For the past few months, I've been carrying on a conversation with a woman -- who lives right here in Taos -- on the multifarious conspiracy theory she is proud to believe in.
For the past few months, I've been carrying on a conversation with a woman -- who lives right here in Taos -- on the multifarious conspiracy theory she is proud to believe in. Listening to her requires that I balance open-mindedness with boundaries, fear with risk. What if she's right about any of this, which on the surface sounds preposterous? She's an intelligent person, and she's 100 percent convinced that she has the truth, which she's found for herself by stalking dark websites down hidden search-engine alleys.
"Don't use Google," she warns.
Like all conspiracies, the one she's landed on is full of intrigue; it's seductive and dramatic. One must speak of it in hushed tones. Not because others will think you're nutty, but because it's dangerous to openly admit that you know what's really happening in the world.
The first thing a conspiracist must do is quit believing the mainstream media. There's a very good reason that all conspirators (including Donald Trump) indoctrinate their adherents to distrust the media. It's because the mainstream media traffics in facts -- checked and verified -- and facts tend to unravel the most tightly wound conspiracies without even trying. Very dangerous. Better to stay away from that kind of reporting altogether.
This woman's theory says that Donald Trump ran for president at the invitation of the military, especially the Navy, because it's all part of the effort to undo the One World Order that's been operating since pre-Nazi Germany. That globalist order includes most of the likely culprits: the United Nations (she cites its "terrifying" mission statement about all countries pulling together to work as one toward a safer, more prosperous world); the Zionists (including the World Bank, the Rothschilds, and, of course, George Soros); and advocates for gun control, who would bring second-amendment rights back in line with the original intent of the Constitution.
"Who are the people fighting these forces of Oneness?" I ask her.
"Oh, they don't reveal their identities," she says. "It's too dangerous … they're attempting to overthrow great power … there have been assassinations."
"Who's been assassinated?" I ask. "And how do you know they even exist if they never reveal themselves?" She changes the subject.
She tells me that one of the goals of this "group" is to dismantle the military industrial complex. I ask her why the military would want to do that, since the very thing that augments its power is its partnership with industry. She says, "Well, it's mostly the Navy that wants to dismantle it."
"Why the Navy?" I ask. She changes the subject.
"Check out CIA Morningstar," she tells me.
"What is it?" I ask.
"It's a CIA-run media conglomerate. But don't Google it. Use another search engine to find it."
I would worry that she might read this article and recognize our conversation. But that won't happen, because she doesn't read the mainstream news. (When I mentioned that to a different friend, she said, "Is the Taos News considered mainstream media?" I answered, "The Taos News checks its facts and tries to report the truth. It doesn't make stuff up. So yes, it's part of the mainstream media.")
I lower my voice and asked my conspiratorial friend, "Do you want to hear about a truly fascinating conspiracy theory? One you can talk about in polite company without having to whisper about it?"
Not waiting for an answer, I continue. "Read about what Donald Trump and the national Republicans are doing to this country, to the Constitution, to democracy, and to truth itself. Research the American oligarchs and their affinity for the Russians. Trace back through history to see how the right-wing media, dark money and the Republicans have conned normal people into voting against their own self-interest for decades.
That's a conspiracy theory you don't have to go down back alleyways to find. It's reported in all the reputable media outlets -- newspapers, magazines, news programs, etc. And remarkably, those who are trying to save the republic from these mobsters are willing reveal their identities. And many of them are not partisans. They're patriots of all political stripes, risking their lives and careers to stand up for this country.
"That's my own conspiracy theory," I admit, "but it's backed up by people who do their level best to report the truth, not seduce followers: They're real journalists."
Barbara Scott lives, writes, and edits in Taos. She formerly taught critical thinking at UNM-Taos.
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