Initiating Post here.
For your thought, consideration and conversation
The day after the carnage at our nations Capitol Jan. 6, I was participating in a regular meeting of a group I’ve long been part. It was Zoom, of course, and there were ten or so of us.
In the gathering time, I asked my colleagues about the previous day in Washington D.C., to the effect: “We all know people who reflect the attitudes & opinions of those who invaded the Capitol yesterday. Does anyone know of someone in their acquaintance who would participate in such an act? Personally, I don’t.”
One member on the call responded almost immediately. She said she knew five – all people she knew well.
We didn’t have time to go into detail, and the regular meeting proceeded to conclusion. But the early interaction has stuck with me.
My colleague misinterpreted my question (more likely, I didn’t clearly ask it). Not unusual in any spur-of-the-moment conversation like ours had been.
The following morning I followed up with my colleague by e-mail: “I think I mis-phrased my question to you and the others. I was wondering how many people knew anyone who’d be the type who’d actually invade the capitol like the insurrectionists did on Wednesday. I said I didn’t know anyone; I think you mentioned several. Actually, if I went by your criteria, I’ve actually counted a couple of dozen people I know who are [strong Trump supporters] – they’re all people I know, mostly well – but I don’t think any of them would even think of invading even the local state capitol, or maybe not even demonstrate. But they are absolutely devoted to [the current President, for varying reasons].
Awful as Jan 6 and following events have been, and whatever similar happens going forward, the events should be “a shot across the bow” for all of us.
Every single one of us need to confront, in the many assorted – and appropriate and non-violent – ways, this primary and in many ways evil legacy of the soon to depart President. It won’t be easy, but we can’t sit it out. We all can make a difference.
Q-anon et al.
For context, the last weeks have caused me to reflect on two past events.
The first was a conversation with a woman about my kids age in the coffee shop I frequent. This was some months before the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, which was in Feb. 2018. She was concerned about child sex-trafficking, and how Super Bowls were super-spreader events for such exploitation of young people. It was a legitimate question, not connected to politics…I thought. [Postnote Jan 17. Much to my surprise this person was front page material in today’s Sunday Star Tribune. She’s apparently front and center “Alley Waterbury” is the name she goes by. There’s more, but enough for now.]
The second was an e-mail I received in 2019 from a woman my age, forwarding something from her son, my kids age, which speaks for itself. It is the only “QAnon” stuff I have ever directly received. Here is the two-page pdf (click to enlarge): Q-anon 2019. I had heard of Q-anon, but this was my first knowing brush with what has generically become Q-anon.
I checked out the book. I noted back to my friend that the book was published in 1991, at the end of 12 years of Republican presidencies of Reagan and George H.W. Bush. The Orion project mentioned was quite likely during the Eisenhower administration. “The deep state” was in the times Republicans were President of the United States.
I’m no expert. But here’s what seems to be a credible article about the author of the book referred to above. Here is more about the history of what might be what has come to be dubbed the Orion project of the CIA.
It is worth your time to learn more about this dangerous movement which thrives on misinformation and conspiracy theories and out and out deliberate lies.
[POSTNOTE JAN 21, 2021: Brookings Institution. “How to respond to the Qnon threat”]
Second, there’s “Christianity”, the faith I espouse which is a very ragged collection of denominations and leaders with a not always pristine history.
Some years ago, somehow, I got on the mailing list for a right wing group whose mission is to reform the Methodist Church in its own image – to purify its practices. It is apparently well-funded by someone(s) who think Methodism is too liberal.
The newsletter, “The Christian Methodist”, posited its Christian position, before the 2020 election, giving a so-called “Christian” perspective. I think the 4-page newsletter is well worth a read to get a perspective from a particular point of view. Note especially “Dr. James Dobson’s Concerns” on pp 2-4. I have actually been to Dobson’s Focus on the Family operation in rural Colorado Springs. It was about early 1990s, and about 100 of we visitors were given a talk on the evils of sex education in the schools, as I recall.
(I use “Christian” in quotations because there are endless “Christian” points of view, including my own, often in opposition to each other.
There are many people, like Dobson, and the editor of the newsletter, who declare in various ways their own supposedly superior positions on what being “Christian” means. And control the microphone and the printing press. Ultimately, this gets down more than the sanctity of belief, to the even greater lust for temporal power, in my opinion.)
There are very serious problems within the very ragged bunch who call themselves “Christian”, among whose numbers I count myself.
Trumps most reliable base is the evangelical Christians group. But all is not happy these days. David Brooks of the New York Times wrote a very interesting column on Jan 14: “Trump Ignites a War Within the Church”. You can read it here: Christians & Trump.
Yesterday, a friend called attention to an interview on National Public Radio of an evangelical leader, Ed Stetzer of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. You can listen to the 7 minutes here.
I only ask that regardless of your “brand” when it comes to the beliefs noted above, that you seriously think about the implications for al of us who live in this hopefully continuing great country. And that you not be silent.
from Jermitt: A very important message. I agree, it has been long in the making, even longer then the Author believes. Thanks for sharing.
from David: When I read anything about Q-anon, it just sounds so bat-shit crazy that I can’t get my head around how anyone could believe it. I mean, really, a cabal of Democratic pedophiles operating a child sex ring in the basement of a pizza parlor? We all believe, I guess, that what we know as the truth must be true. So, we look at the Q folks and say, how can they believe that insane stuff? They look at us and ask how we’re able to believe the things we believe. Both of us lay claim to “facts.”
It’s the Cruz and Hawley in leadership who know the truth yet still spout the lies are the ones who are sustaining the danger to our country. Trump will slither off to Florida. Biden becomes president facing strong headwinds. However, he does have the advantage of a bar set very low. His Covid/economic plans announced today truly offer hope for a better tomorrow. You wonder if even the most dedicated of the MAGA mob might find their fury slaked a bit if Biden manages to turn things around on the virus and create conditions for an economy that works for those left out in both rural and urban America. Heck, it’s hard to imagine him doing worse than Trump.
from long-time friend in London (first portion of this letter at Jan. 13 post): As for QAnon, conspiracy theories are spreading fast & can threaten entire societies. They aim to be attractive regardless of how difficult to believe & how obviously false. Who would not want to protect children from paedophiles? Thus QAnon is attractive especially to women. These theories have political agendas so QAnon for example points to Democrats as the perpetrators again with no attempt at supplying proof – as in the case of “Stop the Steal”.
When Buzz Aldrin was questioned by someone who didn’t believe men had landed on the moon, Aldrin who had himself landed on the moon punched him in the face. A bit of an extreme reaction for my taste but . . .
As in finance there is the supply side & the demand side. Shutting the supply of conspiracy theories (e.g. Trump’s Twitter account etc) can work but has the problem of going against free speech – Holocaust denial is punishable in Germany.
Taking the fight to the demand side which is extremely high at the moment due to various causes is important: children should be given lessons in scepticism & verification. Echo chambers should be challenged. Conditions that encourage the proliferation of conspiracy theories such as extreme inequality, poverty, people’s dignity being trampled, feelings of powerlessness & not having voices heard . . .