When the Conspiracies Get Violent
The attack on Pelosi is an omen.
I have to give you a quick Jackal today because I have family in town, but obviously the big story is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home was attacked early this morning and her husband, Paul, was injured. While all the normal notions apply and we wish Mr. Pelosi and his wife a speedy recovery, if you are a smart person you can guess why this person attacked her and who did it.
Spoiler alert (that isn’t much of a spoiler these days): It was a right-wing conspiracy theorist who believed the election was stolen, the COVID vaccines were killing everyone, and that the January 6th Committee was a sham.
Given the nature of our post-January 6th world, and the fact that Republicans are more and more becoming the Party of conspiracies, I don’t think anyone can say this is a surprise. The attacker’s blog (which I’ll link to while giving you a warning) shows how easy it is to fall into a well of alternate reality nonsense. But if you get past that and read its contents, it actually starts to look more familiar. There are times when his blog sounds like a Tucker Carlson monologue, or something that was posted from Marjorie Tayler Greene’s press office. In other words, while the conspiracies are definitely not mainstream, they are quickly becoming more normal within the modern-day GOP.
Nichols was recently in a spat with National Review writer Dan MacLaughlin, who said that Republicans were preferable to Democrats because the GOP’s problem is “one angry old man,” and the Democrats are a problem as a Party.
Then this happened exactly one day later:
If you aren’t familiar, the “cabal” is the shadowy entity from QAnon, and they drink the blood of children in order to stay young. That theory was recently spouted by conservative journalist Lara Logan on Newsmax, which subsequently banned her from appearing on their network. Some things are too nutty even for Newsmax, apparently.
Currently 2/3 of all Republicans say that the 2020 election was not legitimate. They also obviously disagree with the Department of Justice’s investigation into Donald Trump, and elected Republican officials have warned that if Trump is indicted things will get violent. But violence isn’t a natural outflow of things happening in politics we don’t like; it’s a natural outflow of someone feeling like they’re no longer in control.
The reason conspiracy theorists are more likely to be violent is because the conspiracy industry has become too big to fail. In order to keep people tuned in, your conspiracy has to get more and more extreme and, therefore, more disconnected from reality. When you are convinced that a conspiracy theory has to be true and the real world doesn’t react, the “real world” starts to feel more and more unfair. If the Democrats are actually pedophiles who eat children, then violence against them on a day like January 6th is always going to feel justified.
The Boston Bombers were conspiracy theorists who believed the U.S. was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and that our government as a whole is evil and corrupt. Back then, they were considered to be on the Left, but obviously today the home base for 9/11 conspiracy theories is the GOP. At one time, Keith Ellison was the sole believer of the “theory” while he was in Congress. Now the GOP has Marjorie Tayler Greene, who not only endorsed the theory but also waxed poetic about Jewish space lasers. Behind Trump, she is the GOP’s biggest fundraiser. To deny that all of this is now the mainstream GOP is to deny reality.
This election cycle, the biggest star of the GOP is Kari Lake, who is running for governor in Arizona. She, like Greene, is such a forceful election denier that she secured Mike Lindell’s endorsement. Crucially, she said she wouldn’t have certified the 2020 election results in Arizona, which is a joke now, but it gets deadly serious once 2024 comes around and she follows through. (And Democrats aren’t innocent here either: They boosted Lake in the primaries because they thought her insanity would make her easier to beat.)
The most troubling part of all of this is that the muted response to the attack on Pelosi only demonstrates that political violence is becoming more and more normal in the GOP:
At least Jordan had the sense to delete it:
But even “normal” Republicans like Glenn Youngkin couldn’t help themselves:
This is all a reminder that when the base of the GOP is all-in on alternative realities and conspiracy theories, there are no good Republicans in office. They are content with lying to their constituents, even at their expense.
See all my babies next week.