written 17 January 2021
published 24 January 2021
By the time you read this, we will know if domestic terrorists have succeeded in decapitating the government, ending the American democratic republic. I expect they failed, and Biden was inaugurated, because most Americans still respect the rule of law. But we are a divided nation, riven by rampant conspiracy theories.
From Wikipedia: "A conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event that invokes sinister groups, despite more probable explanations. Conspiracy theories resist falsification because evidence against, and an absence of evidence for, are re-interpreted as evidence of truth, thus, the conspiracy becomes a matter of faith."
"Historically, conspiracy theories are linked to prejudice, witch hunts, wars, and terrorist attacks. Conspiracy theories are obstacles to public health, and have been linked to outbreaks of preventable diseases, reduced trust in scientific evidence, and radicalization of extremist groups, with negative consequences for the economy. "
" Conspiracy theories have become commonplace in mass media of the early 21st century. Maintaining an open society and improving the analytical thinking skills of the general public reduce the occurrence of conspiracy beliefs."
One common element of a person caught up in a conspiracy theory is the feeling of being excluded: that "they" are out to get "me". Consequently, the more isolated a person is, the more likely they are to be drawn toward conspiracy groups. But life and reality are inherently inclusive, so conspiracy groups perpetuate a false separation, leading to corrosion of society.
Trump's most recent big lie, that the election was a fraud, is rooted in the belief that only white votes are valid. This racist trope, left over from the Civil War, explains the Confederate flags during the terrorist Capitol invasion. While this continues to threaten our democratic institutions, only a few people have died so far.
Trump's previous big lie, that Covid-19 is a hoax, rooted in the belief that we aren't all human, has now killed over 400,000 Americans, and reduced American lifespan by one year, mostly in white rural areas. America has over 24 million cases, more than any other country, yet Republicans still treat Covid-19 as a partisan matter.
Since May, eighteen states have experienced per capita Covid-19 deaths more than four times the national level, fifteen of them Republican led. Recent reports show increased cases in jurisdictions where law enforcement decided not to enforce public health rules.
Hospital capacity is stretched everywhere, and hospitals in the Los Angeles area are now in surge mode, rationing care. The National Guard was called in to help deal with bodies, as mortuary facilities couldn't keep up. Some hospitals had emergency infrastructure upgrades because their oxygen supply lines froze up due to unexpected volume. There is still concern another surge in cases will arrive because of New Year holiday social events.
But wait, there's more!
As the global pandemic endures and expands, the virus has more chances to mutate, becoming more efficient. In the last 13 months, hundreds of minor mutations have been detected, but in December two, more infectious, mutations were reported, one in the UK and a different one in South Africa. While the current vaccines are still effective, 70 percent of the current cases in the UK are the newer strain, almost overwhelming their health system, forcing the country into lockdown. This strain has now been detected in the US.
Brazilian president Bolsonaro's denial of Covid-19 has allowed the virus to rage out of control. In Manaus, Brazil, the infection has reached "herd immunity" levels, but cases continue to expand, overwhelming health care facilities. Even people who have had Covid-19, and recovered, are getting sick again. Reports now indicate another mutation with a different spike protein, which reduces the protection from previous infection or the current vaccines. This strain is more contagious and more lethal, and could be considered a whole new disease, Covid-21, requiring a heightened global health response to isolate, test, and quarantine, to limit the spread. The sooner everyone is vaccinated against Covid-19, the less risk of further mutations.
If we survive these two big lies, we might be able to deal with the third big lie, that climate change is a hoax, which is rooted in the idea that humanity is not part of the web of life. Conspiracy theories divide us, while reality demands we work together. The choice is ours.