PIZZAGATE, SATANIC PANIC, AND THE NEW POLITICAL CAPITAL OF CRAZY
I used to think the Satanic Panic was ancient history and conspiracy theories were funny. Then came 2016, Pizzagate, and Trump, and now nothing’s funny anymore.
When I talk about religious zealots, fundamentalists, fascists, outspokenly crazy people, and everyone else I categorize as anti-Satanists, I’ll often reference conspiracy theories.
These are a dime a dozen on the Internet: Beyonce is pregnant with the antichrist! Siri predicts the Apocalypse! Denver International Airport is a Satanic cathedral!
I follow these conspiracy nuts because they’re hilarious and because they sometimes come up with cool ideas no real Satanist would ever conceive.
(Example: The late conspiracy cartoonist Jack Chick insisted that Satanists dedicate trick or treat candy to the devil before giving it out to kids. I liked this suggestion so much that last Halloween we actually did it.)
But none of this ever worried me. I would even occasionally fret that it’s unfair to portray a few nuts as characteristic of religious society in general.
Now it’s 2017, and a few nuts have never had more political power.
Pizzagate wasn’t very novel as conspiracy theories go: “Politicians are Illuminati cultists!” “They have secret messages in plain sight that dorks on the Internet can decipher using just Google!” etc.
This kind of thing comes and goes all the time. But this one caught on. Far too many people buy into it.
Michael “Moskal” Flynn believed it. His son now insists Satanists forced Flynn from the White House in reprisal.
Alex Jones—the human equivalent of a smoke detector with no off switch and no way to actually detect smoke—believes it.
And the President of the United States believes Alex Jones.
It’s still spreading: From DC to New York to Oregon. It’s even expanded to “Pan Pizzagate” now. (You can’t make this shit up.) The UK has a similar, pizza-free panic on its hands.
For anyone over the age of 30, this all has a familiar taste. America spent the ‘80s and nearly half of the ‘90s convinced that secret Satanists were kidnapping and molesting kids by the thousands.
At one point 70 percent of Americans insisted it was true; 25 percent of American prosecutors handled related charges; just one small town lodged more than 29,000 allegations against 60 defendants.
Mind you, I don’t expect similar FBI investigations, roundups, or mass religious panic over Pizzagate. Trump never even addressed it himself in so many words.
But Pizzagate shows that the pieces are all in place. “The Satanists did it” remains an easy lie. And crazy ideas have never been more fashionable in America than right now.
So now I think it’s entirely fair to bring up what loons on the Internet think about religion and Satanism. The loonier they sound, the more closely we should pay attention.
After all, if it’s good enough for the White House…