Having moved to Austin for a job in 2004, I used to watch public access pretty often in my apartment on Parmer Lane, as it was by far the most entertaining thing on television. There was a show in which large homemade action figures interacted in a perpetual science-fiction drama filled with puppet sex and gore. Another program with the title SMASH THE STATE featured a nebbish politely reading radical handwritten screeds. The local atheist network had a call-in show that I called into a couple of times to chat. And there was this other show, or series of shows, by a guy who dominated public access, seemingly on at all hours: a burly Bill Hicks-lookalike named Alex Jones.
At the time he was a curiosity, a libertarian with Hulk Hogan’s voice who popped up all over town. I remember walking out of a screening of Fahrenheit 9/11, and Alex stuck a microphone in my face. “No,” I mumbled, squinting because the sun was still out after the matinee showing. “Weak,” he replied, mishearing what I said. “Why did you feel it was weak?” I looked back at him and said, “I don’t want to be on your goddamn show, Alex.” A few minutes later I watched him berate someone who appeared to be on his staff, probably an unpaid intern.
In 2013, the Coalition on Political Assassinations was in Dallas, Texas, as usual on November 22. In freezing conditions, with a light rain and ice on the ground, John Judge and a few folks gathered under a tree where the city had stuck us. John started to make a statement when he was drowned out by Alex Jones, who set up right next to us to scream nonsense into his bullhorn as his supporters cheered. Ryan Page had infiltrated the march and ending up shooting some footage we used in King Kill 63, not that it was much consolation.
Now that guy is best buds with the President.
There is no such thing as paranoia. Your worst fears can come true at any moment.
For Alex, it’s quite the turnaround for a guy who insists that everything is a conspiracy. A fake billionaire, Trump, who got elected on the backs of working white people, is suddenly our savior. How did that happen? If the global elites are all trying to kill us, why did they let Trump be President unless he’s part of their scheme?
Alex Jones is suddenly part of the existing power. And conspiracy talk is all over the place.
It’s been interesting to see this change. Suddenly everybody in the media is talking conspiracy theories. Even the Super Bowl was a conspiracy for the Patriots to win one for Trump. (You might remember that some were suspicious when the Patriots won the Super Bowl following 9/11.) Newspaper and television press seem genuinely convinced that Russia somehow “hacked” the election. I’ve never really understood this concept (it definitely does not mean that there was literal hacking, which has been proven in the past – see here and here) but it seems to mean that Russia was able to get stories in front of people that convinced them Hillary was a bad person. People who were on the fence about voting Hillary, but were influenced toward Trump by...bad press.
Well - does that seem plausible to you? That there were people who were going to vote Hilary but, in the few weeks leading up to the election, saw a story on Facebook or something that convinced them to vote Trump? Do you know anyone who might have done that? Where are these people?
And yet talking heads who should know better promote this stuff.
Now there’s a lot of screaming about Fake News. Fake News is one of those concepts that ends up being useless, because everyone is just going to say their sources are good but your sources are fake. It’s what Trump does all the time. In his world, the media is failing to report stories about imaginary Islamic terrorists, when in fact it is demonstrable that the media is failing to report on stories about real white nationalist terrorists.
Part of the problem is that most people believe in a spectrum that spans MSNBC on the Left and Fox News on the Right.
MSNBC is not on the Left. MSNBC is owned by MicroSoft and General Electric as a joint venture. Both GE and MicroSoft have huge contracts with the Department of Defense. Wars generate profits for both these companies. How liberal do you think these companies are?
But enough about fake news. There is an extremely serious existential threat in the U.S., and it will not be solved by Saturday Night Live and the Daily Show, even should they combine forces. Trump is a moron, yes, but that is a side issue. The real issue is the fact that he has placed into power some dangerous lunatics who want to instigate war. Paul Mason in the Guardian discusses openly the desire of Bannon and Gingrich to create a new precipitating event – unafraid of civil war. Mason, however, talks of it in terms of white terrorists in fatigue rather than the actual army, which it would surely be. And he fails to realize that the disrupters at Milo’s Berkeley press junket were professional saboteurs. Expect more of these events. Some media are even talking about a new Reichstag Fire to give Trump (or his advisors) what they want.
Trump’s Reichstag fire? Holy shit. The mainstream press suddenly sounds like 9/11 truthers. When did that happen?
For a guy like myself, who has spent some time as a conspiracy researcher, and has a lot of friends in my chosen “field,” it feels strange to be in a milieu in which everyone is talking about conspiracies. Unfortunately, in most cases the conversation is at a low level, and is not informed by decades of digging into government documents and witness statements. We’ve all known that the country has been going fascist for decades. Hell, it started going fascist in 1947 when we made certain terrible key decisions. But now this thing is in overdrive. If you need help understanding what’s going on in the world, there are some terrific researchers out there who can help. And some great books. It’s never too late to do some homework. Unfortunately, learning this stuff is the only way to make sense out of the great conspiratorial skirmishing going on out there. And the tricky thing is, the rules change depending on what’s going on.
In an essay written for my book Dissenting View II called “A Theoretical Model for Interpreting Conspiratorial Events,” I discussed how the rules change depending on the subject. Psychological explanations are preferred when discussing Adolf Hitler, as that ignores his Western backing, while in the Kennedy assassination a Structuralist critique is preferred which makes JFK out to be merely a cog in a larger system of domination and control. Different tools are used to hide the murkier parts of our history. Even then, it’s not that there isn't an element of truth to those explanations. It’s just that it's more complicated than that. We have to know who is giving us the information and why.
The reason background research is important is so we can identify not only the features of conspiracy, but also sometimes the players. Just recently, a "journalist" named Edward Jay Epstein wrote a book about how Edward Snowden is a Russian spy, among other terrible things. Unfortunately for Epstein, JFK researchers all know this person. He began as one of the original Warren Commission critics, writing a book called Inquest in 1966. Except his "critical" book wore kid gloves, and by 1967 he was actively opposing the real critics such as Vincent Salandria. Most researchers consider him to have been a mole all along.
So in this case, we need to find out as much as we can about Trump to some extent, but mostly Bannon. While Trump is doing his dancing monkey bit, Bannon is plotting white supremacy.
Because when it comes to conspiracies, there are only two rules: (1) Don't believe the ones that are false, and (2) Do believe the ones that are true. And be prepared to be surprised about which is which.
I’ve always known that the whole thing might go south. All I’ve ever wanted in my life was to be a writer – plays, books, movies – and then I got married and now all I want is to have a good life together with my wife.
Might not go that way. Might be we end up murdered by the state or in a concentration camp.
That’s what the Left needs to acknowledge, first and foremost. The time for parody is gone. If you actually give a shit about the future, about education, about not giving in to the dreams of white supremacist sonsabitches, then start preparing. There are folks in other countries – Syria, for example, or Lebanon, or Libya, or many other places around the globe – who can testify as to what might be coming. I hope we can get through this via all the means at our disposal. That should be our plan. Protests, phone calls, boycotts, these are all excellent tools. But if you’ve been following what’s been happening with regard to DAPL, you should realize that it may not work.
Organize. Pool your strengths. And good luck.
Less there be any confusion, I am strongly pro-Christian. The fact that I am not personally a Christian (or a Buddhist, or Muslim, or Hindu etc.) does not mean that I have a negative attitude about religion. I think people should be able to practice any religion they want in their home and would never dream of taking any rights away from people who do so.
Jesus Christ, assuming he existed, appears to have been a person of incredible selflessness. And while I don’t necessarily believe he was a perfect human being, there are worse people to pick as role models.
It’s just that Christianity imposes such powerful controls on behavior. When I think about what Christianity demands from its followers, it is almost overwhelming. A group of people willing to give away literally everything they own, going about helping the least among us, the poor, sick, and disenfranchised, turning the other cheek when struck, never having a bank account or a car loan – I mean, it’s incredible. And genuinely admirable. If you’re willing to do all that, then I accord you the highest respect. You’ve earned it.
The only people I might take issue with are people who do whatever the hell they want to do and then call themselves Christians. Sometimes, people even have the gall to tell other people what they should do and demand governmental laws protecting their special privileges, etc. Jesus wasn’t big on lobbying, either, at least in the Scriptures I read. Actually, he didn’t even like church, and certainly never went into one. For one thing, the guy was Jewish.
Some folks will say that’s expecting a little too much. We’re not perfect.
I get that, but then I didn’t label you a Christian. You did. So if you’re not trying to behave like Jesus, what does being a Christian even mean? Can it mean “acting in ways precisely opposite to Jesus”? Because that makes no sense. You can’t say “in the name of Jesus Christ, fuck immigrants!” Do you understand why that doesn’t make sense?
Anyway, if you want to act like Jesus, you’ll get no argument from me. Good on you. But hopefully you’ll take some effort to think about what “acting like Jesus” would actually mean.
Good luck out there.
This is Joe Green's blog.