Some conspiracy theories are more equal than others

Posted on February 18th, 2010 by Sean Scallon

Spicing up the Republican primary campaign for Governor of Texas, what was supposed to be a mano-a-womano showdown between the state’s longest serving governor, “Slick” Rick Perry, and U.S. Senator Kay “Bailout” Hutchison, was the presence of Debra Medina, a former GOP county chair, nurse, and businesswoman who is a strong Ron Paul backer and running a Paul-like campaign. Indeed, Medina had been rising steadily in the polls to the point where she could make a run-off, leaving Hutchison the odd-woman out.

Noticing all this was radio and television talk host Glenn Beck, who interviewed her on his radio show. For whatever reason (and it was certainly not brought to Medina’s attention before the interview by Beck’s producers) Beck asked whether she believed the U.S. government was in any way involved with bringing down the towers of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Here was Medina’s response:

“I think some very good questions have been raised in that regard,” Medina replied. “There are some very good arguments, and I think the American people have not seen all of the evidence there, so I have not taken a position on that…….You know, that’s a federal issue. We’re very focused on issues in Texas, on Texas state government. I’m certainly not into mind control or thought policing people. We’ve got a very diverse team in this state and that’s because Texans are standing shoulder to shoulder to support and defend the Constitution. I frankly don’t have time, you know, to go through and do psychological testing on people and know every thought or detail that they have.”

So what’s so controversial? Medina basically gave a non-answer to nonsensical question. Being governor of Texas has absolutely nothing to do with 9-11 or anything connected to it. And as she said, neither she (nor any other candidate for that matter) has the time to screen all potential supporters and donors for their personal beliefs. If a 9-11 Truther happens to support Medina, even though 9-11 has not exactly been a big issue in the campaign, nor has it been a means through which Medina has solicited support, then why should it matter? Again what other candidates have had their supporters scrutinized by the media for their personal beliefs? Certainly not Kay Bailey Hutchison or Rick Perry, that’s for sure.

No matter.

As soon as Medina finished with her interview Beck declared her candidacy “back at 4 percent” and Perry’s campaign had the robocalls already dialed in. In other words, the smear was on.

If there’s a familiar echo to all of this it goes back to the Ron Paul campaign and the attempt by those in Cosmoland media world (or the Orange Line Mafia, as it was referred to) to tar and feather Paul because some Stormfront blogger happened to be in the Paul tent at the Iowa Straw Poll or because some Nazi gave some money to Paul of his own volition or got his picture taken with Paul, and so forth. Apparently there had been some 9-11 Truther signs at Medina rallies so it naturally meant Medina was one herself (according to the Dave Weigel School of Journalism, in which students attend a political event, find crazy people at the event, and ergo write that the movement or campaign or candidate has to be crazy too). But in neither her interview with Beck nor a press conference soon following thereafter did she dispute the basic premise of 9-11: that Muslim terrorists flew commercial jet airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. How is saying that there are questions that may never be answered about what transpired that day and how it came about so heinous that it disqualifies her from public office? You could make such statements on any TV documentary about 9-11 without so much as raising a peep of protest. How many people out there actually believe the government of the United States itself connived with the terrorists and Osama bin Laden in conspiracy to allow 9-11 to take place, as a sort of Reichstag Fire incident? It can’t be any more than those who are members of the Flat Earth Society.

So again the question arises, why did Beck feel the need to ask this? Why did the same kind of rhetoric from Jesse Ventura cause Tucker Carlson to bail out of Ron Paul’s Rally for the Republic ?

It’s funny that given the anti-government sentiment on the right these days that questions about the official story about 9-11 don’t get more traction or are reacted to with such scorn and outrage. After all, history has shown that the start of many wars, whether it be the Spanish-American War (Remember the Maine?), World War I (It’s all Germany’s fault!), World War II (Did we know Pearl Harbor was coming? Our intelligence did), Korea (Secretary of State and U.S. Senator all but invites North Korea to invade), Vietnam (Gulf of Tonkin’s phony attacks), or the Gulf War (Anyone remember April Glaspie?), isn’t so clean and clear cut as one would be led to believe from school history books. Yet when Ron Paul suggested in a debate that perhaps U.S. foreign policy had something to do with the reasons the hijackers carried out their diabolic deeds on 9-11 (could this not be a reasonable answer to Beck’s question about the extent of the government’s involvement, it’s own foreign policy?), he was all but branded a Truther too and banned from a New Hampshire debate on Fox News because of it. Indeed 9-11 has itself become a third rail in American politics.

Yet isn’t it rich that persons accusing Medina of “conspiracy theory” have peddled such theories on their own without media or political sanction? Apparently Rick Perry can advocate Texas secession and lead in the polls. Georgia Congressman Nathan Deal can sponsor a resolution demanding President Obama produce a birth certificate to please all the “Birthers” out there and yet be still considered a serious candidate for governor. It’s okay for Glenn Beck to peddle the works of conspiracy theorist W. Cleon Skousen on his radio and TV shows, and his employers look the other way. It’s also apparently okay for a good chunk of the members of Republican Party to either be creationists and Dispensationalists and not be confined to the political fringe the way Weigel thought the Rally for the Republic should be. Back in 1978, Democrats in control of Congress at the time delved into the Kennedy-King assassination conspiracy theories with the Special House Committee on Assassinations. Oh, then there’s the fact that Beck, leading GOP prospect for president Mitt Romney, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid believe in something called the “magic underware” as Mormons, but no one thinks that’s a disqualification for either public office or a TV show. Yet God help you from the assaults coming your way from Cosmoland if you even broach the subject of 9-11.

Why is this? I suppose because the attacks took place in New York and Washington, raising such a subject becomes a sore point. But it’s usually not the candidates themselves that bring up 9-11, it’s the media, it’s the powers that be. And when you think about how much such powers have invested in the war that has followed 9-11, their attitudes make perfect sense. Even asking a simple a question about what happened on 9-11 throws the legitimacy of the war into a certain degree of doubt. To question 9-11 questions the war, it questions everything about U.S. foreign policy. After all, don’t you know what happened on 9-11? You saw it on your TV screen! Why do you need to ask any questions?! Move along! This is what scares such people about Ron Paul, because he did manage to ask such questions and lived politically to tell about it despite their best efforts. (It also serves as a good point to Paulites to be very careful and very wary of media people and pundits who like to say they are your friends (Carlson) or say they sympathize with you (Beck), because they usually say such things before sticking the knife into your back.) Politics also has a great deal to do with it as well. Glenn Beck can get away with talking about Skousen or promoting the Birthers or health care “death panels” because he is attacking a Democratic administration. It’s apparently okay to talk about conspiracy theories so long as it in the context of struggle between the two major political parties. Start talking about 9-11 and you first uncomfortably bring up the subject of George Bush II and Dick Cheney and what their actions were that fateful day. Then you bring the question whether the government did all it could to prevent 9-11 from happening to finally a discussion on whether the war itself is still worth it now that more people have died on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq than died at Ground Zero and the fact that the main perp in this case still remains at large. Say what you want about “Truthers,” but they at least understand what they’re target is and what impact it can have. Likewise, the neocons who run Fox News would throw Beck off the air in a minute if they thought he was peddling 9-11 conspiracy theories. He may be a self-confessed “rodeo-clown” but he’s smart enough to know who butters his bread and what side he likes buttered. He’s no fool and he went and did his hatchet job on the non-establishment Media as dutifully as he could, their catspaw having done the dirty work of trying to discredit her.

Whether this incident derails Medina’s’ campaign remains to be seen but it does show that within the nation’s politics, some conspiracy theories are judged differently than others, especially when the person offering them resides outside the corridors of power.