I don’t really know how to say this, so I’m just gonna: America, you in danger girl. I hate to just blurt it out like that, but you need to know. Not only is your very life in jeopardy, but *gasp* the call’s coming from inside the house.
Now, this is not what I intended to write today. Believe me, I have plenty of other things to be working on right now. I have book edits to do, lesson plans to make, and at least three half-written articles judging me as I type this. But the Universe had other things in mind, so here we go. This afternoon started off normally enough. I had just finished teaching for the day and was mindlessly scrolling Facebook, minding my damn business, and quite content to continue doing so. I saw that someone I didn’t know had commented on one of my posts about Wednesday’s insurrection. He didn’t say anything, only posted a link to a YouTube video.
When I followed the link, I was led to a video that was talking about the events in DC, but it was very different from the news coverage that I have been binge watching the last few days. In this clip, the narrator described the birth of a movement to save America. As ominous music played in the background, she told a tale that was completely new to me. Hers was a story of a stolen election and how the voice of the people had been ignored, time and time again in the courts, as each case was dismissed on technical grounds, despite “extensive evidence of fraud”. She spoke reverently of how a million patriots had descended upon the nation’s capitol with just one goal: To save democracy. She described how a group of those same patriots rose up and took the Capitol building, only causing minimal damage along the way. Then when the national guard retook the building, they all went home, obeying the newly established curfew…Girl, what?!? That really is not my recollection, but okay…
That two-minute snippet told me everything that I needed to know. I was dealing with a cult member. When faced with this realization, 2016 Aaron would have sprung into action, deep diving into articles and news footage, searching for facts to refute each assertion. 2021 Aaron on the other hand, knows better. These days I just toss an obligatory “Keep drinking the koolaid” and just keep it pushing. As a teacher, I get paid to educate people. Why should I give it away for free? Besides, ain’t nobody got time for that. Usually, that’s the end of the conversation. That was not the case today. A few minutes later, I got a notification that Chad had replied to my comment. Of course, I was curious to see what he had to say. He made a remark about how he was good with the koolaid, as long as he didn’t have to share a trough with me. He also attached a picture of himself with his AR-15. Y’all know how I am, and that capital “P” Petty part of me was ready with a smart remark, and my keyboard fingers were raring to go, but that’s when my better angels reminded me that I don’t have to attend every fight that I’m invited to. Instead of playing petty anger games, my mind went a different way. I was curious. Just based on the fact that he sent me this video, it’s obvious we have very different views of the world, but a part of me wanted to know just how far apart our perspectives could be. Spoiler Alert: It’s pretty fucking far. I mean, if men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then I’m from Mercury and Chad is clearly from Uranus.
I went back and watched the entire video, entitled Which Way Will the Country Go. All sixteen mind-numbing minutes of it. Twice. That’s how much I love you people. You’re fucking welcome (If you want to return the favor, go to YouTube and report it for promoting terrorism). Now I’m not gonna give a full review of this cinematic abortion here and now (that piece is coming tomorrow. Just know that it’s basically Citizen Kane for the Karens and Chads of the world). Instead, I’ll just give you the Cliff’s Notes version. Basically, it’s a propaganda video in support of the insurrectionists on Wednesday. It warns of the dangers of the Left: They’re intent on oppressing you and taking away your freedoms. They have broken the social contract and want nothing more than unlimited political power. The video also demonizes Black Lives Matter and other groups fighting for racial justice, characterizing them as violent thugs with no respect for the rule of law. In addition to this, it is a love letter to the rioters from Wednesday, hailing them as heroes, America’s first and last line of defense. It implores the viewer not only to refrain from condemning them, but also solicits donations on their behalf, in the form of money, supplies, and legal aid. But the thing that this film does best is to paint its target audience as victims (This is simultaneously the epitome of caucasity and irony, but I digress). Their country is being stolen right out from under them. The Democrats are cheating them. The Republicans have disappointed them. They have done everything right, trusting in the system, only to have that trust betrayed. Their rage is justified.
Between the video and my interaction with Chad, I was more than a little shaken. I mean, I don’t even know where to begin. They think they’re right. They think they’re DOING what’s right. The one thing that sticks with me is the number of times that the narrator used the word “patriots”. To Cult 45, that’s what they are. For the last four years, these people have been fed a diet of Faux News, alternative facts, and Qanon conspiracy theories, and they have fallen down the rabbit hole. These cultists really believe Agent Orange is their messiah. They believe that George Soros is starting a New World Order, Bill Gates is trying to control their minds with vaccines, Democrats eat children, and so many other things that I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around.
Obviously, we live in two different worlds. Since 2016, the idea of what is real has become the subject of debate. POTUS introduced fake news while his minions gave us alternative facts. This is the moment that our shared sense of reality began to fracture, and it all just snowballed from there. Facts and feelings were suddenly given the same weight. All opinions were considered equal, no matter how ill-informed, and you were free to disregard any information that didn’t fit with yours. This only got worse over time. Corona increased the divide, as some believed the doctors and scientists, and others believed that it was all a hoax, orchestrated as a means to create a New World Order. One group of people believed masks and social distancing would flatten the curve, and the other believed that it was just the flu and not a good reason to threaten the economy. By the time last year’s presidential debates happened, our two worlds had separated to the point that it didn’t matter that the candidates were fact checked, because Cult 45 would devour their Dear Leader’s every lie and beg for more. After the election, even they couldn’t tell what they believed, assembling outside vote counting facilities in different states, some shouting to “stop the count”, while others insisted that poll workers “count every vote”. In the following months, Planet Earth and Planet Orange existed side-by-side, yet somehow occupying the same physical space. On one side, people who welcomed the new president-elect and celebrated all the historic things to come, like a black/Indian female vice president. On the other side were people who had just been cheated. They had witnessed a fraudulent election, and their leaders promised them that they would fight to set it right. After the electoral college, one world rejoiced, and one licked its wounds. With every rejected court case, one side delighted, while the other nursed its grudges.
These divided worlds were able to co-exist (however uncomfortably) until this week. This week held not one, but two defining moments: The Georgia run-off elections and the certification of the electoral college. Planet Earth was hopeful, giddy with the possibility of turning Georgia blue, and Planet Orange was desperate, so desperate, that they actually sued their own vice president, in an effort to get him to overturn the election results. That’s when the two worlds collided. Georgia turned blue. The lawsuit against the vice president was thrown out, and it seemed pretty likely that he would certify the election results. On Wednesday morning, one world was celebrating victory, while the other made a fateful hail Mary play. Team MAGA had a rally where the president crowed about how they should take their country back, telling them that they had to be strong. He encouraged them to go to the capitol, saying that he would be there with them. (He wasn’t, but what’s one more lie at this point, right?) They took him at his word and marched directly to the Capitol, over the barricades (although some were let in, just saying…), and straight into the building. The complex was locked down, and the entire city was put on a curfew. Meanwhile, the citizens of Planet Earth watched this all unfold on live television, with their jaws on the floor.
I’m a huge comic book nerd, and as such, I have seen several storylines involving mind control. More often than not, an emotionally jarring event is enough to snap someone back to reality. Wednesday was such an event. We saw the US Capitol overrun in an attempt to alter the outcome of an election. That was enough to bring a lot of residents of Planet Orange back to Earth. We saw Kelly Loeffler, Lindsey Graham, and even Mitch McConnell, suddenly living in our reality again (Although, I would argue that those Georgia results brought ol’ Mitch back to his senses). In an instant, so many people started making sense again. But it didn’t work on everyone. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and 45 himself remained unaffected. Even as the two worlds collided and theirs caught fire, they clung desperately to its burning husk. Until today, I thought they were the only ones. I figured their lust for power was so great that they would hold onto it no matter what, even though all their followers had abandoned them. Then I saw the video. It had almost eight hundred views. That’s just one of who-knows-how-many others that could be out there. This is far from over.
My inner comic book nerd remembers a multiverse storyline that involves two different earths occupying the same space. It’s not a tenable situation. Eventually, either one of them has to be removed, or they will both be destroyed. That is where we are now. Planet Orange is weakened, but it is far from gone. It needs to be completely eliminated for America to survive. At this point, the two can no longer occupy the same space. Who will survive? Only time will tell. May the odds be ever in your favor.