Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Intreresting, But...

Conspiracy theories ex post facto ways of explaining traumatic events.  By investing events with larger conspiracies, we are able to sooth our jangling nerves when exposed to the real chaos of the world.  The idea that Bush allowed 9/11 to happen (or FDR allowed Pearl Harbor to happen) is more soothing than the idea that those that wish to do us harm need only get lucky once.  The idea that 19 assholes with box cutters can bring down the WTC is profoundly unnerving.  The idea that Oswald could cap JFK is scary

But what Walker describes is different.  He's describing conspiracy theories before the fact.  That's the paranoia.

And that really is Bin Laden's victory.

Conspiracy theories... whatever.  They happen.  Some get traction, some don't.  They are coping mechanisms.  Easier to believe that Bush opened the levees than to wrestle with the underlying poverty and hopelessness of the Ninth Ward.

But our reaction to the events of 9/11 has created a paranoia in the "deep state" of the national security apparatus.  That's what leads to the NSA programs that may or may not be wholesale invasions of our private communications.  Maybe they're warehousing data, maybe they're listening in on our phone calls.  In a paranoid state, who's to say.

By putting the paranoia before the facts makes every black kid in a hoodie a criminal, as opposed to observing that criminals often wear hoodies.  That lack of distinction between causation and correlation makes for crappy policy.  It makes for an intrusive surveillance state and Trayvon Martin.

The question is, how do we stop it?

And I have no idea what the answer to that is.

No comments: