Conspiracy theories are a threat to democracy – Canton Repository

Charita M. Goshay|The Repository

When I was little, I was a conspiracy theorist.

The shocking assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and thedevastated responses ofthe adults in my small universe,were profound and searing.

It was a traumatic introduction to the wider world.

The circumstances surrounding JFK's death spawneda cottage industry that's still going strong. A 2017 survey conducted by FiveThirtyEight found that 61 percent of Americans still don't believe accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

No one wants to believe history can turn on a moment generated by a single, disaffected, lucky-shot twerp like Oswald, or John Wilkes Booth, James Earl Ray, orGavrilo Princip.

When I was a kid, there were fish-wraptabloids claiming that JFK wasn't really dead, that he actually was a wheelchair-bound vegetable being cared for on one of Aristotle Onassis' private islands.

I wanted to believe it because the alternativewas too hard to accept.Even now, when I see photos of the Kennedys in Dallas, I wish I could reach through time and tell them to get back on theplane.

There were rumors that Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was behindthe crime, and ifnot Johnson, thenFidel Castro, or maybe the mob, or the FBI/CIA/military-industrial complex.

It's a virtual cast of thousands all of whom managed to keep it a secret?

No matter.I gobbled it all downlike Boston baked beans.

But at some point, you have to put away childish things. John F. Kennedy was dead, and no amount of wishing or theorizing was going to bring him back.

For some people, the result of the recent election has become the stuff of conspiracy. Thosearguing that the results are bogus and riggedcannot fathom that more peoplevoted for incumbent President Donald Trump's opponent than for him.

They're ignoring that most down-ballot Republicans won their races. They're dismissing the math which shows that more eligible voters cast ballots this time than in 2016, including in Ohio, where 74 percent of eligible voters, cast a ballot.It's as if the lines of people waiting sometimes forhours to cast their votesnever happened, or thatthe ElectionAssistance Commission, Republican governorsandstate attorneys general, and former Department ofHomeland Security cybersecurity chief Christopher Krebs haven'tpublicly statedthat the Nov. 3 election was the safest ever.

Somesupporters have rejectedthe results of the recounts and the recounts of the recounts despite the dozens oftimes the federal courts have swatted down contentions that something is amiss.It denigrates the poll workers andboards of election stafferswho risked their health to ensure we could exercise our constitutional right to have a say in our government.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit unanimously rejectedaccusations of "deep state" chicanery, withTrump-appointed Judge Stephanos Bibas writing:Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.

We have a transactional president who can't seem to grasp how a judge might place more priority on followingthe law and precedentthan reciprocation for his or her appointment. This presents a serious threat previously seen only in banana republics. We've been so worried about the Russians; now we knowthe call is coming from inside the house.

Latching onto conspiracy theories because things didn't turn out the way you wantedisa rabbit hole that can corkscrewto the point whereit'll turn out that Barack Obama fixed the 1919 World Series, and Hunter Bidenkilled Biggie and Tupac.

History reminds us that many elections have been contested, including Kennedy's own, in which he won the popular vote by just 112,827votes, but capturing the Electoral College 303 to 219. Rumors persist that Kennedy was helped by the Democratic machinein Chicago, where the dead were saidto vote early and often.

Yethis opponent, Richard Nixon, did not weaponize the courts to get his way.

That would come later.

Sowing chaos and doubt when things don't go our way only servesto harm the nation's ability to move forward as it must.

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Conspiracy theories are a threat to democracy - Canton Repository

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