Facts, fantasies, and fear
Sensationalism was long the prerogative of tabloids. Overstatement, dramatization and muscle language twisted facts into honey sweet romance, unfathomable terror, or aggrandized drama. The objective was to sell papers; journalistic integrity became the victim.
Today, it is hard to find any journalistic report without embellishment. A vocabulary of overkill has become so common that factual, down-to- earth language no longer draws attention. Social media per excellence is the outlet for hyperbolic stories of all kinds. Not a single picture, graph or story on social media can be trusted, all seem to be doctored, shopped and altered to support and enforce one political message, or another.
With near-religious zeal, fanatics tout a barrage of conspiracy theories on just about everything. (Just for clarity sake, my definition of conspiracy theory is; “an explanatory hypothesis that accuses persons, a group, or an organization of having caused or covered up, through secret planning and deliberate action, an event or situation that is typically taken to be illegal or harmful.” ) For instance. Even after eight extensive Benghazi hearings in the USA, many still believe in a cover-up. Public and private investigations by more than 20 nations and servicing 1800 insurance claims could not silence the 9/11conspiracy theories.
Conspiracy theories usually come in pairs, for instance, Obama’s birthplace and certificate. “Birthers” claimed that President Obama was born in Kenya and that his Hawai-birth certificate was a forgery. A second conspiracy had to explain that all government agencies, Congress, FBI and world media comprising of tens of thousands were all part of the cover-up conspiracy.
Event conspiracies, like Kennedy assassination or 9/11, systemic conspiracies, such as world hegemony of Jewish bankers, Freemasons or Illuminati, and Superconspiracies, concocted by popular fiction authors like David Icke and Milton William Cooper, fascinate millions to the extent that facts and reality are totally obscured by delusional observations.
Apocalyptic sectarianism--- doomsday thinkers--- in Christianity amongst, 7-Days Adventists, Later-Day Saints, Mormons, radical Catholics and Orthodox Calvinists, and in Islam amongst Jihadists, use Armageddon, the scorching fire that will end all life on earth, as the ultimate terror to keep their followers in check. The faithful live in perpetual fear; fear hyped even more by a barrage of theories on global warming, an imminent outbreak of World War III, fluoride poisoning and hypothetical effects of TPP and TTIP. ISIS pumps more than 50,000 of such messages daily into the internet social media; North Korea and Iran follow diligently.
Fear plus delusional conspiracy theories enslave mindless sympathizers, as the world has witnessed with waves of sympathizers and recruits for recent ISIS terror and brutality in Syria, Iraq and Africa.
Intellectualism, the hard-fought fruit of Enlightenment, is once again losing from fantasy and fear, the forebears of the Dark Ages.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle