I've got a half-written post floating in Blogger limbo asking the question - what's the stupidest/most repellent statement you've ever seen anyone attempt to smuggle under the proviso "I know it's not politically correct, but..."
That was prompted by my certainty that, the longer you arse about online, the higher the chance of stumbling across some joker asserting something like I know it's not politically correct to say you'd like to herd gypsies into camps and gas them like badgers, but...
Well, that one struck me as an exploding, spring-loaded man-trap of a question1, so let's resurrect it in a different form - what's the most obviously true statement you've ever seen dismissed as conspiracy theory?
Bear with me here, because the story begins with Matt Taibbi's long, involved article cursing Goldman Sachs in this month's Rolling Stone. (Link to an unreadable format here - Rolling Stone doesn't like the internet).
Taibbi's thesis is that Goldman deliberately inflates market bubbles, profiteers during crashes, and uses its political influence to insulate itself from the consequences of its misdeeds; that the the planet-fucking, Wall Street banking behemoth is, in short, a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.
To my amateur's eye, it looks like a well-researched, well-argued indictment of cutting-edge high finance, but I'm nobody's economist. Goldman's response?
"[Taibbi's] story is an hysterical compilation of conspiracy theories... Notable ones missing are Goldman Sachs as the third shooter [in John F. Kennedy's assassination] and faking the first lunar landing."
To be clear - Goldman are saying that the suggestion that the world's leading financial whizzkids may actually have known what they were doing when they turned every financial disaster of the last decade into their own non-stop cash bonanza is a conspiracy theory on a par with faking the moonshot.
Well, fine. If you buy that, I think you actually have to buy the idea that every piece of fiscal fuckery from the Dotcom collapse, through Enron and Worldcom then up to the current financial horror movie, were all amazing, unforseeable, once-in-a-lifetime events... A completely unpredictable and barely conceivable bug that just seems to recur every couple of years, rather than an intrinsic feature of the system.
So what else is a wild, unbelievable conspiracy theory?
I notice that anyone who suggests that the CIA or MI6 might have any involvement in recent events in Iran is instantly regarded as a loony. In fairness, the only people I've seen say so are anonymous commenters who sound like they'd blame Mossad lizardmen if they contracted a dose of the squirts, but still - what do people think spies actually do?
Iran is a barking theocracy run by religious throwbacks who have repeatedly threatened to do all kinds of harm to the UK. We've had military bases camped right next door to them for most of the last decade. If MI6 aren't devoting serious time, money and effort to fucking with the Mullahs, then I for one want to know exactly what they're doing to earn their salaries.
David Aaronovitch notably didn't include the Iraq invasion WMD scam in his conspiracy theory study Voodoo Histories2, but he clearly thinks that the Blair lied thesis is one. Plenty would agree. Perhaps there's something I'm missing, but Government launches creative advertising campaign to sell unpopular policy to sceptical public doesn't sound like the wackiest piece of conjecture ever concocted.3
I've always thought that Reaganomics and Thatcherism were hilariously obvious scams designed solely to enrich their proponents and their friends. After all, Advocates for an economic system based on self-interest may tell lies if they believe it is in their interest to do so doesn't strike me as a ridiculous proposition, yet try telling people who work in finance that and they'll look at you like a stonking great pair of gonads just bulged out of your eye-sockets.
And what's this? Why, it's an op-ed in the Financial Times about how almost all of the benefits of a neo-liberal economic system flow to the super-wealthy, while almost everyone else stays where they are or has to spend themselves into crippling debt to keep up. Capitalism's Dirty Little Secret, the author calls it, as if he were revealing some deep insider information.
All of which brings me back to the original question - what's the most obviously true statement you've ever seen dismissed as conspiracy theory?
Note - 9/11 was already a conspiracy, and doesn't need to be loaded up with invisible missiles and thermite explosions to make it more exciting. I'm thinking more polite lies that grease the wheels of profit and policy than I am OJ made Capricorn One to expose NASA's lies.
1. I decided against putting up the political correctness post after a certain pro-war website asked what racist names the horrible leftists that live in their skulls would call President Obama, should he continue his predecessor's idiotic policy of trying to blast, shoot and torture some respect into random foreigners. Cue a gaggle of middle-aged wingnuts throwing gangsta-hands and calling each other "Nigga". Chilling.
2. The Aarowatchers have Moar here, here and here.
3. While we're talking about Decent Dave, let's note the reaction to Adam Curtis' The Power of Nightmares. It's still never been screened in the US, as far as I'm aware, and has been attacked over there as an anti-American hatefest that implies that George Bush is more evil than Osama Bin Laden.
Curtis made lots of good points, but one of the main ones was that Al-Qaeda isn't SPECTRE. It's a group of headbangers in a cave in Pakistan that has links to a lot of extremists in other countries. It's definitely not a planet-crushing secret cabal with multi-million pound mountain-bases filled with supercomputers, tank-killing lasers and Islamic ninjas. I think time has shown that his analysis was bang on the money.
Note - at no point during the film did Curtis say or imply that Al-Qaeda did not exist, or that they didn't pose any kind of threat.
But fuck me, what's this? Why, it's David Aaronovitch blasting Adam Curtis for saying and implying that Al-Qaeda is a non-existent, imaginary threat - blasting Curtis for being a conspiracy theorist, as it happens.
Curtis's is a one-stop conspiracy theory to stand alongside those fingering the Illuminati, the Bilderberg group and (vide the Da Vinci Code) Opus Dei.
A conspiracy, and one involving the fingering of the Illuminati at that. Lordy, them tinfoil-hatters is everywhere once you start looking.