It’s a Conspiracy!

I been seeing some disturbing things lately under the general heading of conspiracy theories. So, I thought looking at classics might provide me some insight.

JFK – The assassination of President John F Kennedy was planned by the CIA and carried out by a large group of assets. Lee Harvey Oswald was set up to be the fall-guy, then murdered by a Mafia/CIA hitman before he could talk.

UFOs – The existence of UFOs has been known to government agencies for decades but the information has been hidden from the public for fear of widespread panic. Remnants of aliens and their craft are hidden in Area 51, in the desert southwest.

Paul is dead – Paul McCartney of The Beatles died in 1966 and the death was covered up by record companies to avoid a huge crash in sales. Faux Pauls were hired to carry on the charade. The Beatles themselves put coded messages into their records about Paul’s death, so fans would know the truth.

Apollo 11 – The 1969 moon landing was faked in a Los Angeles television studio.

Chemtrails – Chemical and/or biological agents are, without general public knowledge, being spread across the country by high-flying planes to achieve various evil purposes, such as weather modification, psychological manipulation, or population control.

Vaccines – Vaccines are not beneficial, or even benign. They are purposefully spreading disease and/or chronic illness. For example, vaccines were used by the CIA in sub-Saharan Africa to spread AIDS, and are spreading conditions, like autism, in the US.

New World Order and the Illuminati – A secret globalist power elite is conspiring to (or already does) rule the entire world through an authoritarian world government. The United Nations and European Union were harbingers of this secret movement and the process continues through groups such as The World Economic Forum (Davos), the annual Bilderburg meeting, the Bohemian Club, the Trilateral Commission and others.

Mass shootings – The mass shooting events seen in world media are fakes. Actors are hired to portray victims and their families.

9/11 – The terrorist attack on New York’s World Trade Center was actually conducted by either the US government or Israeli intelligence agencies, in order to create a case for increasing US military and financial support for Israel and increased US militarism in the Middle East.

Global warming/climate change – Climate change events, such as floods and hurricanes are reported inaccurately to either cover for super-normal inflation of energy prices, or to facilitate fundraising for anti-oil scientists and organizations.

Besides the fact that they’re all complete nonsense, what do these conspiracy theories have in common?

First, there are other, more fact-based, simpler and, frankly, better explanations available. There have, in fact, been a great many mass shootings in America, most recently, for example, in El Paso, Gilroy and Dayton. And there have been real victims. Because I work in an urban medical and trauma center, I have seen victims of gun violence and their families firsthand. No crisis actors.

Second, they suppose a world in which chaos is brought to order and the unexplained is explained. But this world does not exist in reality. The evidence of global warming/climate change is plain to see and obvious to markets. There is neither a cover-up, nor the artificial manipulation of prices. There’s no need. Energy prices and the ample profits earned by energy multi-national corporations are the result of very complex market forces, most notably consumer demand, not a backroom cabal of “globalists.”

Third, paying better attention to actual world events can help illuminate underlying forces a lot better than ginned up secret conspiracies only the smart or initiated know. Is there an actual global power elite? Sure as hell, there is. Are they hiding in back rooms or forested compounds? Nope. They’re right out in the open and they have and exercise political and economic power because they have money. You probably even know their names. No mystery in that to solve.

Now, let’s think about other, more contemporary conspiracy theories: Gun control, the deep state/QAnon, and elite pedophile rings.

Guns – Private citizens owning guns is part of America’s deep mythos, not so much its actual history. Some conspiracy theorists think of measures to regulate guns, even quite minor ones, as part of a larger hidden effort to completely disarm civilians in preparation for the world government (or federal government, for the smaller-scale thinkers among conspiracy theorists) takeover of the country and its citizens. Legislative efforts such as universal background checks, assault weapons bans and the regulation of ammunition are met as if they were the next coming of the Cossacks.

Here’s what is true and apparent: The US has many many problems with guns not shared by other developed countries. We openly demonstrate ourselves to be an immature and bloodthirsty people. For one thing, we use guns too often to kill each other, or ourselves. Almost ubiquitous access to guns (In some American cities and towns, you need only go to the local hardware or big-box store.) has made them the go-to tool for getting even and settling scores. I’ve written several pieces about them here, here, here and elsewhere. Historian Garry Wills wrote about guns as the American Moloch here.

Having a firearm in your home makes it very much more likely you’ll kill yourself – either by accident or purposefully – or your kids than that you’ll use it to protect yourself or your family from an intruder, much less government agents. Gun control measures are, in my opinion, reasonable solutions to the unsustainable levels of violence we create and experience in this country, not a path to world government hegemony.

Deep State/QAnon – QAnon is a unique animal. It details an alleged secret plot by the “Deep State” against Donald Trump and his supporters. Evidence cited by QAnon and its legions of “in-the-know” supporters include the tragicomic Pizzagate, a tale of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and a senior Democratic political advisor either running or facilitating a child sex-trafficking ring in the non-existent basement of a DC-area pizza parlor.

Is there a “Deep State?” There may be but there needn’t be. There are, in fact, plenty of people trying to undermine Donald Trump and they have very rational reasons for doing so, hardly any of them oblique or hidden. Trump has amply and publicly proven himself virtually illiterate, an oaf, a racist, a bigot, personally and politically corrupt, ignorant of the workings of his own government, uninformed about the basics of world affairs or even the real lives of his own countrymen, blissfully unaware of his actual job responsibilities, and using his position to enrich himself and his clearly ungifted children. I wrote about him presciently here.

Elite Pedophiles – And, finally, some thought about conspiracy theories supposing the existence of elite rings of pedophiles and their enablers.

American children are kidnapped, trafficked and used for the sexual gratification of sick or evil adults. Are they flown to private islands on private jets for those horrible purposes by global business and political elites? Possibly. But it is much more likely they’ll be abused and exploited by people they know best and trust the most: most likely of all, their own family members, or their teachers, coaches, or parish priests. For every Jeffrey Epstein, there are literally thousands of people who present greater and more proximate threats to children, much closer to home.

Almost every real story of the abuse of children involves numerous bystanders and enablers, many of whom know the child or children involved. And whether because of denial, discomfort, or fear, these individuals do not intervene. Our real history is full of examples. I wrote about this topic here. Why aren’t our biggest and baddest conspiracy theorists taking the big and bold action they call for so loudly in their own cities, much less their own churches, schools and homes?

And if we’re really interested in addressing the wholesale (and wholly preventable) abuse of children within our borders, let’s deal with the fact that 16 million US children are malnourished and 2.5 million are homeless.

And finally, let’s remember the cruel and vile treatment our own government is regularly dishing out to children on our border with Mexico – ripping them away from their parents, caging them, giving them insufficient healthcare, food and water, and physically and emotionally torturing them.

Here’s some tough-to-swallow truth: JFK was killed by Oswald. Vaccines save lives. Guns kill.¬†

Throughout our history, I believe people have created and believed conspiracy theories, even in light of clear evidence to the contrary, for obvious reasons: reality is too bitter, active engagement is too difficult, looking in the mirror just too harsh.

Not What I Heard

The soundtrack of my young life went something like this: my mother played classical pieces on the living room piano, my dad played Sinatra and Johnny Cash on the Hi-Fi, my brother played the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on his transistor radio.

I try to remember that personal context thinking of the day (I was around 10 years old) when my friend Anthony brought a new album to the clubhouse of our neighborhood playground. He said to me, in dead earnest, “I know this isn’t what you listen to at home but you have to hear it.” And with that titillating introduction, he pulled James Brown’s ‘Cold Sweat’ out of the sleeve, itself looking strange and unfamiliar to me, and placed it on the playground’s antique record player.

What happened next isn’t entirely clear to me now, many years later, but when the ungodly-long (it was over 7 minutes) song ended, I knew something buried deep inside me had been released. I thought I knew music before hearing James Brown but this was something I’d never heard before; I’d never ever heard anything remotely like it. My wee 10-year-old brain was well and duly blown, and blown for good. When, sometime later, I finally saw Brown perform in ‘The T.A.M.I. Show,’ a concert film, a true happening of cosmic scale, I sat slack-jawed throughout. Not only was his music completely different than anything I’d heard before, he moved in ways I’d never seen.

My family recently gave me ‘The One,’ a brilliant biography of James Brown by RJ Smith and I inhaled it practically overnight. The New York Times review is here. It made me remember what I felt when I first heard his music and it made me appreciate or, more properly, re-appreciate just how revolutionary a figure he was. And to say I loved the book is in no way to sugar-coat Brown’s street-tough life, personal inadequacies, or thorny personality.

James Brown lived hard and righteously pissed off nearly every single person he ever met.¬†That said and understood, he laid a foundation for all that followed him. If you don’t know James Brown, his music and performance, do yourself a favor and discover him now. If you do know him, get Smith’s book; it will be a revelation.

You’re welcome.