The recent NFL Super Bowl and its political equivalent, the attempted second impeachment of former President Donald Trump, shows just how much North America loves a big show on the biggest stage!
With televised impeachment proceedings in the US Senate, political-theatre-meets-democracy-meets-conspiracy was out on full display. Even more so, it unfurled a roadmap of where America might be heading.
We have now reached an era where publicly theorising that ‘Jewish space lasers are setting forest fires in California’ is a rational opinion to have as an elected official of the US government. (If only the great comedic genius of Mel Brooks was here to offer his insightful commentary…)
On the flip side, laser-fearing newly-elected Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene had the wherewithal to do the courtesy of clarifying that, in fact, the tragedy of September 11th did happen.
So that’s nice. Here, we call that progress enough for a beer.
It all makes society an interesting place to be. Let’s put aside the buffoonery of the statement about a possible cabal operating a secret Death Star, or how one assembles the rational to support that idea. What’s scarier is the fact many people are either okay, indifferent or unaware of the blatant anti-Semitism behind it. This is just one small snap- shot of many troubling themes, albeit only for some, that Congresswomen Taylor Greene is associated with.
Yet she remains very well supported and endorsed by her elected Republican colleagues in Washington. It speaks to the fear and power that Trump and his supporters still wield. Which circles back to the impeachment.
The tolerance for what was once considered abhorrent behaviour, such as anti-Semitism, from an elected or public official has been thoroughly obliterated by the Trump era. It is hard to draw a defining line around things civil society once regarded as outlandish taboos when nothing seems too inappropriate for rational consideration.
So, believing that Trump should escape punishment for inciting the Capitol insurrection isn’t a big stretch from believing in renegade space lasers. Without a middle ground from which we can balance all other issues and behaviours, it makes it harder to pinpoint those actions and beliefs that are truly harmful or dangerous. So when you try to engage in public debate and reasonable discourse, it makes it nearly impossible to agree on not just the rules, but also what constitute facts.
The problem with breaking rules or conventional norms is, most often, the biggest consequence is simply the unfiltered reality that usually nothing happens. No scathing public outrage or civil protests ensue. The goal posts that mark the middle ground simply shift. Then again. And again.
Much can and has been said by those smarter than I about how we’ve all arrive at this position. However, one thing I feel is greatly over-looked is the idea of false idols. The people who followed their beliefs right into the public insurrection against the US Government did so believing someone else’s fictional truth over the reality facing the rest of us.
Believing the intoxicating words of Trump and his allies that fuelled their followers’ fears and aggression has, and will, bring many to ruin – especially with Federal charges looming. Prison, not political victory, awaits many. And where was their leader? Absent. They were not pardoned nor will they escape punishment.
Whipped into a frenzy by Trump and his mouthpieces, the most violent and ardent followers are fuelled by fear. Real fear that the government, the ‘left’ and ‘liberals,’ will come and take their freedom if they don’t fight back. Many are born-again Christians who feel Trump was sent by Jesus, and believe God is on their side.
It is easier to believe something when consumed with blind devotion, rather than take the difficult path of researching facts independently, which are often complicated, multidimensional and non-linear. However, North American’s love things in appealing and simple packaging that takes little effort to consume. When the formula is applied to public debate, it makes it so much easier to package and serve a specific agenda that people readily devour.
Problems are tangled in webs; there is never a simple straight line between problem and solution. You need to use a simple formula for delivering your message, one that makes it easier to swallow – such as ‘immigrants are bad’ and ‘the election was stolen’. People are being given permission to believe and fear false realities perpetuated by false idols who co-opt religion, economic hardship and people’s longing for a better life.
The need to vilify and demonise others by Trump supporters has clouded the eyes and minds of those who feel strongly about their cause. Religion teaches us to forgive, empathise, understand and accept. Instead, it seems God has been drafted first overall by the extreme right and is their goalkeeper. They are using religion to provide the perfect cover behind which they shield their non-sensical beliefs, while exploiting vulnerable people for personal gain.
The growing culture taking root in North America, fuelled by social media, fear, ignorance, faith and foolhardiness, is alluring. Which is why, now more than ever, people should be using this test of faith to resist the temptations of false idols and prophets, and instead believe the messaging at the heart of all major religions; love and understanding.
Besides, I’m pretty sure God wouldn’t approve of his supporters beating police officers to death who were defending the very Government the mob was trying to ‘save’.
Sean Ellard is a professional feature writer for CBR.com and a former senior national news producer. He has also served as director/producer for a number of TV series, including Border Security: Canada’s/ America’s Front Line, Yukon Gold, Love It or List It and 60 Minutes International. Follow him on Twitter at [email protected]
Picture: Donald Trump supporters pictured after they forced their way into the US Capitol in Washington on 6th January. The trespassers were ‘whipped into a frenzy by Trump and his mouth-pieces… the most violent and ardent followers are fuelled by fear.’ (Mike Theiler, Reuters).