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For years, that’s been the great imponderable of American politics, the question the rest of us asked as we watched nominal “conservatives” sink ever deeper into a morass of conspiracy, lies and alternative facts. Were they yanking our collective chain, working some deep strategy, invisible to our eyes?Or did they actually believe Barack Obama was a Muslim, born in Kenya? Or that Hillary Clinton ran a child-sex ring out of a pizza parlor? Or that the victims of mass shootings were really “crisis actors”?It would be perversely reassuring to think they were lying only to us about all that, suggesting as it would that they understood the truth, but had, simply, if cynically, chosen for political advantage to deny it. If, however, they were lying to themselves, it suggested a people enmeshed in delusion and self-deception so profound they ought not be allowed to carry sharp objects.
Well, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing a definitive answer take shape, and it is not reassuring. Bad enough bands of putative conservatives have brandished guns in resistance to measures designed to save their lives and harassed reporters for daring to report the “fake news” of a health crisis …
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