If it seems like Republicans live in a different world these days, it’s because they do. The furor over critical race theory (CRT) is a great example. Conservative think tanks seized on a term used in a handful of high-level college courses, spent years honing a message that made it seem like American school children were taught that being white meant being intrinsically evil, packed that message up for both Republican candidates and right-wing media, and conducted a coordinated release that has disrupted school board meetings coast to coast and led to the passage of complete nonsense like Texas’ 1836 project. It also led to Matt Gaetz getting utterly blasted out of the water when he tried to suggest that the American military shouldn’t concern itself with racism. But don’t worry—when that incident gets shown on Fox, Gaetz will be the hero.
In the last five years, Fox News and other traditional conservative media had an opportunity. They could push away from the lies being spread by Donald Trump and move to a position where they defended conservative positions while becoming more truthful. They went the other way. Like Republicans at every level, they jumped on the conspiracy train, throwing in their lot with pundits who regularly undercut reality and encourage conspiracies that are extraordinarily corrosive to the nation.
If the way CRT appears to be sweeping over communities without any connection to reality seems odd, the rants of people like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson are only the tip of a fascistic iceberg. Right-wing websites are filled with stories about the “woke apparatchiks” who dominate the U.S. military, the “psycho Marxists” behind American education, multiple articles about how Don Lemmon’s cookie jar shows that there’s no such thing as racism (yes, seriously), and explanations of how white people are the least racist people in the United States. If the level of vaccine resistance among Republicans seems hard to fathom, there are plenty of articles about the “horrific side effects” of COVID-19 vaccines—including how women are having miscarriages just from being near someone who was vaccinated.
But to really see what Republicans are inviting into their homes each day, here’s a clip from OAN in which a commentary happily calls for mass executions of Americans.
In less than one minute, One America News Network correspondent Pearson Sharp goes from a contention that the election was stolen to an insistence that staging such a “coup” would require “tens of thousands” of people, to a recommendation of a “very good solution”—executions.
At no point is there even a suggestion that the election might not have been stolen. Neither does he pause for a second to ponder how a conspiracy as large as the one he posits wasn’t easily revealed. And naturally, in reeling off a list of states where he contends that “audits” are sure to uncover problems, he ticks off Michigan despite the fact that a Republican-led commission there has concluded that it found no evidence of election fraud.
As might be expected, this particular little speech is being met with great excitement on right-wing social media and chat rooms. Just as on OAN, no one is questioning the idea that a massive unseen conspiracy denied Trump another chance to keep not delivering on vaccines, or any of the other things he promised. They’re moving on to celebrating the idea that OAN must be aware something big is coming. They’re excited about getting to see those mass executions. They’re hoping that they come soon, soon, soon. And they’re all speculating about the best—meaning the most painful and humiliating—ways to kill tens of thousands of their fellow Americans. Or maybe just skipping anything that formal and simply nuking the parts of the nation they don’t like.
This is where they live. This is what they’re stewing in. Both online and off, “conservatives” are being told that their countrymen are psycho commie traitors who deserve only death.
It’s also worth noting that one of those right-wing articles collected at The Righting (no direct link, by intent) celebrates Donald Trump’s greatest accomplishment as “taking a sledgehammer to the garbage bipartisan establishment.” These are not people who want to mend fences. They’re not interested in seeing the nation united. They’re ready for panem et circenses. And really, they could skip the bread.
Also worth recalling: In February, as Trump supporters claimed that he was secretly “still in the White House,” they celebrated photoshopped images that merged fencing around the White House with a hanging that took place in Kuwait and cheered for more “executions of the Deep State.”