So tell me, how fine tuned is your tin foil hat? How many conspiracy theories have you taken seriously over the years? Any? Some? None? How aware were you of the ones that have been out there? Are you aware of how many have there are just in the first 9 mos of Obama’s presidency?
Like many from my generation, the first, great Tin Foil Hat theory we were exposed to was the Grassy Knoll and the “real” circumstances surrounding JFK’s assassination. Given how widespread that one went, and the fact that there was enough real credibility given to alternative theories to launch many investigations – not to mention the frame by frame analysis of the Zapruder film – it almost seems sacrilegious at this point to lump this with the current batch. I mean, many of THOSE seem to be rooted in some sort of logic and, at least, circumstantial evidence.
Flash forward to the Clinton presidency and I was still a registered Republican and I received the *zaniest* mailer I had seen until that point! Yeah, a mailer since it was still back in the pre-internet dark ages as far as disseminating conspiracy theories. This one had all the usual breathless declarations and questions filled with innuendo that pretty much accused the Clinton’s of having arranged the murders of over a dozen people as the ‘ascended to power’. It was so ludicrous that it really was a turning point for me politically causing me to start paying attention to just WHO was making these kinds of claims and then spending money spreading it around. I remember being one of many who laughed at Hillary going on about the “vast right wing conspiracy” but when I received that mailer? Well…kind of made her claims seem to be more rooted in reality than theirs certainly!!
During the Bush years, the most well known conspiracy was of course the claim that his admin had planned and executed 9/11 solely to get the nation mired in a war in the middle east. They were called the 9/11 truthers. The motives were many – finish what Bush #41 started, oil, the establishment of a war based economy which would further enrich Bush and all friends, etc etc. Or, even nuttier, the idea that 9/11 wasn’t what it seemed at all – that there were not planes, that there were explosives planted in the buildings…blah blah blah. Other than the motives which were based in logic, the theories were as loony as those leveled against the Clintons. As a pretty devoted liberal by then spending a lot of time on DailyKos, I was happy to see the owner of the site put his foot down about anything like that. They have a very very clear “no conspiracy theories” rule that I always appreciated. After all, you can have strong political opinions on either side of an issue and still keep your feet firmly planted in reality. Unfortunately, there are MANY with loud voices who don’t believe reality is enough 🙂
Enter Barack Obama. Oh boy has he been a lightening rod for conspiracies!! It started before he even got the Democratic nomination with accusations of being enrolled in a muslim school as a child (a madrassa), of being raised as a muslim from the start, and the classic that still continues – of not even being born in the US. Yes, the birther conspiracy lives thanks in no small part to several rather well known media talkers refusing to stomp it out. Oh, they don’t claim to BE birthers, but they slyly say things like “well, if he WOULD just produce his birth certificate this would all go away”, or “Ignoring these claims is rather reckless” or “Well, I have no reason to believe he was NOT born here” Weasel words and statements that give credence to the theories. At the root of this is the belief in a nearly 50 year long secret plot to put a Muslim/socialist/nazi/evil dictator?? in the White House. Attorney/dentist/real estate agent Orly Taitz continues to garner media attention with her lawsuits attempting to prove Obama’s Presidency is illegal. Probably the best source of all the conspiracies that flame on about Obama can be found at a website called World Net Daily (yes, I admit that we on the left refer to it as World NUT Daily ;-)) I shouldn’t link to it, but really, you have to go there and just scroll through the headlines to see why we say NUT. It’s pretty damn funny. And now you are saying “yeah, but only the really fringe right is going to read that stuff” I wish that were true. But Lou Dobbs and Glen Beck have referred to them on their shows lending them a modicum of credibility. I still wouldn’t have believed it was too pervasive in driving conservative talking points though until something that happened this morning. On Saturday morning, after a week or so of continuing coverage of the spread of the H1N1 virus (including into the schools in my area & having known many families across the country who battled it in the past month), Obama declared the flu outbreak a state of emergency. As stated in the news release and in the San Diego Union Tribune this morning: “The President’s declaration was a procedural step, making waivers available to health care providers to ensure that the tools for a quick response to swine flu are in place.” It allows hospitals & local governments to more speedily set up alternate sites and procedures to handle any surge of patients. IOW – it sounds like when a state of emergency is declared when there is a natural disaster such as fires or hurricanes that loosens red tape requirements for federal aid and assistance. Seems like a practical maneuver given the increased reports of the flu, right? No big deal. Nothing about this you could possibly criticzie right? Yet, a dad this morning at my son’s baseball practice said “Well, Obama sure freaked out the country yesterday with his declaration of this whole flu thing as an emergency!” Say what? I kind of think the country has been freaked out about since it first was detected in the spring!! At this point, there isn’t really a panic because many have already come down with it and fought it off. It’s a worse flu than the seasonal variety for sure. Everyone reports a 72 hours period of feeling worse than they can remember and then about 48 hours of supreme exhaustion and need to sleep. But then they DO recover and are fine. Certainly you are more concerned if you have asthma or any other underlying condition. But again, at this point, it’s probably making its way (or made its way) through your community and so it is no longer a scary unknown. Still, pediatricians and hospitals are certainly being hit with a larger than normal demand for treatments. Anyhow, I thought maybe this dad had read some scary headline in the paper, but no, the local headline is pretty innocuous “Flu outbreak declared emergency.” I checked a few mainstream websites and saw nothing like what this dad had said. Other than the man perhaps having some deeply rooted distrust & dislike of Obama (perhaps he watches Fox news?!), I was kind of stumped. Then while checking out World Net Daily to prepare for this blog post, I see this as their top headline:
Really? I mean REALLY? And this is a site trumped by Glen Beck and Lou Dobbs? Oh fer heaven’s sake!!!
I guess that just goes to prove that while every cloud has a silver lining, conversely there is *always* someone who can find something to complain about the President’s actions. Particularly THIS President thanks to the tacit approval of all things conspiracy related to question his motives.
Of course, it also cracks me up that there are conspiracy theories on the left AND the right questioning the need for and effectiveness of the H1N1 vaccine. Yipes!