Saturday, November 09, 2013

Debating the Flat-Earthers

No matter what the verdict of history is, that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone to murder JFK, Officer J.D. Tippit, and wounded Governor Connolly, there will always be a cadre of crackpots and con artists who want to spew nonsense to the contrary. As long as there is money to be made peddling such bullshit, these conspiracy theories will continue.

If Jack Ruby hadn't gotten it into his unstable head that by killing Oswald he would be seen as a hero and allowed the criminal justice system to have continued, Oswald would have been tried, convicted, and likely executed for the easiest murder case ever prosecuted in the history of the United States.

This professor mentioned in the linked article has more patience than I do with these conspiracy nuts. I just ignore them because they are either totally ignorant or they have agendas they are trying to peddle.

Every momentous event in American history comes with its own corresponding conspiracy theory. They faked the moon landing. Edwin M. Stanton, Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of war, put John Wilkes Booth up to it. Barack Obama was cloned from the DNA of an Egyptian pharaoh, or born in Kenya. Or both!

As rich as the American tradition of conspiracy theories is the sociological tradition of trying to understand why people believe them. Richard Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style in American Politics is the genre’s ne plus ultra. Hofstadter, writing in 1964, identifies right-wingers driven by rage as responsible for most of the era’s otherwise inexplicable political movements (McCarthyism and the John Birch Society). Any observer of American culture can follow this thread through to the present-day acolytes of conspiracy-geysers Glenn Beck and Alex Jones.

But the Warren Report skeptics fit another mold. They’re sorrowful, not angry. “If only Kennedy had lived,” begin so many of their idle thoughts. Kennedy would never have escalated the war in Vietnam; he would never have let 60,000 American soldiers and countless civilians die in Southeast Asia. They believe he would have defused Cold War tensions and shrunken the American nuclear arsenal. They believe he really would have scattered the CIA to the winds.

You will find precisely none of that in the Warren Report, which builds its case instead with an inquiry into forensics and Oswald’s background, like any other criminal investigation. It’s horribly unthinkable, what the commission contends — that a confused, strange man with a mail-order rifle could, acting on his own, reorient American history. Surely the universe contains more order and meaning.

But that is what happened. The assassination really was a grotesque example of American individualism. Few assassinations or attempted assassinations in American history are results of conspiracies; lone nuts are typically responsible.

Oswald was a deranged, lone nut who murdered, and in turn was murdered by a deranged, lone nut.

Truth really is a lot stranger than fiction.

The best book out there debunking the flat-earthers is a book written by Jim Moore called Conspiracy of One. Moore destroys the conspiracy mongers' arguments with the greatest of ease.

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