Category: News

Weekend Links

My role throughout the pandemic (at least at work and friend circle) has been to be the croaking Cassandra of doom…and frankly I’m all too often proved right. On Monday we’re supposed to get some sort of sign as to what our summer could look like if we continue to ease out of lockdown, but between variants and the still skyhigh infection rates across the world, I feel like too much hope will be a bad idea.

We’re in an arms race with Mother Nature and the virus’ biological goal is different than ours. It just wants to replicate and spread. But us, we want to LIVE.

One of my brother’s wedding reception is next month and we have no idea if we’re going to be able to go. Jeff hasn’t seen his family in nearly three years. My best friend is getting married this fall. And I feel like I’m losing the ability to visualize the future after a year on restrictions. It’s brain melting.

ANYWAY. Onto the links.

Convince me I’m wrong:

I look forward to the war!

This story is tragic but gripping.

Ditto.

I’M SO EXCITED:

More good Netflix news, thank goodness.

The previous Leader of the Free World…is now…a blogger. I feel like I should retire. (Charlie Warzel has an interesting take.)

The US census reports the lowest birthrates in nearly a century. This seems to have prompting handwringing amongst the elders, the conservatives (and their problematic adjacent ideologies), and demographers alike. Meanwhile, every thirty-something I know chorused in a huge mob, YA THINK? However it’s not as straightforward as it may seem and lots of the downward trends are due to things we should objectively cheer (fewer teen and unplanned pregnancies’ are objectively good). The moral panic won’t dwindle of course.

Seems relevant.

I put on an actual outfit the other day and it was the most surreal set of sensations!

On the flip side…everything is selling to us now and that’s A Bad Thing.

NOT NOW, CHERNOBYL.

Apropos of nothing, Rep. Gaetz has a lot of loud opinions about how anyone on government existence should have mandatory drug testing. Thinking maybe we need to start with our so-called public servants first. Who guards the guardians, and all that? (Seriously, how does this failson still have his job?)

This this, a thousand times this: there is no such thing as a “low skill job.”

I don’t feel at all qualified to inform on the Israeli/Palestinian situation, even though I have a lot of opinions. But I’ll leave the explaniners to Vox.

Does this mean we’ve officially moved from 90s to early 2000s nostalgia? The cicadas and portmanteaued celebrities have risen again. The circle of life.

Weekend Links: Female Rage, Activated

We have a LOT to unpack, kittens.

General mood.

Today I learned

The first giant beauty brand has fallen under the axe of COVID. Or is there more to the story?

Amazon disrupted paid books, and it’s now disrupting the lending medium.

Feminism is a fractured movement. After all, what does a single mother in a favela have in common with a Manhattan socialite? Yet the pandemic—or more accurately, the economic shutdowns imposed to contain it—has affected women and girls around the world in remarkably similar ways.”

Our longest war never had much of a consistent (or legal, to my mind) justification. I remember arguing this point my freshman year of uni in a freshman writing class and I have never wavered in my thoughts on the matter. But it’s beyond clear at this point that so many people are unable to quit it, and unfortunately for us a lot of those people work at the Pentagon.

Gripping mystery.

I found this piece indescribably comforting because my brain has felt so broken for months now. Long COVID, “brain fog,” and other descriptions don’t come close to explaining it, even though both are accurate. My ability to focus is shot to hell right now.

Ouch. Right in the feels!

Nope, but I’m willing to bet the Catholic church gets there before the Mormon one does.

Nicely done, Guam. ‘Bout time.

HOOOOO BOY. Let’s talk about that Oprah + Sussex interview. There is literally no one better at interviewing than Oprah, no one.

A comprehensive take on the wider context.

For two generations, women who marry into the Royal Family have been expected to be thin, fertile—and silent. Meghan embodies all the negative stereotypes Britons have about our distant cousins across the Atlantic: too loud, too brash, too much. It will be beautifully ironic if this American can, by speaking out, change the tone of royal coverage in Britain.”

Much like No 10, the Palace has an undoable PR and comms job most days…but still, it took two days to come up with this hilariously inadequate response?

Couple complain about perceived abuses of media, media figures displays the exact same behavior in question, media figure loses job. IT’S THE WOMAN’S FAULT, SURELY. Full disclosure, I hate Piers Morgan and his particular brand of offensive oppinutainment and provocation. I like to think this sort of approach is on the decline but there are holdouts.

Misogyny is flying fast and thick this week, between the Sussex vitriol, the horrible murder of a woman here in the UK sparking discourse on women’s safety, and Tucker Carlson getting his ass handed to him by the Pentagon after he decided to turn his provocateur gaze on women in the military…and separate to his sustained and targeted attacks on a female journalist. Like Morgan, I can’t wait for this noxious brand of personality media to die.

And finally, our political system is WHOLLY INADEQUATE for this, but far from soundbites, we need actual deep philosophical discussions and substantive challenges on a number of political and policies. For example, what do we actually want out of a justice system? Because whether your ambition is “deter crime” or “rehabilitation” or ” appropriately retribute…” our political and social status quos aren’t necessarily aligned with our stated aims. Anyway, Abby puts it a lot better and more creatively than me:

Weekend Links – the Cataline Conspiracy, only stupid

Hi kittens, still depressed but getting better slowly.

Also, since I seem to be something of a statistic…are we all hitting a wall, or are we all just coming to grips with a series of crippling failures on top of one another? Strongly starting to suspect it may the latter.

First and foremost: how to help people in Texas right now.

Another crowdsourced masterdoc on how to help.

Long live Larry.

The best description I have for my ovearching feeling about Trump is contempt, he’s so pathetic and unworthy as both a person and a leader that I’m loathe to give him more credit than he’s due (even though I believe he’s responsible for so much damage). But I have no hesitation in saying that I hate Minority Leader McConnell. He’s very good at wielding power, and is a savvy politician, for which even I can admit to having a bizarre sort of grudging respect for sheer Machiavellian instinct. Years ago I told my brother that I thought he was the most important politician in DC and I stand by that…which is why I hate him so much. I hate him for choosing power over principle and if not embracing then condoning the very worst in our society if it kept him in power. More than anyone else in the Trump years, he could have chosen and steered a different path for our institutions, and every single time he didn’t. And even now, he tries to thread this needle as though the timing of the Senate trial wasn’t dictated by himself and I hate him for it.

Tl;dr: McConnell is clearly pulling a Ceasar as told by Sallust…and yeah, how did that go in the long run, Julius?

If they think they can just pretend he’ll go away, they’re delusional. And anyone who has ever known a malignant narcissist in a bad relationship will tell you, he will need to reassert control over you to protect his own self image (brand, if you will). And like a malignant narcissist in a bad relationship, he will compel you to do a lot of horrible things that in the long term are utterly against your own and everyone else’s wellbeing to keep you tied to him and in line.

Yeah…this is straight up eugenics.

Grim indictment of leadership.

PROTECT ELIZABTH ANN AT ALL COSTS.

More important Black History Month journalism, this time first person slavery accounts. I find it jarring but vitally important to see images of former slaves taken in the 20th century, similar to Civil War vets driving around in Model Ts. We are not nearly as far away from this history as people find comfort in thinking we are.

Pinning the blame for political violence on the lunatic fringe, rather than ordinary members of society, is a comforting lie folks tell themselves to avoid the reality of our political situation, how we’ve gotten to this point, and the possible futures leading forward from here.”

Yay, science!

Photo of the day.

Brava to FKA Twigs for confronting domestic abuse and violence as it should be done.

Control over our own bodies and reproductivity is foundational and fundamental to almost every other autonomous right women claim. It is the historical difference between our ability to be free individuals and citizens (it’s not a mistake that suffrage and reliable birth control came along at roughly the same time) and actual legal property. Anytime women lose this control, demand how, who did it, and why they did it or allowed it to happen. Wherever it happens.

Look, let’s be blunt. Ted Cruz, an anti-immigrationist, climate change denying, healthcare legislation enemy and bad faith blowhard needing to just “get a little break” from the ravages of huge weather catastrophe battering the area of the country it is quite literally his job to protect and represent, and so fleeing to a country he routinely derides for a luxury vacation…all against the BACKDROP of a once-in-a-generation public health crisis is almost too perfect an example of irony. Like, this was cooked up in the cosmic writers’ room in the ninth circle of hell, it’s that spot on. It’s objectively hilarious alongside being grim.

Much like Rush Limbaugh in passing, he deserves the derision he’s getting NOT because it’s fun to whale on people. Even if Senator Cruz seems to have made himself so unpleasant that even his allies have very little to say that’s positive about him. It’s because when you make it your entire lifelong career and personality to take public and powerful positions, and use actual power to back those positions ups, your actions and behavior can and should be judged against that body of work. And if the lens of attention is harsh, that’s truly on you to examine why that may be and make choices accordingly. Either do better, or double down into your own villainy; repent or commit. But for god’s sake stop whining to us all about cancel culture in bad faith.

Speaking of media literacy, journalist specializing in the topic of misinformation Charlie Warzel has a fascinating piece on the subject that made me think this week:

Weekend Links

Hi darlings, your internet aunty is deep in the throws of a depression spiral over here, so this note won’t be as perky or as snappy as usual. Like everyone else, I seem to have hit some kind of horrible wall recently. Must be the upcoming one year anniversary of our LATEST bout of existential threat or something. Seasonal depression, meets pandemic depression, meets normal depression.

In between multiple bouts of crying every day, I’ve slapped together a surprisingly good bunch of links for your reading pleasure. Seriously, there is a lot of great and fun stuff for you this week, just in case like me you are completely unable to summon any serotonin.

The Senate of the United States, having a normal one over here…

Our building has seemed suspiciously quiet for a while now

My long term thirst for Henry Cavill over most of the competition was and remains solid evident of my good taste. And is there any more petty but thrilling pleasure than when your aesthetic preference is also acknowledged to have been The Correct Choice? It’ so satisfying. The Man From UNCLE is still a great and underappreciated movie, though.

REDWALLLLLLL!

Oh good, only a year and change too late.

Friend of the Blog Caitlin Kelly strikes again, on how Bridgerton’s influence is only beginning, and how it’s giving whole communities of experts and enthusiasts their due.

Speaking of costuming, let me recommend a couple of channels and creators to truly send you down a rabbit hole this weekend:
Abby Cox, a dress historian specializing in the 18th century and not afraid to Go There when it comes to stuff you really want to know about boobs, periods, corsetry, and more. She’s also hilarious, historically rigorous, and just an overall feminist delight. Bernadette Banner, an Edwardian expert and former Broadway costumer who uses her personal experience with scoliosis to delve into dismantling myths about shapewear, highlights traditional craftsman and houses, and roasts fast fashion using medieval tailoring. She’s a babe. I particularly recommend her latest vid about the effects of Bridgerton on athleticwear. Yes, really.

Overdue but still very welcome for Black History Month. We would not have almost any genre of American music, much less global dittos, without the unique heritage of Black culture and pioneers.

Well well well, if it isn’t the consequences of our actions

What a badass.

Likewise, what a gent–even when no longer with us.

As per usual, Ronan Farrow (speaking to Amanour and Company) breaks down the differences in the insurrectionist mob of January 6th, what separates them, and what unites them in thoughtful and accessible ways. Worth a watch:

My honest to goodness reaction at seeing this story was, “OMG look at the itty bitty dinosaur!”

Anti-Asian racism and racist incidents are on the rise, including for Pacific Islanders and many ethnic and racial groups that come under that broad category. Don’t forget that we can and must advocate for several communities individually as well as under broad umbrellas such as “immigration” and “people of color.” If your privilege protects you against certain bigotries, stand up for individual communities as well as broad groups. These are not mutually exclusive.

Ignoring the headline, which I expect will put some people off, this is an excellent discussion on the role of conservatism can play in preserving democracy or breaking it. Ardent and die-hard leftist that I am, I actually agree with the thesis that it’s the behaviors of the right that really determine the path of governments because they are often the institutional guardians of what we retain and why, while the left’s role is (broadly speaking) to push for change. Both of the institutional tensions need to exist in healthy ways for democracy to work.

Good. Because I have no faith that the Senate will impose any consequences. Literally none.

This week I learned a fascinating piece of history for the first time, and one that showcases the complexities of racial privilege in America. Mixed race families, slavery and sexual consent, “passing,” and class differences all rolled into one, and a Second Lady you have never heard of.

I AM NOT A CAT. The 2021 battlecry of everyone who has utterly lost the Zoom plot.

Weekend Links

After a series of bizarre and bad decisions which has made the per capita infection rate in the UK the worst in the world there for a while, the nation does actually seem to have a grip on the vaccination efforts. LONG LIVE THE NHS.

We’re still likely to be stuck inside until the end of summer. …Hooray?

I’m still amazed no one was removed from office or public life because of this. We live in the upside down.

If you’ve been paying attention to the, uh, utterly ugly and bonkers “Rothschild space lasers” discourse, you may be asking, “Why is antisemitism present in practically every conspiracy theory?”

Extremism, [Mark] Pitcavage said, “is a perennial problem and needs to be dealt with institutionally.”

Grim. Jobs need to be lost over this.

RIP, Sir Tom Captain Moore.

One ecological disaster a time, please?!

If this is the future of influencers, I’ll take it.

If I never hear the screeching retort of, “What about ANTIFA?!” again, it will be too soon. It’s not an organized movement, it’s mostly a few whack job anarchists (opposed to organization by…design?), no leader, no comprehensive agenda, no common cause besides the superficial, and a hilarious amount of discordant ideas amongst the various factions who get slapped with the lable. They are NOT the equivalent of organized, hierarchied, and known fascist or extremist groups.

See above: left and right protests are not managed or policed in the same ways. I’m pretty sure I shared some links to reporting on research on this in a previous links post.

So, we can’t trust our elected government to ensure consequences? Thank goodness we have the…ridiculous US legal system – which has become one of the few ways to enforce personal and now corporate responsibility? Love that for us… (Hope it was worth it all, Fox News.) (ETA: hoo boy, trying HARD to avoid that lawsuit now, aren’t they?)

This post from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on how we must use the current moment to really reconsider our thinking about global health – often a euphemism for rich, western, white countries benevolently giving to poorer, non-European-descended ones to avoid having to think about the discrepancies in the first place – is worth your time. Globally and locally, public health is something that affects us all, it requires collaboration and participation – and for the love of god, adherence to science and research and not the feelings of a few people who are lucky enough to not have to worry about most communicable diseases and therefore think that means they aren’t really, or something.

Weekend Links

Kittens, I suspect even my mild case of COVID hit me harder than I thought it did. One month on and a persistent feeling of exhaustion remains, and I’m trying to figure out it it’s just the usual January blues, the pandemic lockdown blues, or the widely touted longer term effects of the disease which has officially killed over 100,000 people in the UK.

Chicken and egg, eh? Am I broken…or is the world just kinda like this now?

I have no conclusions. Scholars remain divided.

Anyway, in spite of…everything…there are moments of joy to celebrate. Hannah’s THIRD book was announced, and X got engaged! Truly friendships are the balm of the soul, I’m so delighted for my girl squad I could just bust. Here’s your usual mix of Deep and Dumb from the internet to get you through the last weekend of the first month of this sure-to-be-cursed year.

We are still finding out more about the Capitol raid and ProPublica has a great (if somewhat distressing) compliation piece on the POV from Parler before it lost its hosting options. Sidenote, the whole attempt by the GOP to just pretend that January 6th never happened is sort of making me lose my mind.

And as America has exported QAnon conspiracy theories across the Atlantic, European conspiracy theories and disinformation are also making their way to the United States.”

I think people aren’t nearly concerned enough with the Fermi paradox overall, but that’s just me. If the universe is empty but for us…why? And if it’s not…where is everybody?

Everything Is Broken. “If…the idea of mass brokenness seems both excruciatingly correct and also paralyzing, come sit with me. Being on a ship nearly 4 million square miles in area along with 330 million other people and realizing the entire hull is pockmarked with holes is terrifying. But being afraid to face this reality won’t make it less true. And this is the reality.”

100,000 people are dead in the UK and still these people

If you want it in a sentence, I guess it goes something like this: The GameStop saga is a ludicrous stock mania born of pandemic boredom and FOMO, piggybacking off of a clever Reddit revenge plot, which targeted hedge funds, who made a reckless bet on a struggling retailer—and it’s going to end with lots of people losing incredible amounts of money.” It was a wild week on Wall Street, fam.

Facts may not care about your feelings, but your partisan view does not care about facts. That’s bad and scary for all of us.

Trauma-bonded nostalgia for the 90s and how the 30-year cycle of reboots displays itself in pop culture and politics. Also summarized generational anxiety in its current form more succinctly than anything else I’ve come across: “…and young people don’t feel trapped by the future, because nobody believes in the future anymore.” But also a plea to give up on nostalgia and try brave and terrifying alternative possibilities instead.

My freshman year roommate at university and I had a theory, that The Emperor’s New Groove is the most quotable movie of all time and that there is a quote for practically every occasion. I have yet to be proved wrong.

The gamers are at it again.

Natalie strikes again. This video is nominally about TERF doublespeak, but as per usual, is also a parable for so many more issues related to bigotry and what underpins it. It’s also a timely examination as to how all kinds of groups use specific language techniques to have the conversations they WANT to have (“Why should I be forced to think trans identities are valid?”) instead of the conversation that actually IS happening (“Do people deserve respect, legal autonomy and human rights?”).

Weekend Links

It’s amazing how much better I have felt this week after the US inauguration. I didn’t realize until it was over how frightened I was for something ugly and dramatic to happen and disrupt or derail the day.

Now, the background buzzing dread of a pandemic badly handled in both my native and adopted countries, heightened political tensions, and general instability is still humming away. Don’t get me wrong, things are still bad, but I am enjoying the sensation that the institutions that govern a large portion of my and my loved ones lives aren’t actively making things worse on purpose.

In other words, I’m excited to return to a world of unintentional mistakes instead of willful ignorance or malicious intent. Humble goals, fam.

This week I’ve found plenty of fun things to read, but I’m clearly still concerned about the next phases of extremism and alternative realities which have taken over too many people’s lives. It’s a mistake to think that these worldviews or behaviors are going away.

Well, yo ho ho.

This article is a profile of a single person, but is an excellent perspective into the wider movement. “For her, QAnon was always less about Q and more about the crowdsourced search for truth. She loves assembling her own reality in real time, patching together shards of information and connecting them to the core narrative.”

I’ve shared this before but it’s worth reupping right now. Particularly the aspect of “forcing the end” in extremist movements, and in the wake of the Capitol storming. Yes, it’s the length of a film. Get some popcorn and watch it anyway.

So, what is going on with QAnon you ask? Well, predictably, some people are going through a faith and grief crisis…and already others are doubling down again. And they are already being targeted by other extremists groups for recruitment. Again.

A really interesting interview on why too many people (guilty!) are looking to European fascism in the 20th century to explain radicalism in the US and we need to look closer to home in our own Civil War and Reconstruction.

How to create a healthier media environment for yourself in 2021.

Honestly, just grim. Necessary (for both military and law enforcement more generally), but grim:

Oh look, that thing I’ve been worrying about for a long time now and fully anticipate we’ll have to deal with next.

WE’VE BEEN SCAMMED INTO BELIEVING Q!!!” a Telegram user declared. “WHAT NOW?!?!?! Indeed, random QAnon Avatar.

Palate cleanser of pure delight.

I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more VP coverage in general, as (not entirely unlike the role of First Lady), it’s a job that seems to get a lot of ceremonial attention but less practical. And in the last administration the coverage was frankly tabloidesque – understandably. That being said, I ate up this insight into the temporary VP residence with a spoon. I need that 18th century teal wallpaper.

And in a typical display of howling hypocrisy from me, loved this insight into inaugural fashion for Dr. Biden.

I’m still awash in delight at the Moment that Bridgerton has produced in the cultural zeitgeist. More fantasy! More women’s POV! More sex positivity! More over the top fluff just because it feels good and is fun to enjoy! At some point I’m going to have to do a full post on it. In the meantime, if over embellished tops and embroidery on the Zoom calls, tea sets, and thirsting over male forearms is the new normal, I’ll take it.

POW. Right in the feels

Apocalypse

It means “disclosure” or the “revelation of great knowledge.” Of course we’ve twisted the ancient Greek word for two millennia and layered new usages on it so it now means some kind of desolation, a wastescape. Some look forward to it, convinced it will benefit them (and deliberately harm or condemn their enemies), others view it primarily through the lens of media and pop culture usuage.

It’s fitting.

Trump’s presidency ends in mere hours when I’m typing theis and for all the harm and damage I believe it caused – which we will spend a long time repairing, from our pandemic response, to wealth inequality, to our national standing in the wider world – I do give it enormous credit for something important: it revealed.

It revealed the racism and misogyny still rooted deep in American history and institutions, and how insidious offshoots manifest everywhere.

It revealed the motives of extremists of all stripes. It promoted or sheltered ideologies by forgoing dog whistles in favor outright declarations.

It revealed how much of our government relies on honor and shame as preventatives – which both should bring some degree of comfort considering who has come before and what they have decided not to do, and should serve as testament how manifestly inadequate they are as guardrails in the

It revealed the collaboration between populism and plutocracy. It laid bare how specific audiences are whipped up to identity-based furor to claim power, before turning around using that power to benefit a very different audience entirely.

It revealed the difference between popularity and power. Both have limits and uses and taking the advice of Machiavelli to heart, the one that chooses power is likeliest to take the necessary steps to hold onto it even at the expense of popularity – or representing a majority of the people.

It revealed a cultural spirit of spite that I found genuinely breathtaking in its malice and breadth.

It revealed the fissures of race, class, and other identity markers and how

It revealed (or certainly reiterated) just how the tattered threads of our so-called safety net truly are, and therefore how fragile our overall systems are in the face of shock.

And finally, it was a powerful revelation to many, many groups of people that democracy requires and demands participation. And the administration provoked response and organization in truly unprecedented ways.

My greatest worry now is that with the intersecting challenges we face as a world and country, too many people will see a new administration as a chance to go back to complacency. Almost none of the circumstances which enabled this man and his people to come to power are resolved. Meaning, as exhausted as we all are and, it could happen again if we aren’t careful. My fear is that Americans tend to have short memories.

Weekend Links

How do we reattach people to reality and facts? This is the big philosophical thinking I’ve been debating in my own brain this past week and have no earthly idea what the answer is. Whether the need to behave in specific ways and take certain actions to control the spread of the pandemic, or the political unrest founded on outright conspiracy theories…how do you reach a consensus on truth when it’s the very thing that’s being “debated?” My brain hurts.

As you may have surmised, this week’s batch of links is a mix of grim current affairs and abject silliness wherever I found it. It will not solve any of your philosophical conundrums, but it will clear your skin and help you lose five pounds.

Who knows, it might. Truth is relative, after all.

Heh.

Yes, let’s talk about police response to broadly leftist and rightist protest activity in the US:

“Their hearts, minds and wallets were taken advantage of,” Ms. Mace said, her voice rising in fury. “Millions of people across the country who were lied to. These individuals, these hardworking Americans truly believe that the Congress can overturn the Electoral College.”

Take a moment to educate yourself about the memes and iconography that identify specific ideologies and groups.

Patriarchy is a big part of the problem, but it requires women’s involvement to work. See also, Trumpism.

He resigned before making these statements. (And reminder, they are not actually pro-police so much as they think the police are “against” they same groups they are, and the moment this is questioned, they turn. If you’re not with them, you’re against them. Because they’re fascists. Obligatory trigger warning.)

Oh, and theocratic nationalists…those too. Ultimately, the point it to have enough power to exert your power, regardless of being a minority, because you feel you are morally right to do so and that there is a genuinely a risk to society if you aren’t able to enact your agenda.

Brief palate cleanser time, let’s learn about peanut butter!

Meanwhile, in Britain, an optimistic timeline means Jeff and I will be vaccinated by…September. Woof.

National mythology is powerful and the stories we tell ourselves ABOUT ourselves are important. We need to rethink the framing of those stories. Desperately.

Damn, I might have to use Signal instead. And still I somehow justify using Instagram. I am hypocritical trash…

Shock. Surprise. Whomst could have guessed, etc. etc.

WOMB CANNIBALS.

Something something, “a few bad apples,” something.

Jesus. The long term effects of COVID on mental health are just starting to be understood but I feel that the final toll is going to be grim.

Influencers will be the end of us.

So…this is just going to get worse, huh?

If you have been feeling physically done in recently, you are not alone; and yes, Ms Rona is doing this to us.

When your worldview is a lie

I know I am not as sympathetic to those caught up in conspiratorial thinking as I logically could be. I know how the manipulation works, how media echo chambers function to reinforce the things you already believe or want to be true and insulate you against any difference of thought, and how radicalization works regardless of whether it sends you left or right, religious or secular.

Humans and groups are complex and there are no tidy narratives. I saw people attacking and beating police at the Capitol and I saw people ostensibly on the same side trying to protect those victims. I am sure there are people who never imagined that a protest would turn into a violent storming of the Capitol…but I am equally sure that there are people who knew exactly what they were doing and planned for it.

The evidence of this is mounting every day.

How they were meeting, coalescing, and coordinating on social media.

How specific some of their individual or group agendas were.

How they are not going to stop.

How more is already being planned.

Sympathy for the devil?

And so, no, I do not think of all of these people involved in the storming of the Capitols in exactly the same way…but I am struggling to parse the categories correctly. I think many of them are victims, but where does that victimhood end? In addition to willful bad actors, some were probably just caught up in a moment, the collective conscious of a mob. The vast majority of them have been lied to and isolated from alternative points of view for so long that many people do believe we are living through some kind of cataclysmic crisis.

If I believed some of those things, would I be willing to do something drastic about it? Yeah, if I’m honest with myself, I can see the appeal or at least the logic. Everyone likes to think that if put in the circumstances of history, that they would make the valiant and historically vindicated choice. Well, a lot of these people think that’s what’s happening and they are trying to make what they understand to be a valiant choice. There’s a strange sort of bravery in it.

The problem is…the underlying premise of their belief is deeply, tragically flawed. The people who converged might have nuances and differences, but underpinning all of them is a collective, fatal lie; that the election was invalid in some way.

What do we make of genuine attempts at heroism for a false cause? It’s the same logic of ISIS, the crusades, leftist eugenics of the late 19th, early 20th century, and more. Fervent commitment to a false cause is a human problem, it’s always been with us.

So, what do?

So while I want the people who did illegal and violent actions on January 6, 2020 to face the requisite legal repercussions for their actions, I still think the long term focus MUST be on the ecosystem that made this not just possible but probable. Garbage in, garbage out. We should hold people accountable for their individual actions, but we MUST hold responsible the people who should have been a check on the worst of this and didn’t. And yes, that includes the President, which is why I think impeaching him is the right thing to do. There needs to be deterrent for leaders and those in power from feeling able to leverage violence and extremism – whether through incitement, tacit approval, or passive acceptance – for their political benefit.

I don’t know what to do long-term, however, about the problem of living in alternate realities that are founded on these beliefs. QAnon believers still believe President Trump has a plan to take down a global pedophilia and hormone harvesting ring of Satan worshipers (yes…really…). NeoNazis are already spinning last week as a victory that validates their views and appeals to new recruits. Lots of various other groups believe that they are going to be marched into concentration camps, have their guns confiscated, that the government is about to enact martial law, and any other variance.

Each of these worldviews shares a trait: they have an almost religiously protective reaction to any attempts to persuade them otherwise. It reinforces their faith more than harms it. It’s why I wrote about giving up most of my attempts to argue with people who disagree with me with a view to convincing them – because I’ve lost confidence that it actually produces an effect.

But then, what will work? The only thing I can think of is rooting it out, which is also why I favor deplatforming and push back strongly when it’s called censorship. It isn’t.

We have to confront the ecosystems that create and sustain brittle and false worldviews. This is partly what activists mean when they want to dismantle white supremacy/racism/misogyny, or dispute terminology in a way that makes conservatives mad. It’s also what produces so much backlash against this activism – see paragraph above. If your worldview premises are challenged and they are somehow fundamental to your identity (religious, political, social, you name it), you might interpret a different opinion or movement as an attack. And you might respond accordingly–that’s exactly what’s happening.

We don’t have to be talking about “isms” for this logic to work. I could say the same same is true of the systems of education and media and politics in which we find ourselves, which have helped shape deep and entrenched identities. At a deep level, I’d say this gives insights into how left-leaning people like me position themselves and why. Because I don’t want to dismantle existing systems of power (white privilege, patriarchy, the worst iterations of wealth inequality, and so forth) because they are MEAN or UNFAIR–a criticism often lobbed which I think is juvenile and patronizing. I want them to end because they are founded on lies or false narratives.

We have to confront the lies at the core of these identities. Otherwise they will do what extremist and reactionary movements have always done – reconstitute themselves underground until they see another chance to break out again. History demonstrates this over and over.

The Big Lie

Ultimately I keep coming back to thinking about lynch mobs, that horribly American historical precedent. This is absolutely stemming from seeing a gallows erected on Capitol Hill. People are frantically debating whether it was meant to be symbolic or was intended to kill people…and I think that utterly misses the point.

It’s as useless an argument as whether we were supposed to take Trump “literally or seriously,” because ultimately…it doesn’t matter. The big lie enables and justifies either outcome. That’s why it’s so dangerous.

Looking at the history of lynchings in America, it is actually rare that every single person would have participated in the actual torture and murder of the victims, many would have been spectators or even treated it as some kind of ghoulish community event. But everyone in those crowds would have thought what was happening was “right,” “justified,” or even “righteous.” They would have believed that this action would have been taken because the victim, almost inevitably a person considered inferior or dangerous (whether Black, Jewish, German, Chinese, or any other group) “deserved it.”

You didn’t have to be the one slinging a rope over a tree limb to participate in the big lie of racism. They believed what they were doing was right, whether they watched from a picnic blanket or murdered with their bare hands. These might not be considered equivalently evil acts when viewed in isolation through a purely objective lens – but you can’t do that. Both are categorically underpinned and linked by the same false and evil premise and you cannot detach one from the other.

To do so is to capitulate to the lie. And ultimately, that’s what they want.