If I can sum up the dominant strain of thought on the celestial Comment Board that is the American right wing, in regards to the series of assassination attempts against former Presidents, ex-CIA chiefs, sitting Congresswomen, George Soros, and now apparently Robert DeNiro, it is this:
The bombs were a false flag operation designed to make Republicans look bad to distract from Democratic mob violence, and to distract from the asylum-seeking caravan, which was funded by George Soros.
Now, right now this kind of thinking is limited to the fringes of the American right, if you define the fringes as “anywhere outside the White House”, which these days you pretty much have to. This kind of thinking was on Fox News and on Rush Limbaugh and pretty much everywhere else, from QAnon on up.
Indeed, the only reason it seems muted is because, for once, the President didn’t amplify the worst conspiratorial ramblings of the lunatic right wing. And the only reason he didn’t is because, for at least one day, it wasn’t in his interest to do so. He knew that it wasn’t, which was why in yesterday’s Nitwit Nuremberg in Wisconsin, he called attention to his astonishing restraint.
“And by the way, do you see how nice I am behaving tonight?” he told the crowd in Wisconsin. “Have you ever seen this? We’re all behaving very well, and hopefully we can keep it that way. We’re going to keep it that way.”
Spoiler: he won’t. Indeed, after boilerplate pablum about “coming together” and whatnot, he blamed the media and left-wing mobs for the problem, talking extensively about harassing senators in restaurants.
What was left out was his indulging in the worst kind of race-baiting and conspiracy talk every day for weeks (and of course throughout his entire public life). This week has been amping up fear over the migrant caravan a thousand miles from the US border, calling it an invasion force and spreading the idiot rumour that it was laced with terrorists. This has been amplified by Mikes Pompeo and Pence, as well as the entire right-wing constellation of loutish halfwits.
It’s not just that the fact of the caravan that is agitating the professionally agitated- it’s the idea that this is funded by George Soros and encouraged by Democrats in order to…do something. I guess get more left-wing voters in America, because marching people two thousand miles to apply for asylum status is super efficient.
Indeed, the whole idea that this is good for Dems is ludicrous. This caravan is a gift to Republicans, which is why that is all they can fucking talk about. To believe that George Soros is an evil genius hellbent on America’s destruction and believe also that he is encouraging thousands of refugees to “invade” America two weeks before a racially-charged, and indeed fully racist, mid-term is to escape fully from even the thinnest bonds of reality.
But that’s where we are as a country. The Daily Beast, in investigating QAnon’s (and the right’s) response to the assassination attempts, showed the inherent madness of the movement.
On Wednesday, QAnon posters were also quick to claim that the bomb threats were a false flag operation meant to make Republicans look bad, in part because they had spent the days beforehand fixated on an anonymous internet post that claimed Soros would arrange for a shooting at a liberal political rally that would be set up to look like it was committed by a QAnon supporter. QAnon believers took the bomb scares as proof that the anonymous post had correctly predicted a false flag operation—even though none of the details in the post, including the rally shooting, were actually confirmed.
That’s madness; real cuckoo clock from hell stuff, and the heart of any and all conspiracies. Evidence against is evidence for; all our enemies are playing insanely complicated games that only we can see; the threads are all there, you’re just too blind.
In better times, this would be a curio, a shuttered sideshow, something to which we don’t really have to pay attention. But these aren’t better times, and indeed, that we didn’t pay attention to this burbling madness is partly why we got here.
We’re living in a time where this madness starts at a level of QAnon, and moves up the totem of right-wing thought and noise (the two are virtually indistinguishable). It might start as a joke, or as someone just doing it to stir shit up. Before the election, I described these types as people who were “just as likely to witlessly shout “Harambe!” as they are to shout “lock up that bitch!”, and mean both equally, which is to say both passionately and not at all(.) Just in it for the nihilistic lulz, driven by a deep-seated rage and sociopathic disregard for anyone who isn’t exactly like them?” The truth is there is no real difference.
And they feed Facebook, are amplified by agnostic algorithms, driven by at best greed and at worst libertarian techdick sympathies. They are repeated by legions of web-wrecked Boomers and others who find themselves in a hole and find the thin sands of conspiracy to be their only sturdy rope. And then it makes its way to the President, who has never found a lie too outrageous to amplify or an accusation to slanderous to repeat or an insinuation too dangerous to make so long as it could help him in any way.
Trump’s insane self-serving attitude and the sheer vulgarity of his nihilism has proven to be the perfect megaphone for the howling madness in this country. He is shaped by this madness (he himself is a web-wrecked old man), but also gives it shape, gives it form, solidifies it by the power of his reverberations.
(And yes, there are lots of conspiracy idiots on the Left, and in some ways they are just as annoying, but aren’t anywhere near as dangerous, and certainly aren’t anywhere even close to as powerful, much less even close to power.)
That’s where we are as a nation. The manifestation of the very worst of America has gotten everything he wanted, and he is transforming the nation in his own dull, cruel image. He’s warping every institution, but he himself is continually being warped by the violence, by the dispossession, by the amplified atomization of this vast and sprawling and messy country, in thrall with its myths and unable to reconcile its vast and bloody contradictions. He absorbs it, mixes it up with his own self-interest and toxic nothingness, and spews it back out on the rest of us.
The violence might be just beginning, or it might be subsiding. The impact that this rumbling madness has on the nation will be far more long-lasting, and might make itself unsolvable.
(Optimistic note: texting is the easiest way to get out the vote. You don’t even have to talk to people. It’s literally the least we can all do)