Black Lives Matter logo. Image courtesy Cortland Standard

AMPLIFICATIONS: Definitions

If one trolls social media, it will be noticed that people are tossing around the words “fascism” and “socialism” without using the terms properly. So let’s define a few things.

While speaking with two socially distanced groups of friends recently, I came to the realization that not one of them was very clear about the meanings of “Q’anon” or “antifa” or that both words are now part of our lives. If one trolls social media, it will be noticed that people are tossing around the words “fascism” and “socialism” without using the terms properly. So let’s define a few things.

Antifa: Like feminism, this is a concept. It simply means you are against fascism, though it has been labeled by the Trump camp as a far-left conspiracy group. It isn’t. It seems astounding that anyone would not be against fascism, but the word has been co-opted and the meaning bastardized, though it has been around for decades.

After trolling many far-right sites, it is clear that the far right believes antifa is a movement meant to bring socialism to America and even control what we think, and ditto for Black Lives Matter. This is untrue on both counts.

BLM – Black Lives Matter: This is a political and social movement advocating equal treatment for all people of color — equal pay, equal rules of justice and equal respect. It is not a call for superiority over white people and it is not a call to arms. It is just a desire to make the world a level playing field for all races. For the most part, BLM protests are peaceful, though rioting and rumors of armed BLM members have arisen.

The reason the movement gained popularity and finds offense at the “All Lives Matter” response from the far right is because we are not all in this together. Different rules apply to people of color, for instance, George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery, who was gunned down in the street by civilians for jogging. He was a “suspect” merely for being Black, which is why Black lives must matter to everyone.

Communism: This differs from socialism in that it tries to impose total equality through authoritarianism. Communism looks good on paper because everyone is equal. It has never worked in reality because people are flawed, greed is real and corruption usually wins out in the end.

Cult: This is the devotion, or veneration, directed toward an individual, deserved or not. See “Trumpism.”

Deep state: There are many people who believe that America is actually run by a hidden network of people that relies on cronyism and collusion with Big Industry to run our country. If you troll far-right posts on social networks, you will find a lot of discussion about how “they” or “the deep state” control everything and we are simply pawns. Often Trump supporters believe that the “radical far left” is the deep state. Though there is certainly plenty of cronyism in government, this is a nihilistic and depressing view of both politics and our country and, in my opinion, gives too much credence to the Democratic Party, which lacks the kind of organization to pull this off.

Endemic: This differs from a pandemic in that it is a disease we live with, like polio. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is commonly known as COVID-19 (for 2019, not because it is the 19th iteration). We can almost certainly expect it to become endemic.

 Fascism: The imposition of a totalitarian state on its citizens. Other words for it include “despotism,” “autocracy” and “Nazism.” One is often required to swear loyalty to their Dear Leader, much like the North Koreans. It arises in a country when the free press is labeled as “fake” and only state news is considered legitimate. It also occurs when elections are rigged, votes are suppressed, courts are packed in favor of Dear Leader and any show of democracy is considered a sham.

Herd immunity: A much-debunked theory that if enough people are infected with COVID-19, the virus will burn out. In theory, herd immunity is achieved by infection AND vaccination, so that at least three-fourths of the population has immunity. This is a completely fallacious assertion currently being touted by the White House. It should be noted that Dr. Scott Atlas, currently the lead advisor on the Coronavirus Task Force, is a radiologist with NO BACKGROUND in epidemiology or immunology.

Because science matters, we know that herd immunity is a fantasy, much like the idea that the Earth is flat or that climate change does not exist. For one thing, there have been documented (not anecdotal) cases of reinfection. For another, the genome is mutating. If we get a successful vaccine, there is every chance we will need yearly boosters. Or perhaps it will burn out in a few years. There is no way of knowing now because it is a novel virus.

If enough of the country believes this boloney, we could be looking at millions of dead Americans within a year. Right now, according to www.CoronaTracker.com, the fatality rate in this country from COVID is 2.7 percent. Our population is over 331,000,000 people. Even if only 1 percent of the population died, it would mean more than 3 million dead without ever achieving true herd immunity. Don’t believe it: Wear your mask. 

Militia: In the broad sense, a militia consists of able-bodied adults who are called upon to defend the government in times of war. An “organized” militia is illegal, hence the groups of people you see on TV waving their large guns around call themselves “unorganized militia” to skirt the law. The militia that planned to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan call themselves the, ahem, “Wolverine Watchmen.”

Image: Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast/Getty

QAnon: This is the granddaddy of all conspiracy theories. In a nutshell: An unnamed “patriot” named Q dropped onto 8chan, an anonymous message board, the first of his “breadcrumbs” alleging the existence of secret child sex rings orchestrated by powerful and famous Democrats. This list includes everyone from Hillary Clinton and Tom Hanks to Stephen Spielberg. The group claims that Democrats and celebrities are Satan worshipers and cannibals, with babies being on the menu. A major talking point is that JFK Jr. is living in Pennsylvania and is not only posting about QAnon, but was meant to be Trump’s running mate this year. Followers read the anonymous message boards and interpret what they think are conspiracy “clues.”

Wait, it gets better. Q supporters believe that the Robert Mueller investigation was actually a front for an investigation into the deep state and Trump’s enemies will be arrested and sent to Guantanamo Bay when Q reveals himself. Many believe Trump is Q.

You can attach almost any conspiracy theory to QAnon, but be forewarned: It’s like going down a trippy rabbit hole. It seems too ludicrous to believe, but followers are increasing and the “movement” is spreading; several members are running for public office. QAnon has taken root among the far right in Germany, which has to be scaring the dickens out of the less gullible German population.

In reality, Q is very likely James Arthur Watkins, who gained control of 8chan in 2015, and his son, Ronald Watkins, former 8chan administrator and current administrator of its successor, the Watkins-owned 8kun. This movement has been labeled as a terrorist organization by the FBI and is being co-opted by the religious right. Worry about this; be aware of this movement — it may be here to stay.

Socialism: In its purist form, socialism is a political and economic system based on public ownership and a just and equal distribution of goods to everyone. Socialism is equated with democracy and liberty, though it does not always work out that way and can devolve into totalitarianism. However, aspects of it have been proven to work, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and, in other countries, socialized medicine.

Theocracy: A system of government run by someone considered to have the divine right to do so. Often the religious laws of that country are interpreted as civil law. Many countries have a quasi-theocratic government. This happens when the religious views of some, not the majority, are enshrined in law and imposed on everyone. This could easily happen in America if the Supreme Court is stacked in such a way as to reverse equality laws for LBGTQ people or if it strikes down Roe v. Wade, even if the majority of the country is opposed to such a reversal.

Trumpism: A burgeoning political movement akin to fascism but with less structure. Adherents seem to have blind faith in anything Trump says. According to the Hill, Trumpism consists of celebrity, nativism, being an outsider and populism. Denying both science and intellectualism play greatly into Trumpism.