It's Hoaxes All the Way Down

AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

Politics ain't beanbag, they say, (they being old-timers, since I haven't heard anyone under 55 say this), and "they" are right. It is often downright nasty. 

So as infuriating as it can be, I try not to get too invested in the casual accusations thrown around in campaigns, although I admit that I usually fail in this. The nastiness thrown at Ron DeSantis riled me up good--the accusation that Casey DeSantis faked her cancer infuriated me, for instance. 

But most of the time, the nastiness is confined to campaigns, and in a bizarre twist, it is usually the worst within each political party during a primary campaign. They aren't meant to be believed literally but rather are smears to tarnish a candidate for a short period of time and be forgotten once the campaign is over. An accusation by Laura Loomer is hard to take that seriously. 

Hoaxes, though, are something different. They are much more sophisticated, easier to refute, and only get traction because the media or people with authority back them up. 

The Steele Dossier, the Jussie Smollett BS, the Bubba Wallace noose, the Kavanaugh "rape," the 51 intelligence officers, bad weather being caused by climate change, "fine people on both sides," soldiers being know the endless list...take on a life of their own because the mainstream media picks them up and amplifies them. 

Now we have the Alito flag hoaxes. These are "controversies" only because the media hypes up completely innocent events and turns them into fake controversies. They are hoaxes, and the media knows they are hoaxes and are complicit in creating fake meanings of real events in order to push a narrative. 

There are two flag hoaxes that are intended to create a false impression that Alito is an "election denier" (another sorta hoax, given that Democrats have been denying every election since George W. Bush without consequence) and should recuse himself from cases involving Donald Trump. 

The first hoax is the upside-down American flag, which at least has a sheen of plausibility. Alito's wife briefly flew an American flag upside down after a dispute with a neighbor who apparently attacked her for her political views. It was such a non-event that at the time, The Washington Post, which learned about the affair, decided not to write a story about it as it had nothing to do with January 6th and everything to do with a neighborhood dispute. 

Yet when the left decided to run a smear campaign, the entire MSM used this as evidence that Alito was a secret insurrectionist who was so biased that he should be barred from ruling on court cases involving Trump. Since the media and the left (but I repeat myself) couldn't get rid of Clarence Thomas, they went after Alito. 

It was totally coordinated, the media knew it was a hoax, and ran with it. Just as they did with Jussie Smollett, who was so clearly lying that a child could have sniffed it out. Yet we got months of that story, and nobody paid a price. 

Now we have the "Appeal to Heaven" flag hoax, and this one is a doozy. The "Appeal to Heaven" flag did appear at the January 6th rally, but in small numbers and among a sea of American flags. It also appeared at Black Lives Matter rallies, in HBO's John Adams series, and countless other places. It is as much a January 6th symbol as the American flag, meaning not at all. 

The flag was commissioned by George Washington to be used for the Continental Navy, and the pine tree references a British regulation that required that certain pine trees be reserved for the British Navy, given that the trunks were especially straight and made good masts for the ships. It was this requirement that was being protested--pines that belonged to Americans were claimed by the Crown--and this was one of the "long train of abuses" to which the colonists were opposed. 

It isn't a common flag, but it is flown often enough in New England, where the pine trees are common. The pine tree was put on the original Maine flag.

The connection to January 6th is so tenuous that there are literally no references to it and January 6th in the New York Times until this hoax popped up. Zero references at all. Nobody had made the connection. It is similar to the "OK" symbol meaning "White Power"--a hoax the media turned into a reality. They picked a Narrative and have beaten it into people's brains. 

Of course, the Times has also written about how the American flag itself is a symbol of White Supremacy, Trumpism, and extreme MAGA politics, so I suppose connecting the "Appeal to Heaven" flag to MAGA is about as on-brand as you can get. They don't like the fact that conservatives still like America when liberals spend almost every waking moment bashing our country. 

Liberals constantly complain that conservatives accuse them of not being patriots, but we only do so because they are not patriots. They even tell pollsters this. Liberals spend almost every waking moment screaming about how systemically racist this country is, about how we live on stolen land, about "settler colonialism," and all the other tripe, and then bitch when we point this out. 

Screw 'em. The Left hates America, says so, and it's only during election season that they claim otherwise. But if Democrats love America so much then why did Biden say this?

These are not the words of a patriot who loves America. 

The big difference between the standard nastiness in politics and the series of hoaxes we have been subjected to over the past decade or so is the collusion with the MSM, who undoubtedly know exactly what they are doing. 

The "Appeal to Heaven" flag is not so secret MAGA symbol, and you could easily prove this by the utter lack of the flag appearing in MAGA circles. That a few people flew it at the Capitol on January 6th proves precisely nothing more than the fact that some January 6th participants wore North Face jackets or drank Coca-Cola. It is a pure coincidence, representative of nothing more than it is a patriotic flag of some obscurity. 

If it were a MAGA flag or January 6th symbol we would have seen references to it among MAGA circles before now, and some newspaper or TV station would have done a story about it before now. 

This claim is an invention out of whole cloth. They photographed an Appeal to Heaven flag, associated it with Alito and January 6th, and away they went. 

Ironically, the left's hero—Ruth Bader-Ginsburg—got directly involved in presidential politics, attacking Trump directly and by name, and nobody demanded she recuse herself. She attacked Trump during the presidential campaign multiple times yet remained on the court beloved by the left. 

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s well-known candor was on display in her chambers late Monday, when she declined to retreat from her earlier criticism of Donald Trump and even elaborated on it.

“He is a faker,” she said of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, going point by point, as if presenting a legal brief. “He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego. … How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns? The press seems to be very gentle with him on that.”

Ginsburg’s comments came in a previously scheduled interview related to my research for a book on Chief Justice John Roberts. I took a detour to raise the reverberations from her criticism of Trump to The Associated Press and The New York Times in recent interviews. “I can’t imagine what this place would be – I can’t imagine what the country would be – with Donald Trump as our president,” she had said in the Times interview published Monday.

 Unfortunately, millions of Americans will take the MSM at its word, assuming that Alito is some secret insurrectionist, just as millions believe that Kavanaugh shoved his genitals in a woman's face in High School. 

Millions of Americans still believe the Steele Dossier, for that matter. 

This is the power of the MSM, and what makes hoaxes powerful. 

But the truth is, it's hoaxes all the way down. 

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John Stossel 1:00 PM | June 15, 2024