If you get your information about the outside world from Alex Jones of Infowars.com everything that happens in our world and in yours individually is some sort of government or Muslim-led conspiracy against everybody else. Just as Abraham Lincoln used pinpoint logic to note that as both the Union and Confederacy prayed to the very same God for victory only one of them or perhaps neither of them would get what they wanted, so it is truth itself that if everything that happens in the world is a conspiracy there would need to be multitudes of conspirators who somehow keep the lid on everything. Our own personal free will and long and direct experience with it would be just an illusion.
When I put my hand on a hot burner on the stove and it gets burned it is not a government conspiracy. Beyond being a rather stupid thing to do the pain and the very real injury caused would be proof of my freedom of action—the base line of reality versus a dangerous fantasy. My government has not conspired to do this. I’ve burned myself cooking numerous times and my own mother told me not to do it just as she told you to look before crossing the street.
General Electric has an ad currently running which plays on this conspiratorial world image with a guy telling us about modern medical technology in shades, with communications device in his ear and a dark suit, a creep me out voice, and offering a kid a choice of a blue or red lollypop. There have been the Men in Black films, and so many thrillers in print and on the screen about huge government plots to destroy us all that we are now buying into it as reality.
NBC’s Brian Williams noted that we’ve failed to see the most obvious thing about the Boston Marathon bombers: they are cold blooded killers—common but extremely dangerous mass murderers–criminals. Endowing them with almost superhuman qualities as sinister behind-the-scenes members of a huge government conspiracy to kill Americans and enslave us is the product of illogic and emotion over crisp, controlled reason.
And yes, Struggles for Justice knows that General Electric owns NBC. But that does not mean their latest ad campaign to sell us the latest medical technology is some conspiracy. Its solid capitalistic enterprise and corporate image fluff. The machines are real and are helpful. I’ve used them along with my doctors. They work. If they did not I would be dead and you would not be reading this.
Earlier in life I was a university campus security officer who worked the graveyard shift and with the very sort of wonderful people who responded with such courage and service to the real bombers in Boston. I recall a man we dug out of a university garden one summer night who upon being awakened by me began rambling about the idea that the CIA, the FBI, the United Nations and even the university were all conspiring to kill him. I later heard our dispatcher give us the information on this guy from previous reports and based on the legit photo ID’s he was carrying over our radios. He was a paranoid schizophrenic off his meds. I believe that to this day since both the two responding police officers and I had dealt with these folks for years. They were ill. There is nothing more to it than that.
The conspiracy laden media we presently inhabit makes Alex Jones mirror that guy we dug out of the flower beds on a summer night after midnight—full of filth, with a full growth of beard and who obviously was dehydrated and whose very illness prevented him from seeing reality. I’d seen the guy before on campus: a nice man with an illness that was challenging him to the core.
Reducing the Boston Marathon bombings to a U.S. government conspiracy against its own people or blaming the Earth’s almost two billion Muslims for harboring the same views and behaviors is a denial of reality equal to this man in the garden at midnight on a university campus but on a mass scale. We’ve essentially put this guy on television and radio with a large audience and named him Alex Jones or Glenn Beck. Only here, the two men are a lot better at raking in the cash than the man I encountered in the early 1980’s along with a host of people we all had nicknames for as a kind of code to be able to ID them all the more rapidly. There was Tunnel Man, Angel, and so many more. They had not appeared in our paths by any conspiracy.
The state I worked for had turned loose large numbers of mentally ill people and they no longer had a reliable person to help them stay on their meds and give them the extra help they needed. Despite it all they are a wonderful lot of folks—that is except the blonde nymphomaniac. No, we males did not seek her out. Why? You’d think that would be an attractive combo for any male officer. We did not because she was ill, she never washed. She sought us out and did bizarre things if we did not steer clear. Yet I am proud to tell you it was our job to serve her and protect her too. The government of my state openly told the public they were doing this to cut the budget for the care of these people. End of conspiracy.
Now, Matt Drudge has tweeted that Alex Jones is the coming man in the conservative political pantheon. Glenn Beck persistently makes millions and retains influence out of proportion to his dwindling audience. Fox News and so many conservative radio talkers are convinced that our enemy is Islam itself and the people who espouse that faith.
First, branding an entire religious group as the core of our problem has been tried before. That was German National Socialism and the result was the Holocaust.
Second, the kind of people who know the most about that very small select group of Jihadists that DO exist in our world and who target the United States are Muslims themselves who hail from the very places the Jihadists do. And using the conservative’s twisted illogic we should kill the almost two billion people on this Earth who are Muslims at the first opportunity. That is a great sin to even contemplate. Fox News, Matt Drudge, Alex Jones and Glenn Beck are not reliable purveyors of public information as media outlets. Nativism, and xenophobia are rampant in this America.
What would the Christian, Muslim, or Jewish God say about that? I recall a man from Nazareth by the name of Jesus who preached love for our enemies and turning the other cheek to a slight. Making war on the billions of Muslims to protect us from some imagined threat seems rather extreme and enormously counter-productive to say nothing of the barbarity and immorality of such a thing.
Some who conservative anti-Muslims hate so much even serve in our government. One prominent spook (intelligence operative) that helped our government pinpoint Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden quickly for President George W. Bush is an American citizen and a Muslim. Most of the soldiers that do the most good in Afghanistan are people who can speak the local language from being immigrants from the region and knowing the culture.
Most conservative Fox News or radio talker devotees would be shocked to learn these things. The simple xenophobic response against real or imagined foreigners or minority groups of all kinds is so easy and has such a fatal allure—doesn’t it?
It takes more logic, thought, and native intelligence to see the world for what it is. To see its complexities, its ironies, the common thread of human experience and human nature born of that experience that runs through all societies and cultures.
Most of the bad things that happen in our world are not the result of a conspiracy. They are direct acts of moral wrong inflicted upon the innocent openly in our world. The massive cuts in both Social Security and Medicare that many now want and the real cuts of the Sequestration legislation passed by a very real bi-partisan Congress and used by Republicans to attack the present Administration for political gain are done in the open and are real. They do not require any sort of conspiracy whatsoever.
When two teenagers get drunk and run a car off the road and die in the crash and their high school graduating class mourns them and puts up a little monument to them at the school it is not a conspiracy. They made poor choices. When a fifteen-year-old girl who danced and performed for the President at his second inaugural is gunned down by gang members in Chicago it is not some black ops performed by government. They are real slime ball criminals who were shooting it out over some turf battle and the girl was in the line of fire.
The moon landings are real. 9/11 was not launched by the U.S. against itself. Unfortunately that was a conspiracy of Al Qaeda supported by one element of the Taliban in Afghanistan. But it is not a conspiracy in the sense that it remains hidden from the world. Most conspiracies are revealed usually because somebody talks or makes a mistake—the footprint or forensic trail is clear enough.
That trail was obvious to Boston Police and the FBI in Boston a week ago. It is now. They are doing their jobs to protect us. I know the people who are police officers, firefighters, even some people I know worked for our government covertly (I strongly suspect). They are not conspirators. They are real flesh and blood people dealing with the reality of the world as it is.
It is time for the masses of us to abandon the false prophets and Christ wannabees , and hucksters who know how to sell us the fantastic and simplistic answers to the perplexities and sorrows of life. The variety and sophistication of the old Snake Oil salesmen of America’s past has grown exponentially with our media and its attendant technology. We must be more intelligent consumers of information. Yes, test what we hear, see, and experience. Weigh it, and act using the most factual and logical data available to us in keeping with our own life experience which is genuine.
Let us not give in to our prejudices or hatred. Let us not turn to simplistic emotionally satisfying answers to life’s questions and challenges but turn to critical evaluation of what we see, hear, and know. We’ll find far fewer conspiracies out there and will be closer to the love and kindness commanded by our Creator when we do.
Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke
for Struggles for Justice