Like a Virus, People Die From Theories and Conspiracies
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
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Some years ago, the wife of a president complained of a ‘vast right-wing’ conspiracy to politically destroy her husband. She may have made the allegations before she knew of or accepted her husband’s various indiscretions. No doubt, she had grown weary of her husband’s many political opponents attempting to destroy him and, with the instinct of ‘mother bear,’ growled with irritation.
Perhaps that is what makes conspiracies and theories so fascinating if not complicated. In full view as in a reality TV show, we’re witness to the inner unvarnished feelings of some of our most powerful political personalities. The public lamenting of being misunderstood, maligned, and crapped on all leads to being a victim to a devious conspiracy. How can one possibly explain such coordinated nastiness? The only explanation is that our enemies are a part of a giant vast conspiracy and completely unwarranted nor deserved. Of course, their own rise to political power and the associated character assassinations and nastiness have either been forgotten or conveniently justified. The idea of ‘fair play’ is a pious notion in modern politics. It is much closer to a gunfight where there are no rules.
“You can’t really argue with people who believe in conspiracy theories because their beliefs aren’t rational. Instead, they are often fear- or paranoia-based beliefs that, when confronted with contrarian factual evidence, will dismiss both the evidence and the messenger who brings it.” Dr. John M. Grohol, Psy.D
At their root, most conspiracies start with a theory, and many stay a theory. A popular theory today is the Critical Race Theory. It, too, contains a strong ‘conspiratorial’ element. Its advocates believe that racism has so meshed into the fabric of contemporary life, even the legal system is at its core, racist. Hence the call to ‘defund’ police and eliminate incarceration institutions. The conspiracy enters Critical Race Theory when it is suggested that the root cause is when white folks conspired to create ‘race’ as a social construct to further their economic and political power.
What Brittanica.com says about Critical Race Theory-
…the view that the law and legal institutions are inherently racist and that race itself, instead of being biologically grounded and natural, is a socially constructed concept that is used by white people to further their economic and political interests at the expense of people of colour. According to critical race theory (CRT), racial inequality emerges from the social, economic, and legal differences that white people create between “races” to maintain elite white interests in labour markets and politics, giving rise to poverty and criminality in many minority communities. The CRT movement officially organized itself in 1989, at the first annual Workshop on Critical Race Theory, though its intellectual origins go back much further, to the 1960s and ’70s.
Implied in any charge of conspiracy is the need for cooperation. The first lady believed political enemies were meeting in secret, plotting her husband’s political destruction. Critical Race Theory believes white people have cooperated and coordinated an entire cultural system, including all of its institutions, in a sinister effort to keep people of color down.
Like any good story, a conspiracy theory needs villains and the resulting group of victims. So it is with Critical Race Theory; the conspiracy has resulted in poverty and criminality for millions of minorities. In rich irony only a playwriter could imagine, it has allowed any number of white opportunists a nice living in speaking fees and the sale of millions of books.
History is rich with conspiracy theories- such is the nature of humankind; dozens of conspiracies attempt to make sense of the assassination of President Kennedy, climate change alarmist believe the petrochemical companies have conspired to ruin the planet, and some still believe that man landing on the moon was an elaborate government hoax staged on a rented Hollywood studio lot. The conspiracy theorists have given little thought to the thousands of folks who would have agreed to go to their deathbed, never telling of their participation in pulling the wool over so many.
Many conspiracies are of a non-threatening benign type. But not all. One, in particular, contributed to the biggest slaughter of humans in history. The conspiracy theory is known is ‘The Protocol of the Elders of Zion’ conspiracy.
The Protocol was ostensibly a document written by the Elders of Zion, which articulated a step-by-step road map for Jewish world domination. With great clarity and using any number of dastardly maniacal means to power, the document was a political manifesto that would curl the toes of any non-Jew. And it did and still does.
Not unlike the profiteers of Critical Race Theory, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion also proved useful. Two of the most heinous individuals in modern history used the Protocols to justify concentration camps and the subsequent murder of millions of Jews. Hitler referred to the Protocols numerous times in Mein Kamph, and Stalin used the Protocols to keep the flames of anti-semitism stoked in communist Russia. Even Henry Ford thought them legitimate when he said to the Washington Post in 1921, “The only statement I care to make about the PROTOCOLS is that they fit in with what is going on. They are sixteen years old, and they have fitted the world situation up to this time.”
The conspiracy of ‘The Protocol of the Elders of Zion’ still has many adherents. They were printed in India in 1974 using the title ‘International Conspiracy Against Indians.’ In 2005 an edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, authorized by the Syrian Ministry of Information, claimed that the Elders of Zion coordinated the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
What makes this conspiracy so villainous is that the Protocols were a forgery. Zionist elders never wrote them. In 1921, the Times of London claimed the Protocols a ‘clumsy forgery’ lifted from some French satire. In 1935, a Swedish court declared the Protocols a forgery. In 1964, the US Senate did the same.
So how did this happen? It is believed that a member of the Russian Czarist secret police, Professor Serge A Milus, edited and initially published the Protocols. The Protocols first appeared in a Russian newspaper, Znamya, in 1903. Author unknown.
If we’re going to ask the question ‘how?’, then we must ask the question, ‘why?’ What possible purpose did the forgery of the ‘Protocols’ serve? Certainly, anti-Semitism played a roll. Anti-Semitism is mostly a result of deep-seated hatred and prejudice. It is often referred to as history’s oldest’ hatred.’ Some social theorists believe it is because Jews often retained cultural autonomy and remained aloof of the communities they joined. Some believe the financial success Jews enjoyed created an atmosphere of envy. Envy creates hatred. Just ask Cain. Whatever the cause, a plot was hatched to claim a conspiracy existed that didn’t. The consequences were horrendous and continue.
And so it is with Critical Race Theory. Millions of folks of all colors are being manipulated into believing they are victims to a powerful, coordinated, and maniacal conspiracy. The result is a concerted effort to defund entire police departments with death and misery certain to follow. Our racial divide, once thought to be narrowing, now grows as deep as the Grand Canyon.
There are consequences to these theories. Many will use Critical Race Theory to deepen their hatred and prejudice further. But perhaps the greatest travesty of them all is when some will justify the disappointment with their lot in life is a result of others seeking to ‘keep em down.’ Unfortunately, wallowing in a sense of victimization is the deadest of all dead ends.
Today, with social media a mecca of name-calling and personal assassinations via canceling and shaming’ the conspiracy theorist is often derided as a nutjob- a fringe individual with limited intellectual abilities necessary to discern fact from fiction. Dr. Anthony Lantian, a researcher, would partially agree with the stereotype. In 2017 he published a study and chose to state it this way, “In terms of cognitive processes, people with stronger conspiracy beliefs are more likely to overestimate the likelihood of co-occurring events, to attribute intentionality where it is unlikely to exist, and to have lower levels of analytic thinking.”
Unfortunately, social media tends to amplify nearly every conspiracy theory, regardless of how unfounded it is. Within hours of the Las Vegas massacre, thousands of people signed on to a Facebook group to hatch and share their various conspiracy theories. Naturally, partisans of all persuasions have their ‘legitimate’ conspiracies they glum onto with irrational certainty. Ever try to change the mind of a conspiracy theorist?
“You can’t really argue with people who believe in conspiracy theories because their beliefs aren’t rational. Instead, they are often fear- or paranoia-based beliefs that, when confronted with contrarian factual evidence, will dismiss both the evidence and the messenger who brings it,” wrote Dr. John M. Grohol, Psy.D., from PsychCentral.com.
Dr. Grohol believes conspiracies will never go away. Our human desire to claim some unique insight that supports our world view makes us vulnerable to the flimsiest of theories and conspiracies and then irrationally reticent to ever change our mind. Life would be boring and less complicated if not for a good conspiracy theory. But we must be careful- there are consequences.
As he so often did, C.S. Lewis said it best. “If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.”