(Heads Up: This is a political, not irreligious post.)
Like the bogus QAnon meme, it seems more and more that the ferocious vortex of lies unleashed before, during and after Donald Trump’s dark presidency have sucked every American down a deep, slippery rat-hole. And it doesn’t only effect our loser former president’s tens of millions of loyal boot-lickers.
Finding ourselves in this echoey, lightless place, many if not most of us are still well aware of the disturbing and dangerous absurdity of the moment but are seemingly powerless to fix it.
There are no laws to confront this frontal assault on democracy, it turns out. Why? Is Facebook’s power to ban violence-inciting users like the former Commander in Chief really our only option when government proves incapable of protecting us and, in fact, is the culprit?
Republican rat-holers are ecstatic and invigorated, feeling they are on the verge of an authoritarian political and social revolution, however fantasy-based, and they are all-in with the society-crippling lying and mean-spiritedness that now grips the nation.
The extent of viral delusions now spinning unmolested across the land — they’re being embraced by untold millions of dim, gullible people — is breathtaking. They range from the nonsensical contention that Trump actually won the 2020 election (Joe Biden not only won the vote, bigly, but has since been sitting in the Oval Office conducting the nation’s business) to the uber-nutty, creepy conspiracy theories spawned by so-called QAnon.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, in a subscriber newsletter snippet titled “Mass Delusion in America,” wrote:
“A startling new PRRI [Public Religion Research Institute] public opinion poll indicates that 15 percent of Americans, mostly Republicans, agree that, “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.” Even more alarming, 15 percent overall (including 28 percent of Republicans) believe: “Because things have gotten so far-off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” [boldface mine]
If this doesn’t strike terror in the hearts of reasonable people, we’re not actually terrifiable.
Why is it that tens of millions of citizens in one of the best-educated, most high-tech and information-saturated countries in history actually believe such easily debunked Trumpian and QAnon twaddle?
Our best and brightest apparently have no clear idea why — or an effective plan to combat it.
Unsurprisingly, the PRRI survey reveals that where Americans get their information is crucial to how far they fly off the track of reality.
For example, the survey showed that people who are primarily informed by far-right media and Fox News are far, far more likely to believe QAnon’s “Satan-worshipping pedophile” cabal meme, that a “storm is coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders,” and that “true American patriots” imminently will need to resort to violence to save the nation. These are the same people who still support the twice impeached, twice divorced former president.
Among far-right TV news consumers, between 42 percent to 48 percent believe QAnon fantasies, but only 18 percent to 34 percent of those who watch less-far-right Fox News do, PRRI reported. In contrast, among viewers of all other television outlets (e.g., CNN, MSNBC, CBS, PBS, etc.) only 5 percent to 18 percent believe these imaginings are real and valid.
The survey also revealed that Protestants believe these viral delusions far more readily than all Americans in general. Perhaps belief in supernatural inventions renders them susceptible to believing other unsubstantiated musings are also real.
Overall, Republicans lead the country in believing QAnon is actually a thing, with 55 percent buying into this many-headed conspiracy theory. But, sadly, Americans in general are not far behind, at 46 percent (although 40 percent of the populace also totally rejects QAnon, far more than the 21 percent of doubting Republicans). Fifty-eight percent of democrats dismiss QAnon musings as poppycock.
Also, PRRI reported, non-college-educated Americans are three times more likely than those with a college education to be QAnon believers (18% vs. 6%). Even with survey controls in place, Republicans and conservatives were twice as likely as Democrats and liberals to be QAnon meme believers, according to PRRI data.
But the strongest independent predictor by far of QAnon beliefs is what news media Americans consume.
And like the delirious past and present rantings of the former president, the assertions ostensibly made under the auspices of shadowy QAnon poseurs are all purposeful misinformation, disinformation or outright lies and fabrications. Yet blank-eyed legions of easily deluded Americans remain completely enthralled.
What’s the matter with so many of us?
No really. Something truly terrible is happening in our country.