Conspiracies and lies

These words from Sir Walter Scott are a good fit for The Reawaken America Tour: Oh what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive.

Conspiracy theories and lies dominated the 18 hours of this event, and thousands of people cheered and clapped and shouted “Amen!” They were there for a show, and the speakers met their expectations. The underlying deceptions of this event began with its naming. It was publicly advertised as a Fresh Roasted Coffee Fest and Expo in Rochester/Batavia, yet this was always their advertising for the people who actually came:

In Batavia, the theme of the event was “The Great Reawakening vs. The Great Reset.” When the tour began in 2021, it was billed as a “Health and Freedom” event. Organizers often described it as featuring a host of speakers on freedom, faith, health, and family values. However, the event now focused on the idea of a conspiracy of “the global elite” trying to control the world through many nefarious means, including COVID mandates and vaccines. “The Great Reset” is a term coined in 2010 in a book on global economics and social/political changes and used again in 2020 in a book by Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum (WEF), who wrote about how COVID-19 was changing everything and provided an opportunity to “reset” how we work together to create a more resilient, sustainable world. How did that become an evil, demonic threat to the health and freedom of Americans?

Eric Trump, Michael Flynn, Kash Patel, Mike Lindell, and Clay Clark headlined this event and, along with many other speakers, used the same false narratives of the “stolen” 2020 election, ongoing election fraud (by Democrats), and now the “politicizing” and “weaponizing” of the DOJ and the FBI (e.g. the FBI “raid” on Mar-a-Lago) to stir up the receptive crowd. Shouts of affirmation, applause, even standing ovations was the consistent response from the audience.

The presentations were filled with inter-related conspiracies that share one common theme: “trust no one from the outside.” You cannot trust the mainstream media, the government, politicians, researchers, scientists, etc. You can only believe what we tell you. This was one of several cult-like characteristics of this event – indeed, of a worldwide movement of which this tour is but one part. And the movement is characterized by deceptive use of language, demonizing of “the Left,” and declaring leaders of the movement as the only hope.

Victor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, has been elevated with Donald Trump to this heroic role. Orban spoke at a July 2022 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) event in Dallas: “I’m here to tell you that we should unite forces … in a battle for Western Civilization.”

This PBS News Hour segment both highlights his CPAC appearance and ways this movement in the U.S. has worked with Orban’s authoritarian dominance in Hungary. (See here for his full CPAC speech.)

Sarah Posner writes that “In a 2014 speech, Orbán claimed liberal values ‘embody corruption, sex and violence’; predicted that the successful nations of the future would reject these values and draw inspiration instead from Russia, China, or Turkey; and claimed that nongovernmental organizations working on building up civil society were actually ‘paid political activists who are attempting to enforce foreign interests here in Hungary.’ (“Unholy,” p. 226, Random House Publishing Group, Kindle Edition)

She connects Orban directly to Donald Trump: “At this critical moment in American history, when the democratic experiment hangs in the balance, this totalizing political and religious culture, rooted in a white Christian nationalist political ideology, was tailor-made to go to the mat for Trump. For Trump’s white evangelical supporters, defending him became indistinguishable from defending white Christian America.” (pp. 259-260) That describes my experience at this event.

What can we do? – We can challenge every deception, every lie, every conspiracy. Wherever we see or hear someone state what we “know” to be false, challenge it. Confront them. Don’t ignore it. Be respectful of the person. Avoid aggressive communication, but be assertive in what we say and how we say it. And stand our ground, not being argumentative, but being confident. Research diverse sources, trust our discernment, and speak up. We can do this.

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Can you imagine a world of compassion and justice? How do we replace fear with hope for a better world? What can we do every day to build such a world? ... These questions are at the heart of what I write about. Follow my blog. Join Imagine - a learning community working for a better world. Let's do it together.

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