Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Conspiracy Hits Just Keep On Coming

South Dakota isn't quite as isolated as residents or comedians would like us to believe.  I've talked about local conspiracy theorists here, here, and here

Although he is writing about the national scene, Conor Friedersdorf could be talking about Steve Sibson and his fellow South Dakota conspiracy buffs.  Firedersdorf takes on both Ron Paul and the mainstream Republicans who criticize Paul's colorful worldview but promulgate their own equally preposterous theories.
. . . Rep. Paul's critics are on questionable ground when they write as if he alone among Republican Party members fails to confront -- or even leverages -- conspiracies in which his supporters believe, or that he is unique in consorting with conspiracy theorists. Alex Jones broadcasts some indefensible nonsense, from what little I've heard of his show. I've insufficient basis to compare it to other broadcasters I've listened to much more frequently, but I can say this: if Glenn Beck's show on Fox News was less nutty than the Alex Jones Show, as it may well have been, it nevertheless was rife with nutty conspiracy theories -- and lots of prominent conservatives were happy to appear on it. Sarah Palin, for one. Is that where she told us to fret about death panels? How many prominent conservatives slyly said that they hadn't personally examined Obama's birth certificate, and couldn't know for sure if he was born in the United States? How many conservative talk-radio hosts sold commemorative coins at a substantial markup because they're supposedly the last gold the government would confiscate?
How many election cycles has the conservative movement used the canard that reinstating the Fairness Doctrine was agenda item one for Democrats if they regained control of the government? How many Sean Hannity radio listeners think that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim? Haven't Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain all played on conspiratorial fears that we're on the verge of sharia law being implemented right here in America?
National Review employs as a national-security journalist a man who alleges that President Obama is allied with our Islamist enemies in a "Grand Jihad" against America, and Gingrich dissents from that theory only because he believes the Dinesh D'Souza thesis that it is actually Kenyan anti-colonialism that guides Obama's behavior. In some parts of the GOP, the theory of evolution and all climate science are also regarded as elaborate conspiracies. And don't get me started on Clinton-era conspiracy theories. The notion that this pathology is somehow unique to Paul or the libertarian wing of the Republican Party is flat-out indefensible.
Friedersdorf also provides several historical examples to illustrate the dangers ignoring verifiable wrongdoing while concentrating on shadows:
Governments, ours included, are frequently complicit in unthinkable acts, whether sanctioned from the top, like forcing water into the lungs of prisoners in secret CIA facilities, or perpetrated by rogue actors, like Abu Ghraib. Peruse the Church Report. Read about the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. Or if it's domestic matters that interest you, read Radley Balko's work on bite mark analysis.
In yet another example of someone writing something I want to say better than I can, Friedersdorf concludes,
We'll never be without conspiracy theories, but decreasing their presence and power in American politics would be a lot easier if the government would stop doing wildly controversial and corrupt things, often in secret, whether at home and abroad, on Wall Street, in the halls of Congress, or at the Fed. It would also be easier if Paul critics were as outraged by the conspiracy theories that are deeply ingrained in the conservative movement, and the subject of frequent pandering.
I suspect that one trip through The Madville Times comment sections tomorrow will prove the first sentence of the preceding paragraph prophetic

1 comment:

yanktonirishred said...

Sibby is a nutbag. Really makes me question his voting district.