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Friday, October 22, 2004

The conspiracy against conspiracy theories

I've blogged on that topic before: The words "conspiracy theory" are used to insult the intelligence of people who, just because George W. Bush's political and probably financial fortunes benefitted greatly from 9/11, and that his administration has done everything possible to block investigations into the possibility, think that maybe it's worth looking into the possibility that he might have known it was coming or even planned it. Motive, opportunity and suspicious behavior--our prisons are full of people who have been convicted on less. But to even suggest it as a possibility (or even have someone suggest that you suggested it when you didn't, like Cynthia McKinney) makes you a lunatic conspiracy theorist who should probably just live out your days feeding pigeons in the park.

On the other hand, people regularly suggest nonsense such as Saddam Hussein leading the insurgency in Iraq last year when he was the most recognizable, hated and wanted man in the country. I mean, two out of three Iraqis probably would have turned him in to the Americans as soon as they saw him, and the other third would have just shot him on sight. YOU try running an insurgency under those conditions! Actually he probably did have a few friends left, unlike the crippled dead Jordanian Zarqawi, who is now supposed to be leading a much more violent insurgency based out of one of the hundreds of "safe houses" the US air force has flattened in Fallujah. Or how about this commonly accepted wisdom: "The tax cuts have put money in your pocket." Get thee to a park bench, nutcase!

Anyhow, this willingness to denounce ideas that aren't in the idiotic mainstream as "conspiracy theories" seems to be a conspiracy in itself, and those taking part in this conspiracy seem to come as much from the left as from the right. And recognizing "conspiracy theorist" as a meaningless label (like "liberal") intended to isolate those of us who don't accept the standard explanations seems key to our ability to keep going. Fortunately, Michael Zimmer at The Progressive Mind has compiled a comprehensive* list of articles on the subject of conspiracy theories--check it out!

(* For my purposes, "comprehensive" means "far more articles than I'm going to be able to read anytime soon.")