It started one Saturday morning. I woke to hear a man shouting in a Texan accent. I went downstairs to see who this man was. My husband was cheerfully frying bacon. He was listening to the man on his laptop in the kitchen.
“It’s Alex Jones. He’s bonkers.”
This was my first introduction to the world that is InfoWars.
Alex Jones is best known in the UK for having a go at Piers Morgan. Normally this kind of behaviour should be applauded. The topic on which Jones was yelling at Morgan about was gun control. Morgan was for it. He presented his arguments logically. Jones just shouted. How dare a limey interfere in such an issue! Some Americans may have loved this, but to us Brits, he looked like a loony.
So why was my husband listening to him? My husband loves conspiracy theories. He likes to debunk them. Alex Jones is the main gatekeeper to most conspiracy theories doing the rounds. I’d like to think that my husband doesn’t believe at lot of what Jones says. He’s fascinated as to why people do put such much faith in Jones and his ilk, when it’s all a bit bonkers.
It’ll come as no surprise that Jones is a Trump supporter. In the lead up to the election, he went into over drive in his condemnation of Hillary. He slated her appearance, style, vocal pattern, everything. Nothing was untouched. It made very uncomfortable listening. Jones would argue that the same was done to Trump. This is true. Trump seemed to revel in his notoriety while Hillary tried to rise above it. It was a tactic that unfortunately back fired. Trump kept on pushing those buttons and Hillary’s silence seem to fan the flames even more. This was not Clinton’s fault. It’s because now politics is black and white. You are with us, or against us. Any attempt that doesn’t fight fire with fire looks weak rather than statesmanlike, which is wrong.
Now though, Jones has won. It wasn’t something he had planned for. He’s got no real reason to be angry. I could sense he was ready to call Trump a patsy for not carrying out his promises, but he can’t. Trump is doing exactly what he said he would.
He’s tried to turn his ire onto the protestors against Trump. They are obviously being paid by the establishment to block true Americans from speaking. Yet his arguments are half hearted. They simply aren’t as juicy as Hillary.
In the UK after the EU referendum, a similar thing happened to UKIP. They lost their main reason for existing. No one wanted to be their leader as no one knew what they were cross about.
This is the problem if you dally in the politics of hate. It’s far easier for people to see differences than similarities. Everyone loves a good moan or rant. When you have a consensus, someone must compromise. And that aint fair.
It’s much easier to blame the man for your problems, than look at yourself. The man is at fault for creating this polarised world. That said the politics of hate have always been around. It’s a shock to see it in the interconnected world that we have become.
So, is there an answer? Can we ever shut up Alex Jones while keeping the Hillary lovers happy too? Each side needs to listen to each other. It’s questionable if that will ever happen, especially when both sides are using fake news to fuel their arguments. Yet over time I hope that the echo chambers will become smaller through communication and listening. Banning cretins like the awful Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking is not the answer. It widens the echo chamber further. These people need to be confronted. When Nick Griffin appeared on Question Time, support for the BNP collapsed. The same could happen to Alex Jones and the alt right Illuminati if we listened to their views and debunked them. This isn’t something that will happen overnight. It will take generations if ever at all. Changes in technology mean that we are all become insular seeking company with those who agree with us. There needs to be far more debating in schools, community centres, pubs, cafes, anywhere. We need to switch off our phones and actively engage with the world around us. It may be awful, but unless we confront these worrying attitudes on both the left and the right, all will be lost.