Yes, we are dealing with a destructive cult. Yes, the people who want to “open up” and who are arguing with you about numbers and validity of studies and all that shit are arguing in bad faith and lying, because they want to die and they want to kill. That’s their goal.
They are not debating you or questioning to learn. They are using your space online to repeat the same propaganda they’ve been handed, and to get you tired out from fighting. Don’t let them do it.
I should say, this didn’t start with trump. The roots of this cult are deep in America*. Trump may be the flower on the branch, but that’s all.
It started before I can rightly cover in this post, in any post. I am not a historian. I’ll be speaking only of more recent events, of things I have read and researched personally, of my own experiences and stories and accounts I’ve heard.
Part One: How Grandpa Lost His Sharp Mind
Many people know someone who was a professional, a scientist, a smart person, but who has lost their ability to discern reality from fiction.
Let’s be very clear. There’s more than one reason people get involved in cults. Some vulnerability in them is exploited- whether it’s loneliness, fear, poverty, neglect, jealousy, spite, racism, anger… there’s an emotional lack that the cult “fixes”. This does not mean the members were bad people before they joined in. This does not mean they were unintelligent or even ignorant. They simply had some kind of vulnerability that left them open to this.
I’ve seen this described as “boomers warned us not to believe anything on the internet, and now they believe everything on the internet” and “my aunt was a FUCKING RN and now she doesn’t believe in bacteria and viruses, what happened to her decades of knowledge” and “it’s like their brain has decayed, they don’t believe in reality, and they have selective dementia, is that a real thing“, among other poetic and despairing descriptions.
I think, from my personal experience, talk radio was the start of the slide for a lot of the (men, in particular) who are now part of the NADC (New American Death Cult). Screaming jocks mocking women, minorities, the poor. I won’t mention the more prominent except to say that trump himself was given a really large audience by Howard Stern for many years, for no real reason at all. There are far worse talk radio hosts. This of course, is all conservative or right wing talk radio, although the “beginner” shows pretend to be centrist.***
Of course then we can throw in the American history of spite**, racist behavior and systems, misogyny in every imaginable form, and homophobia (trans phobia being more recently brought to attention, but part of all of it). Racism and misogyny are probably the most deeply embedded aspects of spite and hate in our country. The combination of the two is devastating for Black women and always has been. Talk jocks pushed this, hard.
Repetition and an appeal to the lizard brain, the spite, the racism/sexism/general xenophobia- this is where it starts. The more it’s repeated, the more it’s believed. Classic cult indoctrination includes repetitive, loud and affirming messages mixed with abuse. All cults share this. It’s how they get people firmly anchored in the alternative reality of the cult.
And then there’s “churches”. Personally I do not think many of these qualify as religions at all, but only as smaller cults. Certainly, believing that you will be healed of cancer if you watch the right TV show is ridiculous- and when the show in question espouses political beliefs about minority or oppressed groups, it becomes even more questionable.
In the USA, there are certain religious/cult groups that are*** really happy to think the End Times might be here. Others that actively want to work to make the End Times.
Holy Rollers are an older group in the Appalachians, who believe that your behavior doesn’t matter at all, only if you’ve “got the spirit in you” (been chosen). Prosperity cults believe the same thing- except they also believe that being rich means you were chosen. That you can make yourself rich by believing in the cult. That poor people are bad, because (insert any sin you please here) and that cult members can be anything- pedophiles, murderers, doesn’t matter- they must be good, because they are rich, because they were “chosen”. It’s a sick twist, and definitely a cult.
Dominionist cults believe all this and more. There’s also the idea, here, that they, being the chosen, should be in charge of the world and make the laws and enforce them so that everyone is following the rules of their cult.
To be clear these are cults rooted in Christianity, but they are not Christian. They are cults.
The more extreme groups believe in a variety of things- flat earth, young earth, all the anti-science you can imagine. These are the people who are terrified of microchips, of vaccines. These are the people who get in deep, after the time spent listening to repetitive cult propaganda they will go looking online for backup and there are plenty of conmen ready to sell it to them, in bottles or in words.
All of these cults believe women are not equal human beings- they are often violently anti-education, anti-birth control, anti-abortion. The control of women is very important to them.
There are parallels here to Islamic cults, to the Middle Ages and Dark Ages (outdated term, I think).
Next time: What about my cousin Bob?
We have not seen a cult this big in a long time. Probably the moonies and the flagellants (in the dark ages) come closest in number. It is definitely dangerous- destructive cults harm not only the members, but all those around them. And this cult in particular actively wants to kill as many people as possible.
Be safe, and be aware.
*”American” is used in this essay to describe citizens and residents of the United States, and is not intended to disparage Canada, Mexico or any other American Continental nation. I’m sorry.
**”spite” is being used as a catch-all term in many cases throughout, but generally means “to wish to harm others for no logical reason, simply because they exist as they do”
***I would like to note that many Death Cults are, globally speaking, not right wing. Many have been left wing (jonestown was sold as ‘socialist’) and many are from other religious traditions (isis, am Shinrinkyo, to name a few). cults are a human phenomenon, not an American one.