Members of Cult Terrorists Pay the Price for Political Theater
As the second impeachment trial of the former president rolls on, I can’t help but think of all the random Americans who turned into cultist, terrorist, insurrectionists as a result of the repeated chant to “Stop the Steal” from those who merely used it to deflect from the reality of defeat. This tactic, as discussed ad nauseum in this space, was openly declared for months and at every turn appeared to those familiar with dime-store propaganda to be a fabricated media smokescreen. For whatever the reasoning – delusion, irrationality, classic grifting – the fallout is the people who believe it, and those who act upon it; especially when specifically prodded by the perpetuator of The Big Lie.
I shan’t spend more than a sentence making the point that this behavior has been propagated since humans could communicate, sometimes to horrific results. Being suckered or brainwashed or riled up by the ravings of a megalomaniac is as common a human trait as love, jealousy, fear, and hate. It is baked into our DNA. We can’t help it. The thing that matters most are the lives of these people who seem to be (and I am only guessing here) so empty and bereft of emotional contentment that they seek outside sources to provide a level of self-esteem. Again, for whatever the reasoning there were a whole lot of people who bought into this thing with zero evidence and no logical framework. It was, for them, (another guess?) a brighter alternative than the ignominious ending to what they deemed as an imperative.
Some took to Facebook or chatted up their theories on Twitter. Still others made a placard and did some protesting or kept their election signs up on the lawn a few more weeks after the election. And while that last one is pathetic and a little sad, none of those things are criminal. I believe people have every right to think the earth is flat or that Tom Brady doesn’t cheat. Whatever gets you through the night. It is the criminal thing that we’re interested in here. Some people felt the need to act as if this was Armageddon, as if there was nothing left to lose. The desperate and disappointed among us are also a dime a dozen. In the grand pantheon of the human experience, the illusion of fate and doom can be powerful sparks to weird and violent actions. The results were on display on January 6.
I’m reminded of the most famous of these illusions, the Resurrection of Christ. I am using the word illusion; one might use faith – a belief in something with no tangible evidence. For me, as I delved into over ten years of research on this subject for my third book, Trailing Jesus, I was unceasingly intrigued by the refusal to abandon a movement as dramatically ingrained in the spirit of first century Palestine simply because of the systemic execution of its leader whom many believed was God. It was decided to ignore the gory facts of this and repeat that Jesus of Nazareth didn’t really die or that his purpose was to die, and whammo! you have a resurrection. Defeat? Nah, victory! The cults and violence that succeeded this story is the legend of western civilization. And the funny thing is, it had little to nothing to do with the original Jesus movement. For more on that, you can read my book.
Shameless plugging aside, let’s take the most famous of the Big Lie suckers, Q-Anon. Part of this belief depends on certain dates that would allegedly hand a divine intervention victory to the ousted president. January 6 as one of those, which brought many of them to Washington D.C. to commit crimes against the nation. The next date is March 4. Let’s see how that goes for them.
But cultists are easy targets. They look to something otherworldly (like resurrection) to cure the pain of loss. But what of the Proud Boys and The Oath Keepers, two right-wing extremist groups who plotted the attack on the Capitol and used the president’s January 6 “rally” to enact violence and mayhem? These political terrorist groups used the trauma of defeat as a call to action to overturn the results as a matter of “principle”. Political principle is as good a reason for terrorism, or as Osama bin Laden once jibed, “One man’s terrorist is one man’s freedom fighter.” But at least bin Laden (American intervention), like the IRA (draconian British colonialism) or even the Weathermen (Viet Nam draft), based their rage on something tangible, despite building its violent grievances on lies.
I look to the Kennedy Assassination to find where people like the Proud Boys live. For years the main reason for delving into conspiracy theories about the murder of the president in broad daylight was not the shock of the incident but the idea that a bumpkin communist with an antiquated rifle could cut down the mighty Camelot. Now, unlike The Big Lie of 2020, there is ample evidence that there were shenanigans with that incident, however, it does not explain the initial and continued motivation to find out something more befitting the magnitude of this tragedy – it had to be more – a government plot, a mafia hit, a vengeance jag for Fidel Castro. This falls under the category of hero/godhead worship, but in a more socially foundational construct. The country is being taken away from us is the theory here. The “rally” that ignited the violence of 1/6 was titled “Save America”. These guys heeded that call to arms.
This is the core of the Capitol insurrection, which began the moment the former president did not accept defeat and decided to jack up the demented into providing a reason to unleash their grievances upon the symbol of American democracy, inviting them to the place of their eventual crimes, and finally allowing, even cajoling them to run amok as he tweeted inflammatory rhetoric condemning the vice president and anyone not buying into The Big Lie for one last media event. Finally, and most egregiously, is the ignoring of a call for the national guard to protect fellow Americans. That is something for the Senate to debate. But, let’s face it; there is little chance that committing political suicide is available to already feckless Republican sycophants who once called the former president a conman, liar, psychopath and nonetheless did his bidding to maintain power. These cretins get to keep their gig and make like nothing happened. Good for them.
But what about the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, Q-Anon suckers? They are arrested, humiliated, their lives ruined. They will do time for this. They’re losing their jobs, what good standing they may have perpetuated as a front for their extremism, and for what? A revolution? As horrific as January 6 was, that is one sad revolution. They are now criminals. Terrorists. Maybe martyrs for the cause –
the ravaged butt end of The Big Lie? I wonder if they will be thinking of St. Peter’s last thoughts as they hung him upside down to die or St. Stephen’s bloody carcass lying beneath a torrent of stones. How did that all work out?
Not that I give a shit about any of these idiots, mind you. They’re adults. We all have to endure the consequences of our stupid shit, even though many of their lawyers are blaming this on all the brainwashing I covered above. You see, only presidents and rich people get away with stuff. These people are duly fucked and fucked for nothing. Nada. Bullshit. The ravings of a dung stain on history.
There is a lesson here. Maybe one person might read this and say, “Hey, the next time a stranger tells me something that only benefits his/her agenda, perhaps I should step back and think for myself before putting on a funny outfit and break shit and kill people or join some confusingly named group (come on, who doesn’t think of the Village People when you hear Proud Boys? You know you do). Politics, religion or cults are okay in their place. No point risking it all for any of it. Those things will fail you. Every time. And man, did the latest gaggle of the duped get jobbed on this one.