Political Thoughts by Richard Bleil
There’s an old saying that you can lead a cow upstairs, but never back down again. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it sounds reasonable. There’s no doubt it’s easier for a cow to see and navigate stairs up, but more difficult back down. I heard this as an old practical joke, that you can lead a cow upstairs and leave it for the victim of the joke.
Whether it’s true or not, it seems emblematic of modern politics. In Canada (as I write this although it may have been resolved by now), truckers are on strike as they protest mask mandates. I do not know the explicit mandates that has them upset, but here in America, mask mandates have become highly politicized to the point of absurdity. Some of the stories surrounding the pandemic is borderline comical if it weren’t so sad. There are those who believe that the government is putting microchips in each dose so the government can track us. Never mind that most of us are not even interesting enough to keep tabs on, never mind the fact that a microchip small enough to be injected through a syringe wouldn’t have the power to last or even have a charge long enough to last. And who is paying for these microchips?
I guess it’s insulting to think of the people who believe in that in terms of cattle, but what else could you think of them? They believe it because they have been led, by their nose ring, up those stairs of conspiracy theories. The analogy becomes stronger because, frankly, once they’re up those stairs, it’s impossible to lead them back down to reality.
Take the conspiracy of a stole election. Roughly a third of our country believed this lie simply because they didn’t want to consider the possibility of their lord and savior actually losing an election. After multiple attempts, official recount after recount and even illegal recounts paid for by the losing candidate failed to find evidence of voter fraud or the votes to turn the results in even the tightest states, people still believe this conspiracy. They’ve gone up those stairs and cannot come back down again. What’s more, today far more evidence of wrongdoing, of threats and pressure on voting officials, after fabricated electoral voter registrations, there are still those holding onto the dream of a stolen election and that their candidate will somehow be miraculously reinstated as president. It seems that there is simply now way to lead them back down to reality.
And, yes, it matters. In the 1950’s, there were 15,000 cases of polio in the United States. In the 1960’s, it was down to about 100, and less in the 1970’s. Unfortunately, the symptoms of autism begin to show about the time that vaccines are supposed to be scheduled for children. Because an actor claimed that Autism is caused by vaccinations, suddenly the “anti-vax” movement begins, and “holistic healing” grows. People who are tired of “big pharma”, feeling like the are being controlled by the government, allow themselves to be controlled by the growing and highly profitable holistic anti-vax movement. Polio, on the verge of being eliminated entirely, is suddenly back on the rise today. Those led up the conspiratorial stairs cannot believe the science, the doctors and the legitimate research that indicates that there is no verifiable link between the vaccinations and autism.
Not to say that there are not some natural remedies and that we are often too quick to turn to drugs. I had a bad cold a few years back, and one of my friends (very much into holistic healing) suggested a “natural remedy”, saying that people who take it, often get over their cold in just one or two weeks. The irony, of course, is that if you do nothing at all most colds are over in that time period anyway.
Many people who buy into these conspiracy theories will tell you that they are “thinking for themselves”, but of course, I don’t believe it. Simple logic destroys most of these conspiracy theories, and anybody truly thinking of themselves would realize this. The conspiracy theory network really took root during the Clinton years, when a right-wing commentator said that liberals were selling children out of the basement of a pizzeria in New York City, the original “pizza-gate”. The story was, of course, absurd and had no evidence to back it up whatsoever, and, in fact, the pizzeria in question doesn’t even have a basement. Somehow, though, that didn’t stop a gunman who had been led up those stairs from shooting up the establishment believing the conspiracy theory.
Perhaps I’d been led up my own stairs. It’s easy to do. I don’t believe, for example, in “dark matter”, a convenient explanation for a scientific observation that we do not currently understand, and yet many people have taken this theory to heart. Maybe I’m right, or maybe they are, but with no evidence to date to support the theory, so many people believe it. Of course, this is not necessarily a bad thing. You don’t usually hear people shouting “DARK MATTER” as they shoot up a public place.