Last week, Fox Nation aired “Patriot Purge,” Tucker Carlson’s three-part series on the January 6 protest in Washington, D.C. No sooner had the program been announced than the regime media went nuts. The former conservative Anne Applebaum, writing for The Atlantic, said it was a “sinister” piece of anti-American propaganda. NPR described it as an “off the rails” “conspiracy theory.” CNN said that it promulgated a “false narrative” that was “politically, historically and logically confused.”
Translation: Carlson disputes the accepted narrative according to which the protest at the Capitol was an “insurrection” aimed at undermining “our democracy.” Ergo Carlson must be wrong. Cue the heated rhetoric and wheel out that all-purpose epithet “conspiracy theorist.”
As a side note, I have always wondered why people of a certain ilk believe that uttering the phrase “conspiracy theory” or charging someone with being a “conspiracy theorist” disposes of any argument. George Orwell noted that the term “fascist” had been rendered nearly meaningless by its promiscuous application to all manner of things or people one didn’t like. “Conspiracy theory” is on even shakier ground, because in addition to make-believe conspiracies, the world is full of plenty of real conspiracies about which one needn’t theorize but simply observe and describe.
When the Soothsayer came to warn Caesar about the Ides of March, he wasn’t warning about a conspiracy theory. He was warning about a conspiracy in fact, something that Caesar came to appreciate personally when the fateful day rolled around. Caesar to the Soothsayer: “The ides of March are come.” Soothsayer: “Ay, Caesar; but not gone.”
Carlson’s thesis in “Patriot Purge” is that the extraordinary law-enforcement and intelligence apparatus that had been assembled and deployed to battle terrorism in the wake of 9/11 had not been dismantled after Osama bin Laden was killed. On the contrary, it has been maintained intact and is now being deployed against American citizens who have the temerity to challenge the dominant narrative about the perfidy of Donald Trump and the nature of the January 6 protest. (That Merrick Garland, the attorney general of the United States, should issue a memo directing the FBI, together with state and local law enforcement agencies, to treat parents who challenge their local school boards over the teaching of critical race theory as “domestic terrorists” shows how elastic that enemies list can be.)