Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sweden’s JFK?

I never even knew this is how the life of one of Sweden’s most respected statesmen ended, but apparently the assassination of Olaf Palme is as plagued by conspiracy theories as the assassination of John F. Kennedy:

In the course of my year traveling around Sweden, I often asked those whom I met what was there view of the assassination, and what I discovered was that the responses told me more about them than it did about the public event. Some thought it was a dissident faction in the Swedish security forces long angered by Palme’s neutralist policies; some believed it was resentment caused by Palme’s alleged engineering of Swedish arms sales to both sides in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s; some believed it was the CIA in revenge for Palme’s neutralism during the Cold War; some believed it could have criminals in the pay of business tycoons tired of paying high taxes needed to maintain the Swedish maximalist version of a welfare state; and there were other theories as well. What was common to all of these explanations was the lack of evidence that might connect the dots. What people believed happened flowed from their worldview rather than the facts of the event—a distrust of the state, especially its secret operations, or a strong conviction that special interests hidden from view were behind prominent public events of this character.

This quote comes to us, unfortunately, from blithering doofoid Richard Falk, who seemingly breathlessly transitions straight from this, to a critique of such a mindset, right to 9/11 denial:

In a way, this process of reflection is natural, even inevitable, but it leads to faulty conclusions. We tend to process information against the background of our general worldview and understanding, and we do this all the time as an efficient way of coping with the complexity of the world combined with our lack of time or inclination to reach conclusions by independent investigation. The problem arises when we confuse this means of interpreting our experience with an effort to provide an explanation of a contested public event…

The arguments swirling around the 9/11 attacks are emblematic of these issues. What fuels suspicions of conspiracy is the reluctance to address the sort of awkward gaps and contradictions in the official explanations that David Ray Griffin (and other devoted scholars of high integrity) have been documenting in book after book ever since 2001. What may be more distressing than the apparent cover up is the eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials. Is this silence a manifestation of fear or cooption, or part of an equally disturbing filter of self-censorship? Whatever it is, the result is the withering away of a participatory citizenry and the erosion of legitimate constitutional government…

Of course, the proposition that David Ray Griffin’s absurd claims have gone unaddressed is by now so obviously false that it seems fair to call it a lie. And it is no longer a source of debate to say that every single JFK conspiracy theory is transparently false.

As skeptics tend to understand, conspiracy theories arise at the drop of the hat and they don’t really leave the public conscience. It’s just another part of forming an identity to make enemies out of people who are dislike you, and even slightly paranoid people have no trouble doing just that. Falk, himself a rabid bigot, probably doesn’t even get the joke he just told.