The news was bad. Sit in front of the television all day bad. Wake up the next morning and it hits you in the face bad.
The United States Capitol stormed by a pro-Trump mob. Americans rampaging through the marble halls. Senators and representatives cowering in fear.
Hard to believe bad. For some, impossible to believe, because believing might lead them to suspect maybe all this Trump business has been a mistake.
So a segment of the American public simply doesn’t believe. They immediately decided the insurrection didn’t happen, at least not the way it clearly unfolded before our shocked eyes on Wednesday. Because disbelief when convenient is what they do.
Sean Hannity leapt for his go-to move: fantasy.
“Then we had the reports that groups like Antifa, other radical groups — I don’t know the names of all of them — that they were there to cause trouble,” Hannity said.
There’s a clever dodge built into that, a cowardly little wiggle. I’m sure he did get reports. From deludedpatriot.com and Cletus the Avenger and such. He’s just passing along their concerns.
“Some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters,” lickspittle Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said on the floor of Congress, a desecration less visual than the mob but no less real. “They were masquerading as Trump supporters, and in fact were members of the violent terrorist group Antifa.”
First, he has no way of knowing that — well, listening to Hannity, I suppose. And second, Antifa isn’t a terrorist group. It isn’t a group at all. It is a philosophy — anti-fascism. Blaming Wednesday on Antifa is like blaming the riot on syndicalism.
Seeing these newborn conspiracy theories peck through their shells, blink into the daylight and take their first wobbly steps was like seeing proteins fizzle into life at the dawn of time. Present at the creation.
There are two types of people in the world.
Some perceive facts and process them and even, sometimes, alter their outlooks in light of new information.
And there are others who don’t. Maybe can’t. Who only accept facts that harmonize with their biases. And should any situation — say their pals storming the Capitol on television — be so glaring they can’t ignore it, they instantly dream up a more appealing scenario and believe that instead.
A few of the many examples:
The Holocaust didn’t happen — if it had, it might show the inevitable end result of anti-Semitism. This splotch of ink on a German record proves it didn’t happen.
Two jets didn’t fly into the World Trade Center. The twin towers were imploded from within, which explains this seething hatred in my heart for my own government.
Donald Trump didn’t lose the election — his loss ipso facto means the election is rigged.
Trump supporters didn’t storm the Capitol — not patriotic, flag-loving Americans. Somebody made us do it. Those mean invisible Antifa agitators; Colin Kaepernick in a white person mask.
Their eternal whine: “It’s not my fault! Timmy did it!” Donald Trump takes no responsibility, and they join him, brothers in denial.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look in my Junk folder, shall we?
“I warned when Hillary announced The Resistance that this was going to cause massive problems down the road,” writes one (we’ll shield his name out of kindness). “I warned when Democrats refused to arrest AntiFa members this would cause problems down the road....”
”When Pro-Trumpers lay siege to the Capitol Democrats are up in arms about the “disgrace”. Although when Black Lives Matter lays siege to New York City, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Kenosha, etc... that is just another day in the USA,” writes another.
And on and on and on.
A Trump mob storms the Capitol. Presto-chango! It’s the Democrats’ fault.
The comfort, I suppose, is the fantasy crowd has always been among us. The Internet makes it easier for them to find each other, that’s all.
And hallucination is not a success strategy. Trump notwithstanding, you cannot fantasize and lie your way to the top. Cold reality has a way of crashing the party, as it did Wednesday. It will continue to do. COVID still rages. The climate warms. Big problems, even if a third of the population weren’t clamping its eyes shut. We will just have to take the power of democracy and the beauty of truth and succeed without them, as always.