The US alphabet agencies recently released some formerly classified files on JFK. There’s nothing much in them, because well…why would there be? Supposing the CIA were complicit, who’s going to release, 50 years after the event, the evidence of their own coup? We haven’t covered it here, at OffG, because it doesn’t really need any attention. It’s a charity dump, a distraction. It allows Trump to look like he’s combating the Deep State, when in fact he’s firmly on the leash. That the CIA or FBI didn’t suddenly produce proof of their complicity in JFK’s assassination is not evidence of anything.
Jonathan Freedland, writing one of his toxic editorials in The Guardian, begs to differ. The fact that CIA didn’t release any evidence they did it…is evidence they didn’t do it, according to Freedland. His column, long on mockery and self-righteous smears but short on evidence (as usual), does nothing but demonstrate three things:
1. He is only just barely acquainted with the facts of the JFK case.
2. He has no faculty for basic logical thinking.
3. He is not averse to practicing intellectual dishonesty.
If you’ve been paying even the slightest bit of attention, none of these will come as a surprise.
But this article isn’t about JFK – we’ve written about that before, and will do again. But not today. This article isn’t about Freedland’s aggressively uninformed opinions, his cloying prose or his ill-deserved sense of moral superiority. It’s about the world-view he’s trying to market between banner ads begging for money. It’s about his smug insistence that conspiracy theories just don’t happen.
Or, to be more specific, conspiracy theories don’t happen…here.
Because, despite his deep-held belief that Conspiracy Theories are dangerous, he certainly believes in a lot of them. He thinks the Russian Government poisoned Alexander Litvinenko. He thinks Vladimir Putin had Boris Nemstov shot. He thinks Russian banks have been backing the far-right in Europe and supported Brexit. And he thinks the FSB “hacked” the American presidential election in order to get their Manchurian candidate elected.
Buzz in when you spot the connection.
These are all, by definition, conspiracy theories – but they are also all things done by the other. Conspiracies happen over there. They are done by the bad guys. We don’t do them.
….except of course, when we do.
Two years ago, the idea that the US, Saudi Arabia, Israel and others had created ISIS as front for a proxy war on Syria was dismissed as a “conspiracy theory”. It has since been proven, many times over, to be completely true. That ISIS are US proxies is not a “conspiracy theory”, but a conspiracy fact.
Five years ago, anybody claiming that the NSA were secretly surveilling most of the world, including the governments of allied countries, would have been dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theorist and told to don their “tin-foil hat”. Edward Snowden’s revelations on the NSA internet and communications surveillance programme, of course, prove the accusation true. Freedland should remember this one, the story broke in his paper, his colleagues won awards for it, and their computers were destroyed on the orders of GCHQ. Why this constantly escapes the man’s memory is anyone’s guess. Regardless, NSA mass surveillance is a not a “conspiracy theory”, but a conspiracy fact.
Fifteen years ago, anybody claiming that wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were being pushed under false pretences, in order to make money for the private sector and encircle Iran…would have been dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theorist. Now we know that the WMD dossier was “sexed up”. It is not a conspiracy theory, but a conspiracy fact.
Twenty-seven years ago, anybody claiming that “Nayirah” – the Kuwaiti nurse who famously testified that Iraqi soldiers had thrown Kuwaiti babies out of incubators – was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador and had never been a nurse…would have been dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theorist. This information became public knowledge in 1991, just months after her testimony had been used to stoke public support for the first Iraq war. Nayirah being a fake witness to push war propaganda is not a “conspiracy theory”, but a conspiracy fact.
Thirty-two years ago, anybody claiming that Reagan’s government were trading with Iran in order to fund and arm a proxy army in Nicaragua to overthrow the democratic government of Daniel Ortega…would have been dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theorist. However, the whole affair came to light in 1986. Iran-Contra is not a “conspiracy theory”, but a conspiracy fact.
Fifty-three years ago, anyone claiming that Gulf of Tonkin incident had been almost entirely fabricated as an excuse to launch a full-scale war against North Vietnam….would have been dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theorist. There is a mountain of evidence has been compiled since then, that proves the “incident” never really happened. The faking of the Gulf of Tonkin incident is not a “conspiracy theory”, but a conspiracy fact.
These are just six famous, high-profile examples. There are dozens of others. Conspiracies happen. All the time. Freedland’s piece is an attack on this truth, an effort to distort reality by blurring clear definitions. He claims that:
[conspiracy theorists] perennially cast the FBI and the CIA as the key tools of dark, unseen forces.
…without making any reference to decades of state-sanctioned murder, torture and destruction that earned these agencies their well-deserved reputation.
You don’t need to be deluded to think the CIA a tool of “dark forces”, you just need to study the history of Iran. Or Chile. Or Indonesia. Or Afghanistan. Or Honduras. The list of democratic governments overthrown by the US is very long. A lot those plots were considered “conspiracy theories”, until the facts of the case eventually came out.
All of these would have, at some point, been dismissed as “conspiracy theory”. They are all, now, accepted historical facts. Freedland mentions none of them. A remarkable act of hypocrisy for a man so adamantly against what he calls the “post truth age”.
Freedland would have us believe that none of these conspiracies, however well documented, actually happened. But there is another kind – the kind that definitely did happen…regardless of the lack evidence.
Now, we turn our eyes to Russia.
Russia, you see, is place where “conspiracy theories” are no longer dangerous. They are always appropriate and universally true. Nothing that happens in Russia is explicable by any means other than “the Kremlin”.
In the media and state-backed push to create a great enemy for our age, there is no crime so petty it cannot be linked to Moscow, no evidence of “Russian interference” so pathetically small it won’t be splashed across the headlines.
On the same pages where Jonathan Freedland espouses the dangers of “conspiracism”, Luke Harding blames the FSB for opening his windows.
Just a few months ago, when a metro station in St Petersburg was bombed, the BBC suggested it was a Putin-backed false-flag within hours. No such assertion was ever made about Las Vegas. Or Westminster. Or Sandy Hook. Or Paris. Or Berlin. Or Orlando.
That the FSB poisoned Litvinenko is treated as an unquestioned fact. That MI5 murdered Princess Diana? Nothing but a laughable absurdity. It is the shallowest, almost childlike propaganda, that beatifies its own side whilst projecting all the ills of the world into the other.
This demonisation of Russia are then segued into demonisation of democracy. The Russians are currently accused of having meddled in every major election for years. The Scottish Independence Referendum, the Brexit vote, the American and French Presidential elections, the general elections in the UK and Germany, and the Dutch referendum on Ukraine. All were subject to phantom “interference”, yet to be substantiated by any real evidence. This groundless accusation is then used as an argument to overturn or ignore the results of democratic votes. Not all of them, you understand, only the ones where the wrong side won. Trump must be “removed” according to Freedland, and we must ignore the Brexit results.
Even Catalonia’s vote for independence, just the latest move in a struggle hundreds of years long, has already been linked to Putin.
Further, Russia is accused of “bankrolling the far-right in Europe”. The evidence for this? Marine Le Pen got a loan from a Russian bank “with links to the Kremlin” (whatever that means)…over ten years ago.
There is FAR more evidence of NATO and EU supporting REAL fascists and extremists – namely Right Sector in Ukraine, and ISIS et al all over the Middle East. But, while the former is an accepted media “fact”, the latter is the subject of nothing but derision.
Even our homegrown problems, through complex absurdities of “conspiracism”, are laid at the Kremlin’s door. In 2015, CNN and others accused Russia of “weaponising the refugee crisis”, as if they had caused it. As if Russia had forced us into the destruction of Libya, and then ordered Merkel to throw open Germany’s borders. Those in Eastern Europe who blamed Germany or the EU, notably Hungarian’s President Viktor Orban, were said to be “friends of Putin”. As if the epithet is an argument in and of itself.
Putin and Russia have become Snowball from Orwell’s Animal Farm. An invisible but ever-present creation of the state, responsible for all our ills. And if Putin is Snowball, then Freedland, and all the media-types like him, are Squealer. Oily charlatans who twist language to suit their needs, and the needs of their employers.
If “conspiracy theories are dangerous”, then how dangerous is it to use ridiculous allegations to undermine democracy? If Conspiracy Theories damage society, why clamp-down on honest debate by dismissing all those who disagree as “Putin-bots”? If Conspiracy Theories are so offensive, why use them to vilify Russia, and stoke up public hatred of a nuclear armed superpower?
The author’s real point is quite clear – it’s not all conspiracy theories which are “dangerous”. Only Conspiracy Theories that investigate, undermine, or otherwise question the governments, institutions or agendas of Western countries are “dangerous”.
Our governments do no wrong, are benign and honest. To question that is dangerous. Their governments are malign and dishonest. To question them is a duty.
It is nothing but a long, drawn-out, argument for conformity of opinion and deadness of mind. An attack on independent thought, peppered with abuse.
First he describes “Conspiracy Theorists” as:
harmless potting-shed eccentrics, green-ink cranks whose tightly spaced letters could once safely be filed in the dustbin.
you might have dismissed such talk as the derangement of the bug-eyed, irrelevant fringe,
And then finally playing the anti-Semitism card:
so many conspiracy theorists…end up reaching the terminus of antisemitism. For antisemitism is itself often rooted in conspiracy theory: the belief that the secret hand behind world events, manipulating each and every development, belongs to the Rothschilds or George Soros or, when no euphemism is required, the Jews.
A baseless, childish ad hominem, that makes so little sense it contradicts his own last paragraph, and shows up his quasi-delusional mindset:
On Thursday we learned that 1,500 billionaires have now amassed $6tn of wealth, a level of inequality not seen since the Gilded Age. That’s not come about because of a secret meeting in an underground boardroom, but because of a system that is fatally flawed.
I don’t follow his argument, “don’t talk about conspiracies when we’ve got all these billionaires to worry about” doesn’t make any sense to me. It seems he’s created some new kind of logical fallacy, the argument to inequality, a derivation of “think of the children”. It’s an odd chord for Freedland to strike, and is probably a rather desperate attempt to seem “hip” to the current issues. He certainly never wrote about the perils of inequality before Corbyn-mania swept the country.
Regardless of the source of Freedland’s sudden Bolshevik leanings, he contradicts himself – and in so doing paints a picture of an insane world. He doesn’t acknowledge that two of these billionaires – Soros and the Rothschilds – he has already named as nothing but a “euphemism” for anti-Semitism.
So which is it, Jonathan? Are wealthy people the problem? Or is criticising the super-rich merely a mask for racism? Why is it acceptable to cite “inequality” as a threat to the world, but crazy to blame the main beneficiaries of said inequality?
Freedland wants us to believe we live in a world where a tiny percentage of the population control vast fortunes, but wield no political power. He decries the “flawed system”, but refuses to acknowledge that corruption or conspiracy has played any part in creating it. That is insane at best, and dishonest at worst.
He doesn’t acknowledge the unavoidable truth that super-wealthy people will wield influence over government policy. From arms-sales, to tax loop-holes, to the push to privatise the NHS, to the war in Iraq…there are dozens of examples of political power being used to further the agenda of the rich.
Hyper-wealthy individuals exerting influence over elected officials and using military and intelligence apparatus to further undeclared political agendas, is the very definitions of a conspiracy theory. And it happens every single day.
If we are indeed living in the “post-truth age”, then it is not because of Donald Trump. Or Facebook. Or Russia Today.
It is because of dishonest journalism such as you’ll find in the Guardian, or the New York Times, or Buzzfeed. Because Jonathan Freedland, and his ilk, have stopped trying to hold power to account, and instead act as spokespeople for authority. Official heralds, handing down to the proles a pre-approved consensus and an a la carte menu of opinion. Labelling as “dangerous” aNY questioning of a government organisation with a proven track-record of illegal operations, whilst constantly stoking public fear of the mythic “Russian influence”. Conjuring an entirely fictional enemy from smoke and gossip, whilst throwing real crimes against humanity down the memory hole.
Freedland’s article, and all others like it, are an attack on reason itself. Denying our ability, and even our right, to question the motives and actions of the powerful, whilst asserting the moral rectitude of blind obedience. The Guardian is engaging in cultural policing, enforcing the unquestioned morality of the state and the system, at the expense of critical thinking and truth.
The Reichstag Fire was a conspiracy too. The state that rose from its ashes was only able to cover up its crimes thanks to rigid programmes of state-sponsored propaganda…faithfully carried out by a compliant and controlled media.