We live in an era of nihilism and the loss of shared truths. It has come to a point even that conspiracy theories spread by QAnon have become part of political discourse, and we should try to answer the question why that is the case.
There's one positive thing to be said about QAnon believers, a group that has a significant overlap with the Trump supporters who still believe there's a chance that their Great Leader will still be the POTUS after 20 January 2021, and that is that they at least are aware of the fact that politicians and the mainstream media are professional liars in general. Not always and not all of them, but there's little truth or fairness to be found within the ranks of mainstream media pundits and ambitious politicians. It's good that these people realize that. However, they have taken that extra step that places them outside reality and transforms them into true Trump sycophants who believe the QAnon crap with religious fanaticism; to them everything mainstream is a lie, they know that ALL politicians lie to them on both sides, and their solution is to simply go with the lies and liars that they feel serve them best. Many Trump supporters have no trouble admitting that Trump is indeed a liar, but his lies strengthen them in their preconceived beliefs and convictions.
Why now though? Why are these silly conspiracy theories about Satanic baby eaters and stolen elections so popular right now? I've already written on numerous occasions about the mythologized and romanticized past in fascism; both Hitler and Trump appealed to a past in which the nation was still "pure", not yet infected with strange people from strange places. They both used their peoples discontent to their advantage by instilling in them a yearning for a glorified past that never really existed. "Make Germany Great Again" is 100 percent interchangeable with its American variation. This "great past" is a myth. Not many Americans, certainly not the Trumpists, want to hear this, they want to believe this lie. They want to believe that their Founding Fathers were great men, great heroes, and do not want to hear that most of them were slave owners, all rich old white men, who wrote the constitution to protect their wealth and interests. They'd rather forget that their first priority was the protection of their property, and that their slaves were not humans, but property first and foremost, and many of them are incapable or unwilling to see and admit that this past has consequences to this very day in the shape of systemic racism.
Back in the 19th century, when settlers were driven to the "wild west" by Manifest Destiny, there was this myth of the Mound Builders; in their quest to conquer the "new world" and rearrange it to suit their "order", the Euro-American settlers encountered many prehistoric mounds, deliberately constructed elevated earthen structure or earthwork, intended for a range of potential uses. Now it is understood that the Mound Builders were prehistoric, indigenous inhabitants of North America who, during a 5,000-year period, constructed various styles of earthen mounds for religious, ceremonial, burial, and elite residential purposes. The settlers appreciated the thousands of mounds on their new properties, but could not bear to credit mound construction to the Native American people they were displacing, so they created this myth. The myth credited the mounds to a fictional race (mostly believed to be white of course, ranging from Vikings to the Canaanites from Israel) of beings which had been driven out by the Native American residents. This myth was debunked as early as the late 19th century, but by then it had already served its purpose...
Why are these lies and conspiracy theories so popular? I don't know. I have no definitive answer, but it seems to me that, considering all of the above, it could very well have something to do with justifying the unjustifiable, explaining away the evil deeds on which the fictional "greatness" of the nation and its people are built in the minds of those who choose to believe these tailor-made lies and conspiracies. Linked below is the inspiration for this post, an interview with Jared Yates Sexton, the writer of American Rule - How a Nation Conquered the World but Failed Its People:
In American Rule, Jared Yates Sexton upends those convenient fictions by laying bare the foundational myths at the heart of our collective American imagination. From the very origins of this nation, Americans in power have abused and subjugated others; enabling that corruption are the many myths of American exceptionalism and steadfast values, which are fed to the public and repeated across generations. Working through each era of American growth and change, Sexton weaves together the origins and perpetuation of these narratives still in the public memory, and the acts we have chosen to forget.
source: Penguin Random House
Trump's Tribe Is Completely Ripping Apart American History
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