John Colson: Warm pools, heated rhetoric — encounter at Avalanche Ranch
Hit & Run
I had a rather unsettling encounter with a Trumpeteer (supporter of President Donald J. Trump) over the past weekend, and realized that there still are plenty of people out there who feel our current president, whom I like to dub “He Who Shall Not Be Named,” is a swell fella with a full set of brain cells despite all evidence to the contrary.
I, my wife and a couple of friends from out of town went to the Avalanche Ranch hot springs Sunday to enjoy the relaxation offered by the setting and the warm waters from the subterranean springs.
We had been there about a half an hour, and were engaged in a stimulating chat with a visitor from the Front Range about the misogynistic, white supremacist and stranger-to-the-truth currently occupying the White House, when a young man sitting across the pool (along with a lady companion who hardly spoke) announced, “I’m a big Trump supporter.”
Now, I’m used to this kind of thing, given that I’m not shy about expressing my own political views in public places and have no problem with it if others do the same. In fact, I typically enjoy the give and take of lively debate with those whose views I disagree with.
My immediate response to the young man, an Aspen resident whose skin was tinged brown and whose long hair and avowed vocation as an “artist” (expressed later in the conversation) did not seem to fit with the typical profile of your average Trumpist, was, “Well, you sure don’t look like one!”
He made no indication he heard me, simply smiled beatifically, even a little vacantly, and stared at me.
Over the course of the ensuing 15 minutes or so (until I was summoned by my compatriots, who were ready to leave) he proceeded to fill the air around the pool with all sorts of conspiracy theorist, nonsensical blather, offering as proof the titles of books written by authors who share this kind of stunted thinking.
His assertions included the declaration that the Nameless One obviously never colluded with the Russian hackers who worked to disrupt the 2016 election and help defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton, and that the only actual collusion came from the Clinton campaign.
He also referred several times to Clinton’s use of an outside email server as proof that she was a criminal several times over, despite the fact that previous secretaries of state had done the very same thing when government servers proved unreliable, including those working for Republican administrations. No one seemed to worry about this kind of thing until Clinton joined the State Department, a double standard I pointed out to my debating opponent with little effect.
And, of course, he maintained that the 33,000 emails Clinton reportedly deleted from her server (after turning over roughly 30,000 emails to FBI investigators) were proof that she was in league with someone, maybe Russia, about something, maybe the “Deep State” we hear so much about.
I was waiting for him to begin going off about “Pizzagate,” the ridiculous 2016 claims that Clinton and others operated a secret pedophile ring out of a secret dungeon below a pizzaria in Washington, D.C., an establishment named Comet Ping Pong.
But, thankfully, it never came up, possibly because the young man was just getting wound up when my party started hollering that it was time to go.
But in the time we had, he blithely informed us that he was not bothered by our anti-Trump statements. In moderate and friendly tones, he offered up a variety of odd ideas, including the growing Deep State paranoia that has infected a significant segment of the internet-trolling population.
For example, he believes that the 9/11 highjacked-jet attacks on New York, D.C., and an empty field in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, actually were a false flag operation mounted by the Deep State conspirators in the government.
He also described an expected uprising by some shadowy anti-government types to overturn the U.S. “globalist” government and return us to what he indicated would be a cleaner, better, more sublime existence.
He seemed to think the 2008 financial meltdown was engineered in similar ways to the 9/11 attacks, though I shied away from pursuing his various, tangential declarations and could be wrong about that.
Anyway, sitting in the hot pool at Avalanche Ranch, I was struck by the fact that this guy so fervently believed things that most of us find questionable, at least, and in many cases outright incredible.
People such as this guy clearly have a need to believe that the world is beset by dangerous secret groups that control the world in the pursuit of hidden agendas, a paranoid mindset that has dogged humanity for eons and has produced some entertaining reading in some cases (Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” comes to mind).
But the circuitous logic employed by conspiracy theorists, and the citing of books written by the theorists themselves as proof of the claims, leave me cold.
And the fact that I could run into one of these yahoos in such an otherwise soothing environment served as a jolting reminder that they are everywhere, and that the rest of us need to be vigilant to prevent them from gaining a further foothold in their apparent determination to undermine our government and our society.
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