Conspiracy Theories: An Irrelevant Distraction

March 21, 2008 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Thousands again marched for peace on Saturday to mark five years since the start of the ground invasion stage of the war in Iraq, and to show solidarity with the victims of Israel’s brutal siege of Gaza. One disappointing aspect of the demonstration was the surprising prevalence of a certain type of banner, whose general tone can best be conveyed by direct quotation: “Jew Sharon Crashes Twin Towers (sic)”, “9/11 Google Building 7 Smoking Gun”, “9/11 Was An Inside Job”. This, it would seem, is the downside of the peace movement’s much-celebrated heterogeneity – the total absence of a party line allows certain mindless elements a disproportionate influence in terms of shaping the visible messages of the demonstration, with potentially disastrous consequences with regard to public perception of the peace movement.

Leaving aside for one moment the merits of the case – in this writer’s view, the conspiracy theories are at best implausible – it is reasonably clear that the overwhelming majority of anti-war campaigners do not believe that the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 were carried out directly by the United States government, and accordingly these banners had no place in the peace demonstration. It is regrettable enough that the demonstration, though well-attended and highly significant, has predictably received relatively little coverage in the mainstream press. There is absolutely no need to compound this by providing the enemies of the peace movement with the opportunity to forge, with regard to such coverage as is afforded, a link in the public conscience between the peace movement as a whole and the childish paranoia of ill-conceived conspiracy theories.

In any case the conspiracy theorists, clouded in their judgement by a mixture of fear and admiration for big government, have rather missed the point. For there is, with regard to the present wars in the Middle East, a quite plain conspiracy in place, the truth of which is attested to by an overwhelming mountain of evidence.

The vast conspiracy of imperialism – the collusion between government, financiers, big business and arms manufacturers, alongside a jingoistic press financed by key vested interests – is evidenced beyond any hint of a doubt, and is far greater in scope and menace than any one-off act of state sponsored domestic terrorism. It is all too easily capable of effecting its destructive purpose without recourse to “inside jobs”. The contribution of these conspiracy theorists, whose ill-considered and largely unsubstantiated bleatings are all the more offensive for being, from time to time, tinged with shades of racial hatred, serves only to discredit a peace movement which, though powerful, has quite enough enemies and obstacles to deal with at present.

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This post was written by Nathaniel Mehr

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