Sometimes the Only Alternative to “Conspiracy Theory” Is Lobotomy

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I believe I have found an appropriate synonym for the unwieldy phrase, “engaging in conspiracy theory”. Let’s just call it “thinking”.

Say that a young man’s date for Friday night cancels on Friday afternoon, pleading that an intense migraine has overtaken her. Disconsolate, he wanders into the local watering hole later that evening… where he spies his girlfriend absorbing cocktails and laughing in brave defiance of the famous headache as a tall, dapper stranger whispers in her ear. Our young man thinks… what? That he’s been misled? That he’s been played? Why, he deserves to be jilted if that’s what he’s made of! Conspiracy theorist!

Your high-school-senior son says he’ll be out late on Saturday night—not to wait up, that he and his friends have formed a study group to ace all of next week’s final exams. You take him at his word and go to bed. The next morning, you find his book bag just where he left it upon returning from classes Friday afternoon. Out in the garage, you discover his hand-me-down car wedged in at a very odd angle and notice empty beer cans knocking around in the back seat. And you conclude… what? That he didn’t spend the night studying? I hope they come arrest you, you… you conspiracy theorist!

John Stossel dared to point out last Wednesday that our 23 trillion debt hasn’t faded away, despite what appears to be a rip-roaring economy.  Indeed, the debt continues to mushroom, and Mr. Stossel notes that a day of reckoning must come. These facts can hardly come as a dazzling revelation to elected representatives of either party, yet neither Democrats nor Republicans have the stomach to carve a dime from our entitlement programs. That’s by no means shocking, and the major fault for their paralysis lies with us. Every politico on either side of the aisle knows that fiscal responsibility is the kiss of death, so both wait for the other side to make the fatal move in a game of “chicken”….

Or so one might have said fifteen years ago, when the looming catastrophe was already fully visible. These days, however, Democrats are not simply waiting for Republicans to cave in and show an understanding of elementary arithmetic. No: every Democratic candidate for president is trying to outbid the others in exorbitant offers of “free stuff”—free health care, free college, free annual income. Free citizenship, even—a free right to vote on how much of other people’s money you want to pocket, freedom from prosecution when you break the nation’s laws, freedom to vote (once again) when you’re clumsy enough to get yourself sent away to prison for lawbreaking too spectacular to be ignored.

And… and is there no endgame here, beyond getting elected? Is that what we are to think—that every single Democrat in office or seeking office nowadays is so incredibly stupid as not to understand that we have no cash for such palaces of fantasy? Some, to be sure, are stunningly challenged by basic addition (especially those with economics degrees from Ivy League institutions). But all of them?

Well, yes, that’s precisely what we are to think, what we must think… unless we wish to descend into the vile, malodorous realm of conspiracy theory!

We must assume, furthermore, that no Democrat has a plan for what to do when Social Security and Medicare checks dry up, when rioting breaks out in the streets, when the nation from coast to coast begins to look like San Francisco. For if such a plan exists, counting on a crisis which must not “go to waste”… wouldn’t that be a conspiracy?

Bestowing the right to vote upon felons and foreign nationals begins to look like a plan of some particularly dark design, especially when you factor in the Democratic Party’s zeal for denying legal citizens their Second Amendment rights. Is this merely a matter of adding the criminal vote (and the child vote, if Pelosi had her druthers) to the dead vote in order to ensure permanent Democrat hegemony… or is massive civil unrest being courted to justify calling out the National Guard, transforming it into the National Police Force dreamt of by Barack Obama, suspending elections, and settling into a true socialist oligarchy in the grand old Soviet or Maoist style? The whole thing begins to look like… but, nah! Pull yourself up short and take several steps back! You know where that kind of thinking leads!

Now, Republicans don’t open the border to terrorists while taking defensive weapons at gunpoint from legal citizens. They don’t invite Israelis to vacation by the thousand in Chicago during the first week of November and bestow upon them the right to vote as pro tempore residents. They actually resign if caught having sex with the cleaning lady’s underaged daughter, and they hold the Constitution in highest regard… except that, you know, the President is the Commander in Chief, and waging war in that capacity is sometimes a bit hampered by the need of a formal declaration from the Senate. It’s important to whisk around this small planet like Superman and stay the raised hand of the evil-doer… so important that parliamentary procedure sometimes gets trimmed at the edges. Islamo-fascism has to be nipped in the bud wherever its dark flower breaks the surface; the Religion of Peace has to be given a chance to nourish new democracies and marketplaces.

Although… one would think that, with such a keen interest in defense, the Republicans would address themselves to seeking an alliance with Putin’s Russia instead of driving her closer and closer into the embrace of Red China, the one nation on earth aggressively, openly gobbling up its neighbors or commandeering their resources while conducting campaigns of ethnic cleansing and instituting Orwellian monitoring of ordinary people. One would think that continuing to feed Wall Street by allowing the PRC to take over vast portions of our industrial sector and purloin all of our intellectual property of value would stir Republican indignation.

One would think, most especially, that Republicans would have been clamoring to have the national power grid secured against electro-magnetic pulse attack and solar flares during the Ryan/Boehner years of enjoying substantial power in Congress. After all, if ninety percent of the North American populace would die in the wake of a catastrophic nation-wide power outage, if this has been understood since the late twentieth century, if the cost of hardening the grid is relatively minuscule, and if Republicans are such valiant hawks in the matter of providing our military with tanks (as opposed, say, to modernizing the nuclear arsenal)… well… well, what?

One of my Republican senators responded last week to my letter expressing concern about the unsecured grid with an assurance (and I’ve no doubt that this was an auto-responder’s assurance) that he cared about “climate change” and, to that end, was doing his all to advance the construction of a nuclear power plant. Fine. Thanks for listening.

Perhaps we witness here a mere greasing of conventional pockets in the energy sector, just as we see in Democrats a mere pandering to the “what’s in it for me?” crowd with endless offers of free stuff from other people’s closets. Perhaps there really is nothing to see here, on either side. One doesn’t like to be a… you know: a conspiracy theorist!

But as I mused at the end of my just-published essays collected over a period fifteen years, Nightmare Made of Dreams: A Conservative Scholar Assesses Our Nation’s Declining Taste for Self-Sufficiency, there’s something really odd going on under our noses. The phenomenon now popularly known as the Phoenix Lights occurred over twenty years ago. It was seen by thousands (including Governor Fife Symington of Arizona) and photographed or videoed by dozens, perhaps hundreds. Strange craft were silently executing maneuvers over a major southwestern metropolitan area that any Physics or Engineering professor at any public university would denounce as patently impossible. Somebody did that… and somebody in our government knows who the somebody was. I have a feeling—not an articulated theory, just a feeling—that our off-budget defense programs are vastly more advanced than most of us believe (whether or not the craft over Phoenix were built at Area 51 or on Alpha Centauri b). That hunch consoles me. It would be nice if our defenses were indeed much more sophisticated than they appear to the casual eye. I can also muster little outrage at the utterly covert nature of such projects (though why one of them went overt on March 13, 1997, is a puzzler). If you reckon for a moment how leaky our “security” agencies have been around the Trump Administration, and if you then consider the premier importance of projects like these, you’d want another blanket of secrecy thrown over them rather than more sunlight penetrating to them.

Yet there remains that deadly sunlight—those solar flares against which our grid is not secure. How can a nation whose elite engineers have refined the ability to defy gravity not have built Faraday cages around its power generators? That’s like asking how a nuclear submarine cannot have a protocol to see that someone shuts the hatch before a dive.

What’s the game? As a citizen, I say to my representatives, “I don’t want to know all your secrets. I shouldn’t know them… because if such a one as I knows them, then the Chinese surely will. I don’t even want to write a futuristic novel wherein you happy few retreat to Dr. Strangelove’s bunker, let the rest of us rioting rabble die of starvation and self-slaughter, and then climb out in eight months to repel the Red Guard with flying saucers. But is something like that really the plan? Does the plan really require that we and our children and grandchildren die like rats on the Flying Dutchman? Is something like that in store for us? No? Then why won’t you secure the damn grid?”

“Reparations”: A Tribal Drum Calling Human Beings Away From Responsibility

I tend to write either upon a subject that has fermented in me for a while or upon one that breaks down my psychic door, even though I would as soon concentrate my attention elsewhere.  Today a door has come off its hinges, so… I yield to the necessity of cleaning up the mess.

I have grown irritated at several thoughtful people who write against the propriety of “reparations”—i.e., the monetary indemnification of people with X amount of melanin for the ordeal endured by their slave-ancestors.  The bright but annoying types with whom I’m peeved will protest, “I’m white, but my ancestors had nothing to do with this outrage.  They arrived at Ellis Island in 1890”; or perhaps they tender the version, “My ancestors were German farmers and Italian craftsmen who emigrated in the 1850’s and probably contributed children to wear Union blue.”  The implication is that the demand for “reparations” is itself not unjust or unreasonable, but that the writer in question shouldn’t be liable for paying a dime.

I could shred this argument on its own terms if I wanted to.  I actually have little doubt that slaves lived in the households of my progenitors on both sides—not hundreds of slaves to work vast plantations, though Hollywood would have us believe (and has duped most of us into believing, apparently) that no other kind of slavery existed.  Rather, among my ancestors as among most slaveholders (“most” as in 95 percent), there was a groom, a cook, maybe a girl to wait the table and tend the nursery, maybe another man to oversee heavier chores about the house: three to five adults, in total.  These people were employed in the same work given primarily to indentured white servants before the early nineteenth century.  Why the gradual shift from indenture to slavery?  Because Northern slavers found it profitable.  Arabic raiders plundered villages in northwestern Africa, and Yankee schooners from Long Island or Boston or Baltimore shuttled them across the Atlantic to Southern slave markets.  The North had no great need of slavery—or indenture (though the myth that no Union state practiced legal slavery during the Civil War is an ignorant falsehood).  With its far more industrialized economy, the North favored allowing competition in its populous towns and cities to drive down the daily wage and impose no burden of room and board on the employer.  The South, being far more rural and sparsely populated, was ripe for exploitation by the slave trade.  Slavery was an ugly business, all the way around—but it was a business from which the North drew a handsome profit.

It isn’t the sanctimonious hypocrisy of the, “My ancestors didn’t do it!” argument that most irritates me, however.  No… and it isn’t even the utter absence of historical awareness visible on all sides—but I’ll mention that in passing.  Were some slaves whipped, raped, separated from their families?  Unquestionably.  Slavery was a wicked, horrid institution—as were many institutions of the day.  The British Navy manned its fleet by “impressing” young men wherever it could find them.  The raids of its press gangs upon American merchant vessels, in fact, were one of the causes of the War of 1812.  This practice was essentially enslavement with a fairly high probability of mutilation or death in the aftermath.  Another example: in many parts of New England, drunkards and rioters were pilloried or otherwise brutally punished.  Farther south and west, feuds between families frequently produced a bullet in the back along a lonely road.  Thieves of a relatively petty variety were hanged.  Dueling was not uncommon.  Life was rough.  Women not uncommonly died in childbirth.  (And yet, for all the cruelty of the times, a newborn whose mother had no means of support would leave it at a church’s doorstep rather than, with the doctor’s help, cram its face in salt before shifting it to the dumpster.)

For all that, many slaves were considered part of the family.  The church which my wife attended as a child preserved evidence of a wall down its middle, created to divide slaves and masters.  In the Christian family, there should be no such division, to be sure—but here is solid evidence that the slave attended worship along with the owner (something that would never have happened up North).  My grandparents and their parents grew up playing with children of color.  The photo at the top of this piece was taken in about 1900 by a member of my father’s father’s family.  You can tell that black and white children, squeezed together (with the tiny tots of darker complexion in the middle), are playmates.  Brutality, in other words, was not universal nor even the norm—or perhaps only on large plantations, whose owners (often speculators and profiteers from the North) were typically despised by smaller, much more numerous farmers and had political interests inimical to most of their neighbors.  May I ask, in closing this digression, what Sherman’s ravages of the South did to keep either white or black children from starving, or how a “reconstruction” which abruptly ended in a couple of years left freedmen in a fit state to feed their families and make their way?

All of this aside—and it’s a lot to shove aside, for the willful stupidity of imbibing all one’s knowledge of the mid-nineteenth century from Django infuriates me—but all of it aside, the true outrage of “reparations” is the moral outrage of holding children responsible for their parents’ deeds.  The crazed immigrant who pushed a little boy over a rail to almost certain death in the Mall of America… should his children pay monthly compensation to the victim for the rest of his life, if he survives?  What if the would-be murderer claims that the rabble-rousing “hate speech” of Liz Warren, Kamala Harris, and other unscrupulous flame-throwers of the Left incited him to attempt a killing?  Should the Democratic Party pony up for the bereaved family two or three generations from now?

Should I refuse to let my son marry your daughter because your grandfather wore a Nazi uniform?  I believe Ted Bundy left a son behind; perhaps that child should be monitored for signs of schizophrenia… but should we place him in a classroom all by himself?  Alexander the Great was a marvel to his contemporaries for, among other things, not slaying the sons of his political adversaries when resistance reached open hostility.  Do we, too, now marvel at such restraint?  Does it no longer make any sense to us?

I know the my-ancestors-didn’t-do-this crowd hasn’t fully weighed the implications of its half-hearted objection… but weigh them, please.  Consider what you’re not saying as well as what you’re saying.  The “reparations” canard (and I have refused to use the word outside of quotations to signify my contempt and disgust) is evil.  It’s not a dumb idea or an impractical proposal: it is evil at its foundations.  The basis of any true morality—i.e., any that is not cultural conditioning masked as unquestioned goodness—must be individual conscience.  Each single person must be presumed capable of choosing his or her acts… and held accountable, by the way, for not choosing when he or she just goes with the flow.  Such a presumption is the foundation of our free society.  If we reject it and assume, instead, that people are infinitely programmable robots who do the bidding of their tribes or their demagogic leadership, then why have another free election?  Why accord the individual the right to defend himself from deadly attack?  Program him, rather, to die passively: he can be replaced by another robot, and the malfunctioning robot who slew him can be dismantled back at the factory.  Why allow couples to conceive, bear, and raise their own children—for the real thrust of the “pro-choice” movement is to regulate the production of new humans according to some master-plan of population density and racial composition.

Notice that all three of the preposterous positions just outlined—overhaul of free elections, suppression of the right to self-defense, and state-sponsored eugenics through abortion—are fast becoming leftist orthodoxy. There is no room in the progressive state for troublesome individualists who delay the march of progress. Our individual lives have no meaning: meaning is conferred upon them only by the ascendant vector of tomorrow’s golden dawn.

Megalomaniac leftist ideologues understand that “reparations” are completely consistent with their broader vision of a deterministic, inhuman apehouse whipped into line by their own superior inspiration—they, our insane prophets sent from some inscrutable, blank-and-pitiless heaven.  Most of their allies in our currently sitting Congress, I am convinced, no more embrace this depraved ideology to its last letter than people on my side of the fence oppose “reparations” simply because of a family-tree exemption.  Democrat presidential candidates, rather, are competing in offering bribes to a base that (they hope) can be bought.  Even among that base, few whose palms grow itchy at the thought of a “reparations check” in the mail, I imagine, seriously believe that they have no power over their lives—that the cards determining their destiny were shuffled 150 years ago.  They just want the “free stuff”.

But what will the next generation believe?  Once we raise its members totally immersed in the poisonous vapors of tribalism and determinism, what else will they believe but that you are only and always your DNA signature—that this man must be my enemy because of his skin tone, and that I must pray to this god and love this music because my ancestors did so?  Those who write the checks, and those who accept them, will be responsible in a higher reality for corrupting human society with a sordid scam.  And you, too, my brothers “whose great-grandparents weren’t here at the time”… your hands will not be entirely clean.

For God’s sake, call the Devil by his name.