QAnon is clearly a dangerous phenomenon because it is impacting the foundations of the American Way of Life. Those who are concerned — as am I — about QAnon tend to go beyond mere concern to demonize — as, I realize, I have — QAnon believers, but as I read an article this morning about the conspiracy theorists, it occurred to me that many of us (almost all of us?) have been caught up in conspiracy theories at one time or another.
That does not justify anyone — myself included — falling for a phenomenon that Hitler christened “the Big Lie.” For example, I still “believe” that Oswald and Sirhan acted at the behest of Sam Giancana’s mob to assassinate JFK and RFK. Even though I acknowledge that opinions and beliefs are not facts, I still hold true to my belief in what I’ve read and heard about Giancana’s involvement, which could very well be a Big Lie. It’s what we American suckers do: latch on to plausible big lies.
“There’s a sucker born every minute,” is a quote attributed to P.T. Barnum, but despite Barnum’s relationship to what precipitated it, the person responsible for the quote is identified in this article: The REAL Story Behind the Quote: “There’s a sucker born every minute.“ The takeaway from the article is that regardless of its origin, the point made by the quote is justified. We are the USA: The United Suckers of America.
Millions of Americans in the 1960s bought LBJ’s Big Lie that America was winning the Viet Nam War, just as millions of Americans have bought into Trump’s Big Lie that Biden stole the election or QAnon’s Big Lie now referred to as Pizzagate. We all need to be diligent about acting upon the information to which we are exposed. We need to beware the power that can be generated by Big Lies — something Hitler used to consolidate power — and acknowledge that a master writer of fiction can create a scenario so complete with detail that we can imagine the plausibility of something that is actually a Big Lie. It happens hundreds of times every year in a form that we literally buy: they’re called novels. And to me, QAnon’s claims read precisely like a serial novel written by a particularly devious (albeit clever) author.
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(Image of P.T. Barnum is unattributed (Harvard Library) (Public domain) via Wikimedia Commons; no copyright infringement is intended in the use of the image nor is there an intent on the part of the blogger to monetize the use of the image in this post)