Friday, October 27, 2023


It doesn't surprise me that this happened on X (Twitter):
... shortly after the deadly mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine ... Media Matters found numerous heavily followed verified accounts claiming that the tragedy was actually a “false flag” attack that was staged or orchestrated by the government....

Ron Watkins, a QAnon conspiracy theorist and former Republican congressional candidate with over 412,000 followers on his formerly banned account, wrote: “Why is there a shooting every time they want to distract us? Do you know what a false flag is?”

Shadow of Ezra, which has over 134,000 followers, wrote: “FBI just staged another shooting. All major shooters end up having connections to the FBI.” The account also referenced a tweet by Vice President Kamala Harris about Congress passing an assault weapons ban and wrote: “One day before the false flag shooting in Maine, Kamala Harris' X account Tweeted this out. Must be just a coincidence right?”
Ron DeSantis said the shooting happened because the mental health system was ineffective:

Others on the right said the mental health system was too effective:

The new Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, blamed the shooting on the nature of "the human heart," but back in 2015, when he was a lawyer for anti-choice groups and Irin Carmon interviewed him, abortion was his go-to culprit for gun massacres:
... he said, “Many women use abortion as a form of birth control, you know, in certain segments of society, and it’s just shocking and sad, but this is where we are. When you break up the nuclear family, when you tell a generation of people that life has no value, no meaning, that it’s expendable, then you do wind up with school shooters.”
Even if you believe some of these theories, you can't believe all of them simultaneously. But if you think that's a flaw in the right's propaganda messaging, you don't understand how the messaging is supposed to work. The right puts out multiple theories to make sure every persuadable person has been exposed to several possible reasons why liberals and Democrats are lying and are thoroughly evil. (The mental health system, in this case, is part of the vast liberal conspiracy, as is the FBI.) The people who respond to this propaganda can select whichever theory or theories resonate with them, or just let all the theories wash over them, which conveys the impression that the enemy (us) is evil in countless ways.

Right-wing propaganda works like a drug cocktail that's used to fight a serious disease. If the disease agent gets past one of the drugs in the cocktail, it can still be killed by one of the other drugs. One drug might work on one part of the disease process and another drug might work on another part.

In this case, the disease that the multiple drugs work on is the truth -- namely that we have regular gun massacres because we have too many extremely deadly weapons in the hands of too many angry and unstable people. Anger at our gun culture can't be allowed to take root. So multiple drugs are deployed to fight it.

The same thing is true about the belief that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election. Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani made a number of crazy arguments -- they said, for instance, that some voting-machine software had been crafted in Venezuela by Hugo Chavez (who'd died seven years earlier). Even Trump himself reportedly found that absurd. But Trump has argued that dead people voted and that fake Biden ballots were slipped into a ballot-counting room in Georgia.

And if you don't like those conspiracy theories, Republicans have others. The new House speaker, Mike Johnson, led the effort to get House Republicans to sign on to an amicus brief in a Texas lawsuit that said other states had illegally changed their voting rules in response to the COVID pandemic in ways that cost Trump the election (even though Trump voters were eligible to take advantage of the new voting procedures). Other right-wingers argue that efforts to make voting easier that were financed by a Mark Zuckerberg organization rigged the election.

You might not buy all of these excuses for Trump's loss, but if you believe some, the drug cocktail is working. And that's how right-wing propaganda works. You can choose your favorite conspiracy -- and you'll get a lot of choices.

No comments: