Welcome to a Chronicle of Culture.

Tag: Stolen election

Delusion, witchcraft, and the conservative way

A typical idyllic Trump household. Photo by Jon Gary.

Despite the pandemic, My Friend Jon gets out quite a bit. Rides his bike all over the county. He recently posted on Facebook a photo he took of this house blanketed by big TRUMP WON banners. Life-size cut-outs of Trump on the front lawn, and a two-dimensional Trump and Melania at the front door, greeting visitors.

I’ve stumbled across similar conservative urban trail markers. Here’s a house all dressed up in DON’T BLAME ME I VOTED FOR TRUMP banners. It’s just a two-minute drive from where we live:

This one needs a bigger U.S. flag.

Here’s another one, just one street over from our house. TRUMP 2024 it says. With images of handguns, brandished in a threatening manner. In the spirit of holiday décor, it recently added “TRUMP” spelled out in white Christmas lights in the front window. I walk the dog, Abilene, past it a couple of times a week:

Hello neighbor!

Who lives in these homes? Are they crazy? Are garish exhibits of personal political statements a Republican thing? I don’t recall Democrats draping their homes with HILLARY WON banners after the 2016 election. And Clinton did win the popular vote, so at least there would have been some truth to that one.

What’s happening inside these homes? They’re debating Critical Race Theory. They don’t know what it is, except… something, something, murmur, mumble… something about Black people.

No one who lives in these houses seems able to cite any specific evidence proving that THE ELECTION WAS STOLEN. All they know – and this really is all they know – is the vote didn’t tally up to what they were hoping for. They don’t know exactly what happened, except… some, some, murmur, mumble… something about the libtards.

Something grand-sounding like these words, which I conveniently created just for this essay, might be chiseled on the granite base of a forgotten statue covered in pigeon shit in your town square:

If we trust each man, woman and dog to be the curator of their own truths, then the rules of society will inevitably crumble.

We’re seeing the cracks widen now…

Domestic terrorists can attack the United States Capitol in an attempt to reverse the results of the November election and overthrow the government. And be hailed by conservatives as HEROES.

A 17-year-old kid can drive to another state, with an illegally obtained AR-15, shoot three people – killing two of them – and earn the praise of conservatives. And earn a trip to visit Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

Without offering any evidence, Republican Lauren Boebert can accuse her fellow congressional representative, Democrat Ilhan Omar, of being a Muslim terrorist.

Maybe this is a matter of you can’t see the morning until you’ve stayed up fretting all night. Sometimes, society’s norms do hold up.

A tourist at the Capitol building, on an invitation from Trump.

Because Unite the Right organizers have been found liable for millions in damages after a white-power rally in Charlottesville, Va. Because the conservative conspiracy entertainment theorist Alex Jones has been found guilty of defaming the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Because Trump White House political strategist Steve Bannon has been charged with criminal contempt for ignoring a subpoena from a congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. And because the manufacturers of voting machines are suing right-wing media groups for claiming, without offering any evidence, that the companies were involved in election corruption that put Joe Biden in the White House.

Can you imagine how extensive this network of corruption would have to be in order to subvert, state by state, a national election? And no one – NO ONE – has stepped forward with any evidence?

Perhaps it’s a matter of personal perspective. Through which lens do you choose to view the world? What has caused more hospitalizations and deaths, COVID or donuts? Either answer is correct, depending on the time frame you choose.

There can be many variables, but ultimately only one truth. In 2020, in the final thrashing year of the Trump presidency, the Department of Homeland Security finally acknowledged that violent white supremacy is “the most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland.”

Not Muslim congresswomen. They’re not even on the Lethal Threats to the Homeland chart.

We’ve seen these TRUMP WON banners before.

Johannes Kepler, risking prison for the truth.

Centuries ago, mathematicians and astronomers such as Galileo, Nicolaus Copernicus and Johannes Kepler were calculating how our universe worked. Yet they were cautious about being too loud about presenting their evidence that we live in a heliocentric solar system. The progress of European civilization was hindered by too many Flat Earthers, and by a Catholic church that insisted the Earth was the center of the universe, and by believers that the hand of God was behind the death of every sparrow. The advance of humanity was stunted under threat of prison and torture. True, a smattering of cultures ranging from the Chinese to the Maya seemed to have a better grasp of cosmology. But let’s not award too much credit to a culture that, as a religious offering, would cut the beating hearts from the chests of enemies captured in battle, or even the hearts of their neighbors.

Humanity is only one rung up from the Black Widow spider, notorious for eating its mate.

Acceptance of facts and truth is critical to society moving forward. But when rejected, facts and truth are equally valuable as tools that reveal prejudice or lack of education. Displays of ignorance is a Geiger counter, its escalating chatter betraying the danger at hand.

Awareness of their willful ignorance warned us of who would be waving those TRUMP flags on the steps of the Capitol building on January 6.

When truth and science isn’t allowed in, witchcraft and superstition fill in the void. Human nature has always been open to delusion. Over the centuries, nothing has changed.

BE THE FIRST in your neighborhood to know when a new Critical Mass has been turned loose. Go to the “Subscribe” button on the web site jeffspevak.com for an email alert. You can contact me at jeffspevakwriter@gmail.com.

The fine whine of a stolen election goes sour

Facebook surveillance photos captured unrepentant journalist Jeff Spevak at Rochester’s Washington Square Park in January of 2017, doing nothing at an anti-Trump rally.

Sure, I’d shitcan The Critical Mass in a half-second if some irresponsible sentence I typed in a moment of intellectual laziness resulted in me being sued for $2.7 billion.

So it makes perfect sense that on Friday, Fox News cut the tether that bound it to “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” allowing the show’s host to drift away from the mothership of doom, and into the vacuum of empty space. The reason for Dobbs’ demise? It’s not because he’s some old man shouting conspiracy theories from his front porch, telling the libs to get off his lawn. His fall was due to someone finally called him on those lies. That someone, or something, is the voting-machine company Smartmatic.

The “stolen election” argument runs on the evidence-free notion that voting machines in swing states were manipulated in favor of President Biden (while overlooking the opportunity to rid us of Mitch McConnell as well). Smartmatic’s response to it being fingered as the villain in the vote-fixing scheme is to file a $2.7 billion defamation suit against Fox News and three of its malignant hosts – Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro. Also named in the suit are Trump lawyers – and coherent thinkers use that description loosely – Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. Dominion Voting Systems, which also makes some of the voting technology used in this country, has similarly filed $1.3 billion defamation lawsuits against Giuliani and Powell for their baseless attacks on the company’s integrity.

During his radio show last week, Giuliani returned from a commercial break to be greeted by this surprise disclaimer:

“The views, assumptions and opinions expressed by former U.S. Attorney, former attorney to the President of the United States and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, his guests and callers on the program are strictly their own, and do not necessarily represent the opinions, beliefs or policies of WABC Radio, its owner Red Apple Group and other WABC hosts or our advertisers.”

We have watched, to what should be no one’s surprise, as the Trump years collapsed into satire. Mike Lindell is the CEO and TV pitchman for MyPillow, a product that My Friend Sarah bought and described as “a disaster.” How hard can it be to make a pillow? Despite this failure, Lindell was hanging around the White House during Trump’s final days like he had some kind of cabinet position. Perhaps Secretary of Interior Decorating. And now he won’t let Trump crawl off into the weeds, where we can forget about him. This week Lindell aired a three-hour “documentary” on how the election was stolen. Except, taking note of the lawsuits filed by the voting machine manufacturers, the unrepentantly conservative One America News Network, or OAN, suddenly found God. It insisted on introducing Lindell’s non-infomercial with a disclaimer that the “views, opinions and claims expressed by Mr. Lindell… are not adopted or endorsed by OAN.”

The fine whine of a stolen election has gone sour. In the judgment of the lawyers for Fox New and OAN, Smartmatic and Dominion must have pretty strong cases.

Most reporters and editors stand for professional impartiality in reporting (Fox News, you may sit down). Yet contrary to what so many news organizations would like you to believe, reporters and editors are not blank slates. As smart, informed people, they cannot help but form opinions. It’s the mechanisms of journalism that allow fairness to prevail.

As we watched the last four years unfold, we saw those mechanisms move too slowly. Trump wasn’t challenged enough. I experienced that myself in my former job, as music critic at what was once the pre-eminent voice in the city. Musicians and artists have always played a large role in amplifying public debate. Yet, as Trump closed in on what was thought to be the improbable – a reality TV star and fake billionaire accused of sexually assaulting women – winning the Republican nomination for president, the warnings of these musicians and artists were repeatedly edited from my interviews. Their voices silenced. Often without me being told. In a June 2017 interview with Joss Stone, who I found to be a delightful person, the English pop singer described our new president as “Hitler-ite.” Months later, while going back to the story for a year-end retrospective, I saw that the provocative quote had been cut. Again, without consulting me.

The weekend after Trump took office, I went to the Washington Square Park protest against Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending entry of refugees into the United States and barring citizens of predominantly Muslim countries from visiting. I saw women in pink pussy hats singing and strange men dressed in black, who I later learned called themselves Antifa, trying to start trouble. I didn’t sing, carry a protest sign or throw any punches. I just watched and talked to people I knew. The following Monday, after sharing with a few fellow reporters what I had seen, I was informed by an editor that I could no longer attend any civil protests.

Which means, I guess, if I wanted to know what my fellow citizens were thinking and saying and doing, I’d have to report on it from a second-floor office window.

I got laid off later that year. Freeing me to be a part of all the civil disobedience I wanted.

Now we’re gingerly emerging from a racist and misogynistic presidency that has seen environmental protections abandoned, cities set afire, the Capitol building trampled by a mob and a policeman beaten to death, and nearly a half-million Americans dead from a virus that we were assured would “just disappear.” Our world will never be the same.

It’s not impartial reporting when reporters or editors shape a story to avoid pissing off people who might… oh, ransack the U.S. Capitol building. The responsibility for lighting that fire lies elsewhere.

Silence is compliance. And it is especially dangerous when the other side speaks with a bullhorn.

Fox News, and right-wing media outlets such as One America News Network and Newsmax, aren’t about the truth. They’re about money. Truth is a proper defense when a media outlet is accused of libel or defamation. Fox News is quite aware that it can’t present the truth as a defense for the falsehoods that it throws at its unquestioning audience. At that point, it’s the money that talks.

The limits of free speech aren’t hard. The classic example is you don’t yell “FIRE!” in a crowded movie theater. If you’re Giuliani, speaking to thousands of easily-led, agitated people, you don’t urge them to engage in “trial by combat.” And, if you’re the president, you don’t tell those same people, “You will never take back our country with weakness.” And lie about accompanying them on a march to the Capitol building, choosing instead to go back to the White House and watch TV to see what he created.

And people were injured, and died.

The suits filed by Smartmatic and Dominion aren’t about the chilling effect that the threat of lawsuits would have on reporting the news. This is about solid journalism, and the truth. Which will stand up to scrutiny. If Hillary Clinton had hired some smart lawyers, she would own Fox News.

BE THE FIRST in your neighborhood to know when a new Critical Mass has been turned loose. Go to the “Subscribe” button on the web site jeffspevak.com for an email alert. You can contact me at jeffspevakwriter@gmail.com.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén