Thursday, April 04, 2024

Is the Trailer filled with Bibles set on Fire in Mt. Juliet the Start of an all-out War on Christians?

by Rod Williams, April 1, 2024- I saw this headline today: Trailer filled with Bibles set on fire near Mt.Juliet church Easter morning

My first thought was not that this is part of the attack on religion in America. My first thought was someone will likely frame this as part of a conspiracy of an attack on religion in America.

This would not be too far-fetched. You may recall a few years ago there were several small isolated rural Black churches that burnt, and the liberal media framed these occurrences as racist terror. I don't recall if there was ever anyone charged with the setting of these fires but there was no evidence of a concerted effort to destroy Black churches in the rural south and the story kind of petered out after a while. 

There are a lot of conspiracy theories in circulation. Sometimes people see conspiracies because they want to believe the worst of someone else and they will allege someone is engaged in nefarious plans or activities when all they are doing is just using reckless bombastic hyperbolic rhetoric. When Trump uses the word "bloodbath" to describe the economic fallout of Democratic Party polices if he is not reelected, he is not calling on his supporters to prepare to go on a killing rampage if he is not reelected. Sometimes people see conspiracies were there aren't any; sometimes they pretend they do.

When the chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, Hendrell Remus, says Governor Bill Lee is building a theocracy in Tennessee, I don't think he really believes it. Of course, Gov. Lee couldn't if he wanted to. Remus was just using inflammatory rhetoric to describe polices with which he disagrees so as to entice Democrats to contribute to the Party.  

Putting aside those who claim to see a conspiracy when really what they are seeing is the use of rhetoric or they themselves are using rhetoric to describe policies with which they disagree, there are still a lot of peoples seeing conspiracies. While there is still the occasional left-wing conspiracy theory, now it seems most conspiracy theories are generated on the right. And, there are there a bunch of them!

Watching this increasing belief in conspiracies for a while now, I have observed that some conspiracy theories do not have to have any basis in fact and yet they can gain traction. You may recall the theory of few years ago that Governor Bill Haslam was trying to impose Sharia Law on Tennessee. Evidence for this was that he hired a Muslim to serve in his administration. Other evidence was that the State was building a Muslim foot bath in the legislative office building.

The Muslim was in fact a Muslim. Her name was Samar Ali. She was hired as the Assistant Commissioner for International Affairs. She was born in Waverly, Tennessee, attended Catholic school as a child, her father was a medical doctor and an officer in the Tennessee National Guard. She did not wear a Hajib and had a west Tennessee accent. She was a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law. Ms. Ali was a law clerk to the Honorable Gilbert S. Merritt of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and a judicial intern and law clerk to the Honorable Edwin Cameron, in the Constitutional Court of South Africa. She had served as a White House Fellow in President Obama's administration. She had a long, impressive resume, but that she was Muslim was enough for some to see this as part of Haslam's conspiracy to impose Sharia Law. 

The Muslim foot bath turned out to be a mop sink. 

And then there was Agenda 21. It was not a policy or a law, but a United Nations study suggesting some dramatic policy proposals to combat climate change. I thought it was kind of a nutty set of policy proposals, but that is all it was. Yet, the right-wing went nuts and everything from shade to bicycles to codes prohibition on parking cars in your front lawn, to native plants was seen as part of this massive conspiracy. The GOP even put an anti-Agenda 21 plank in the party platform. (see some of my blog post on the topic)

Of course, the biggest conspiracy theory to ever affect our politics is the belief that the 2020 election was stolen. Despite over 60 legal cases brought to challenge the election and media investigation of the election fraud claims, there was no evidence that the election was stolen. Yet, a significant number of people continue to believe it was.  

Another conspiracy theory that has no basis in fact is the chem trail theory. That is the theory that the water vapors you see trailing jets is not really water vapor but chemicals the government is spraying into the air. Our State Senate just passed a bill to ban these non-existent chem trails. 

While some conspiracy theories can thrive with no evidence, some conspiracy theories present a series of events to show a pattern. Usually, it takes three similar incidents to show a pattern. A few months ago, or maybe a year ago or so, I was watching Tucker Carlson. He was building the case that there was a concerted attack on the American food supply. As evidence he reported that there had been a grease fire at a potato chip factory somewhere, and that in a separate incident a small airplane had crashed into a chicken processing plant or some such facility. (link)

After seeing that episode, I started wondering how many food processing facilities there are in America. I don't know but everything from breweries to butcher shops, to bakeries are food processing facilities. I have about six food processing facilities within two miles of my home.  This is nuts. There must be thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of food processing facilities in America. A certain number of fires or crimes or accidents are going to happen at food processing plants every day. Anyway, disabling or partially disabling them one-by-one, for maybe twenty-four hours, seems like a not very efficient way to attack America's food supply.

In addition to showing patterns, conspiracy mongers simply spread doubt and lead people to think whatever happened must be part of a conspiracy without every actually saying it is a conspiracy. We are seeing that with the Baltimore bridge collapse. I saw Jesse Waters of Fox News laying it on thick about how improbable it was that the Baltimore mishap was just an accident and saying, we must get to the bottom of this.

A trailer full of bibles being set on fire really plays into the right-wing narrative that the "deep state" is on a mission to destroy the institution of religion in America. I expect to hear news that somewhere a church had an unexplained toilette back up and Sunday School had to be cancelled. If so, we must get to the bottom of this. 

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