Gawd l love conspiracy theories! In the link provided here, you will find some of the juiciest ones that have circulated in my country lately as well as a few of our favorites from the past. And, I confess that I grew up in conspiracy infested South, imbibing to the bitter-sweet nectar of the knowledge that the Communists were lurking around every corner, ready t to take over the country. I remember vividly in the election of 1959 when Catholic John Kennedy was the Democratic nominee for President running against Republican Richard Nixon, hearing my Dad express solemn concern that the Pope would be waiting in a submarine off the east coast ready to take over our country should Kennedy win the election. My fear-base was only then beginning to constellate in my seven year old heart but it was strong enough to give me the numb realization that dark forces were “out there” ready to imperil “truth, justice, and the American way.” But this muted terror was mitigated…speciously, albeit…by the reassurance that my family were born-again Christians and part of our lot in life was to be part of a beleagured minority who would always have to stand up against the forces of evil that were always “out there.”
Maturity sheds light on my youthful vulnerabiity and education gives me the perspective of history and psychology on social and political phenomena. I see now so clearly now how fear is such a driving force in human experience and conspiracy theories are ready-made fodder for people whose fears are the driving force in their lives. Psychologically it helps immensely to “know” that some entity “out there”, an individual or a group, are seeking to do one harm as one’s energy can then be directed there. But we forget the wisdom of Pogo, the cartoon character, who told us, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
The sad thing currently is to watch politicians who know better, or should know better, deliberately stoke the fears of the “low-information voters” who constitute their base just to galvanize their energy. The most graphic example of this occurred last summer when Texas conservatives were fearful that President Obama was using the ruse of a military training exercise (Operation Jade Helm) to take over the state; and even the Governor, Gregg Abbott, played along with their fears.