Alex Jones’ unCivil War

Union soldier

Union soldier, Fourth of July parade. Photo by Callen Harty.

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.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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