Now don't get me wrong. Nobody likes a good conspiracy theory more than I do. It's fascinating how many of them turn out to be true. For example, the August 4, 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, which President Johnson described as an attack on the US Navy in international waters by the forces of North Vietnam. In reality, Johnson and his advisers knew that no such attack had occurred. A decade ago, people like me believed that George W. Bush and company were engaged in a conspiracy to lie about evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Turns out we were right.
The early Cold War was probably the golden age of the American conspiracy theory. People believed that everything, up to and including the fluoridation of water was somehow a communist plot. But I've never seen any one person inspire so many conspiracy theories as President Obama. I guess there are a lot people who feel that the manipulations of unseen, sinister forces are responsible for Mr. Obama becoming President and remaining popular. But take a look at the conspiracy theories involving the President, and boy oh boy, are they the most fact-free, paranoid, bigoted, irrational, illogical nonsense you've ever heard.
Let's dive right in, shall we?
10. Obama admits he is a Muslim.
This is the one that inspired me to write this post. I hadn't heard of this one, and it got me wondering just how many Obama conspiracies are floating around right-wing world that I've yet to enjoy. Sadly, this theory was posted on facebook by a friend of mine who's quite educated. I love the idea that Obama would openly practice the Muslim faith, discuss it in public at length, then decide it wasn't good for his image, and then begin using his muscle to try to suppress poorly assembled YouTube videos. Then to top it off, Fox News would bow to pressure from the White House, and say nothing to its viewers.
9. al-Qaeda is pro-Obama.
This theory is nothing special, I chose it to represent what is apparently the 'conspiracy theory a day' operation of Mr. Rush Limbaugh. Any way, the idea here is that al-Qaeda allowed President Obama to kill Osama bin Laden to give Obama a boost in his reelection, because Obama isn't quite as ardently pro-Israel as a Romney administration would be. I would have thought that while bin Laden was still alive, al Qaeda would have been pro-Romney, as Mr. Romney had the same position on finding bin Laden that George W. Bush had: we needn't bother.
8. Obama was raised by communists.
When Barrack Obama was a child, he made the acquaintance of Frank Marshall Davis, a journalist and poet with a passion for the civil rights movement. From this one fact, it's easy to build a conspiracy theory. First make something up. Then while that first baseless suggestion is circulating, up the ante again and again. Davis was a communist. Obama was raised by communists. Davis was Obama's real father. Right. Click here for a good article on the reality of Obama's relationship with Davis.
7. Obama is scheming to bring 100 million Muslims from the Middle East into the United States.
White christian conservative Americans have made their voices clear: they only want to live in a country dominated by white Christian conservatives. They're terrified of a "demographic winter," in which the US is overwhelmed by brown people. Combine this with fears of "radical Islam," and a conspiracy theory that ties all these terrors together pretty much writes itself.
6. Obama is manipulating weather forecasts to destroy the Republican National Convention.
I didn't want to use Limbaugh twice, but this one is too good. Last month, two disasters descended on Tampa, Florida at the same time: Hurricane Isaac and the Republican National Convention. First, according to Limbaugh, Obama attempted to manipulate weather forecasts to show that the hurricane was pushing towards Tampa when it really wasn't, "I’ve been tracking the charted forecast track of the storm, and they’re moving it sometimes to the east." Second, that Obama might have been planning to send in the Federal Emergency Management Administration early to make Tampa look worse than it actually was, "I can see Obama sending FEMA in in advance of the hurricane hitting
Tampa so that the Republican convention is nothing but a bunch of tents
in Tampa, a bunch of RVs and stuff... Make it look like a
disaster area before the hurricane even hits there." I'm sorry, but the hurricane showing up that particular week was just a coincidence. Just like it's a coincidence that Rush Limbaugh and the airship Hindenburg are both gigantic, bloated gas bags created by fascists.
5. Satirical article about Obama as real news.
Most people have heard of the Indian Rope trick, in which a magician throws a rope in into the air, which then stands erect as his assistant climbs to the top. This myth originates from none other than the Chicago Tribune, which published an article regarding the trick in 1890. The Tribune revealed it as a hoax some weeks later. But that didn't stop a lot of people from believing that the rope trick really existed. A satirical article written in the 1960s similarly led millions to believe that banana peels are a psychoactive substance. It occurred to me when doing research for this post that given how easily many people are taken in by any derogatory story about the President Obama, there must be at least one case of a satirical article about him being taken seriously. Yep, sure enough, this article from the Onion, which suggests that, "President Barack Obama sent a rambling 75,000-word e-mail to the entire
nation Wednesday, revealing deep frustrations with America's political
culture, his presidency, U.S. citizens, and himself," was posted as factual by none other than Fox News.
4. Concentration and re-education camps.
It was the George W. Bush administration that decided that the President is above the law, and that it could declare American citizens in the US to be "enemy combatants," and to imprison and torture them indefinitely without due process. Yet for some reason, it's only when we have a Democratic President that the 'militia movement' starts worrying that America is becoming a dictatorship. President Obama had been in office only a few weeks when the leadership of the patriot-militia movement announced that the fed was preparing to imprison gun owners in concentration camps run by the Federal Emergency Management Administration. America's wackiest congresswoman, Republican Michelle Bachmann, offers a different spin on the same idea. This shocking conspiracy is that the seemingly innocent Americorps program, which provides valuable job skills to young people, is actually a plot to establish "re-education camps" to indoctrinate our innocent kids in liberal thinking. Come to think of it, I could just as easily have called this article, "Top 10 Obama Conspiracy Theories suggested by Michelle Bachmann." Among her other winners are the suggestion that the presence of a single Muslim-American in the State Department represents, "a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy to infiltrate the U.S. government," and that the US is on the verge of joining a one-world currency.
3. Obama has appeared to have given up on gun control to lure gun owners into a false sense of security.
President Obama has repeatedly said he will not attempt to renew the assault weapons ban. In fact, he hasn't proposed any kind of new gun control measure. According to the NRA, "it's all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide
his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in our country." I like this one because it's so open. With many conspiracy theories, the idea is to insinuate that something sinister is going on, and then let people draw their own conclusions. The NRA however seems worried that their audience needs something more brazen, "it's all part of a massive Obama conspiracy."
2. Obama was not born a US citizen.
August, 1961. A poor woman from Kansas gives birth in Kenya. Her family then launches a vast conspiracy that will soon encompass numerous friends, the state government of Hawai'i, and both major Honolulu newspapers (who print Barrack Obama's birth announcement). As conspiracy theories go, this is one of the all-time greats. Most major conspiracy theories have at least some evidence to support them. There is evidence to suggest the Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in killing President Kennedy. There is evidence that Jesus Christ was married. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to suggest that President Obama was not born an American citizen. Yet a 2010 CNN/Opinion Research poll showed 41% of Republicans believe that Obama was "probably" or "definitely" born in another country.
1. Obama is the mastermind of the Obama conspiracy theories.
People, we're through the looking-glass. You know those crazy, baseless theories about President Obama's birth? They're actually spread by Obama himself to confuse Republicans! It's easy because Republicans are stupid! Don't take my word for it, just listen to Republican policy advisor Karl Rove,
"This is a White House strategy. They love this... They are happy to have this controversy continue because every moment
the conservatives talk about this they marginalize themselves and
diminish themselves in the minds of independent voters... we need the leaders of our party to say look, stop falling into the trap of the White House."
Sorry Karl, that's life. As Republican Rick Santorum recently said, "We will never have the elite, smart people on our side."