Q Craziness And Unaddressed Evil
You can tolerate a Trumper. You can pity a Trumper. You can even understand a Trumper. But you can never reason with a Trumper.
As Ben Sasse, the junior senator from Nebraska, says in his anodyne way, “Something is really wrong here. Something deeper is going on.” A pundit cracked, “The problems may be deep, but Sasse clings to the surface of things.”
There’s an underlying parallel, if not symbiosis between Q crazies on the right, and their less numerous and dangerous counterparts on the left.
Indeed, 9.11 Truthers, who lean fervently to the left, were the precursors of the Q crowd that Trump and his ilk are milking and bilking today.
I knew that Dan, my longtime friend from philosophy grad school, had become a 9.11 Truther, and for a few years I cut him a lot of slack. There were a lot of strange things about that day, especially the collapse of the Twin Towers, that merited keeping an open mind as to who was actually behind the attack, and how complicit the Bush Administration was in it.
On the political level, my initial sense turned out to be correct: Willful neglect on the part of the Bush Administration, along with malign neglect on the part of the Saudi Arabian government, allowed Osama bin Laden to execute a diabolical plan from his safe haven in Afghanistan. (Fifteen of the 19 terrorists were from Saudi.)
Shortly after the attacks, my philosophical friend started to exhibit an idee fixe. Dan came to the conclusion that the US government was not only involved, but that it carried out the attacks, and he became obsessed about researching and giving talks about “the truth.”
We didn’t talk for a number of years. It was futile to try to reason with him, despite the fact that reason is his raison d’etre. I felt Dan had gone off the rails, but since he’s a dedicated rationalist, I thought he’d get back on track as the evidence for how the attacks occurred emerged.
We began talking regularly again during the pandemic. Dan called me on 1.6, and we talked about the psychological and philosophical basis of conspiracy mindedness behind the attack on the Capitol.
I proposed this insight: Whether on the right or the left, conspiracy mindedness is induced and driven when individuals emotionally experience the fact of evil without an adequate philosophy of evil that gives sufficient metaphysical explanation supporting effective response.
In that context, I brought up 9.11. I wanted to find out if the evidence of the event over the years had made a dent in Dan’s conspiratorial certainty. He not only reiterated his belief however, but added a detail that ended our philosophical discussions. “The planes weren’t flown into the Towers by terrorists, but were remote controlled from the ground by the CIA.”
The need to invent narratives like the 9.11 airliners were remote controlled by the US government, or that Democrats are part of a global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, is an emotional and psychological equivalency, but not a political one. The difference is quantitative rather than qualitative. Right-wing extremists are ascendant, and are taking over in America.
How do rational people respond to people who are no longer capable of rationality? Certainly not with reason, the cornerstone and crumbling foundation of the Enlightenment. One has to respond to conspiracy addicts at the emotional level, by confronting their unseen fears without inflaming their projected hatreds.
Evil is the toxic fog that has seeped into nearly every room in America. Darkness and evil have always existed in human consciousness and society of course. But there’s an unseen tipping point, when it becomes a permeating reality rather than a contained fact in a culture. And that tipping point in America came a decade before 9.11.
Unaddressed, evil has become psychologized to the point of being normalized. Unaddressed, it’s the underlying reason Republicans, who’ve completely sold their souls to white Christian nationalists, are likely to take back both the House and the Senate in November.
Then tyrant Trump will be back, “with a vengeance” as Kari Lake, self-proclaimed “Trump in a skirt” and likely next governor of Arizona, says. Then American democracy will be dead.
It’s not just that most Democrats are ignorant or indifferent to the MAGA evil; it’s that even the informed followers of Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC don’t really care.
“If you believe in democracy, you have to believe your fellow citizens are persuadable,” Hayes intones. To which Maddow echoes, “We have to persuade each other that we’re in this together.” Sounds a lot like Sasse.
Back in real America, the parents of the 20 first-graders children slaughtered at Sandy Hook were just awarded nearly a billion dollars in a defamation suit against the excremental Alex Jones, whose followers urinated on the graves of their children because they believed his lie that that evil never happened.
And today another school shooting verdict came in, regarding Parkland High School in Florida where 17 people, including 14 students, were machine-gunned. Parents howled in protest that the deranged and possessed boy who committed the act didn’t get the death penalty.
You can’t kill evil; the more you try, the more it spreads. You can’t individualize evil; the more you try, the more collective it becomes. You can’t psychologize evil; the more you try, the more normalized it becomes. And you can’t theologize evil; the more you try, the more the demons multiply.
Evil exists, and is a collective phenomenon in human consciousness Inward deadness is its means and end.
So on the individual level, what can one do? Face, own and learn from the darkness that’s within all of us. That gives protection, turns the tables on evil, and dissolves its source.