the paranoid style of american conspiracy history l.
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The Paranoid Style of American Conspiracy History. History 17B. “Official” vs. “Conspiracy” History. Official history is a lie. American history a tragic tale of conspiracy. Long tradition of conspiracy history Freemasons. Freemasons Conspiracy. Definition: Psychic Crisis.

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official vs conspiracy history
“Official” vs. “Conspiracy” History
  • Official history is a lie.
  • American history a tragic tale of conspiracy.
  • Long tradition of conspiracy history
    • Freemasons
definition psychic crisis
Definition: Psychic Crisis
  • Conspiracy theorists see history as a “vast” or “gigantic” conspiracy.
  • Good vs. Evil
    • Our ills can be traced to a single center
      • World communism, international bankers syndicate, Catholic Church, Jews.
  • Feelings of persecution and dispossession
mistrust of authority
Mistrust of Authority
  • Inherent mistrust of government.
  • Conspiracy theorists seek order and logical explanations in a fast changing world.
    • Events do not unfold randomly or happen by chance.
    • Lack of evidence is “proof” of a cover-up.
  • Some justification for mistrust:
    • Government has covered-up spying on Americans, drug trafficking through the CIA, nuclear radiation and chemical experiments on U.S. citizens.
  • 1996 poll showed 75% of public believe in government conspiracies.
slide7
UFOs
  • Old idea of life on other planets.
    • But UFO sightings increase since 1947 (birth of the Cold War).
  • For Conspiracy theorists, UFOs do exist.
    • Conspiracy is their cover-up by the government.
      • “Men in Black”
the roswell incident
The Roswell Incident
  • Sighting of flying disks in New Mexico desert in mid-1947.
    • Reports of a crash outside Roswell soon follow.
    • Debris reported as wooden sticks, aluminum foil, and adhesive tape with flowers.
  • Conflicting reports to the press.
    • A “flying disk” or a weather balloon.
  • 1977 two authors report a government cover-up.
    • Flowers on adhesive tape really alien hieroglyphics.
government cover up
Government Cover-Up?
  • Other accounts follow:
    • Multiple crashes
    • Recovery of alien bodies.
    • Air-force request for child-size coffins.
    • Witnesses report seeing aliens dead and/or alive in desert.
the real cover up
The “Real” Cover-Up
  • Witness memories faulty or fabricated.
    • Sightings reported 30 years later.
  • There was a government cover-up
    • Not a weather balloon, but a spying device used against USSR.
    • Alien bodies were dummies used for parachute tests.
    • Air-Force accident with crew death.
  • Other reasons to be skeptical:
    • Fear of an alien invasion could not be hidden in 1947 from the world.
    • If true, U.S. would have developed an electronic defense screen in 1947 (rather than 1957 with launch of Sputnik).
right wing conspiracies
Right Wing Conspiracies
  • An outgrowth of Cold War ideological conflict.
  • New Deal years and changing post-WWII society brings psychic crisis for many.
    • Conservatives perceive “their” U.S. as being lost to subversives.
  • Government Centralization would wipe-out individualism (a communist goal!)
    • John Birch Society

Robert Welch

new world order
New World Order
  • Bush declares “New World Order” with end of the Cold War in 1990.
    • Some Conservatives feared this meant centralized world government controlled by United Nations.
  • Televangelist Pat Robertson
    • “One world” government is goal of illuminati since 18th century.
    • Loss of individualism, loyalty to family, patriotism, and religious faith.
      • New World Order is “demonic.”
the militia movement
The Militia Movement
  • Fear of centralized government – both in U.S. and from United Nations.
    • Paranoid accusations of UN activities.

Timothy McVeigh

Oklahoma City, 1995

conspiracy theories from the left
Conspiracy Theories from the Left
  • People remember November 22, 1963.
  • Sense of dispossession, of loss about the future.
  • America’s bright future snuffed out in Dallas.
an open and shut case
An open and shut case?
  • Lee Harvey Oswald
    • Oswald a Marxist and outspoken critic of JFK’s anti-Castro policy.
  • Rifle found near Book Depository window was registered in his name and had his hand prints.
  • Warren Commission concludes in 1964 that Oswald was the lone gunman.
warren commission inconsistencies
Warren Commission Inconsistencies
  • WC concludes 3 shots fired in 5.6 seconds.
    • But it takes 3 seconds to recycle gun.
  • Oswald said to be a mediocre marksman.
    • FBI could not duplicate his deadly accuracy in two sets of tests.
  • Why not a frontal shot up Houston rather than wait until JFK is on Elm?
    • Was JFK killed in a triangulation of fire in a conspiracy?
      • The grassy knoll.
the magic bullet theory
The Magic Bullet Theory
  • Three bullets in 5.6 seconds.
    • One bullet misses, the third bullet shatters JFK’s skull.
  • WC had to explain 7 wounds with one bullet.
the conspiracy
The Conspiracy
  • Who killed Kennedy?
    • Mafia, Robert Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, the 3 tramps, KGB, Cubans, CIA, Lyndon Johnson
  • Strange occurrences surrounding assassination
    • Witnesses harassed, tragic deaths
  • Murder of Oswald by Jack Ruby on live television.
the conspiracy22
The Conspiracy
  • Kennedy’s brain is missing from the National Archives.
    • Theorists say to hide evidence of bullet’s trajectory.
  • LBJ asks CIA/FBI to withhold information from WC that might implicate Castro in assassination for fear of war cries.
    • Such revelations perpetuate theories of larger cover-ups.
hollywood history
Hollywood History
  • Oliver Stone’s “wacky” conspiracy theory.
  • The Military-Industrial Complex the culprit.
    • LBJ an accomplice.
    • Oswald a patsy.
  • Goal was to get America into Vietnam
    • A weak assumption that JFK would not have taken us in!
why most theories fail
Why Most Theories Fail
  • Though lots of speculation, no conclusive evidence to refute WC’s lone-gunman conclusions.
  • Conspiracy theorists dismiss simple explanations and develop more complex theories, adding conspirators to the scenario.
explaining the magic bullet
Explaining the Magic Bullet
  • Both men were moving about in the car, creating the possibility of 7 wounds with one bullet.
  • A pristine bullet is also possible according to a standard forensic text.
  • Fatal shot from the front? (“back and to the left”)
    • Bodies fall in the direction they were traveling, regardless of where a bullet comes from.
      • Thus film is not definitive evidence of two gunman.
why do we care
Why do we care?
  • Liberal Conspiracy Theories
    • Every wrong in modern America traceable to JFK’s lost presidency.
  • Kennedy’s assassination a “catastrophe” (especially for Liberals) that can engender a Psychic Crisis.
    • Attributing his death to a conspiracy makes him a martyr.
final thoughts
Final Thoughts
  • There have been real conspiracies
    • Watergate and Iran-Contra
  • But even these limited cover-ups could not be kept secret by just a few players.
the truth is out there
“The Truth Is Out There…”

…but don’t always assume that there is a master plan behind every occurrence.