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The Third Red Scare
Mis-, Dis-, and Mal-information role in promoting Fear
In my last installment, True Texas Project: The New Red Scare, I mentioned the rise of the organization and how they have begun widening its net to bring others into it by spreading a false narrative, but it is also important to know that others are utilizing the momentum gained by sharing misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information and using it to cast a wide net.
As with any misinformation campaign, the goal is always to confuse your audience. Not to be confused with its brother disinformation, which is deliberately deceptive and propagated. Misinformation is based on rumors, and rumors are hard to verify. However, the problem with misinformation is that once it's heard, the reader or listener is prone to believe it as they are emotionally connected to the information. This is why it has been the tactic of many new organizations and PACs. They depend upon the messaging to galvanize those who feel slighted by any opportunity or policy they believe is against their white supremacist ideologies.
It is nothing new; misinformation. It has long been a tactic of the United States and other countries dating back to the Cold War. The difference now is the multi-tier avenues that misinformation can travel and the influx of mal-information. Mal-information is poor-quality information. The most talked about form of mal-information is widespread voter fraud. This talking point has become the catalyst behind counties forming their voter integrity units to combat voter fraud. These units do the opposite, instilling fear in eligible voters and the community.
With the establishment of the voter integrity units, the mal-information provided to institute these units has yet to yield widespread fraud. These units are being utilized as another way to suppress the vote. The fear of making an honest mistake on the ballot or registration form has deterred people, especially from communities of color, from participating in the democratic processes.
An article written by Steve Benen stated,
“Republicans in multiple states created “voter fraud units” and “election integrity units” in the wake of 2020 and the party’s “big lie.” The idea, of course, was to create law enforcement offices composed of investigators who would focus exclusively on election-related crimes.
Predictably, they’ve failed to produce evidence of a systemic problem because, as reality keeps reminding us, there is no systemic problem.”
Either form of information, no matter the issue, has pushed fear-mongering and divisiveness into the spotlight. An example of this can be centered around the conspiracy theories that emerged after the Uvalde shooting. The information shared of a deranged illegal immigrant sparked much noise to bring up security issues at the border again. Again drawing on the hate many Texans feel towards immigrants (of any type) sparked the border control and need for a bigger wall debate all over again. Misinformation again created the hate-filled language of many Texans to thrive and cause harm to an entire community. It is often hard to rely on information from our elected officials now, as some of them intentionally participate in the widespread distribution of misinformation to gain support for their ridiculous laws.
It is evident that it will take a lot of time, effort, and education to sort through all the lies and rhetoric. Still, hopefully, this series of articles will help lessen the appeal to join the misinformation movement.
Join me next week for the next installment: Education Blueprint to Defeat Red Scare Extremists.