We all seem to love a good conspiracy. Or at least a good conspiracy theory.
If we cant understand why something happened, or it seems just too
improbable, it usually takes no more than a few minutes before the first
conspiracy theories start cropping up on-line.
Which is not to suggest real conspiracies dont exist. Caesar bit the
dust as a victim of a conspiracy, Jesus was captured and crucified as a
result of a conspiracy, every coup in history has resulted from a
conspiracy. One could argue that our very mortality is the result of a
conspiracy that took place in the Garden of Eden.
There are real conspiracies aplenty to keep us occupied but that never
quite satisfies everybody. The idea that nefarious forces are out there
secretly plotting our discomfort and ultimate demise is still popular with
Back in the 18th century it was a shadowy group collectively known as the
Illuminati plus the Jesuits and the Freemasons who were allegedly
controlling the world, or at least the little European chunk of it in
which they were supposed to operate. At a time when any kind of organized
education was rare, here were some folks doing plenty of book learnin and
many people were quite sure they were up to no good. The boring truth is
theres no real evidence they ever actually conspired to do much of
anything beyond their own backyards.
More recently, the assassination of John Kennedy did more than any other
event to enhance the notion of vast conspiracies. We couldnt quite grasp
the enormity of November 22. The idea that some little pipsqueak was able
to single-handedly gun down our young, vibrant president made no sense.
That the assassin was subsequently murdered himself deepened our
skepticism. When the Warren Commission issued their report it all seemed
There were conspiracy theories everywhere. The CIA did it as retribution
for Kennedys failure to come to the aid of their operatives who were
essentially abandoned when the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba went badly.
Cuba did it to get even for the failed attempts on Fidel Castros life.
The Mafia did it because Kennedy had a girlfriend who was mob-connected
and he had revealed plans to crack down on their activities. Lyndon
Johnson did it so he could be president. The commies did it as payback
for having been humiliated when Kennedy made them back down in the Cuban
After nearly half a century of investi-gating, with magic bullets and
grassy knolls and all the rest, it appears more likely than not that Lee
Harvey Oswald did it, acting alone.
We went through the same disbelief when Dr. Martin Luther King was
murdered and again when Bobby Kennedy was shot.
Conspiracy theories, at least the modern day versions, almost always begin
with an event or circumstances we cannot completely understand. Unable to
figure it out ourselves and unsatisfied with whatever explanation were
given, we begin looking for causes beyond the obvious. Surely there must
be some group somewhere creating these messes that bedevil or mystify most
of us while benefiting a few.
The gas shortages of the 70s? Must be the Trilateral Commission helping
the global conspiracy to drive up oil prices. The current economic mess in
which the world finds itself? Must be the Bilderberg Group plotting the
new world order and a one world government they will control. UFOs?
Cmon. Everybody knows the government has captured space ships and space
monkeys and keeps them out at Area 51 near Groom Lake in Nevada.
A conspiracy, by definition, must be secret. Until or unless it is
exposed, we dont know what happened. Our contemporary conspiracy
theorists will never be deterred by this lack of facts.
In fact, their cult-like adherence to conspiracy
theories requires them to accept as fact that which cannot be proven and a
willingness to ignore those facts which do exist.
Which brings us right up to our truthers, birthers and deathers and their
belief in government conspiracies.
Truthers believe 9/11 was either a full-blown government operation that
did not involve al Qaeda or was the CIA working with al Qaeda or we knew
about it in advance and let al Qaeda do it anyway. We did it, supposedly,
to create a justification for invading the Middle East so we have a
military presence and can protect the oil supply in the region.
To become a truther one must ignore a ton of existing facts we know who
did it, who planned it, where it was planned, exactly how it was carried
out and the bloody results. And we know exactly how the Trade Towers
collapsed, without government-planted explosives, and that a hijacked
commercial jet, not a missile, struck the Pentagon.
The birthers, who believe Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen of
the United States, are in a special class since their perceived conspiracy
benefits but a single person. Theyve been confronted with documentation,
court rulings and witnesses but are undeterred.
Now we have the deathers, who believe we did not kill Osama bin Laden or
hes been dead for a decade and we kept him on ice until we needed the
corpse. Sigh. Why it would be to our advantage to pretend hes dead while
he might still be wandering around hasnt been adequately explained. Nor
has why the Bush Administration thought it was to their advantage to keep
an already dead bin Laden on ice for two full terms in office while the
public wanted his head on a stick.
Conspiracy theories are fun. We all play the game and add our speculation
to the rest of the nonsense that floats around. But the notion of any
kind of large government conspiracy is just silly and I think I can prove
A successful conspiracy requires perfect planning, flawless execution and
absolute secrecy. Does that sound like our government to you?