I should have known better. I was just too farse. Saharan dust was thick. Two days after the massacre in New Zealand, a friend of mine from Egypt writing in Arabic (my browser translated it into vague, ambiguous English) posted a “covered” Facebook video. One click on a little “eye” icon and you can “uncover” a video or photos and have your day spoiled.
Could it have been, I thought, that my human rights friend had landed himself in (more) trouble and this was a video or photographic depiction of what had occurred? Farseness prevailed. The footage looked like one of those violent HD video games.
Still playing farse—because by that time, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube had started pulling down the video (1.5 million uploads of it)—I idly followed the trail of other people who had been posting it.
There was this guy from the Yellow Vest Movement (YVM) Canada who posted the video. He insisted that the shooting was staged as part of an effort to shift attention away from violent Islamist behaviour and, hear this, through extensive media coverage, away from Justin Trudeau’s supposed complicity in the SNC-Lavalin issue!
Of course, when I clicked on the YVM character’s list of friends, I encountered a vast treasury of conspiracies. It proved my theory about conspiracy theories which is that people who are inclined to espouse a Christchurch “hoax” theory are also likely to be anti-vaxxers, flat-earth believers, 9/11 hoax theorists and are sceptical about the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.
The YVM version, which is essentially a “right-wing” manifestation of the conspiracy phenomenon, is an example of an “event conspiracy”, as described by American scholar, Michael Burkan.
There is also “systemic conspiracy” theory which is much more prevalent among the “left-wing” loonies.
This deals with conspiracies covering broader agendas such as control of people, countries, and regions. The problem with this one is that the grain of evidence needed to approximate credibility is sometimes present. Claims of imperialistic intent by some countries, for example, can be said to be supported by historical record.
But this does not on its own constitute evidence that a radioactive chair had been planted at the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 to expose the late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, to the risk of cancer. Or that a “cyber-attack” (as opposed to crumbling, neglected infrastructure) had been responsible for the recent electricity crisis in that country. Or that the now-confirmed humanitarian crisis in Venezuela was an imperialist media lie.
You see, the historical record will also show that Bolivarian “revolution” is imperialistic in both its original design and in its expression via, for example, the ill-fated PetroCaribe adventure and Venezuela’s continuing claim to the Essequibo region of Guyana.
The world of the conspiracy theory shares very interesting space. It also resides in the same part of the human imagination as superstition. “Blight”, for example, may provide for what Burkan describes as a “superconspiracy”. In this, there are evil forces aligned to cause harm against individuals, groups, and nations.
One of the two books the Facebook post led me to read was A Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory: The Illuminati, Ancient Aliens, and Pop Culture by Isaac Weishaupt—a “Christian” writer who believes in aliens.
“Conspiracy theorists”, he writes, “have a stigma for being crazy and eccentric, but I’d like to provide a rational voice for those of us who aren’t senseless or bizarre”. If nothing else, the book validates the stigma.
There are those who propose, following an obvious (poor) joke by the Opposition Leader, that CAL’s choice of aircraft for lease was a “blight” that resonated across the oceans to the cockpit of Flight 409 over Ethiopia. And others with emails not proven to have been emailed.
But, there are also people who did not see bloodstains on the walls of the mosques in last week’s attacks who believe that all of this was made up so that the world would have more sympathetic feelings toward Muslims.
The next time I see that “eye” icon on a Facebook video, I am not clicking on it. I am not clicking on it. I am just not going to.