Conspiracy theories have gone too far

James Dyer

Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. The paranoid rhetoric of a myriad of “theorists” has entertained Americans for years with stories of shadowy government operations that are slowly nipping away at our freedom bit by bit. Fox News personality Glenn Beck has become famous through the years for uncovering his own wild conspiracy theories, his latest involves the overthrow of corrupt Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Beck claims that the recent revolutions in the Middle East were organized and funded by radical Islam, communists and American leftist organizations to start a movement to enslave the entire world in an oppressive, unified dictatorship, called a caliphate. As always, Beck backs up his statements with chalky diagrams and invites viewers to do their own research and find the truth for themselves. For Beck and other conspiracy theorists, however, the “truth” is a loose pairing of facts by flimsy coincidences. Put under a rational minded magnifying glass, most conspiracies fall to pieces.

To Beck’s credit, one of the legitimate concerns many have over Egypt’s revolution is that the country will fall prey to a radical Islamist takeover, leading to a theocratic government like in Iran or Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, Beck’s underhand motives to destroy the American left become clear when he links the threat to a conspiracy by American leftist organizations and the popular search engine Google. What’s next? Will President Obama and a reincarnated Adolf Hitler join forces in an effort to enthrone Alice Cooper as our new supreme overlord? I’m sure we can find out next week on the Glenn Beck Program.

It’s certainly hard to fault Beck for his creativity, but real conspiracies are uncovered through real research, through the uncovering of facts that inexplicably lead to the truth. The Watergate scandal in the 1970s is one of the best examples of this. Even so, under one of the most powerful executive branches in American history, President Nixon was unable to cover up a simple burglary in a Washington hotel. Nowadays, covering up a conspiracy is even more difficult. With the recent popularity of whistleblower groups like WikiLeaks, it becomes quite clear that our government is hardly capable of blowing its nose without someone noticing, much less organizing a conspiracy.

Beck’s wild ranting on Egypt has even drawn criticism from fellow conservatives and Fox News colleagues who are beginning to distance themselves from Beck’s increasingly outrageous claims of the coming “communist revolution.” William Kristol, a frequent conservative commentator on Fox News and the editor of the Weekly Standard, criticized Beck for instilling irrational fear in his viewers.

“Hysteria is not a sign of health … nor is it a sign of health when American conservatives are so fearful of a popular awakening that they side with a dictator against the Democrats,” Kristol said.

Beck has always hidden behind his excuse that he is simply asking questions. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of living a free country, is having the ability (and the desire) to question your government. No, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Only stupid people who ask questions.