Conspiracies have that mystique of the invisible and somehow represent a false confirmation of superiority, that of the individual who believes he can interpret the messages that remain hidden from the rest and that reveal to him or her what real reality is like.
Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus, Trump said in late February during a rally in South Carolina. A few minutes later, on the stage and surrounded by banners that read “Latinos for Trump” or the famous “Keep America Great” —which has evolved from the old motto “Make America Great Again” with which he won in 2016— pronounced a specific word: “hoax”. Farce or lie in Spanish.
The coronavirus according to Trump was an invention, a conspiracy prefabricated by his political rivals with a single objective: to snatch his reelection in 2020. The conspiracies are good at the president, and this is not the first nor, I am afraid, will be the last promote. Among his favorites are some such as the one that questions the nationality of former President Barack Obama or that of the “Chinese Virus” created in a laboratory in Wuhan. That is the most recent of all and has already caused attacks on the Asian community in cities like Seattle or New York.
The tendency that the American president has to create and believe in implausible – and ridiculous – theories is shared by many of his compatriots. To understand this, we have to look back to the foundations of a country whose soul is made , in part, by the influx of plots, conspiracies, and hoaxes.
The tendency that the American president has to create and believe in implausible – and ridiculous – theories is shared by many of his compatriots. To understand this we have to look back
The country that we know as the United States has a brief history that dates back to the 17th century, to the creation by the British empire of The Thirteen Colonies, a region in what is now the east of the country. In the colonies, production, commerce and taxes were regulated by the laws that came from the old continent. It was precisely these “ties” that triggered a change in the way colonists perceived British control. A change that was driven in a very peculiar way, by a farce made by one of the founding fathers of the United States; Samuel Adams. According to Adams everything seemed to indicate that the plans of the British empire were to plunder the resources of the colonies and make their inhabitants slaves to the crown.
Despite the lack of veracity, the conspiracy managed to filter through the cracks that the British empire had been opening thanks to the heavy hand applied to the settlers. Their poor economic freedom and dependence on the empire made Adams’ slave theory meaningful, and the colonists became impregnated with it. But what really made the lie spread was fear. Terror at the prospect of being subjugated — just like the African servants who mistreated themselves — was what really caused panic among the population.
Conspiracies spread like a poison that corrodes every fragment of rational thought. They have that mystique of the invisible and, somehow, represent a false confirmation of superiority, that of the individual who believes he can interpret the messages that remain hidden from the rest and that reveal to him or her what real reality is like. Ever since I came to the United States, I have been inundated by an incessant flow of plots and certainly intoxicating conspiracies. Conspiracies have an appeal that, if you neglect, hooks you.
In recent weeks friends and acquaintances of this country have not stopped talking to me about the rumors that revolve around the origin of the covid-19 disease, the most surprising one about 5G technology . Apparently, according to those related to this theory, the frequencies emitted by 5G weaken the immune system, leaving it so weak that a simple virus that would normally only cause a cold, ends up causing a fatal respiratory failure. They are right about the latter but not fundamentally, 5G does not affect health or at least it is not proven. Conspiracies play with the same thing: they mix truth and lies in a perfect cocktail.
A study from the University of Chicago published in 2014 revealed that half of Americans, more than 150 million people, believe in some kind of conspiracy theory.
The market for conspiracies is not small in this country, and despite how far-fetched some theories may seem, its adherence to the psyche of the Americans is possible. A study from the University of Chicagopublished in 2014 revealed that half of Americans, more than 150 million people, believe in some kind of conspiracy theory. This breeding ground partly explains some events that have taken place in the country, such as the election of Donald Trump. A period during which conspiracies and lies flourished, promoted even by Trump himself, then candidate, who was in charge of raising doubts about the campaign of Ted Cruz, one of his rivals in the Republican primaries, insinuating a connection – false – between the assassin of John F. Kennedy and Cruz’s father.
But let’s be fair, the president is not the only one in charge of fueling impossible theories – actor Woody Harrelson seems to credit the 5G theory. We’ve all heard of the famous Illuminati, the fake moon landing, and Elvis’ new life, along with Michael Jackson, probably on a lost ranch in American geography.
Conspiracies are absorbed stoically. It’s almost impossible to use data to make someone who believes in them see reason because even the numbers “are manipulable depending on your agenda,” as a Republican voter from Richmond, Virginia told me during the past Democratic primaries. Precisely, those elections have ended with the nomination of Joe Biden as the candidate to face Trump in 2020.
A candidate who, after the sexual harassment accusations of this past April, is also the center of all kinds of hoaxes and conspiracies that start from the premise that the Democrats cannot afford a candidate accused of harassment —no party should— and, consequently, they would already be looking to end their candidacy.
Curiously, the unfounded theories that revolve around this issue say that instead of choosing his opponent and second most voted candidate in the primaries – the socialist Bernie Sanders – the Democrats are going to replace Biden or the governor of New York. Andrew Cuomo, who before the rumors has already said that he would not appear , or by a joint candidacy of Hillary Clinton as president and Obama as vice president. Insane.
In a country with such a rich plot culture, charades spread at absurd speed. Just yesterday in Washington DC an acquaintance told me that his coworkers think that the virus was created in a laboratory in China with the intention of starting a bacteriological war and in the chat that he shared with his professional colleagues, messages such as “ we should nuke them ”in reference to China, which for some has carried out an act of war. This idea about the dubious origin of the virus is shared by thirty percent of Americans and also by the United States Secretary of Defense. Mike Pompeo, who thinks the coronavirus was artificially designed – making this lie even more dangerous by institutionalizing it.
During the pandemic, the entire world is witnessing a resurgence of hoaxes and rapidly consuming conspiracies. Something that has led us to be more polarized than ever
During the pandemic, the entire world is witnessing a resurgence of hoaxes and rapidly consuming conspiracies. Something that is not new on the other hand and, consequently, has led us to be more polarized than ever. We cannot underestimate the chaotic virtue and the ability to incite violence that conspiracies have, and if we do we will be falling into their trap.
The only way to confront those who fly the conspiracy flag is with empathy — the spokesmen for lies are the spearhead of a complex and elaborate system with clear political intent. Let us remember that they are not guilty of promoting lies, they are victims of manipulation – since unfortunately facts and science are not enough to extinguish the flame that fuels conspiracies and the risk of violent confrontation is too high.
The United States has in its DNA the tendency to believe in them. The Boston Massacre of 1770 was the social outbreak that lit the fuse so that the war of independence began five years later. That war would end thousands of deaths and the creation of a new country. That is why conspiracies are not fun or outlandish ideas, they have serious political and even historical consequences. Do you remember what generated the feeling of independence in the colonists of the Thirteen Colonies? Indeed, the Samuel Adams slave conspiracy.
We must learn from the history of the United States and realize that conspiracies are not harmless occurrences but a weapon that can be used against the established logical order. In this case, against democracy.