One needs to look no further than the January 6, 2021 afternoon in Washington, DC to witness:
- the effect of the integration of the lack of facts based on truth,
- the power of technology, and
- the devastating results of conclusions drawn from imaginary facts.
Technically it is a tragic demonstration of the use of three skills – information, communications and technology.
Followers of the cult built up by a constant streaming of conspiracy theories and suggestions for “combat in the streets” nearly led to tragic consequences beyond the deaths of police and mayhem participants. Even the Vice President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President Pro-Tempore of the Senate were in serious harm’s way.
The fault lies in the constant stream of conspiracy theories initiated by creative cult members and transmitted widely – time and time again – by the President of the United States. Using the bully pulpit of the presidency and the technological power of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, the president repeated these theories over and over and over again – much as Josef Goebbels had said that repetition works. Accordingly, the president had no trouble in inciting an insurrection.
Pulitzer Prize winner, Eugene Robinson, writes a compelling opinion piece in the January 11, 2021 edition of the Washington Post. In this article, To Save American Democracy, Truth Needs to Beat Fantasy, he argues that the fight to save American democracy is just beginning and the outcome is far from certain. The stakes are clear, he argues . . . . it is a battle for objective truth to win over paranoid fantasy.
Yes, Trump may fade off into the sunset, but his would-be successors are not rejecting Trumpism. Not at all. They are embracing it and have seen how the application of lies (alternative facts or conspiracy theories) combined with powerful technological tools (Facebook and Twitter) to communicate these theories, can lead gullible followers to the conclusion that they must take to the streets. The past week demonstrates how this has worked successfully – and you can be certain that this success has not gone unnoticed by those from whom it originated.
As Eugene Robinson said, “If the American experiment is to survive, truth must win!”