While I have been enjoying the hundreds of memes belittling Alex Jones for positing that the Democrats would start a second Civil War on Independence Day, there is an underlying creepiness about him that makes everything he says and does just a little less funny.
It is easy enough to dismiss conspiracy theorists like Jones as wacked out right-wing nut jobs, but the thing is he is not crazy. He knows exactly what he is doing. He is a manipulator of the gray area between truth and lies, and oftentimes just a liar, plain and simple. He is a cold, calculating purveyor of lies that advance a political agenda. He likely doesn’t believe a word that comes out of his own mouth, but his followers do, and that is the reason he is so dangerous. By putting forth untruth as truth, such as stories about Hillary Clinton as a child sex trafficker, Democrats planning mass civil war, the Sandy Hook massacre as a staged event, the moon landing as fake, and countless theories about the federal government masterminding things like the Oklahoma City bombing, he helps create a world in which a Civil War is possible. Maybe not today, but as an expected eventuality.
Those on the right, including Donald Trump, who talk about killing journalists, fake news, protecting the Second Amendment so that citizens can take up arms against an evil government out to get them, and more, have created a society in which its own people are ready to take up arms against each other over imagined slights and unrealistic horrors. Decrying journalists and news as fake undermines freedom of the press and the very real job of journalists to uncover and report the truth, even when it is uncomfortable. When repeated enough, people start believing that “fake news” is truth and real news is nothing but lies made up to destroy the politicians that they love. Stating that immigrants are evil monsters makes them less than human and sets it up so that putting them in cages, separated from their children, seems like the right thing to do for those who believe their leaders. Milo Yiannopoulos making a statement that he “can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists” is an invitation to gun down journalists. Saying later that it was a joke and that he was just trolling does not take away the fact that seven journalists were shot and five of them died within days of his statement.
The known blowhards on the right, who spout such grotesqueries that those on the left simply dismiss them as nut jobs, are truly dangerous villains. From Rush Limbaugh to the countless corporate shills on Fox “News”, to Donald Trump and his apologists, to Alex Jones, they are all laying the groundwork for the bloody Civil War that Jones predicted the Democrats would start. They have normalized ideas that even a couple decades ago would have been laughable to all but a few.
If there is found a legitimate reason to impeach Trump, those blowhards have already predicted that the Democrats would try to impeach him and have already suggested that his supporters may need to take up arms to defend him and this great country. It may not matter whether there is legitimate cause for impeachment, or whether it comes from mainstream Republicans or Democrats–as they are both the enemy to the far-right–the followers have already been led to believe that it is already planned and they need to be prepared to defend their President. If it happens, Alex Jones and the others were right. If it doesn’t, it will soon enough be easily forgotten while the next outrageous conspiracy theory starts to gain traction.
Alex Jones is smart enough to know that the Democrats aren’t organized enough to win elections they should win, let alone even think about an armed insurrection such as what happened in 1776. But he also knows that repeatedly putting the idea of Civil War out there–as he has done repeatedly over the years–makes it something that seems inevitable to his followers and those on the right who distrust every aspect of government. It also tells those on the left they need to be prepared for it and makes the scenario a very real possibility. When something is that inevitable, one simply has to decide for which side they are going to fight. Some have already made that choice.