Show QAnon and the Big Lie for what they are: Homewreckers

Published: 5/7/2021 6:59:20 PM A few years ago a podcast I love, “Freakonomics,” did an episode on how the comic Superman helped t...

Published: 5/7/2021 6:59:20 PM

A few years ago a podcast I love, “Freakonomics,” did an episode on how the comic Superman helped to defeat the Ku Klux Klan when it got a rise in memberships back in the 1940s.

An informer in the Klan had bizarrely been feeding inside info passwords, handshakes, etc. to a writer of the show who put it out in the next week’s episode. Superman called on kids to fight discrimination, took on the Klan in the comic, and used all this inside dope on the Klan to make it a laughingstock among Superman fans, and from there to a larger part of America that did not previously care all that much about the Klan or stopping it. Klan membership dropped precipitously.

What we need now is a similar attack plan to take on QAnon and the epidemic of conspiracies among our fellow Americans, most notably the “Big Lie” of a stolen election.

You cannot argue a conspiracist back into the reality-based fold. But you can make such conspiracies’ what they really are: an indication that a loved one is losing touch with reality. Meaning we can and must broaden the pool of people who see QAnon and the Big Lie not as the odd quirk of a relative, crazy Uncle Joe!, but as the spiritual poison they are. And the danger they pose not only to the believers, but to their close family and friends. QAnon and the Big Lie are not some other forms of “flat earthers,” but a deliberate, cynical lie told and retold for a political purpose that is leaving the carnage of ruined marriages and wrecked families in its wake.

What we need is a good old fashioned public service announcement campaign. But updated a la the Lincoln project to run on all platforms, especially on Fox. (The comedian John Oliver used to do that: run ads on “Fox and Friends” specifically aimed at Trump himself!)

Gripping testimony from the husbands, wives, children and families of those whose lives were ruined by QAnon and the Big Lie should be flooding the airwaves and social media. They should be testifying on many screens to the devastation of their lives and the lives of others once they, or a loved one, had gone down that rabbit hole.

The insurrectionists now facing time should be testifying not only to Trump’s complicity, but to the utter cluelessness, the criminal cluelessness, that drew them into the disaster known as the insane clown insurrection. Everywhere and all at once we need to see the testimony of those who drank the Kool-Aid until they were blind drunk and woke up bereft of family, friends, jobs, and social standing.

We cannot argue conspiracists back into reality. But we can make such conspiracies appear as they are to the rest of us: a homewrecker.

The lingering image of the capitol insurrection in our collective consciousness should not be some moron in a Viking helmet sitting on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. It should be the daughter, son, wife, and husband who “lost” a loved one when they bought the Big Lie, and the ruin it left their family.

Similarly, in terms of changing policing in this country, the abolish the police movement may have helped tip some toward Trump last November. And that makes sense: folks do not always equate their local cop with the murderous Derek Chauvin. But if we want to change policing in America, we’ve got to show some heart for the cops too. So PSAs featuring police who did answer a mental health call and ended up hurting or killing the victim — and how it ruined them. “I didn’t become a cop to do that,” should be a rallying cry. We have to accept that not every cop who fired his gun or killed an innocent person went home and bragged of it. For some, it ruined their lives. We need to hear from them.

We need to take this fight directly to the heart of QAnon and The Big Lie country. Just as President Biden pitched his infrastructure plan in a deep red state, the left must stop thinking of itself as a blue state phenomenon. We need to get deep in those red weeds. And the point is not to get them to dump Trump or vote Democratic, but to see families ruined by conspiracy.

And we need to get our numbers right on this. A fascinating study in The Guardian recently makes the same case. Two-thirds of the respondents said they believed the election was legitimate. Another 27% said they believed the election had been stolen from Trump. “Trump supporters appeared angry, but also despondent, feeling powerless and uncertain they will become more involved in politics,” the article states.

The article goes on to say that focus groups indicated that Trump voters appeared to be much less threatened by Biden than they were by Obama, and were interested in what Biden’s post-pandemic recovery plan might do for them personally.

As was once done with the Klan via Superman, can be done again: we can’t talk conspiracists back into reality. But we can make the Big Lie seem to the rest of us like what it is: a cynical ploy that is ruining people’s lives.

Joe Gannon, an author and teacher, lives in Easthampton. He can be reached at

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Newsrust - US Top News: Show QAnon and the Big Lie for what they are: Homewreckers
Show QAnon and the Big Lie for what they are: Homewreckers
Newsrust - US Top News
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