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Conspiracy Theorists and the Progressive Movement

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#1
Frozenwolf150

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This is something I've needed to get off my chest for a while.

 

As some of you know, I've been a debunker for a long time.  It started during the Bush years, specifically with regards to 9/11 conspiracy theories.  I used to believe in them myself until I wised up, similar to my experiences with organized religion and Trump Derangement Syndrome.  There are several problems I have with conspiracy theories.  They tend to be based on tribalism and rank partisanship instead of evidence, they undermine legitimate policy-based criticisms of the establishment, and they waste valuable resources and put people in real danger of harm.  It's always wise to question the wealthy elites who run the country, but that's no reason to make shit up.  When it comes to people like George W. Bush or Donald Trump, there is more than enough ammunition to use against them based on the decisions and actions they made out in the open.

 

I've noticed that 9/11 Truthers in particular are still around and are infesting the progressive movement in large numbers.  To make matters worse, they are acting as gatekeepers, condemning and harassing anyone on the populist left who disagrees with their conclusions.  They go as far as to attack anyone who even mentions the fact that Al-Qaeda and Saudi Arabia carried out 9/11, typically in discussions of US foreign policy and relations with Saudi Arabia.  Go to any leftist video or live chat on the issue, and more than half of the loudest people in the discussion are Truthers, even though the majority of left wing commentators and talk hosts themselves are not.

 

As Noam Chomsky said in response to a Truther about how actual scientists and engineers seek the truth, "Have they eliminated entirely their cognitive dissonance, monological belief systems, and confirmation biases? No human could ever do that perfectly — indeed, to be human is to be subject to all these distorting conditions and more — but the larger enterprise of science, at its best, frees us little by little from those very shackles. What a shame to voluntarily clap oneself back into them."

 

I can't count the number of times I've had to fend off Truthers who trot out the same arguments that had been debunked a long time ago.  They sound like broken records because their brains are stuck on stupid, yet they purport to speak for everyone on the left, and disavow anyone who disagrees with them as a government shill or apologist.  I've had to go back to my old sources that I thought I was done with ten years ago:

http://www.internati...ks.php?catid=18

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/9/11

https://sites.google...e/wtc7lies/home

 

Rather than get into their entire litany of stupidity here, I would point out the elephant in the room that Truthers willfully ignore.  By spouting their bullshit, they are acting as shills and apologists for the Saudi regime, one of the world's most brutal dictatorships with a long history of human rights abuses.  They imprison women and political activists, publicly execute apostates and dissidents, are carrying out a genocide in Yemen with US support, and are spearheading the war in Syria, to name but a handful of their crimes.  For all the virtue signaling coming from Truthers, they seem to have no problem with continued US relations and multi-billion dollar arms deals with Saudi Arabia, our dependence on their oil and the petrodollar, and our de facto alliance with Al-Qaeda and ISIS due to the US role in the aforementioned wars.

 

It's no secret that the CIA armed and trained the Mujahideen during the Cold War to fight against the Soviets.  At the time, western news outlets were praising Bin Laden as a hero and freedom fighter.  As you know, the Mujahideen would go on to become Al-Qaeda and its splinter factions like ISIS and Al-Nusra.  The US indirectly created ISIS thanks to the power vacuum caused by the second invasion of Iraq under Bush.  The foreign aid and weapons the US gives to Saudi Arabia gets funneled directly to these groups, and the weapons used by ISIS have been traced back to the US.  In Syria, as well as in Yemen, the majority of the "rebel" forces that the US is assisting are Islamic extremists affiliated with these terrorist organizations.

 

It's well known that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia.  Yet every recent US president has had a close relationship with the Saudis, and the US media almost never criticizes Saudi Arabia for anything.  The murder of Jamal Kashoggi is a rare exception, and mainstream journalists only took notice because he was one of them; they were perfectly willing to excuse everything else the Saudis have done.  In the aftermath of 9/11, although Bush blamed Al-Qaeda, he did not blame Saudi Arabia, instead shifting the focus to Afghanistan and soon after Iraq.  Bush went on to strengthen ties with the Saudis.  The US and Saudi Arabia have trillions of dollars invested in each other's economies over the years, and that's not something any US president has wanted to jeopardize.

 

In the years that followed 9/11, the US has taken out the enemies of Al-Qaeda, like the government of Iraq.  It diverted attention away from the hunt for Osama bin Laden for 10 years.  It has killed the very same people AQ and ISIS kill 90% of the time.  It has given extremist groups trillions of dollars in free propaganda for recruitment.  What more could the terrorists have asked for?

 

I'm willing to grant credence to a certain aspect of the speculation surrounding 9/11 with regards to US government culpability.  Some have argued that the Bush admin had intelligence or foreknowledge of an imminent attack and intentionally failed to act.  Intent is difficult to prove.  There was certainly intelligence coming in prior to 9/11 that warned Al-Qaeda was planning a major operation, and Bush certainly acted like an incompetent or apathetic jackass in the months and days leading up to the attacks.  If you recall, his top priority for national security was his stupid-ass missile defense system, which wasted tons of money and never worked properly.  If you look at the way Bush handled the problems facing the nation, both before and after 9/11, he pretty much looked the other way while people were suffering and dying.  Therefore I would argue, it's perfectly consistent with his behavior to have done the bare minimum possible to address the threat of terrorism prior to 9/11.

 

It's also possible to make a plausible argument that, technically, the US government paid off the culprits of 9/11.  We had known for a long time about the Saudis giving our money and weapons to terrorists.  The Bin Laden family, which is insanely wealthy in their own right, was given special treatment by government officials after the attacks.  We continue to do business with the Saudis, and continue to invade countries that go off the petrodollar.

 

 

These are the things I typically point out whenever confronted with a Truther.  They'll bring up their own experts, like Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a group so stupid that they've had to retroactively and proactively apply their controlled demolition argument to all building collapses to save face; including the 2017 collapse of the Plasco building in Tehran, Iran.  It's futile to get into a debate with their regurgitated talking points about how jet fuel can't melt steel beams, how no building has ever collapsed due to fire, how it looked like a controlled demolition therefore that proves it was, or how all scientists and engineers who disagree with them are paid government shills.  The last one is a circular argument, using the conspiracy theory as proof that there's a conspiracy.  They don't care for basic logic and have no awareness of fallacies in reasoning.  Yet they claim to speak for all progressives.

 

I think we can do better.


  • Ungodly, Cousin Ricky and Joe Bloe like this

The new Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy: Massacre a crowd of civilians, draw a target around them, and declare they were all terrorists.


#2
Joe Bloe

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I've noticed that 9/11 Truthers in particular are still around and are infesting the progressive movement in large numbers. 

 

I noticed that a few months ago when I decided to go on You Tube and look at some of the videos that were taken back in 2001. There were Truther videos everywhere!


Believe nothing you hear and only half what you see.


#3
Ungodly

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There seems to be a certain percentage of persons who choose to deny reality in favor of a more emotionally satisfying fabric of fiction. Were this not the case the Republican party would not exist.  People love tales about sinister forces stalking them.

 

People conflate what they would like to believe with facts.

 

People repeat tales they have heard with glaring inaccuracies.

 

Instead of slowly and gradually destroying the planet as we are now I wish we would get hit by a huge space rock and have another mass extermination event.  Failing that we could see if all of our nukes really are enough to kill everybody.

 

The majority of humans seem to have no particular interest in making the things they believe consistent with reality.

 

I'm with Bender G. Rodriguez when he says "Kill all humans!"  That'll teach 'em, figuratively speaking.


Join our religion of love and peace or burn in hell!


#4
Frozenwolf150

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It's not just Republicans who have a monopoly on irrational thought, although they have plenty of conspiracy theorists of their own.  They have perhaps the most dangerous of all, the climate deniers and creationists.  Similar to 9/11 truthers, they base all their arguments on a willful ignorance of science, and the circular reasoning that the majority of scientists are in on the conspiracy.

 

The reason I came back to the theme of this topic is that I wanted to discuss how I've changed my own beliefs based on evidence.  I used to believe the 9/11 conspiracy theories, but was talked out of them by more rational people.  There's another more recent belief I changed, and it has to do with Russiagate.  I know that not everyone is going to agree with me on this, but I had spent some time last year listening to progressives who were skeptical of the narrative coming from the mainstream media about Trump's various scandals.  My experience with 9/11 truthers reminded me that although I may despise a president with every fiber of my being, that doesn't justify using any and all arguments against them.  Not all of these arguments are created equal, and not all of them have sufficient evidence to back them up.

 

I present the debate between Cenk Uygur of TYT and Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk:

 

Keep in mind that they may disagree on this topic, but are still friends and colleagues, and co-founders of Justice Democrats.  Full disclosure, I found Kyle Kulinski to be more convincing.  He and other progressive commentators like Mike Figuredo, Jimmy Dore, Tim Black, and Jordan Chariton were responsible for shaking me out of Trump derangement syndrome.  I came to realize I was making the same mistake as before, letting my hatred for Trump get in the way of critically thinking about the available facts and evidence.

 

Did the Russians help Trump steal the election?  No.  There was a small team of internet trolls who posted memes on social media, most of which were after the 2016 election.  There is no evidence Russia hacked and altered the election results, and there is no polling data that shows Russia influenced the decisions of any voters.  So what actually contributed to Trump's win?  Several factors:

1. Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate who ran the laziest campaign possible and felt entitled to votes.  Her brilliant strategy was to choose a VP even further to the right than she was, to not campaign in the Rust Belt states, to run on platitudes and identity politics instead of on policy, and to sit at home and run out the clock on the election.

2. The DNC rigged the primaries against Bernie Sanders, as Donna Brazile revealed a year ago.  Trump's own pollster said Bernie would have beaten Trump.

3. The Republican Party engaged in widespread voter suppression with their Interstate Crosscheck system that purged hundreds of thousands of people from the rolls.

4. The mainstream media covered Trump 24/7, giving him over $5 billion in free coverage by the time the campaign was over.  They covered him twice as much as Clinton, and 23 times as much as Bernie Sanders.  Although the coverage was 90% negative, it had the effect Trump wanted of drawing attention to himself.

 

Did Trump have shady and possibly illegal business dealings with Russia?  Absolutely yes.  He opened several new businesses in Russia during the campaign.  There is evidence he laundered money for Russian oligarchs, drug cartels, and mob bosses.  Like China, Russia is full of wealthy business owners, and there is a lot of money to be made in dealing with them.

 

Yet the important thing is that he didn't just do this with Russia.  He has even stronger ties to Saudi Arabia and Israel, above all others.  The Saudis bailed him out of at least one of his bankruptcies, gave him a blatant bribe when they came to stay at his hotel, and were promised a multi-billion dollar weapons deal that Trump boasted about.  The Saudis are using him, like every past US president, as a pawn in their wars: The US is helping them commit a genocide in Yemen, and is bombing Syria on their behalf.  The Saudis have stock in the six media conglomerates that own 90% of US media, essentially controlling what the media is allowed to say about them.  They have the US dependent on their oil, even though we don't actually need it.  When it comes to Israel, Trump has allowed Netenyahu to dictate US foreign policy, such as pulling out of the Iran Deal and ramping up hostilities against Iran.  Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, something past presidents spoke of doing but weren't reckless enough to follow through on.  Trump has repeatedly defended the war crimes of the Israeli government against the Palestinians at Gaza.

 

Nina Turner put it best when she said that Russia is not the most pressing concern in the lives of ordinary working class people.

 

Noam Chomsky said that the media's obsession with Russiagate has made the US the laughingstock of the world, because the US itself has interfered in more elections and has often done outright regime change against democratically elected foreign leaders.

Here Chomsky discusses the more important issues the media is failing to cover because of the focus on Russia.


The new Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy: Massacre a crowd of civilians, draw a target around them, and declare they were all terrorists.


#5
Joe Bloe

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Thanks for all the info and the videos. It will take me a while to get through it all, but I will eventually.


Believe nothing you hear and only half what you see.


#6
Frozenwolf150

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I have noticed several more things when it comes to people who believe these conspiracy theories.  The first is that there are a lot of leftists who are skeptical of Russiagate, but have fully bought into 9/11 Truth.  I think the reason is that they base their conclusions on whatever is most convenient to suit their existing beliefs.  The Russiagate narrative, despite having been conceived in a similar fashion, is being pushed by the mainstream media and neoliberal Democrats.  The only reason these leftists doubt Russiagate is because they already hate the people espousing it.  They look at the origin of the claim, rather than debunking the claim on its own merits.  They readily believe the claims of Truthers because they come from people who say they oppose the mainstream narrative, even though this isn't necessarily the case either.  This is no more rational than a Trump supporter condemning the mainstream media, not because they got their facts wrong, but because they said negative things about Trump.

 

The second is that there are a lot of direct parallels between 9/11 Truth and Russiagate.  I wonder if I'm the only one to have noticed these, because whenever I see video comment sections and live chats flooded with Truthers, I feel like I'm the only person on the left who is skeptical of both conspiracy theories.

 

 

Both originated in derangement towards a Republican president.

 

There are already a ton of similarities between W. Bush and Trump.  Both won the election despite losing the popular vote.  Both were despised by the majority of Americans when they took office.  Both have policies that are virtually identical, like massive tax cuts for the rich, deregulation, increased military spending, a violent foreign policy, expansion of fossil fuels, doing the bidding of Wall St., and trampling on civil rights for the sake of national security.  In both cases, there were a lot of people who were terrified at what they saw, despite Democratic presidents having done the same things.  This left people to grasp at whatever arguments and ammunition they could use to attack Bush and Trump, regardless of facts or evidence.  With Bush, it was 9/11 Truth, and with Trump, it's Russiagate.

 

Both undermine legitimate criticisms of a Republican president.

 

These conspiracy theorists think that the strongest case they can make against these presidents consists of these accusations.  In the era of Bush, Truthers firmly believed that saying 9/11 was an inside job would bring him down.  They thought it was the worst crime he could have possibly committed.  They pushed for legal action against him on the basis of 9/11 Truth, pestering their elected representatives to call for investigations.  In the era of Trump, a lot of people who call themselves liberals think Russiagate is going to bring Trump down.  They think that colluding with Russia was the worst crime Trump has ever committed.  They are pushing for legal action and investigations.  Yet neither 9/11 Truth nor Russiagate has any evidence that would hold up in a court of law.

 

The reality is that there is no shortage of factual arguments to use against Bush or Trump, and no dearth of real crimes and violations of the Constitution they have committed.  Both presidents are war criminals.  They cracked down on free speech.  They did away with due process.  They discriminated on the basis of religion.  The list goes on and on.  It's not hard to find these, but thanks to conspiracy theorists, anyone who brings up legitimate criticisms risks not being taken seriously.

 

Both are right-wing arguments.

 

Russiagate is a right-wing argument in the sense that the media pundits pushing it are calling for a more violent foreign policy against Russia and its allies.  There are people who want to remain in the war in Syria because withdrawing would be doing Putin a favor.  They want to keep NATO troops stationed on the Russian border, which is a clear show of belligerence.  There are some pundits who have even called for direct military action against Russia to punish them for interfering with our elections.

 

9/11 Truth is a little harder to explain, but the connections to a right-wing agenda certainly exist.  Some Truthers are flat out anti-Semitic, and several prominent ones like Eric Hufschmidt are Holocaust deniers.  Alex Jones was one of the leading proponents of 9/11 Truth, and nowadays he's a poster boy for the right and a full on Trump supporter, despite Trump being nearly identical to Bush.  Some Truthers have said that Arab Muslims are too primitive to have pulled off such a complex series of attacks.

 

Both ignore and deflect from the influence of the Saudi government.

 

As I stated earlier, 9/11 Truthers are essentially apologists for the Saudi regime.  Their arguments contradict, perhaps intentionally, the fact that the hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, that the Saudis have been arming and funding terrorists for years, that Saudi Arabia has been spreading Wahhabism and its extremist ideology around the world, and that the Saudis have an inordinate amount of influence on the US media and our government.  Apparently Truthers have no problem with the US-Saudi alliance, the oil business between the two countries, and the wars like Syria and Yemen that the Saudis started and roped the US into.

 

Russiagaters meanwhile act like Russia is the biggest foreign influence on US politics, completely ignoring Saudi Arabia.  They ignore how Trump has done more business in Saudi Arabia than Russia, passed more policies that favor the Saudis, given more money and weapons to Saudi Arabia, and has vehemently defended Saudi Arabian war crimes.

 

Both strengthen the establishment by making it look like it controls everything

 

This could probably be said of all conspiracy theories, but what they really accomplish is to portray the US government as an all-powerful and all-knowing entity that has precision control over everything that goes on-- as opposed to a corrupt and incompetent clusterfuck of greedy assholes who break everything they touch.  This government couldn't cover up Watergate, it certainly can't cover up a 9/11 conspiracy or Russian collusion.

 

My own personal theory is that conspiracy theorists are actually government plants intended to spread propaganda of a massively powerful government in order to scare people and keep them in line, or keep them barking up the wrong tree so they don't notice what's actually going on.

 

Both assert that the dumbest presidents in history are criminal masterminds

 

We all thought Bush was the dumbest president ever.  He mangled the English language every time he spoke, he couldn't identify world leaders, and throughout his presidency it seemed like the more experienced politicians were the ones actually running the country with Bush as the mere figurehead.  Then Trump came along.  He speaks and reads at a fourth grade level, he has the attention span of a toddler, he doesn't read the bills or executive orders he signs, and he has a tenuous grasp on spelling and grammar.  All of these things are likely true.  So then how is it that these same presidents are somehow evil geniuses that have managed to conceal all evidence of massive conspiracies?

 

 

This is why we have to focus on beating people like this in an election, and not just pray that they'll be found guilty of a conspiracy for which there is insufficient evidence.  9/11 Truth didn't take down Bush.  Russiagate is not going to take down Trump.  They are guilty of plenty of other things, sure.  But the best way to remove people like this from office is to defeat them with good ideas.  You can't beat bad ideas with equally bad ideas.


The new Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy: Massacre a crowd of civilians, draw a target around them, and declare they were all terrorists.


#7
Frozenwolf150

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I was watching a video yesterday discussing Gov. Mike Gravel, a newcomer to the Democratic primary.  The cited article said that Gravel has already had to fend off accusations that he's a 9/11 truther.  Several commenters on the video and in the chat defended him on this, asking, what's wrong with 9/11 truth?  One even brought up that ae911truth.org website, which I mentioned before.

 

Here's a brief introduction to Mike Gravel.  Defending Sarah Palin is enough to be disqualifying, disregarding his 9/11 trutherism.

https://en.wikipedia...uent_activities

 

I didn't respond to the comments, but you want to know what the harm is in 9/11 truth?

 

Suppose there's a Truther in a position of power.  They might decide, hey, let's continue selling hundreds of billions of dollars in arms to Saudi Arabia, which they funnel directly to ISIS and Al-Qaeda.  There's no harm in that, because Al-Qaeda never killed anyone.

 

They might decide, hey, let's continue to ramp up hostilities with Russia and provoke a new Cold War, the way the corporate media and Donald Trump are doing today.  The last time we fought a Cold War, we trained and armed Mujihadeen fighters to combat the Russians.  There's no harm in that, because Al-Qaeda never attacked us.

 

The fact of the matter is that 9/11 truthers are essentially Saudi apologists and Cold War apologists.  They are playing directly into the hands of the neocon deep state and Military Industrial Complex that they swear they oppose.  Remember that George W. Bush himself operated as if Al-Qaeda had never attacked the US, with the oil and weapons deals with the Saudis, and going to war with the state enemies of Al-Qaeda like Iraq.  Every time Truthers open their mouths, they're defending policies like this.  That's where the harm lies.


The new Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy: Massacre a crowd of civilians, draw a target around them, and declare they were all terrorists.




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