I am taking a departure from my usual rainbows and unicorns because I have realized something, and I need to get it out.
Conspiracy theories annoy the hell out of me.
For a long time I found them mildly stupid and not at all harmful. Then I saw this line of graffiti in a San Francisco cafe bathroom: "Know what's coming. Google 'FEMA concentration camps.'"
Well, I have to give the graffitier credit. Never having heard of such a thing, I did most certainly did look up "FEMA concentration camps" on the internet when I got home. A crapload of websites came up, and as well as Youtube clips with supposed footage of a concentration camp, right here in the U.S.
Basically, the people behind this one are claiming that FEMA is not an emergency and preparedness task force. They are instead a section of the government that has the authority to take over every aspect of life, including control of all transportation, food, and education. There are all sorts of "first hand accounts" of people talking to Marines who admitted purposely killing children and all sorts of other barbaric things.
FEMA also has "concentration camps" all over the country, "empty, but fully guarded and ready to take prisoners." Believers say these camps will be for "dissenters" or the any people the government considers "undesirable" in the event of a catastrophe. Eyewitnesses have also found mysterious trains that must be ready to ship prisoners, unaccounted for train stations, "hundreds of thousands of plastic coffins," etc, etc.
Unsurprisingly, most of these websites belong to far right, government fearing groups that also warn us of the "New World Order" and the Illuminati.
I've shook my head in pity at the ignorance of most people falling for these myths, but this one took the cake. When you enter "FEMA concentration camps" or something like it into a search engine, there are also a number of sites that address the hoax and disprove every myth. The Youtube clips are actual footage of some sort of prison camp--taken in North Korea, a place that I am not surprised would have such a thing. The trains and train stations are perfectly normal. The "plastic coffins" are also perfectly normal coffin liners.
Unbelievable. Literally. And yet--so many people believe.
And this is why it makes me angry.
Do I think our government is corrupt and has done some messed up things? Hell yes! The 2000 and 2004 elections, the handling of Hurricane Katrina--our government is very flawed. But holing yourself up with lots of guns so you don't get taken to a concentration camp is not the answer. If you want change in your country, start a grassroots organization, volunteer, run for office yourself. Better yet, join Amnesty International or a similar organization and find out what the hell North Korea is doing with a prisoner camp. That is how positive change will begin to happen. Not by creating or feeding into outlandish stories.
I also find it near irresponsible to create such tales when unimaginable horrors have transpired and continue to exist in this world. It is no secret that concentration camps were used to detain and then kill people during WWII. It is also no secret that the systematic killing of groups of people still happens. Bosnia and Rwanda are not far behind us, genocide in Darfur happens as you read this.
Why then, waste your energy believing our government is "out to get us!!!" when you could be using some that energy dedicating yourself to stopping the atrocities that continue today?
The FEMA conspiracy theory is the most recent in what I feel is a long list of ignorance and denial. Part of the appeal of conspiracy theories arises from people not wanting to accept that bad things happen. I think JFK and Princess Di are examples of this. People die in car crashes and get shot every day. It is a tragedy no matter who it happens to, including the rich and famous. It seems to be almost a comfort to people to think that sinister, secret forces are at work rather than the will of the universe. It gives an idea of slightly more order in the world. But the reality is, shit just happens sometimes.
I will admit 9/11 is a tricky one. The administration was certainly shady about many things. And I've read all about the possibility of planted explosions and the mystery surrounding WTC 7. Some of it is compelling, though I have also read articles that have thorough explanations for everything. For the moment, my stance on this one is that there is a very good chance the government was aware the attacks were going to happen, but they were not planted by the government. When the theory goes into the "no planes hit" territory, I get angry again. There actually is ample evidence of the planes, at all the sights--and there were people on those planes, and they are all dead. Isn't rather disrespectful to the victims' families to suggest there were no planes? I think it is extremely disrespectful. And just plain stupid.
Again, 9/11 is another example of people not wanting to accept the truth that evil exists outside as well as inside. 9/11 was a terrible tragedy, but to be frank we have been incredibly sheltered compared to other places in the world. What about so many other nations that have endured years of war or occupation from outside forces? I'm pretty sure those nations do not think it is "an inside job." Is it because we have experienced few acts of aggression from outside factions on our own soil that makes it is so hard to accept that another would attack us and it must have been from within? How about questioning WHY someone would want to punish us and try to change our image and actions, instead of assuming our own government was behind it? I think it was Dan Rather that actually said something like that shortly after 9/11.
For a while, I felt it was just laughable that people did not believe we put people on the moon, but now that pisses me off too. Obviously this one is not as harmful because it does not involve death and destruction, but this one particularly shows how easily people flock to something out of ignorance. I think it almost "cool" to believe in this one.
Every single hoax claim regarding the moon landing--the shadows, the flag, moon rocks, stars, radiation, everything--has been busted. They have mostly notably been debased by my faves, the guys from Mythbusters. The top reason people give for why the government would do this is so we would have a one up on Russia. First of all, Russia had been to space numerous times by then. They were first the ones to send an unmanned ship to the moon, first to send one to Venus, first to do a spacewalk, and first to send a woman into space. Granted, humans on the moon is a big achievement. The "space race" was very back and forth in the early days, and it the claim that the U.S. needed to prove one to Russia just doesn't make much sense.
Now if we did fake it, don't you think Russia and many other major world powers would have figured it out, been pretty pissed, and let the whole world know? Ever think about everyone yelling liar is from the U.S.? You don't ever here Russia screaming that we made it up. And the idea of the money and time the government would have to spend to pull this one off is ludicrous. Finally, nearly everyone claiming the moon landing was a hoax knows little about space. The debunkers of the myth are all scientists and astronomers--and while NASA has a site dedicated to debasing the myth, many have nothing to do with NASA. Just please, educate yourself. Don't think you're a holier than thou hipster because you believe this one. You're not. This one is simple common sense.
I just found a great quote by the Mythbusters guys. It is regarding the moon myth, but it can be applied to any conspiracy theory.
"There seems to be a common tendency among conspiracy theorists, as well as among a lot of people with entrenched belief systems, to get stuck on an idea and never give up. Conspiracy theories are not really a special category -- maybe you can call them myths, but I look at them as an obsession that people want to maintain, like being abducted by aliens, Bigfoot and so on. You can't really expect that reasonable evidence will change anyone's mind if they are determined," observed Hyneman.
"The moon hoax shares its roots with every other conspiracy theory: the strangely comforting idea that someone is REALLY in charge, for good or ill. The idea of an overarching intelligence that moves things and public opinion with perfect precision is the subject of countless books and movies, but in reality it's far from true. We WANT it to be true, but good and evil are usually far more banal," explained Savage. "Do we really think that the same government that screwed up so badly during the Watergate scandal could have perpetrated the moon hoax? Come on!"
Exactly. The government DOES screw up--Watergate another example. But pull off the moon landing and other things? Just think about it. Think for yourself; don't follow.
Finally, a word about "evidence." Before you start spouting off stuff about explosions and the way buildings fall and shadows on the moon being evidence of a conspiracy, think about it. Is that evidence, or is that speculation? How can you know your (most likely) internet source knows what they are talking about? When you examine myths and conspiracies closely, you will find they contain very little hard proof of what they are claiming. Remember the "Satanic Cult" scare back in the '80's? Supposedly the world was rampant with these cults, they were abusing children and killing babies, and Geraldo even did a special about it. Turns out there was hardly anything to supporst these claims, and the whole thing was considered a hoax.
In conclusion, the universe is random. We are subject to its entropy. People will die young that shouldn't, enemies will attack, seeming miracles--like men on the moon--will continue to happen. There isn't a whole lot you or I can do about it.
If you are a conspiracy theory believer, you probably have some things to say to me. That's fine. And I do not think you are an unintelligent ignoramus. You are probably an insightful, compassionate person who read some compelling "evidence." All I encourage you to do is this--learn. Learn about the corruption that actually is happening here. Learn about the suffering that is very real around the world. And you CAN do something about that. Be wary of every piece of "evidence" that comes your way. Where did it come from? And why is it circulating? Are there any real smoking guns? Yes, we should question what we're told. That does not mean believe every story out there. Did you believe every urban myth told to you as a child?
I will be doing my best to address the real evils that are occurring right now. I will be very wary of any conspiracy theory that comes my way. If you believe in them and tell me about it, I will ask you: do you really believe this? Or do you believe it because others do?
And if I'm wrong? If the government murders its own, imprisons its people, and the Illuminati is running the world?
Well, I guess I'll see you in hell. Oh sorry--it will just be me in hell. You will have been saved by the Second Coming.