Conspiracy theories have always been popular in America to one degree or another. Way back when, they proliferated by word of mouth. Fast-forward to the late 20th century and the preferred mode of dissemination became fax machines. Today, the Internet.
Scanning the post-election comment threads at Breitbart.com has been instructive. The mindset of hateful conspiracy theorists who flood that site on a regular basis (its influence continues to expand) is worthwhile for the skeptically-minded to grok, because they provide insight into how the fundamentalist religious mind functions. (Many of these commenters are themselves Christian fundamentalists.)
Step 1: Accept a premise, consciously or unconsciously — e.g. “Barack Obama is bringing about the downfall of America” /// “Traditional America as I understand it is being destroyed by the Secular Left” /// “Christianity is under broad-scale attack” /// “Miracles happen on Earth everyday”
Step 2: Process all new data as confirmation of those pre-existing premises — e.g. “Barack Obama signed the healthcare law merely to aid his quest to bring about the downfall of America” /// “Traditional America could not possibly have voted for the reelection of the Secular Left as personified by Obama, therefore chronic “voter fraud” must be the culprit” /// “Chick-fil-A was involved in some controversy related to the owner’s view of same-sex marriage, so we should stage an entire day devoted to signaling our support for Chick-fil-A” /// “I heard a rustling in the bedroom. Because miracles are known to happen everyday at God’s direction, that rustling must have been my deceased grandma, because God loves me and knows I miss my grandma.”
The conspiracy theory-based worldview involves crafting an epistemic framework that is self-justifying. Claims are non-falsifiable. Every new piece of evidence is interpreted as corroboration of the original premise — Obama is a Manchurian Candidate, the Illuminati are who really run the show, etc. While some variations of Christianity certainly do allow space for good-faith reasoning — Roman Catholicism being one example, at least in theory — other sects posit an unalterable worldview that shares much in common with what are putatively regarded as conspiracy theory-based worldviews.
Obummer divided the country by race. Big mistake. The white male is responsible for most of the job creation. When they refuse to create jobs, it is the Obama voters who will be hurt most. Many business owners and doctors are simply going to quit and retire early.
Many people believe that Obama has been hellbent on “dividing the country by race” from the moment he rose to national prominence. This, of course, notwithstanding the fact that Obama has conspicuously refrained from discussing race as president. And as a candidate, his most lauded speech was one in which he movingly called for racial reconciliation. There is simply no evidence for the allegation of racial divisiveness, but evidence is of course immaterial to this commenter. “White male” hegemony has been threatened, to this person’s mind, and Obama/”Obama voters” are somehow responsible.
I would bet that if you gave all these cult islams a obama-phone and food stamps they would vote for the Fraud in the WH…….maybe they did!….they didn’t get any goodies.
Again: Obama hates and wants to undermine America, therefore he distributed “Obama-phones” and foodstamps to poor blacks in order to bribe them, committed ambiguously-defined “fraud,” and so forth, because he wanted a second term to carry on undermining America. In fact, this view is not so different from Mitt Romney‘s theory of the election, which he blamed on minorities wanting “gifts.” (How about all the constituencies to whom Romney promised “gifts,” like Defense Contractors, Wall Street tycoons, and elderly Medicare recipients?)
The Breitbart alternate media-sphere functions in a cult-like manner. Andrew Breitbart, their dead patriarch, is viewed as a martyr who had the unique courage to stand up to the “Secular Left.” His followers wear masks and displayed Twitter icons bearing his heroic visage. But it turns out Breitbart’s “slash-and-burn” strategy backfired and helped lose the election for Romney. Most remarkable is that the Romney campaign chose Breitbart as an official partner to steer the daily political discourse and proliferate talking points. In doing so, Romney attempted to deceive enough Americans that they would vote Obama out of office. It’s really that simple.
As John F. Kennedy declared in 1961:
Now we are face to face once again with a period of heightened peril. The risks are great, the burdens heavy, the problems incapable of swift or lasting solution. And under the strains and frustrations imposed by constant tension and harassment, the discordant voices of extremism are heard once again in the land. Men who are unwilling to face up to the danger from without are convinced that the real danger comes from within. They look suspiciously at their neighbors and their leaders. They call for a ‘man on horseback’ because they do not trust the people. They find treason in our finest churches, in our highest court, and even in the treatment of our water. They equate the Democratic Party with the welfare state, the welfare state with socialism, and socialism with communism. They object quite rightly to politics’ intruding on the military — but they are anxious for the military to engage in politics.
Maybe Obama should take a cue.