“These stories are intricate and complicated — far more so than reality or official explanations”
- University of Miami political science professor Joseph Uscinski
As many have heard by now, major news outlets have reported that this past Sunday, a man by the name of Edgar Maddison Welch brought a pistol as well as an AR-15 assault rifle (there’s that evil gun again) to Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington DC. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the incident, while “official” reports state that Welch told police officers that he had “read online that the Comet restaurant was harboring child sex slaves and that he wanted to see for himself if they were there. He stated that he was armed to help rescue them. He surrendered peacefully when he found no evidence that underage children were being harbored in the restaurant.”
As bizarre as the whole scenario sounds on the surface, it has become a capstone in the new war on “fake news”- a talking point that began during the election and the growing concern over the movement behind Trump. This was publicly addressed by President Obama and has been literally parroted by every major news outlet. This narrative has been carried to the point of comprising a literal list of alleged “fake news” sites– which lists satire news sites like “The Onion” alongside anti-globalism news sites like “Infowars”.
CNN VS. “CONSPIRACY THEORIES” PART MCMLXV
The main target of this new campaign against “fake news” are what are labeled “conspiracy theories”. Now this is a term that is thrown around A LOT. In fact, CNN recently published an article online in response to the Comet Ping Pong incident entitled “Why people believe conspiracy theories like ‘pizza gate’”. After outlining the incident, the article’s author, Gregory Krieg goes into what could best be described as an emotional mini-rant- something that is sadly more and more commonplace in supposed “real news” today:
“The flourishes of the conspiracy theory pursued by Edgar Maddison Welch, a bogus and convoluted tale that casts Hillary Clinton and other top Democrats as the leaders of a child sex ring, are no more or less profane than so many others bouncing around the internet’s seedier corners.”
The article then taps social psychology (which is struggling with credibility) and political science (uuum, yeah…) professors who conclude that one of the main “problems” with the discernment of “real” and “fake” news has to do with the saturation of information since the revolution of the internet and then social media. A major complaint in the campaign against “fake news” has been the ability for alleged “fake news” outlets to create the same sort of echo-chamber effect that mainstream media has had a monopoly on for the last several decades.
After lamenting about conspiracy theories “coming out of the closet”, so to speak, the CNN article moves into a sub-headline entitled “Preying on weakness and creating the ‘other’”, where Krieg begins with another horrendously biased mini-rant on supposed conspiracy theories:
“The most prominent channels may change over the decades, but the insidious nature of the misinformation spreading these days is not fundamentally different from the lies peddled a half-century ago.”
Krieg then consults University of Utah history professor Bob Goldberg who describes these “conspiracy theories” as “an antidote to powerlessness because giving the responsibility, pointing the finger, targeting someone gives people a sense that they know what’s happening.”
After which, Krieg throws his summation in there stating, “Conspiracy theories tend to spring from those two prominent desires — creating a feeling of control where it doesn’t exist and defining an enemy where it is absent or difficult to define.”
The article then moves on to portray “conspiracy theorists” as “bullying and hurtful” people who are “trying to silence the victims and survivors of horrendous tragedies”, according to Abby Clements, who claims to have been working as a second-grade teacher during the infamous Sandy Hook event.
The article refers to “pizza gate” as an “invention” to make what one can only glean from this article as the otherwise faultless Hillary Clinton and her associates as what Professor Goldberg refers to as “your enemy” and “the other“.
Professor Goldberg explains how this reasoning is used to elevate this “other” as someone “who has committed treason, someone who has betrayed the country,” deserving to be “punished”. Because nothing ever came out that would have ever suggested that Hillary Clinton or her associates did anything that resembled treason…
The article closes by expressing the need for more effective “fact checkers” and cites the example of Lt. General Flynn- a supporter of Trump- committing a logical fallacy, which is ironic because the article was full of them, such as ad hominem and appeal to authority.
If anything, this article, with its periodic emotional rants and lamenting of “conspiracy theorists” as intolerant bullies who are trying to “silence” people is both a wonderful example of psychological projection and as well as a great snapshot of the sad creature mainstream journalism has become and why people are moving to supposed “fake news” sites for their information. If anything, this article should be re-written and re-named as “Why people don’t believe CNN”.
WHAT IS A CONSPIRACY THEORY?
A conspiracy is defined as “a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful”.
A conspiracy theory is defined as “an explanation of an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy without warrant, generally one involving an illegal or harmful act carried out by government or other powerful actors. Conspiracy theories often produce hypotheses that contradict the prevailing understanding of history or simple facts. The term is a derogatory one.”
Note that the term is referred to as “derogatory”, which means a “critical or disrespectful attitude”.
A “conspiracy theorist” is defined as “a person who holds a theory that explains an event or situation as the result of a secret plan by usually powerful people or groups”
According to Florida State University professor Lance deHaven-Smith’s 2013 book “Conspiracy Theory in America”, the phrase conspiracy theory was deployed in the 1960s by the CIA to discredit people who questioned the official story around the JFK assassination, which was most famously questioned in the Oliver Stone film, “JFK”. Now, this action in and of itself was technically illegal, as the CIA was not supposed to be operating domestically, although this was revealed to most certainly be the case with the Church Committee Hearings. Of course, now, with the repeal of the propaganda ban back in 2013, government-created news is now legal, putting the U.S., led by the CIA, on par with the most esteemed journalism that was found in authoritarian paradises like the Soviet Union and East Germany.
Over the years, many things have been labelled “conspiracy theories” that were later revealed to be actual fact, such as La Cosa Nostra, the information in the Pentagon Papers, CIA drug running (Iran Contra), the Federal Reserve being run by private banking interests or the fact that the Bilderberg Meeting was an actual thing. And while there are certainly wild ones out there literally based in outer space, the reality of people in high places meeting in secret and doing illegal and immoral things is a fact of history and a fact of life.
Does this mean there is one monolithic group out there running everything? No. The world is made up of groups of people who vie for their own interests, whatever they may be. Some are certainly more powerful and exert more control and influence than others, but that is the basis of it. And when said interests converge with that of other groups, these groups will often work together. The “goodness” or “badness” often lies in the fact that the interests of these groups are very different from what yours or mine may be- and sometimes that difference in interest means our own ability to thrive or even survive.
For example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal was negotiated in secret by corporate boards and came out piece by piece that it was designed to strictly serve the interests of multinational corporations and override any laws that would stop it. Now this can and should to be understood to be detrimental to large groups of people and the lands they inhabit. However, if you are on the other side, this deal may be helping you provide what you see is a better life for yourself and people you care about- even if that’s a relatively small number of people. And knowing that people may attempt to derail the deal that is beneficial for you and your group, obviously operating in secret is the best way to go.
These things aren’t “conspiracy theory”- they are the machinations of history and human nature, as well as business. This is how the world of men works, and will continue to until something beyond what we have ever seen or known happens.
In regards to “Pizza gate”, I must admit that I have intentionally been keeping from reading or listening to much about it because I find the topic of child sex trafficking extremely upsetting. However, the sad fact is that the rich and powerful been caught involved in pedophilia and sex-trafficking numerous times over the years.
Most have already forgot about Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney grilling Donald Rumsfeld over major arms manufacturers like DynCorp being involved in sex trafficking or the numerous accounts of child sex abuse in the entertainment industry.
While it is certainly true that people will make loose correlations to explain things, it is also true that they will want to explain away that which makes them very, very uncomfortable. And if the idea of the people we have placed on pedestals as being the leaders of culture and society does not make you very, very uncomfortable, then I don’t know what does.
Now I don’t know the full story around Edgar Maddison Welch, other than the fact he was/is an actor and that he has served to shift some public focus away from stories of high crimes within the DC beltway elite and shift it toward the “dangers” of “fake news”. As a rule, I am always skeptical when it comes to these “shooter” stories- especially when they occur at politically convenient times.
The mainstream media has been caught lying and spreading misinformation over and over and over (remember those weapons of mass destruction?), making this whole “fake news” campaign extremely ironic. And while they lament against those who believe in “conspiracy theories” that target the favored sons and daughters of DC, they push their own conspiracy theory around Russian influence and intrigue to the point where the House of Representatives have quietly passed a bill to counter Russian “fake news” and its “reporters”. Many of the accused Russian fake news agents are American Alt-Right and anti-globalism outlets.
Meanwhile mainstream pundits are calling for a sort of re-education in order to combat this “fake news” and counteract its “goal” according to CNN, which is to “erode trust in mainstream media, public figures, government institutions”- which of course has not happened organically due to said figures and institutions being caught lying and obfuscating repeatedly.
Regardless, let’s say we take the story of Comet Ping Pong gunman incident for absolute truth. The real problem then is not “conspiracy theories”, but how people take and handle information- any information they receive. This then becomes a larger issue of emotional maturity and grounded-ness, stemming from living in a society that has veered far from any sort of basis in nature and nurture of true human nature as well as potential. These are not problems that can be resolved by censorship and corporate government strong-arming
Three years ago, the shooter who opened fire at a conservative lobbying group, Floyd Lee Corkins, cited his reasoning as being that they were on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate group watch list, which is accepted by many people to be a “legitimate” source of information.
The reality is that there will always be unbalanced people out there, but strictly using guilt by association to discredit a stream or source of information, whatever that may be, is error.
In response to the aforementioned CNN article, my teacher and mentor wrote the following:
“We need to develop true discernment and not knee-jerk react to postings that titillate or support our biases. All of us on every side of every issue!”
People are instinctively drawn to whatever supports the worldview and belief system they hold, and deem “un-credible” that which does not. That is human psychology and human nature. However, worldviews can be expanded, but that can only happen from within the individual.
I traversed the political landscape personally and professionally over the years, and in so doing, I learned how to take truth and commonalities from news and articles from the gamut of sources- Democrat, Socialist, Libertarian, Anarchist, Christian Conservative, mainline Republican, Alt-Right, Ethno-Nationalist, and a whole slew of “conspiracy” sites. No one perspective or political ideology has a monopoly on truth- or falsehood. This is yet another application of “separating the wheat from the chaff”.
Now I understand that this can be hard for a lot of people, as our attachment to various fears, beliefs, and identities can prevent us from hearing or reading what seems to be diametrically opposed to what we may have been taught is “good” and “true”. But black and white thinking is not a strength, and all things have positive and negative within them. Ignoring and writing off information as complete lies and BS simply based on the source is error- this is even true when it comes from the mainstream media. What typically is presented is not so simple as truth or lies, it is quite often a mixture of the two.
But regardless of all that, while we need true full-spectrum discernment and use of critical thinking, it is perhaps even more crucial that we maintain control of the emotional reactions that we may have to what we read or hear. We cannot control what anyone says or does, but we can and must learn to control our own actions. True freedom requires that we act rather than re-act. In order to do this we must learn how to stay centered in Self/Higher Power, or at least learn how to move to that place as quickly as possible.
We are living in exciting and tumultuous times now, so it is more important than ever that we stay grounded in the reality of Nature and Creation, and that Ultimate Reality that exists beyond all of it. Let us have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Namaste and God Bless.