A perp walks into a bank and robs it. The teller claims the perp was a duck. When police look at the surveillance video, the image shows a small, feathered creature with webbed feet waddling up to the teller and quacking instructions to her through its bill. The police logically conclude that the perp is indeed the one duck who resides in the town. They get a warrant and search the duck’s nest and sure enough – there’s the money. But wait! Someone comes forward to say it can’t be the duck, because they’re sure they saw the duck on the other side of town at the time of the robbery.
And so the conspiracy theories begin.
Maybe the video tape was doctored by the bank because the bankers stole the money and planted it in the nest to frame the duck!
Maybe the entire police department is lying because they stole the money and they’re trying to blame the duck!
Maybe, maybe, maybe…
Whether it’s the assassination of JFK, the “disappearance” of Elvis or the horrific events of 9-11, conspiracy theories seem to have burgeoned into their own cottage industry, and call me a party pooper if you want but I tend not to be a fan. It’s not that I believe conspiracies never happen, I know they sometimes do; but this trend of translating any questionable or missing piece of evidence into an elaborate plot that ignores both the known facts and common sense is very disturbing for a host of reasons, starting with its potential to wrongly ensnare and tarnish innocent people. Imagine being a member of the Bush administration following 9-11 when it was suggested by some that Bush and others orchestrated the events of that day. Consider what such theories imply, not just about them but also about the people peripherally involved or those who painstakingly investigated the events of 9-11. Were they abettors to this terrible crime? Are they liars? Were they grossly incompetent? Those are damning accusations, yet you can’t accept the conspiracy theories and come to any other conclusion.
Conspiracy theorists aren’t required to observe the standards of reasoning and proof that tend to naturally lead official investigations in the right direction. In the duck scenario, for instance, it would be much harder to credibly point to other suspects if you were required to explain to a jury why you discounted the video evidence and the testimony of the teller who was robbed in favor of the testimony of someone who could easily have been mistaken about some incidental sighting of the duck. Given what’s at stake for others it behooves us to engage in a little self-policing before jumping into the conspiracy boat. The people who perpetuated the 9-11 conspiracy theories, largely a who’s-who list of Bush-hating leftists, were clearly not motivated by a quest for the truth but were instead, consciously or subconsciously, trying to turn any unresolved question from that day into a convenient indictment of the man they hated, and they didn’t care who was sacrificed in the process. I’d like to think that conservatives are better than that but the signs don’t always point that way.
Yesterday I turned on the radio in my car and heard a few minutes of the Michael Savage show. The discussion apparently centered on Obama’s announcement that he was sending 3,000 troops to Africa to help deal with the Ebola epidemic. A woman caller seemed to suggest that she believed this was part of a broader scheme to bring Ebola to the U.S. She also suggested it was possible that the epidemic had been intentionally manufactured and introduced in Africa to initiate the scheme. To Savage’s credit he quickly dismissed that suggestion, but this was followed by a caller who believed this was a plot to undermine the military. It was disturbing to hear such calls and to know that they will help form the impression listeners have of conservatives.
Generally speaking, the simplest and most logical explanations lead to the truth of what’s going on. No doubt there are valid criticisms as to the wisdom of sending U.S. troops into a country infested with Ebola and it might be fair to speculate, based upon his history, that Obama isn’t concerned about the risks this presents to our soldiers, but a diabolical plot intended to bring an Ebola epidemic to the U.S.? Come on. That is the stuff of James Bond villains, the stuff that we find greatly entertaining because it is so far removed from reality as we know it.
Complex Orwellian plots and multifarious conspiracies really aren’t necessary in order for the Left to achieve their objectives, and this is painfully demonstrated to us on a daily basis. Why engage in a fiendish plot to bring Ebola to this country or to destroy the military when you can legally (for the most part) harness people’s own natural nanny-state inclinations to achieve the bulk of your goals pretty much out in the open? It makes no sense.
I am not suggesting that there isn’t a whole lot of lying, secrecy and nefarious dealings going on. On the contrary, I understand as well as anyone that scheming and dishonesty pervade government, particularly leftwing administrations whose goal is to control and harness the earning power of some to buy the loyalty of others. It requires a great deal of manipulation and orchestration to accomplish that. There is, however, a not-so-fine line between being justifiably wary and watchful of government and letting your imagination go too far. You can only cry wolf so many times before no one takes you seriously. Already the words “conspiracy theory” elicit eye rolls and images of red-eyed bloggers furiously typing away in their mothers’ basements. That’s a tragedy for the genuine conspiracies that will be uncovered and then perfunctorily dismissed, but it’s the price that comes with the loss of objectivity. I’m sure I’ll win no popularity contests with this post, but sometimes when something walks and quacks like a duck it really is just a duck.