Opinion: Discredited theories a risk for freedom we celebrate this weekend


On the weekend dedicated to America’s independence from tyranny, a group of true believers in debunked theories about some of this country’s most-important issues is convening here in Atlanta.

This gathering of activists includes those spreading misinformation about the 2020 presidential election, vaccines and beyond-the-pale theories about a global “shadow government.”

It’s concerning that this group is meeting at the on-campus conference center run by the Georgia Tech Foundation. As an expert on extremist groups explained in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story, the conference site gives it “the imprimatur of being legit.”

While the university has distanced itself from the meeting’s themes, a top-tier educational institution was not well-served by hosting such an event on its grounds.

After all, what’s permissible may not be wise.

And it’s worrisome to even inadvertently give credence to a troubling movement that seems to be gaining adherents. Too many people continue to place misguided faith in ideas that have been thoroughly discredited.

That should worry those of us in the mainstream who trust in things like sound science and the security of elections.

Yes, the First Amendment offers powerful freedom to speak even the most-ludicrous or abhorrent of ideas. Having to hear things we vehemently disagree with is part of living in a country where free thinking and free speech should flourish.

Yet, there are risks when ideas so contrary to common sense or truth gain traction and a substantial number of followers.

A nation built on the divine right to self-governance is in peril when so many believe in the myth of widespread election fraud, even as multiple vote recounts have proven it to not exist.

And the more than 1 million Americans dead from COVID-19 infection should overwhelm any disbelief about the risk posed by the pandemic we’re still enduring.

Even so, opportunists persist in seeding the populace with such doubts. The worst of these craven efforts are tearing at the fabric that’s held together this nation.

If America is to be the truly great country it should be, facts and truth have to carry the day – not their polar opposites.

Thus, we hope the jubilant noise of this weekend’s Independence Day celebrations drowns out the speechifying on Tech’s campus this weekend.

The Editorial Board.