What if I were to tell you that a sitting US president in collusion with the US Attorney General and the CIA was orchestrating an elaborate web of illegal activities including campaign fraud, political espionage and sabotage, illegal break-ins, improper tax audits, illegal wiretapping on a massive scale, and maintained a secret slush fund laundered in Mexico to pay those who conducted these operations and to buy the silence of those who who were exposed. I suspect many people would dismiss me as “one of those internet conspiracy nuts”. But Watergate really happened and all of these atrocities against our constitution have since been documented.
I raise this issue because I have noticed that some of the people blogging about Michael Connell’s death do so timidly, almost apologetically to distance themselves from the “conspiracy theorists”. No one wants that label hung on them. I’ll admit, I’m no exception.
In the US we have become too quick to label any significant political criticism as as “conspiracy theory”. It has become an effective tactic at stifling legitimate political debate and marginalize those who question our politicians. Moreover, I suspect it deters many individuals from airing their political concerns in the first place.
Labeling an assertion as “conspiracy theory” puts in the same light as crackpot claims from the Weekly World News about Elvis and aliens. It demeans and ridicules the person who makes the assertion stripping them of credibility and stigmatizing them as irrational and biased.
In the case of Michael Connell’s plane crash, initial investigations revealed six key facts:
a) he was at the center of an ongoing investigation into vote fraud
b) he was about to talk
c) a motion for protective custody was recently filed on his behalf
d) he was an experienced pilot flying a familiar route in fair weather
e) he was killed when his plane crashed for no apparent reason
f) the story received very little coverage in the mainstream media
To my knowledge, no one has seriously refuted these facts. So are you a conspiracy theorist for seeing a pattern in these events and wondering if they are related? Would you be more credible, more rational and more patriotic not to recognize how these facts could relate to each other? Would it better serve our constitution if we, the American public, simply assumed our government to be unassailable and therefore stopped investigating cases like Mr. Connell’s?
Recently I made the mistake of asking some friends if they had heard about Michael Connell’s death. My point was not centered on Mr. Connell’s guilt or innocence with regard to his IT activities on behalf of republican leaders. My point was that given the timing and circumstances of his death, Michael Connell’s story received less media attention than it deserved. For instance, if G Gordon Liddy had died under similar circumstances before he was set to testify in the Watergate probe, I suspect it would have been picked up by the networks — if for no other reason than to disprove the “conspiracy theorists”.
For two of my friends this topic was partisan and personal. My enquiry was not discussed. Instead the topic was immediately switched to my patriotism (or lack thereof). They chastised me publicly for raising the question, but not before labeling me as “one of those internet conspiracy nuts”. They said that raising such questions was un-American and irresponsible. Funny, that is exactly how I would characterize their response to my enquiry.
Being called an “internet conspiracy nut” stung. At that moment I wished I had an equally pejorative term that could as effectively marginalize them for subscribing to a political party and from that point on never again applying rational scrutiny or common sense to the world around them. To these people the highest form of patriotism is not defending the constitution but defending the leaders of their party and willingly donning blinders to do so. Perhaps “delusionist” would be an apt moniker.
I have seen a few bloggers who have taken the circumstances of Mr. Connell’s death and interpreted is as proof-positive that the republican party killed him. I agree that these people are not credible. I would also maintain that they are in the minority. The rest of us are just trying to make sense of what on the surface appears to be a politically convenient set of coincidences surrounding his death. I believe that sort of vigilance is at the core of being American, is the primary activity of defending our constitution and is an essential part of the checks and balances that keeps democracy healthy.
And let’s not forget, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were also “conspiracy theorists” when they began to explore the possibility of a connection between a routine break-in at an apartment complex with the undermining of our constitution by the very politicians we elected to defend it.