We talk a lot about the shifting of the Overton window to the right, but that’s really too simplistic. It isn’t a linear progression to the right, especially with Trump, many of whose policies have long been considered anathema to most conservatives. The shift is really away from reality and toward fantasy and conspiracy-mongering, a race to what used to be the fringe that was occupied by Alex Jones and his ilk. Now that tactic has been mainstreamed. A perfect example is the reaction to the bombs sent to Soros, CNN, the Clintons and Obamas: It’s a false flag!
Fox News viewers were proclaiming it a false flag all over their Facebook page and website. This is pure Alex Jones, who thinks absolutely everything is a false flag. And Limbaugh’s argument for why it must be a false flag is hilarious: “Republicans just don’t do this kind of thing.” Really? They don’t? About 2/3 of the terrorist acts carried out in this country are by right-wing terrorist groups. The irony is that the very kind of people who scream “false flag” in situations like this are exactly the people who populate right-wing militias, stockpile weapons, take over government facilities, threaten to kill journalists and senators who vote against Trump’s judicial nominees, and much more.
Popular talk radio host Rush Limbaugh hinted that the attempted bombings were set-up by Democrats, saying they would serve a political “purpose.”
“It’s happening in October,” Limbaugh said. “There’s a reason for this.”
Similarly, right-wing radio host Michael Savage outright declared that “it’s a high probability that the whole thing is set up as a false flag to gain sympathy for the Democrats… and to get our minds off the hordes of illegal aliens approaching our southern border.”
Frank Gaffney, an Islamophobe who has held posts on Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign and in the Ronald Reagan White House, suggested the packages were a “deflection” technique. “None of the leftists ostensibly targeted for pipe-bombs were actually at serious risk, since security details would be screening their mail,” he tweeted. “So let’s determine not only who is responsible for these bombs, but whether they were trying to deflect attention from the Left’s mobs.”
None of them offer a single shred of evidence for this, of course, nor do they need to on Planet Wingnuttia. For these people, it must be a false flag because it doesn’t fit their preferred narrative. And since it must be, it is — automatically, magically, as if they can merely speak reality into existence, as if the very act of declaring it makes it so. This is called motivated reasoning and it short-circuits one’s ability to think critically (and it isn’t only those on the right who do this, of course). Using reason to evaluate evidence becomes irrelevant because the conclusion comes before the evidence.