Conspiracy Theories

Once upon a time, not too many years ago, I dated a really lovely blond lady.  She was bright, funny and had a figure a model might have envied.  Alas, the episode was brief.  There were a number of reasons for that, but one of them was revealed one night at dinner.  Somehow or other the conversation had wandered over to medicine and I mentioned something about the current AIDS crisis.

“Well, you know,” she said, “that the AIDS virus was developed by the military, don’t you?”

I remember I was flummoxed enough that I actually asked, “What military?”

“Ours, of course,” she said with absolute assurance.  “It was all a government project.”

I won’t go into all of the details.  I departed that night with a somewhat amateurly printed pamphlet.  As I recall, it was by a retired US military man who ‘exposed’ the whole dastardly conspiracy.  According to him, HIV was the product of some secret project involving germ warfare and some sort of gene splicing.

Call me difficult, but I had a little trouble with this.  First off, while the military had certainly been working to develop biological agents for a long time, they had basically been trying to increase the lethality of known, existing diseases.  HIV was related to no known disease agents except some benign conditions in primates.  Why on earth would the military, even assuming they knew about it, pick a non-lethal simian disease as a place to start?

Secondly, the military was involved exclusively with diseases that had some military use.  To be tactically useful, the effect had to be more or less immediate.  No military scientist who hoped to keep his appropriations flowing would pick something that wouldn’t even begin to emerge for five or ten years.

Finally, even if you accepted 1980 as the date for HIV emergence (remember, this was a number of years ago; today we would place it far earlier), given a lapse of between five and ten years between infection and developing symptoms, this would put the first substantial spread of HIV infections somewhere back in the early seventies.  This, in turn, would put the initial infections back into the sixties.  Given the fact that Watson and Crick didn’t even identify DNA as a double helix until the fifties, the idea of anyone being able to make the technological leap to gene splicing of viruses by the early sixties was just plain risible.

This impeccable logic had exactly zero impact on this lady’s convictions.  Smiling slightly at my naivete, she told me that I obviously had no idea how advanced those secret government labs were.  Why, they had stuff that was decades ahead of what we knew about.  And the HIV virus was developed not for tactical use but to eliminate whole undesirable classes and races from the planet.

If you can figure out anything intelligent to say in reply to that, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

The relationship rather lapsed after that.  I can’t imagine why.

Today, what I find interesting about it is how neatly it reveals the characteristics of those wonderful folks who believe in conspiracies.  The New World Order, World Communism, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Popish Plot, or any of (at least) dozens of others, their believers are drawn from the same classes of folks and their ideas share the same characteristics.

For instance: The Conspiracy is carefully hidden from view.

You never heard of it?  AHA!  That just shows how good they are at hiding.  Somehow enough of the details of the plot (chapters and chapters and endless chapters) have managed to leak out that WE know about it and are valiantly fighting against it along with a few other true patriots.

The Conspiracy controls the media.

You see, that is why most people have never heard of it.  What?  You saw something on 60 Minutes about it?  AHA!  Did you see how they made fun of the idea and made those who believe in it look like dangerous kooks?  That is how THEY cleverly use disinformation to make sure that any bit of THE TRUTH that leaks out is automatically disbelieved.

The Conspiracy has unlimited power

IT controls not only the media, but the government, the military.  It can make someone disappear, have no IRS records, get put in jail, etc.  Everyone you meet who has authority could very well be one of THEM.  Suspicion is our watchword.

The Conspiracy is infinitely patient.

These diabolical plans go back for decades, maybe hundreds of years.  THEIR plan is to take over everything so gradually that no one will notice the changes.  Look at your government!  See how far it has drifted from the Founding Fathers!  But it is not too late.  If enough true Patriots begin to resist, we can still triumph.

The Conspiracy is incredibly clever, but incredibly stupid, too.

The New World Order is a dark plan to have a world government take over the United States under the auspices of the U.N.  You laugh, but I tell you there are, right now, in this country, hundreds of M1 tanks hidden away at secret bases.  And they are all painted UN blue!  AHA!

The Conspiracy is absolutely united and fanatical.

Just as an aside, I have to comment on the “willing suspension of disbelief” displayed here.  Who the heck picks where these conspiracies will reside?

Now, seriously.  Why would anyone pick the UN?  The UN is an inflated, bureaucratic nightmare that can’t do anything efficiently.  For that matter, what idiot would pick on the Jews to be unanimous about anything?  Or how about our military?  Those are the people we select to efficiently betray our country?  Puhlease!  Our military personnel, particularly at the higher levels, are simultaneously ferociously patriotic and ferociously ambitious.  At one time during the Cold War someone calculated that the average hermetic life of a military secret in Washington, DC was twenty minutes.  This one is supposed to have been kept for decades.

Undoubtedly the most consistently held conspiracy theories have had the Jews as the villains.  From the Arabs, through the Russians, and back to the Nazis, everybody’s favorite subversive has been what Hitler called “The Eternal Jew” (to be the Chosen People is obviously not without its drawbacks).  From that point of view they make a good example.

There is a wonderful irony in all this.  Wherever the Jews have found themselves in the Diaspora, they have enjoyed temporary periods of prosperity as punctuations to long centuries of discrimination.  Yet these are the people who are supposed to hold great collusive power and nearly complete clandestine domination.  Obviously there is a point where to be so clandestinely powerful becomes indistinguishable from being impotent.

[Language is funny.  For some reason, the Nazis chose to use classroom terms familiar to every German.  The Judenfrage used the German classroom word, frage, which means both a ‘question’ or a ‘problem’ to be answered.  The student was then required to give the antwort (answer) or the loesung (solution).  The Judenfrage, the Jewish Question, then, was answered by those bright students, the Nazis, with the Endloesung, the Final Answer.]

Here one is forced to look at the Holocaust and ask oneself whether this is not the irrefutable argument against The Great Jewish Conspiracy.  Surely, anyone with all that international power would not have let six million of their own die.

AHA!  The conspiracy theorists say, that does not prove that the Great Jewish Conspiracy is a myth.  Instead, since we know the Great Jewish Conspiracy exists, it must be the Holocaust that is a myth!  The mind boggles at people so in love with their conspiracies that they would seek to deny the most copiously documented genocide in human history rather than abandon their ancient enemy.

The rest of the country likes to say that California is the Granola State: the land of the flakes and nuts (it used to be fruits, flakes, and nuts, but that is no longer PC).  While I hesitate to agree with such a harsh indictment, I will point out that the headquarters of the Holocaust deniers are right here in Southern California, in Newport Beach.  The Institute for Historical Review is an organization so blindly attached to their anti-theory that they embody, in highlighted form, every characteristic of the Conspiracy nuts outlined above.

Who are these people?  What is it about them that makes them so passionately believe in their theories to the point that any evidence to the contrary is automatically dismissed while even the slightest non-negative is instantly trumpeted as definitive proof?

My own opinion is pretty simple.  These are clearly people with such gaping holes in their psyches that only a world-wide conspiracy of an infinitely diabolical enemy can balance them out.  They are the country cousins of those homeless folks who go around talking to themselves.  The difference is that these people have found something to believe in.  It alone is what makes the world explicable to them.  They are so compulsively wedded to their spurious logic that they ought to be pitiable or simply laughable.

Yet Timothy McVeigh was such a one.  So was Adolf Hitler.  So were those amiable Balkan “ethnic cleansers.”  So, probably, were those Turks who slaughtered the Armenians and the Hutus who hacked their Tutsi neighbors to death.

And they share a common trait: These are people whose capacity to demonize their enemies is so complete that they if they were turned loose they would be incapable of stopping on their own before they killed off literally every one of their enemies.

Yet, you know, I wonder.  Maybe they were lucky that they were unable to carry their designs out to their logical Final Answer.  Imagine for a second that Hitler had been able to actually kill every Jew or the Serbians had actually been able to kill every Albanian.

Think how naked they would be.  Who would they have to blame their problems on?

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