Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Many years ago, a very sweet friend of mine said that she liked the idea of being brainwashed. She suggested that it would be wonderful to have a squeaky-clean brain. Well, look, I adored her, and her unusual perspective was one of the things I liked about her.
Her opinion notwithstanding, I think that most of us would agree that being brainwashed, with its implication of manipulation and the victims not thinking for themselves, is a bad thing. Another friend of mine, whom I also adore but he’s not nearly as cute as the first that I mentioned, posted a meme today on how to tell if you’re being brainwashed. Basically, it was a series of questions that are very popular modern conspiracy theories used to frighten voters against voting for Democratic candidates.
Being brainwashed means, as I’ve mentioned, being manipulated so you don’t think for yourself. In my opinion, our entire democracy and election process depends on people thinking for themselves, so brainwashing undermines that process. In fact, it’s why I won’t align with either party. Although I often tend to lean Democrat, I prefer listening to the candidates, looking at their track records and voting for the best person, not the party affiliation. The funny thing is that if you look at these very well-known conspiracy theories, it doesn’t take much thought to realize how ridiculous they really are. So, let’s go through a few of these, shall we?
One of the comments was that you might be brainwashed if you believe that Democrats will take your guns away. Well, yeah, no kidding. Taking guns away was never on the table. Some will say that gun ownership is a Constitutional right, but I’ve often wondered about this. It’s kind of an open interpretation since, specifically, the Constitution mentions a well-regulated militia, and individual gun ownership does not constitute militia membership, and it certainly isn’t well-regulated. But whether or not it’s a Constitutional right is a moot point. It’s just who we are as Americans. Heck, I myself used to own a 50-calibur magnum handgun and am seriously considering getting another. But suppose, just for the sake of argument, that some fool party were to try to pass a law making gun ownership illegal. What police department in their right mind will actually try to enforce that law? This is a ridiculous thing to believe.
Another is that if you believe your children are not allowed to pray in school you might be brainwashed. In fact, another part of this same meme says something about a war on Christianity, or even saying “Merry Christmas”. I often actually laugh when I hear these things. Our nation was founded on the principle of religious freedom, which means believing and practicing in accordance with individual beliefs, be them Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Taoist, or any religion, INCLUDING Christianity. It is such a critical founding principle that the Constitution, the highest law of the land, forbids Congress from passing any law that “regulate an establishment of religion, prohibit free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech”. This means that the Democratic party can no more abolish Christian practices than Republicans can declare the United States a Christian nation.
One of the more bizarre notions is that you might be brainwashed if you believe that American flags can’t be flown or shown at schools. This one is just crazy. I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever seen a school that DOESN’T fly the American flag. Where did this come from? Yes, the American flag can be shown in school, and yes, the Pledge of Allegiance can be said, honestly almost any time by anybody.
Let’s talk about just one last one, a modern one that says that if you believe that your social media site deletes religious photos because someone might be offended then you might be brainwashed. Yeah, this is nonsense. Just look at my news feed. With a plethora of Christian friends (a religion that I respect and friends that I love) my social media news feed is filled with Christian images. In fact, I see Hindu images from my Hindu friends, and Muslim images from my Muslim friends. Now, I should probably add a caveat that religious images from any faith that contain disturbing images probably ARE deleted. For a time (and I imagine it’s still true), the so-called “Right to Life” group seemed to have a penchant for showing particularly graphic images they claimed to be from abortion clinics (many of which were proven to be hoaxes by the way) as a way of dissuading people from supporting Pro-Choice. These images I’m sure are deleted.
This is why it’s so important to think for yourself. There is a lot of misleading information and outright lies, especially with the encroaching election. If people actually started thinking logically, the power of these conspiracy theorists would be lost.