As I’m sure you’re now aware, this week a historic landmark was almost destroyed by an uncontrollable fire.
What many people may not know, is hours after the incident broke, the unfavorable parts of the internet had already created their narrative.
The fire was an act of Muslim terrorism.
It’s unclear where this notion started, but I’m willing to bet the conspiracy originated from multiple echo chambers like the infamous The Donald subreddit and forums on various far-right sites.
The connection was bound to happen.
A significant Catholic building goes up in flames?
Well if that isn’t an out for racist people to blame Muslims, I don’t know what is.
We would also be naive to assume that people wouldn’t draw this conclusion. People filled with this hate will always find connections to fuel hate, and this goes much deeper than what I’m going to talk about here.
No, I try not to waste my time on these opinions. Their beliefs aren’t going to be changed by this small, left-wing boy’s blog. I think after a year of arguing on the internet post the 2016 election, I’ve come to terms with that.
I do though, have issues with how these people spread their messages and how we continue to fuel the fire.
Conspiracy theories extend their reach of hate
So like I said, I’m not getting into the alt-right prejudice. They have their opinions, I have mine, and unless I find a better position to talk to them, I know I’m not changing anyone’s mind.
What I am concerned with though, is the reach their conspiracy theories give them. The issue is a conspiracy theory’s baseline is built to be exciting and engaging content.
Blurry images, tiny details, unanswered questions, I’ve just described every true hit crime Netflix series out there.
People like believing and talking about conspiracy theories which can have huge ripples on how we view current events, even if we aren’t aware our views are changing as we engage with them.
People may not jump to the worst conclusion right away, but they may be dragged into it through these theories. The more people are pulled into these theories; the more people begin to believe them, which results in dangerous repercussions such as mainstream media picking it up.
This belief directly influences our politics, democracy, and culture.
The conspiracy about Notre Dame being a Muslim terrorist attack is spreading quickly, and while news sites are shutting it down, I wouldn’t be surprised if significant political figures referenced it at some point. Once people are pulled into the opinion, the real issue begins.
Conspiracy theories don’t care about facts
There are many videos debunking the myth that jet fuel can melt steel beams yet the popular 9/11 theories wage on.
There is literally a picture of the earth as a globe, yet there is a yearly flat earth convention that attracts hundreds of people.
Once people have bought into an idea, it is hard for them to let go. This goes double if that theory is going to create divides with regular society. People make friends, develop relationships, and begin to identify with ideas on the wrong end of the table, completely ignoring facts.
An idea like Muslim extremists burning the cathedral down forces them into a discriminatory mindset, and the next time they make the same judgment, they will be making the judgment with that influence, not facts.
When facts are no longer being taken into account our mainstream way of thinking becomes skewed. Hot take, but when there is a skewed form of reasoning, democracies then become very precarious government systems. Which primarily is what we see in the world with issues relating to things such as climate change.
Stop fueling this fire
Look, I don’t know for sure what caused the Notre-Dame fire, at the point of me writing this, no one does. Many news sites have it on authority that the fire was indeed accidental, but again, the conclusion is unknown.
If I’m wrong about the fire, then I’m wrong about the fire. It doesn’t make me crazy in writing this article. Believing or even discussing conspiracy theories born from bigotry without substantial evidence is wrong and causes damaging ripples throughout society.
These conspiracies only breed more hate in the world, and once they take hold of people, no amount of facts will change their mind.