Some folks are hot-wired to believe them.
If something horrific happens, simple answers won’t do.
As soon as those planes crashed into the Twin Towers, folks started asking for reasons. And when the al-Qaida answer wasn’t enough to satisfy them — How could a small group of Islamic militants pull off something so complicated? — the conspiracy theories popped up.
“They” were behind it, trying to build support for an invasion of Iraq.
No matter that the evidence showed otherwise, that only proved that “they” can manipulate the evidence.
“They” are one bad bunch.
I have been particularly interested in the conspiracy theories that have come out of the explosion of the oil rig down in the Gulf of Mexico.
Using the old “who benefited from it” criteria to determine who did the conspiring, Rush Limbaugh told his listeners that “environmentalist whackos” may have blown it up to “head off more oil drilling.”
Now, Rush was smart enough to hedge his bets with the weasel-word “may” and add that he was “just noting the timing,” but I bet he knows that a lot of folks find conspiracy in coincidence.
Like the people who believe that aliens (the ones from outer space, not the ones from Mexico) came to Earth eons ago and built the Great Pyramids. And why isn’t this in the history books? Because “they,” whoever “they” are, don’t want you to know.
For evidence that super-intelligent beings did the building, believers point out that if you multiply the height of the Great Pyramids by 1,000, it almost exactly equals the distance to the sun — I am always wary of something that is “almost exactly,” but maybe that is just me.
However, as Jack Bowen points out in his book, If You Can Read This: The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers, “the height of the Great Pyramids divided by the height of football legend Jerry Rice equals approximately 80 — the exact number on Jerry Rice’s uniform.”
All of which is to say that there are a lot of folks out there who believe that there are forces conspiring to do all sorts of terrible things to us.
Maybe there are.
Which brings me around to Texe Marrs, the conspiracy theorist to end all conspiracy theorists. A few years ago, a person from my childhood who read a column I wrote and figured I needed to know what they knew sent me a copy of Marrs’s book, Codex Magica: Secret Signs, Mysterious Symbols, and Hidden Codes of the Illuminati, a 600-plus page exposé of who “they” are and how you can recognize “them.”
I did not know Marrs from macaroons, so I checked him out and discovered that he had written other books, given lectures and been on television, all in an effort to unmask a conspiracy of Freemasons, Zionists, the Illuminati, occultists, Satanists and a bunch of lesser lights to take over the world, or something like that.
Or maybe “they” have already taken over and he just wanted to let us know.
Anyway, the book was full of pictures of all sorts of people making secret signs that show they belonged to those groups that Marrs says we had better beware of: Napoleon, Karl Marx, River Phoenix, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, Ronald Reagan, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, John Wilkes Booth, both George Bushes, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Newt Gingrich and a host of other folks I never thought would be together in anything.
Even Lyle Lovett — who I have sorta suspected was up to something when he got Julia Roberts to marry him.
I figured all this was sorta off the wall, especially the chapter explaining how a hand signal shaped like a spear links those who make it to each other and to the “secret society of societies” — the Priory of Sion. Those who have read The Da Vinci Code or have seen the movie know all about that.
In that chapter were pictures of Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Donald Trump all making the suspect sign. Even President James K. Polk did it.
Those folks are “they”?
I’ll tell you.
The other day, I got the copy of Time magazine that identified “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” Once again, I wasn’t in it. But right there on the cover, and again on the inside, was — you guessed it — Sarah Palin. And in both pictures she was making “the sign.”
Is she one of “them”?
So I went through the top 100, looked at the ones who posed for a picture, and found that almost exactly half of them were making some sorta suspect sign.
In the past, I would have figured they were just trying to find something to do with their hands while the photographer did his work. But not now.
“They” are out there.
Just thought you’d want to know.
Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Eminent Scholar in History and an columnist and editorial writer for The Star. E-mail: email@example.com.