There have been a disturbing number of conspiracy theories floating around lately. Sure, that’s nothing new — we have the JFK assassination and moon landing conspiracies of the past — but there just seem to be a lot more of them lately.
It started with the truthers, who believe that George W. Bush either knew about the 9/11 attacks beforehand and did nothing or even blew up the World Trade Center himself. And some people also believed that Bush blew up the levies during Hurricane Katrina. And then there is the conspiracy theory, which still persists among some extremely disturbed individuals, that Sarah Palin isn’t really the mother of Trig.
And now we have President Obama, who is the subject of a number of conspiracy theories himself. There are those who think he’s secretly a Muslim — despite his blatant contempt for all religion that elitist liberals share. And there are those who think he’s secretly gay (well, I don’t know of any, but I just assume). And famously, there are the birthers, who believe Obama wasn’t born in this country, and no amount of documentation is enough to dispel that notion from a few crazies clinging to their fact-free assertion.
You’d think we would have had enough of conspiracy theories by now and that the media would be quicker to educate people to keep the theories from spreading. Yet still another conspiracy theory has emerged, even more divorced from reality and the facts than any of the previous ones. And it has already spread, as recent polls show that somewhere between 34% and 37% — more than a third of Americans — believe it. What is this new, insane notion? That the job President Obama is doing on the economy could be described as “good.”
Yes, it’s really hard for an educated individual to understand how one could hold such a belief when it flies in the face of all the facts we see daily. All the other conspiracy theories are, in a way, much more understandable because what they involve doesn’t directly affect the bored individuals who cling to them. It’s easy to just sit online and second guess things you don’t really understand and aren’t involved in, but this economy affects everyone. You’re reminded of it every day when you see all your unemployed friends and family and the high gas prices and just general malaise. How can anyone ignore that? It’s like holding to a conspiracy theory that the sky is orange despite each day seeing how blue it is.
Of course, I could just be making too much of a poll question. A lot of people who say they believe in a conspiracy theory could just be engaged in partisan silliness. Some polls had up to half of Democrats saying they believed Bush knew about or caused 9/11, yet it didn’t really seem from their actions that that many Democrats truly believed President Bush was a mass murderer of his own citizens. Similarly, one could assume if Bush were president now, a number of those saying Obama is doing a good job on the economy would correctly identify wasting trillions of dollars while unemployment only increases as being one of the worst imaginable jobs one could do on the economy.
Also, perhaps some of these polls are a result of simple ignorance, as maybe a lot of people don’t actually know what an economy is to judge whether someone is doing a good job on it. Maybe they think “economy” is a term meaning “reading from a teleprompter” or something. If the poll question were phrased more simply, such as, “Does what leader man Obama do is happy thing that makes more jobs and money or is it sad thing that makes jobs and money go bye bye?” maybe more people would answer it correctly.
Still, there are a number of people who seem to truly believe that Obama is doing a good job on the economy. Dredge through the comments at Huffington Post or visit some forums in the fringe corners of the internet, and you’ll see complex yet incoherent rants saying that what has happened is actually a good thing and what Obama has been doing is smart. You’ll often run into this phrase common among conspiracists: “jobs saved or created.” This refers to an unprovable belief that Obama’s actions created millions of invisible jobs no one can see. Despite no one predicting that the economy would get this bad, the conspiracists assert that it would be even worse without Obama’s millions of invisible jobs and that the unemployment rate would be somewhere between 12% and 80 million% (a lot of conspiracists, of course, aren’t good at basic math concepts).
Unfortunately, these crazy ideas aren’t just restricted to a few weirdos on the internet. The mainstream media often actually treats the idea that Obama is doing a good job on the economy as just another opinion, instead of the counter-factual viewpoint it is. Many TV news shows have these crazed individuals on all the time doing fact-free rants about how smart Obama is on the economy, and numerous papers publish their screeds as just regular columns.
A lot of this seems to be a cynical ratings ploy, though. In fact, the New York Times has now put these people behind a paywall so they can charge a nickel a gander to people wanting to see the freak show. But the media aren’t the only ones misbehaving here; the Obama administration has worked behind the scenes to keep this conspiracy theory alive because they think it’s politically advantageous to them. They’ve reportedly even sent out e-mails telling people what a great job Obama has been doing — something dangerously loose with the facts.
It’s time for this to stop. We have to restore sanity to this country and fight against all these insane conspiracy theories — especially the destructive idea that Obama is actually doing anything useful for the economy. Saying that man didn’t land on the moon, that Bush caused 9/11, or that Obama knows what he’s doing aren’t simply other opinions — they’re false and destructive ideas, and the people who cling to them border on mental illness.
If we’re going to have any useful debates in this society, they have to come from people who all exist in reality — not a place where 9% unemployment and spiraling debt is a “good job.” It’s time for the people trying to fool themselves into believing that Obama is successful on the economy to stop manipulating facts into complex, incoherent webs that support their theories. Instead, they need to take a clear look at the data and apply Occam’s razor to come to the most simple, logical conclusion: Obama is a Muslim sleeper agent doing everything he can to destroy our economy from the inside.