A cocktail of propaganda, conspiracy theories and propaganda – like drunkenness to the public in the darkest turning point in history – is creating confusion over the torments of January 6.
Months after supporters of the then-president stormed the Capitol on a winter’s day, Trump and his acolytes are taking this revisionism to a new and dangerous place—one of martyrs and heroes of war, and seeking revenge. It is a place where the cry of “Neele Jeevan ki Baat” has turned into the slogan “F—Neela”.
The fact reversal about the siege is the latest in oeuvre to contrast Trump’s collection of “big lies”, the most striking of which is that the election was stolen from him when it was not.
It’s rooted in the formula of powerful propaganda through the ages: Say it loud, say it often, say it with political power behind you, and people will believe. Once spread by pamphlets, posters and word of mouth, now spread with the swipe of a finger, the result is the same: a passionate, undeniable following.
The technique of glorifying one’s side and displaying the other’s with false information, if not outright lies, has been in practice since at least World War I, when the US government treated a German soldier as ape-human. The spirit for the purpose was aroused with posters depicting it. A willowy American young woman in his clutches. This faded after years after the horrific use of propaganda by Nazi Germany for the slaughter and subjugation of millions of people.
Whether from deceitful warmth or simply the arrogance of a defeated president, few methods are the same, such as telling the same construction over and over until it sticks.
Trump perfected the art of repetition—about “election fraud,” “rigged elections” and “large-scale voter fraud,” none of those allegations substantiated in dozens of court cases and official post-election audits. , but still there was a tangle between them. .
Four years ago, Trump appeared to equate white supremacists and racial justice protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his remarks that “there were great people on both sides.”
This time the very good people who were in this statement on January 6 were on one side: theirs.
For the other side — the police, overwhelmed for hours and bloodied in rebellion — Trump has only one face-to-face question that doubles as a four-word conspiracy theory: “Who killed the Ashley Babbit?”
Those words have become a viral mantra meant to elevate Babit to the cause of freedom as a righteous martyr. They revolve around mainline social media platforms where Trump is banned for spreading misinformation, but his followers are still praised. The woman died after a police officer was shot as she tried to climb through the broken glass panes towards the chamber of the House during the riots.
Babbitt has become the face of the rebellion – decked out on T-shirts and cheering in basement ballrooms in hotels across the country where conspiracy theorists gather to hang out. In Washington Street lamps and passersby are plastered on the building’s façade, marking the unveiling of a statue of Babbitt in Alexandria, near Virginia, at “high noon” in the Georgetown neighborhood, July 27.
Trump and many Republicans have cycled through various symptoms of rebellion, each iteration completely unlike the previous one. The attackers were disguised as leftist Antifa followers. Then he was called an overexcited tourist. Now they are declared as foot soldiers for freedom.
Each iteration requires Americans to ignore the anger that appears on their screens, and some lawmakers to ignore that they were among the attackers’ shocking targets that day. Hunts now admire hunters.
Taken together, revisionists and their believers are “floating in a vast sea of crap,” said Brendan Buck, once a former top aide to the Speaker of the House. Paul Ryan R-Vis.
The currents of that ocean are familiar to historians who study what drives some conspiracy theories and propaganda.
Dolores Albarasin, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of the forthcoming book “Creating Conspiracy Beliefs: How Our Thoughts Are Shaped,” said that once people catch a lie, they aren’t convinced they aren’t true. . “
Despite the well-documented facts about what happened on January 6, believers often dismiss anyone who tries to set them straight, claiming that they were either duped or part of a conspiracy. Yes, Albaracin said.
“Faith has a tool that protects it,” she said. “Nothing can invalidate a conspiracy theory. Trying to refute the theory proves the theory and signals you as a conspirator.”
DJ Peterson, an expert in authoritarianism and propaganda, is the president of Longview Global Advisors, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm and former director of Eurasia Group and the RAND Corporation. He said that in an online world full of information and a real world plagued by polarization, “you pick and choose what you want to believe, including sticking your head in the sand.”
Trump, Peterson said, is excellent at raising claims that propel his original supporters and tax them against other Americans.
“That’s where Trump’s power lies,” he said. “He’s good at picking up these threads … which lower the level of trust and create divisions.”
Recent polls are consistent in showing the country’s division over Trump and his post-election history. In short, two-thirds of the population is against it; Two-thirds Republican for that. In one of the latest, Quinnipiac found that 66% of Republicans believe the president Joe Biden to be elected illegally.
This number, and others like it in many polls, represent the millions of people who were tricked into believing allegations of election fraud that were thoroughly investigated and denied, including Trump’s own The Attorney General, William Barr, was also involved. Trump’s bastions have stuck and are now undermining efforts by him and those close to him to glorify the January 6th crowd.
“The consequence of lying is that you never go back to where you were before,” said Harvard historian Jill Lepore, whose podcast, “The Last Archive” deals with fraud, deceit and truth. , investigates. Our special moment “
About Trump, she said: “Their approach is usually just to create chaos so that people don’t really know which way to look.”
In case of rebellion, his followers looked away. An offensive amnesia seems to have captured how ugly it all was, even if the scenes that aired and streamed in real time are forever.
After a staged rally flocked to the Capitol, where Trump told them to “fight like hell,” and vowed that he’d be right there with them, the assailants defeated an overwhelming number of law enforcement officers, many of them injured. In one particularly gruesome case, an officer was crushed against a door by people pushing to get in, bleeding from his mouth as part of his face pressed against the glass of the door.
Inside lawmakers ran for their lives, hiding for hours as the crowd wandered the halls of Congress holding Trump’s flags. The attackers called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., and wanted Trump’s vice president, who was also there. “Hang Mike Pence,” he chanted.
Babbitt was part of a group that was trying to bang on the doors of the House Chamber as Capitol Police officers vacated the House floor and some members were still trapped in the upper gallery. Officers used furniture to put up barricades on the glass doors separating the hallway from the speaker’s lobby to try to stop the attackers, who were breaking the glass with their fists, flags and other objects.
Only three police officers were guarding the doors on the other side of the stacked furniture as at least 20 attackers tried to get in, shouting, “F—blue!” and “Break it!” One broke the glass of the door next to the officer’s head; Another warned officers that they would get hurt if they did not move out of the way.
A Capitol Police lieutenant pointed his gun. “gun!” “gun!” The attackers shouted as the hysteria reached fever pitch. They began to lift the Babbit up to climb through the window. The soldier fired one round.
Babit had a shoulder injury. She later died. The officer was cleared of wrongdoing, and his name was not released.
Trump now falsely says – and with a stream of repetition – that he was shot “right in the head.”
“They were there for a reason, the rigged election,” he told LBL a week ago. “They felt that the election was rigged. That’s why they were there. And they were peace loving people. These were great people. The crowd was incredible. And I mentioned the word love. Love – love in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Klepper reported from Providence, R.I.