Throwing a Wrench in Conspiracy Theories

 

This should not be needed. My retrospective on persistent conspiracy theories a couple weeks ago narrowly focused on the 1990s instance of “black helicopters.” Then, the terrorist attack on 9/11/2001 spawned all manner of conspiracy theories, long before the rubble was cleared.

Thankfully, Popular Mechanics methodically debunked the technical 9/11 conspiracy theories. This grew into a book. They repost a portion of their report every year for 9/11, dealing with the twin towers, the Pentagon, and the aircraft. Because truth needs to be repeated from time to time.

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  1. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    You’re right that it shouldn’t be needed, but it’s good that Popular Mechanics re-posts it — and that you did as well. September 11 was a long time ago: a lot of the people voting in 2020 were not alive in 2001.

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  2. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    And sadly as always, conspiracy theories and antisemitism go together like a horse and carriage, like love and marriage, like soup and sandwich. It never takes long. Flip over any rock and you’ll find ’em. When I traveled in Europe over the following year, I had the “benefit” of hearing any number of noxious fantasies. “Bush and his buddies the Jews pulled it off”.  I’d resist punching them–how, I don’t know to this day. Too many Euros figured that Bush and the Jews were natural allies, because they didn’t like either of them.

    Or how about “8000 Jews didn’t go to work that day…someone passed the word around…” I heard that a lot. The Russians were big believers in that one. Eight thousand people sworn to the biggest, most explosive fact in U.S. history…and not one of them so much as breathed a word!  I’d ask skeptically, “Do you know any Jewish people from New York? Have you ever met a Jewish person in your entire life? Because culturally speaking, “not ever talking about an ethically critical political issue” is not a noted strength”.

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  3. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    And sadly as always, conspiracy theories and antisemitism go together like a horse and carriage, like love and marriage, like soup and sandwich. It never takes long. Flip over any rock and you’ll find ’em. When I traveled in Europe over the following year, I had the “benefit” of hearing any number of noxious fantasies. “Bush and his buddies the Jews pulled it off”. I’d resist punching them–how, I don’t know to this day. Too many Euros figured that Bush and the Jews were natural allies, because they didn’t like either of them.

    Or how about “8000 Jews didn’t go to work that day…someone passed the word around…” I heard that a lot. The Russians were big believers in that one. Eight thousand people sworn to the biggest, most explosive fact in U.S. history…and not one of them so much as breathed a word! I’d ask skeptically, “Do you know any Jewish people from New York? Have you ever met a Jewish person in your entire life? Because “not talking” is not a noted strength”.

    People also forget that Alex Jones made his name by being one of those at the forefront of the 9/11 Truther movement. Bring that fact back up now, given where Jones seems to be positioned in the political and pop culture news media spectrum, and you’d have extremists on both sides twisting themselves into pretzels to try and explain and justify the contractions (on the other hand, someone like Marco Rubio could simply look at Jones’ Truther activity from 15 years ago and say that’s even more of a reason to want to punch him out).

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  4. TallCon Coolidge
    TallCon
    @TallCon

    Well I just posted the following:

    I’m wracking my brain to think of what conspiracy theories I buy into. I can’t think of any. Well, not at first (that will be my wow finish). You tell me that someone other than Oswald killed Kennedy I’ll tsk tsk at you. You tell me Roosevelt allowed Pearl Harbor I’ll roll my eyes, unless you’re unlucky enough to catch me on a day that I’ll unload why even if he did it would have been a preposterous strategy. You tell me 9/11 was an inside job and we can’t be friends anymore. You tell me we faked the moon landing I might punch your lights out. (Hey, you have your priorities, I have mine.)

    • #4
  5. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    TallCon (View Comment):

    Well I just posted the following:

    I’m wracking my brain to think of what conspiracy theories I buy into. I can’t think of any. Well, not at first (that will be my wow finish). You tell me that someone other than Oswald killed Kennedy I’ll tsk tsk at you. You tell me Roosevelt allowed Pearl Harbor I’ll roll my eyes, unless you’re unlucky enough to catch me on a day that I’ll unload why even if he did it would have been a preposterous strategy. You tell me 9/11 was an inside job and we can’t be friends anymore. You tell me we faked the moon landing I might punch your lights out. (Hey, you have your priorities, I have mine.)

    I had a drunk guy in Russia ask me how we know the Moon landing is real. I asked him how we know WWII was real. 

    • #5
  6. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    TallCon (View Comment):

    Well I just posted the following:

    I’m wracking my brain to think of what conspiracy theories I buy into. I can’t think of any. Well, not at first (that will be my wow finish). You tell me that someone other than Oswald killed Kennedy I’ll tsk tsk at you. You tell me Roosevelt allowed Pearl Harbor I’ll roll my eyes, unless you’re unlucky enough to catch me on a day that I’ll unload why even if he did it would have been a preposterous strategy. You tell me 9/11 was an inside job and we can’t be friends anymore. You tell me we faked the moon landing I might punch your lights out. (Hey, you have your priorities, I have mine.)

    And we’ve been served at least the Kennedy and moon landing conspiracies up by Hollywood, treating them seriously. Interesting that neither Pearl Harbor, nor the actual attacks on 9/11, have been the subject of Hollywood-made conspiracy theory movies.

    See the source image

    See the source image

    • #6
  7. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    TallCon (View Comment):

    Well I just posted the following:

    I’m wracking my brain to think of what conspiracy theories I buy into. I can’t think of any. Well, not at first (that will be my wow finish). You tell me that someone other than Oswald killed Kennedy I’ll tsk tsk at you. You tell me Roosevelt allowed Pearl Harbor I’ll roll my eyes, unless you’re unlucky enough to catch me on a day that I’ll unload why even if he did it would have been a preposterous strategy. You tell me 9/11 was an inside job and we can’t be friends anymore. You tell me we faked the moon landing I might punch your lights out. (Hey, you have your priorities, I have mine.)

    And we’ve been served at least the Kennedy and moon landing conspiracies up by Hollywood, treating them seriously. Interesting that neither Pearl Harbor, nor the actual attacks on 9/11, have been the subject of Hollywood-made conspiracy theory movies.

    See the source image

    See the source image

    You’re right, but I’ll play at least a slight devil’s advocate here. (I don’t think the devil has a chance against you, Cliff. But if his argument is, say, at least 11–18% strong, we already know it’s 82–89% weak.) Capricorn One is not a case of Hollywood treating Moon denialism seriously, unless Back to the Future is a case of white America stealing credit for Chuck Berry’s music in the Fifties. 

    9/11 trutherism never became anything close to a majority view in Hollywood. As liberal as Hollywood is, it was not much different from anywhere else. The fact that the attackers were Islamic religious fundamentalists did not endear them to the town. 

    Pearl Harbor? I don’t think even Patrick Buchanan could write a credible conspiracy story in the usual sense. It’s certainly possible to write a history of the US and the late Thirties that, in the brutal realism of international power diplomacy, makes Japan’s actions a little more comprehensible and ours a little less selfless and peace loving. 

    Stone’s JFK should be studied for its narrative cleverness; you could conduct an entire film class in the art of persuasion by screening and freeze-framing moments of the film where your opinion is craftily manipulated, whether you agree with the contents or not.

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Stone’s JFK should be studied for its narrative cleverness; you could conduct an entire film class in the art of persuasion by screening and freeze-framing moments of the film where your opinion is craftily manipulated, whether you agree with the contents or not.

    Darn, Gary. @titustechera should book you as a podcast guest.

    • #8
  9. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Pearl Harbor? I don’t think even Patrick Buchanan could write a credible conspiracy story in the usual sense. It’s certainly possible to write a history of the US and the late Thirties that, in the brutal realism of international power diplomacy, makes Japan’s actions a little more comprehensible and ours a little less selfless and peace loving.

    As far as Pearl Harbor goes, there was a conspiracy… run out of Moscow, which, especially after the German invasion in June 1941, didn’t want Japan to turn north to Siberia from China and Manchuria. Harry Dexter White was part of the Washington end. John Koster’s Operation Snow details this:

    He was the top official in FDR’s Treasury Department and had the ear of prominent New Dealers such as his boss Secretary Henry Morgenthau, as well as others in President Roosevelt’s Cabinet.

    White was in close contact with Vitaly Pavlov, the “second-in-command” in the NKVD (predecessor to the KGB). The two plotted a strategy—”Operation Snow”—that initiated a toppling of dominoes that utlimately led to December 7, 1941. The main issue was oil. Japan didn’t have any and had to acquire it from the Soviet Union or the United States. White worked furiously to pull levels of American government power to provoke an attack from Japan, sparing the Soviets.

    He did so by influencing the Roosevelt administration against reaching a diplomatic deal with the Japanese. White worked overtime once the Hitler-Stalin pact abruptly ended, since a Japanese attack on Russia would divert Russia’s forces away from its Western Front, making Germany’s conquest of the Soviet Union all the more likely.

    Much of what we know about White comes from his August 1948 testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. But because the former Treasury official failed to exonerate himself in these committee appearance, he took his own life three days later in a disguised suicide.

    White, who fed Russian dictated text designed to be highly inflammatory (the Sorge network was providing intelligence to Moscow about high level Japanese civilian and military politic) into US diplomatic cables to Japan, was a critical Soviet operative in Washington. According to some reviews, Koster probably scants both Owen Lattimore’s role in the USSR’s US operation and the highly effective Soviet intelligence operation in Japan, most prominently the Sorge network. In Japan, Soviet operatives in or with access to media and government were dropping stories egging the war party on while White was

    Additional conspiratorial fodder comes in the form of evidence of absence: According to M. Stanton Evans’ work, there seems to have been some very selective pruning of documents. Knowing that, Diana White, writing about Elliott Thorpe’s (he was Macarthur’s counterintelligence chief in the Pacific) East Wind, Rain draws her usual (and uncomfortably often correct) inferences from the absence from US archives of signals Thorpe sent to Washington from his post in Indonesia.

    • #9
  10. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    There were certainly highly placed crazies in Tokyo who wanted war with the USA. We’ll never know the extent to which Russian activity in both countries moved the attack on Pearl Harbor from a contingency plan in a filing cabinet to what it became – or whether Percy Greaves

    …chief of the minority (Republican) research staff of the (1945-1946) Joint Congressional Committee to Investigate the Pearl Harbor Attack. He attended all its hearings, interviewed many Army, Navy, and Washington principals involved in the attack and in the investigations. He researched diplomatic documents, studied reports and accounts of the event published during the years that followed. This book is not about the attack itself. It is about never before presented pre-attack and post-attack events, from the Washington point of view. Without name-calling, innuendo, or slander, Greaves simply presents the pertinent, significant and relevant facts which led the Japanese to attack and the political administration to want to cover-up its involvement.

    (I just got the Kindle book, all this is from the Amazon blurb)

     

    … The prevailing consensus view is that fault for Pearl Harbor belongs to General Walter Short and Admiral Husband Kimmel, while the major political and military figures in Washington should be completely exonerated.

    Greaves turns this conventional wisdom its head. “It is now apparent also that the president himself, even before the attack, had intended to order the U.S. armed forces to make a pre-emptive strike against the Japanese in the southwest Pacific in order to assist the British in southeast Asia. But the Japanese ‘jumped the gun’ on him by bombing Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.”

    Greaves’s conclusion is dramatic in the extreme: “It must be said also that the evidence revealed in the course of the several investigations leads to the conclusion that the ultimate responsibility for the catastrophe inflicted on the U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, must rest on the shoulders of President Roosevelt… It was thanks to Roosevelt s decisions and actions that an unwarned, ill-equipped, and poorly prepared Fleet remained stationed far from the shores of the continental United States, at a base recognized by his military advisers as indefensible and vulnerable to attack…. Thus the attack on Pearl Harbor became FDR s excuse, not his reason, for calling for the United States s entry into World War II.”

    Greaves provides comprehensive coverage here on the history of U.S. and Japanese relations, the actions of the Roosevelt administration, the attack and the response on the ground, the investigations and cover-ups that began almost immediately and continue to this day.

    I wish the blurb from this 2010 book, coauthored by Greaves’ widow, had mentioned the fact that over 10 years before it was published, the U.S. Senate voted to exonerate Short and Kimmel. This fact was obviously not known to Greaves himself who died in 1984.

     

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  11. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    And then there’s this:

    A student union group has been roundly condemned after mounting an extraordinary defence of Stalin’s notorious gulags.

    Over one million people died in the infamous worker camps in the Communist Soviet Union, while other critics of the regime were imprisoned there for years and forced to work to the edge of exhaustion.

    But hard-left activists at Goldsmiths university tweeted a defence of the gulags – claiming they helped rehabilitate workers and were nicer than Western prisons.

    They claimed that inmates were actually treated well and allowed to join theatre groups and write for prison newspapers.

    Proof that @drbastiat was only covering part of the story: it’s not just in the USA where the school system is succeeding. It’s almost enough to make you believe it’s a conspiracy.

    • #11
  12. Justin Hertog Inactive
    Justin Hertog
    @RooseveltGuck

    Great post. It’s also worth pointing out how the media and tech companies selectively apply one standard to some conspiracy theories and theorists (like Alex Jones), while applying another standard to others who have been coarsening public discourse for decades, like Michael Moore.

    • #12

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