The Conspiracy Theorists Are Coming for Your Schools
QAnoners and anti-maskers are embedding themselves into our political and civic life.The moments documented in these videos are mostly expressions of real anger, frustration, and confusion. But they must be understood in the broader context of what has been happening to the American right—the messy, overlapping sets of misinformation, conspiracy theories, and lies about the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 election. We started the year with an attempted coup, laden with QAnon symbolism and apocalyptic rhetoric. The internet meme prophet “Q” may have disappeared, but like any good apocalypse QAnon didn’t die, it just changed. Deadlines for the QAnon doomsday (“The Storm”) and the extraconstitutional reinstatement of Donald Trump to the presidency have come and gone, but most of the instigators and spreaders of these ideas are still there. Some are now campaigning for office. Some are still trying to overturn the 2020 election. And now some are trying to overthrow our schools.
Biden administration to extend vaccine mandate to U.S. companies
President Biden is announcing sweeping new vaccine mandates Thursday that will affect tens of millions of Americans, ordering all businesses with more than 100 employees to require their workers to be inoculated or face weekly testing.
Biden also will require all health facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding to vaccinate their workforces, which the White House believes will impact 50,000 locations.
And the president plans to sign an executive order that would require all federal employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus — without an option for those who prefer to be regularly tested instead — in an effort to create a model he hopes state governments and private companies will adopt.
The cluster of new policies comes as the country grapples with the highly contagious delta variant, which has sent cases surging to more than 150,000 a day and is causing more than 1,500 daily deaths. The White House has struggled to convince hesitant Americans to get vaccinated and has been increasingly shifting toward requirements.
Spencer Ackerman/NY Times:
How Sept. 11 Gave Us Jan. 6
Ever since insurrectionists invaded the Capitol, we’ve heard that Jan. 6 closed a chapter in American history. No longer should America’s most threatening enemies be understood as foreign — a euphemism for Muslim — but instead as domestic, a euphemism for primarily white Americans on the far right. “The ‘post-9/11’ era, where our greatest threats to national security were external, is over,” said Representative Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan and a former C.I.A. and Pentagon official.
But Jan. 6 is less a bookend to the Sept. 11 era than a manifestation of it.
The war on terror accustomed white Americans to seeing themselves as counterterrorists. Armed white Americans on the far right could assemble in militias, whether in Northern states like Michigan or on the southern border, and face little in the way of law-enforcement reprisal. Such impunity led to situations like one in 2016, recounted in a relatively rare criminal complaint, when members of a Kansas militia with the revealing name the Crusaders plotted to murder their Somali-American neighbors. “Make sure if you start using your bow on them cockroaches, make sure you dip them in pig’s blood before you shoot them,” one stated. They considered themselves to be doing what America was doing all this time: combating terrorism, since, as patriots, they couldn’t be committing terrorism.
EJ Dionne, Jr./WaPo:
We best remember 9/11 by moving beyond it
Briefly, we were united as a nation. For some time, partisan politics very nearly disappeared.
Among Democrats, President George W. Bush’s approval rating was just 27 percent in a Gallup survey taken Sept. 7-10, 2001; in less than a week, it soared to 78 percent. It was even higher among independents and Republicans.
But the unity would not last. If the decision to attack the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was broadly popular, the use of 9/11 to justify the invasion of Iraq was not. Americans rallied around the flag when the war in Iraq started, but they had grave doubts going in, and those mushroomed as the war dragged on.
The way Bush administration officials made the case for intervening in Iraq sowed seeds of division that blossomed into today’s rancid politics.
Will Bunch/The Philadelphia Inquirer:
We knew America would never be the same after 9/11. We didn’t know how bad.
America responded to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks with paranoia, distrust that turned on foreigners, immigrants, dissidents and finally one another.
“It was 8:46 a.m.,” I wrote as night fell on 9/11, “and America would never be the same again.”
Looking back two decades later, I can’t decide which is weirder — that I wrote this in the darkness of that confusing day, or that somehow I got it right. America was changed forever and — despite those initial days where we hoped the sadness and the rubble would give rise to national unity and a sense of purpose that had felt missing in the detached irony and greed of the go-go 1990s — for the most part it has changed for the worse. Those drivers going every which way at cross purposes on Vine Street weren’t just a traffic jam, but a metaphor for the road ahead.
Ronald Brownstein/The Atlantic:
The California Recall Could Be a Road Map for Democrats
Gavin Newsom’s strategy has momentum, and it provides a crucial template for his fellow Dems in 2022.
One key reason the president’s party historically fares so poorly in midterm elections is that its supporters turn out at lower rates than voters of the party not in the White House. Polling earlier this summer showed that Newsom faced an especially acute version of that challenge; California Democrats displayed far less interest in, or even awareness of, the recall than did Republicans.
But the large number of mail ballots already returned by Democratic voters, as well as the latest poll results, signal that Newsom has mostly closed that enthusiasm gap, placing himself in a strong position to defeat the recall when balloting concludes next Tuesday. And he has done so in a manner that could provide a crucial template for Democrats nationwide in 2022: Newsom has focused less on selling his accomplishments than on raising alarms that his Republican opponents will exacerbate the coronavirus pandemic by repealing the public-health protections, such as vaccine and mask mandates, that he has imposed to fight it. He’s linked the GOP candidates running to replace him not only to Donald Trump but also to Republican governors such as Ron DeSantis in Florida and Greg Abbott in Texas, who have blocked mandates and other measures to combat the disease.