The Da Vinci Code, a 2003 bestselling novel by Dan Brown, is based on the fictional idea that the Merovingian kings of France were descended from the bloodline of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. Harvard University professor Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) uncovers a power struggle between Opus Dei, a conservative arm of the Catholic Church, and the Priory of Sion, a fraternal organization founded by Pierre Plantard in France. Plantard claimed the Priory of Sion was engaged in a thousand-year-old struggle to place the descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene in positions of power.
According to Wikipedia, “the Priory of Sion mysteries have been extensively debunked by journalists and scholars as France’s greatest 20th-century literary hoax, yet many conspiracy theorists persist in believing that the Priory of Sion was a millennium-old cabal concealing a religiously subversive secret.”
In 2003, I discussed The Da Vinci Code with my dearly departed friend and mentor, James Flynn, professor emeritus of English at Western Kentucky University. Jim was not impressed by the novel, and he wondered at its popularity and great commercial success.
“People like to think they are privy to secret information,” I surmised. “The deeper and darker the secret, the better.”
The idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children has been around as long as I can remember. I’m sure it resonates with many readers, but it has been soundly refuted by most scholars and historians.
In Dan Brown’s 2000 bestselling novel, Angels & Demons, Robert Langdon uncovered an Illuminati plot to blow up the Vatican. I’ve heard of the Illuminati as far back as I can remember, too. When I was on Facebook several years ago, I occasionally got a FB message inviting me to join the Illuminati. (I had been investigated and deemed worthy – lucky me.)
Historically, the Illuminati was a secret society founded in Bavaria in 1776. Nowadays, however, the term Illuminati is applied to any number of organizations, both real and imaginary, who supposedly conspire to control world affairs “by masterminding events and planting agents in government and corporations.”
Which brings us to the “deep state.” During a campaign speech on March 25 in Waco, Texas, presidential candidate Donald Trump proclaimed: “Either the deep state destroys America or we destroy the deep state.”
What exactly is the deep state? Unlike the Illuminati, and the idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children, this is something new to me.
Wikipedia states: “According to an American political conspiracy theory, the deep state is a clandestine network of members of the federal government (especially within the FBI and CIA), working in conjunction with high-level financial and industrial entities and leaders, to exercise power alongside or within the elected United States government. The term deep state originated in the 1990s as a reference to an alleged longtime deep state in Turkey, but began to be used to refer to the American government ... during the Obama administration. However, the theory reached mainstream recognition under the presidency of Donald Trump, who referenced an alleged deep state working against him and his administration’s agenda.
“According to an ABC NEWS/Washington Post poll of Americans in April 2017, about half (48%) thought there was a deep state, defined as ‘military, intelligence and government officials who try to secretly manipulate government’, while about a third (35%) of all participants thought it was a false conspiracy theory, and the remainder (17%) had no opinion. Of those who believe a deep state exists, more than half (58%) said it was a major problem.”
It seems incredible to me that a presidential candidate would reference a conspiracy theory in his first campaign speech after declaring his candidacy. And yet according to the “opinion polling,” half of all Americans believe a deep state really exists.
Wikipedia continues: “During his presidency, Donald Trump and his strategists alleged that the deep state was interfering with his agenda. ... Some Trump allies and right-wing media outlets alleged that Obama was coordinating a deep state resistance to Trump. President Trump’s supporters used deep state to refer to allegations that intelligence officers and executive branch officials were influencing policy via leaks or other internal means.
“In 2018, Newt Gingrich alleged that Robert Mueller was part of the deep state for the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. ...
“Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul alleged that the CIA only briefing the ‘Gang of Eight’ on sensitive intelligence issues was an example of the deep state. ... Trump cabinet member and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney alleged that claims of a deep state working against Trump were ‘absolutely, 100% true’.”
However, critics claim that the “deep state” is an alt-right conspiracy theory with no basis in fact. Moreover, it’s used to undermine and destroy public confidence in the governmental institutions that serve and protect us.
In January 2017, a report drafted and compiled by the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency concluded that Russian operatives reporting to Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered in the 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump.
In April 2018, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a report written by the committee’s Republicans which found evidence that Russia had meddled in the 2016 election.
“In 2015, Russia began engaging in a covert influence campaign aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” it said. “The Russian government, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, sought to sow discord in American society and undermine our faith in the democratic process.”
In 2018, President Donald Trump stood on a stage with Putin in Helsinki and defended Putin’s claim that Russia had not interfered in America’s 2016 election. When asked if he believed his own intelligence agencies or the Russian president, Trump replied, “President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be.”
As you recall, the CIA and FBI are supposed to be key players in the deep state. What about the Republicans serving on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence? Were they part of the deep state, too?
I’ve served in the US Army – as high up as the Pentagon – and I’ve worked for the federal government. I’ve known hundreds of people who served in the military and in government, and I never caught the slightest whiff of any kind of secret cabal or political conspiracy.
That’s a fundamental flaw in the concept of a deep state: Our government does not contain or harbor secretive evildoers plotting from within. Our government and military are comprised of plain old everyday people, just like you and me.
There isn’t a single shred of evidence to prove the existence of a deep state. So, why do so many Republicans believe in conspiracy theories like the deep state and QAnon?
According to Politico: Democrats control 77% of the most highly educated US districts, while Republicans control 66% of the districts where the fewest people went to college.
Sadly, and unfortunately for the country, the Republican party has become the party of stupid conspiracy theories. The “deep state” is deep doodoo.