Eliyahu Gasson | Staff Writer
Oct. 20, 2022
On Dec. 14, 2012, the United States was shaken by a mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Six of the victims were faculty and 20 were children.
None of the kids was over the age of seven. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, former president Barack Obama called it “the saddest day” of his presidency. Families were left grieving over the senseless loss of their loved ones, but one man would make their pain far worse.
Alex Jones is known for his hyperbolic coverage of outlandish right-wing conspiracy theories and peddling dubious health supplements across the country. He has cultivated the persona of a passionate man who claims to love America, speaks out against the elites and hates socialism. Jones wasted no time in declaring that the shooting was staged—a ploy to justify confiscating the citizenry’s guns so that the government may have an easier time establishing a new world order.
To Jones’ audience, there is no refuting his message. They choose to believe him, no matter how well the backed-up counter-arguments are presented. This willingness to believe such outlandish claims is indicative of how certain Americans have been duped. Many are fearful about their futures in this country and the stories that Jones tells provide the most comforting explanation for the dire state of the nation. To them it is not a system designed against the working-class, but rather the nation’s inefficiencies are caused by a secret cabal of exceptionally evil individuals.
As a nation, we are obsessed with the concept of the American dream – the idea that the freedom of the United States allows a unique ability to provide prosperity, success and upward mobility.
However, achieving this ideal is out of reach for many people. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the richest 0.1% of Americans have the same combined net worth as the bottom 85%, and this disparity continues to grow.
While working-class citizens witness their opportunities to achieve the American dream dwindle away, they are bombarded with images of celebrities and politicians attaining luxuries in excess.
There is a sense of visceral offensiveness that comes with seeing a public servant being afforded certain extravagant amenities, while their constituents can barely afford groceries.
Jones’ motives are clear. Prophesying armageddon at the hands of the global elite drives sales of whatever he’s selling online. But, more importantly, acknowledging the true cause of the tragedy also means acknowledging that the American socioeconomic system is fundamentally flawed. Jones and his followers would rather believe that the U.S. is controlled by secretive puppet masters, than believe that the American capitalist system might be inadequate.
When their most trusted source of information, Jones, is telling them that this shooting in Sandy Hook is a false flag attack and that the parents, teachers and the children were all actors. The reaction many followers had was to go after the families of the victims who had died in the attack.
Jones’s followers continuously harassed the families online and in person. Memorials were vandalized, tombstones were defaced and some individuals threatened to dig up the graves of the slain children.
On Oct. 12, a jury in Connecticut ruled that Jones was responsible for damages to the families and an FBI agent who had responded to the attack. He was ordered to pay them a collective $965 million. This is undoubtedly a victory for the plaintiffs, who can now gain at least a little bit of closure from their decade-long ordeal, but this is not a permanent solution to the problem that is Jones. He and his followers are merely symptoms of a greater disease which plagues the United States.
Decades of capitalist policy have ensured that the American dream is unattainable for the working-class. In the absence of upward mobility hopelessness has taken hold of the American people, but their love for the concept of America is so ingrained into their psyche that they are willing to believe in grifters like Jones, who offer comforting answers which do not challenge their patriotic ideals.
Until we learn to appreciate the truth—that capitalism created Jones and his consequences, we guarantee that dangerous conspiracy theorists will continue to be a blight on our nation.