illinois farm and spent his career in education. After retirement, he moved to Indiana, Colorado, and now to Green Valley, Arizona, where he tries to stay creative.