So was Morgan-Lloyd just delusional? Did she not have eyes in her head? Was she unable to see the violence plainly visible in the overwhelming amount of video and photographic evidence of the day? No, of course not. As the judge who sentenced her later noted when issuing a harsher sentence to another rioter, hopes that her contrition was real were quickly "dashed."
The lesson here is clear and should remain clear: Fascists lie. That is the nature of the authoritarian ideology, which doesn't value good faith discourse in a democracy. Indeed, they spit on democracy, or, as rioters in the Capitol reportedly did, they shit on it. All that the fascist respects is power and domination. Lying, if anything, is valorized in the authoritarian ideology because lying is an expression of power. To lie to someone else — a judge, a journalist, randos on social media — is a display of dominance over them and contempt for their petty attachment to Enlightenment values.
That bad faith is the lingua franca of fascism is not a new observation. Jean-Paul Sartre famously noted that fascists see lying as a delicious troll "for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words." All of which is why it's important not to take it at face value when Republicans claim to "believe" various lies around Trump's attempted coup, from the claim that the election was "stolen" to the justifications rolled out for the rioters' behavior that day. None of it.
Unfortunately, the word "believe" still gets attached to the various nonsense Republican voters spout about the attempted coup. "Republicans who watch Fox News are more likely to believe false theories about Jan. 6," blared a Washington Post headline on a Monday morning analysis of new polling about what Americans say about the insurrection. "What makes someone think that the 2020 election was stolen?" writes Philip Bump in the opening paragraph.
It's important to note, however, that there's good reason to believe that Republicans do not actually believe the election was stolen. Nor should one assume they are legitimately deluded when they tell pollsters lies like "Trump didn't incite it" or "it was antifa" or "the protesters were peaceful" or "the attack was justified". As Heather "Digby" Parton noted Monday, "78% of Republicans now believe that Trump bears only a little or no responsibility for the attack, which is contradictory since they also profess to believe that the mob was protecting democracy."
These contradictions between professed beliefs reflect the contradictory lies that are flowing from Fox News. Tucker Carlson, the most adamant rewriter of the coup's history, switches seamlessly between denying that the riot was an insurrection, claiming that the insurrection was a "false flag" orchestrated by the FBI and antifa, and claiming that the insurrectionists were justified. That each of these claims contradicts the other is of no matter because Carlson believes none of it, and neither do his viewers. They are engaged in a collective act of dissembling and gaslighting, deliberately filling the discourse with noise so they never have to actually defend what their true beliefs about the insurrection actually are.
As Media Matters documented at the end of December, Fox News, and Carlson especially, spent the bulk of 2021 hyping the neo-Nazi "great replacement" theory. The theory starts from the assumption that white conservatives are entitled to be the dominant class in the U.S. From there, demographic changes are recast as a giant conspiracy against white people. The neo-Nazis explicitly say Jews are conspiring to "replace" white Christians with people of color that they supposedly can control. The Fox News crew euphemizes that by saying it's the "elites" or the "globalists." Either way, the same conspiracy theory bounces around the right-wing media ecosphere and creates a permission structure for conservative whites to treat racial diversity as an act of deliberate aggression. It's used to justify their embrace of fascism and violence as an act of self-defense. It's the same game Nazis played by accusing Jews of secret conspiracies — and it's for the same general purpose