The labeling of the left as "socialist" – like that is something to be vilified – is ridiculous. Yet that is a notion entertained by many in America these days.

If socialism is about helping people get access to affordable health care and child care, I guess I'm a socialist. It is comparable to the vilifying of the young leftists on the college campuses and high schools of the 1960s and early '70s who were, as President Richard M. Nixon claimed, being manipulated by the communists. That couldn't have been any further from the truth, and what those young people of that generation did was stand up to an unjust American intervention in a Vietnamese civil war wherein young black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and poor white Americans were fighting and dying in disproportionate numbers in Southeast Asia.

These young students were raging against the U.S. support of a corrupt and brutal South Vietnamese regime, under the leadership of President Ngo Din Diem, who waged a campaign of repression against South Vietnamese Buddhists. The young people on the American campuses were burning draft cards because they objected to the mandatory conscription of young men to fight a war that lined the pockets of the military-industrial complex such as Bell Helicopter, General Dynamics, and Dow Chemical, while further widening the gap between the elite and American working class. These young people were angry about lies American presidential administrations had told them about what had been transpiring, including the largest objective, according to the 1971 Pentagon Papers – which was to avoid a humiliating defeat at the hands of North Vietnam.

In this era, misinformation is spreading like wildfire with conspiratorial groups like QAnon – a group that has also been labeled a domestic terror threat by the FBI – convincing many Americans to abandon reason. Recently-elected Congresswomen Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., are both supporters of QAnon, and Greene penned articles for a now-defunct conspiracy theory website, American Truth Seekers, including an article that linked the Democratic Party with child sex, Satanism, and the occult. Q is propagating that the Trump administration and Robert Mueller are waging a war on a pedophile ring that involves celebrities and political elites. There is not a single shred of evidence to back up this claim.

It seems many have lost the ability – or at least the inclination – to reason and heed the call of science in a world that has become inundated with conspiratorial darkness, and Trump has made over 20,000 false or misleading claims over the past four years. Thus, it is as if the abandonment of reality has become par for the course in American politics. And we now have two national lawmakers from the conspiracy world who are part of the legitimate power structure. Should there be cause for alarm?

The misinformation machine will continue to operate in America, and last week, the president pleaded – and even threatened criminal liability – if the Georgia Secretary of State did not produce those 11,780 votes, while launching a barrage of conspiracy theories during the phone call. You know, it is not really a matter of whether someone actually believes Barack Obama was born in a foreign country (he was not), but rather consider the idea of exploiting that idea to divide the country and rally people to your side –and that is what President Trump did with the whole birther movement.

Oh, what a deadly web we weave, when we practice to deceive.

Brent Been is a Tahlequah educator with an emphasis on civics and history.

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