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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 11:24 AM
Original message
The Necessary Embrace of Conspiracy by Robert Shetterly /
Friday, August 31, 2007

Several years ago I gave a talk on Marthas Vineyard about many of the people whose portraits Ive painted in the Americans Who Tell the Truth series. I spent some time talking about the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. When I talk about King, I like to focus on his last year the period when, defying the advice of many of his advisors in the civil rights movement, he spoke against the Vietnam War, equating racism with imperialism. King felt bound to make the point that the forces of capitalism, materialism, and militarism that were driving segregation were also driving the war, and until we confronted the source of the problem, the abuses would continue. It was April 4, 1967, in Riverside Church in New York, that he made that declaration. A year to the day before his assassination.

It has always confounded me every year when we celebrate Dr. Kings life that no mention is made of that Riverside Church speech in the major media. We are always treated to sound bites of the 1963 I Have a Dream speech. That speechs oratory is as powerful as it is non-confrontational. Which is why it is re-played for modern audiences. Dr. King was about confrontation. Non-violence and confrontation, each ennobling and making the other effective. In 1967 he said, my country is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today. And he explained how our economic system thrived on exploitation and violence, or, as Emma Goldman put it, The greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism. This was probably the most important speech King ever gave and not playing it when we ostensibly honor him, is tantamount to castrating him morally and intellectually. Just as there is a long history of White America castrating black men, there is an equal legacy of Elite America cutting the most important truths of our social prophets out of the history books. We pay homage to Kings icon, the cardboard cutout, but not to his strongest beliefs and his most cogent analysis of our problems to what vision called forth his courage. And, if we think that he spoke the truth, to censor that truth is to promote a curious kind of segregation. He is segregated, not for the color of his skin, but for the accuracy of his perception, how close to the bone his words cut. We cant bear to hear the sound of truths knife scraping on hypocrisys bone. Only people who actually want to change the system dance to that music or want it to be heard.

Equally important, and part of the same neglect, is the intentional ignoring of the facts of his death. In my talk on Marthas Vineyard I spoke about William Peppers book, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, Jr. Pepper had been James Earl Rays lawyer. Ray was the man convicted of killing King. But both Pepper and the King family were convinced that Ray was innocent. The King family hired Pepper to represent them in a suit; they asked only $100.00 in damages to clear Rays name. Before the trial came to court in 1999, Ray had died in prison. The jury determined that King had been assassinated by a conspiracy involving the Memphis police, the Mafia, the FBI, and the Special Forces of the U.S. Army. Ray, the patsy, had left town before the shot was fired. Pepper had confessions from people involved from each of the organizations named. The verdict was barely mentioned in the U.S. media then and is not mentioned every year on the anniversary of his death. Why?

After my talk on Marthas Vineyard a man came up to me and said, I enjoyed your speech and was with you until you started that conspiracy stuff about MLK, Jr. I said, Thats not conspiracy. What I told you are facts. End of conversation.

I think were confronted /
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stillcool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 11:52 AM
Response to Original message
1. I think it might be a good thing...
that the media has gone over the cliff. By questioning the reality of now, I am almost compelled to question the reality of history.
The Politics of News Media
from the book
False Hope
by Norman Solomon, 1994
Popularized renderings of reality, however phony, supply us with shared illusions, suitable for complying with authorized itineraries, the requisite trips through never-never lands of public pretense. Privately, we struggle to make sense of our experiences; perhaps we can create some personal space so that our own perceptions and emotions have room to stretch. But the limits of privatized solutions are severe. Public spheres determine the very air we breathe and the social environments of our lives. The standard detours meander through imposing landscapes. Beyond the outer limits of customary responses, uncharted territory is "weird"-certainly not familiar from watching TV or reading daily papers. Following in the usual footsteps seems to be safer.
Confusion about politics and power denies us clues as to where to go from here. Anne Wilson Schaef has identified pivotal results of such confusion:
" First, it keeps us powerless and controllable. No one is more controllable than a confused person; no society is more controllable than a confused society. Politicians know this better than anyone, and that is why they use innuendos, veiled references, and out-and-out lies instead of speaking clearly and truthfully.
Second, it keeps us ignorant. Professionals give their clients confusing information cloaked in intimidating language that lay-people cannot understand. They preserve their "one-up" status while preventing us from learning about our own bodies, our legal rights, and our psychology.
Third, it keeps us from taking responsibility for our own lives. No one expects confused people to own up to the things they think, say, or do, or face the truth about who they are.
Fourth, it keeps us busy. When we must spend all our time and energy trying to figure out what is going on, we have none left over for reflecting on the system, challenging it, or exploring alternatives to it.
These have the combined effect of keeping us stuck within the system. And this, I believe, is the primary purpose of confusion. A confused person will stay within the system because the thought of moving out of it is too frightening. It takes a certain amount of clarity to try new things, walk new roads, and cross new bridges, ~ and confusion makes clarity and risk taking impossible."
Mass media encourage us-viewers, listeners, readers-to suspend disbelief, willingly or otherwise. Stalked by propaganda wolves in chic clothing, we are the intended sheep. Conformity is disguised with appearances of diversity-just as silence about what matters most is in no way inconsistent with constant verbiage.
The pretense is that You Are There, or you have choices; the reality, much more likely, is that you aren't anywhere, and/you can choose from the choices that have already been made for you. The delusion of "choice" from an array of televised (and corporately backed) programs is parallel to the delusion of choice from an array of pre-screened (and corporately backed) presidential candidates.
In effect, "The TV newsman comforts us as John Wayne comforted our grandparents, by seeming to have the whole affair in hand.... Since no one seems to live on television, no one seems to die there.
And the medium's temporal facility deprives all terminal moments of their weight."
Being numb to untoward events is in sync with being passive. For mass media, this is a perfect fit. Television, a powerful number, asks that we do nothing-"don't touch that dial"-except go out and buy things. Everything is well-produced, including the latest war; especially one made in the USA.

Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence
a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.
delivered 4 April 1967 at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement, and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.
We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men.

Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call "fortified hamlets." The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers.
In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.

It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments.
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin , we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered
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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 11:57 AM
Response to Original message
2. If I read nothing else today, THIS piece will resonate with me forever.
Edited on Sun Sep-02-07 12:01 PM by seafan
This piece should be given as a major speech to the American public.

This is the kind of oratory that would align people to action.

The Necessary Embrace of Conspiracy

by Robert Shetterly
September 1, 2007


I think were confronted with two conspiracies here: one to commit the crime, the other to ignore it even when the facts are known. ( Two sides of the same coin.) The man who accused me of slipping into the neurotic, aliens-are-among-us land of conspiracy nuts was unable to hear the evidence, perhaps because he was so utterly convinced by our government and media that conspiracies dont exist, people who espouse them are dangerous fruitcakes, and if you begin to think like that, your whole house of cards wobbles then topples. Who wants that? Better a standing tower of marked cards, than having to admit the game is rigged and the ground is shaking.

America is steeped in conspiracy, and even more steeped in propaganda that discredits those who try to expose the conspiracies. Whether were talking about MLK, Jr., JFK, RFK, Iran-Contra, 9/11, or, most importantly, the status quo, anyone who works to uncover the truth is branded a conspiracy nut and discredited before any evidence has a fair hearing. The government/corporate/media version is THE VERSION. Anything else is illusory.

In fact, the cultural success of labeling investigative reporters and forensic historians, and, simply, anyone who tries to name reality, conspiracy nuts is perhaps the most successful conspiracy of our time. Well, not the most successful. That prize goes to the conspiracy to give corporations all the rights of individual persons under our Constitution. That conspiracy has codified and consolidated corporate power so that it controls our lives in almost every meaningful way. It controls the election funds of our candidates, and them once they are in office. It controls our major media including public broadcasting. It controls the content of our television programming. It controls how are tax dollars are spent making sure that the richest get the most welfare. It controls the laws, the courts, the prison system and the mind numbing propaganda that we are the greatest democracy on earth. It controls the values with which we raise our children. It controls our ability to dispense justice. It controls how we treat nature, how we deface our land with strip malls, and blow the tops off our mountains a form of corporate free speech. It dictates our modes of transportation. It controls our inability to respond to true crises like climate change. It attempts to create a spiritual deficiency in every person that can be filled and healed only with stuff and no stuff is ever enough.

As Richard Grossman puts it, Isnt it an old story? People create what looks to be a nifty machine, a robot, called the corporation. Over time, the robots get together and overpower the people. For a century, the robots propagandize and indoctrinate each generation of people so they grow up believing that robots are people too, gifts from God and Mother Nature; that they are inevitable and the source of all that is good. How odd that we have been so gullible, so docile, obedient.

It is obvious to say that we have been engineered into a culture that values competitive consumption and consumers instead of community cooperation and citizenship. Capitalism with its obsessive and necessary appetite for consumption, expanding markets, resource depletion, and increasing profits has consumed democracy. Have you ever watched a small snake swallow a large frog? The snakes hinged jaw stretches wider and wider, squeezing the frog millimeter by millimeter into its gullet until finally the snake looks like the Holland Tunnel might if it had devoured the Titanic. Then the acids and enzymes do their corrosive work. The frog becomes the snake. And the snake claims it is the frog. Capitalism has gulped down democracy and claimed it is democracy. When, immediately after 9/11, President Bush advised Americans to demonstrate their love of freedom and their resistance to terrorism by courageously, selflessly, hurrying to the mall to buy something, he was speaking as the snake that identifies itself as a frog. He was asking us to play a little game with our brains synapses, replace the snake icon with the frogs. Sadly, he may also have been speaking about democracy in the only way that he can understand or recognize it. And, for him, Christianity has been another tidy meal for the snake.

Perhaps this switcheroo is nowhere more obvious than in the military /industrial complex. We are told that the vulnerable frog needs protecting. The threats are grave. So we fork over our money and childrens lives for war and weapons. We are told that we are building security and peace. More lives. More weapons. What we arent told is that the largest US export to the world is weapons. What we arent told is that enormous fortunes are being made from the arms trade. What we arent told is that the more precarious and unstable the world is, the better the business for the arms dealers that the real promotion is not for security and peace but insecurity and war, that the lives of our children are the necessary collateral damage for this monster. What we arent told is that the only real security is in cooperation, conservation, and fairness, not imperialism. The frog, who is a snake, wrapped in a flag, pleads for patriotism and counts the cash. The snakes forked tongue is a barbeque fork on which weve all been roasted.

Id call that conspiracy.

The neocons have claimed, with some accuracy, that they can create reality faster than we can react: the deed is done, now deal with it. The troops have invaded, Halliburton, Blackwater, and Lockheed signed their contracts, the prisoners are tortured, your email is bugged, the resources for social programs are gone, the laws are changed, the Wal-Mart is built, the sludge dump has already polluted the aquifer, truth is hollowed out - catch me if you can!

How is that not conspiracy?

The cooks & the crooks create a new status quo, legalize it, propagandize it, mythologize it, fundamentalize it, slather it with fear and patriotism, and force feed it to the complacent, sedated cow we call America.

How is that not conspiracy?


Many thanks to Robert Shetterly, and to Joanne98 for posting it.
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cui bono Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 12:54 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. And funnily enough, official story propaganda is one of the things
Edited on Sun Sep-02-07 12:57 PM by cui bono
we criticized other countries about, and yet it is so hard for people to believe that it happens in our own country. Even after Bush said something about repeating things over and over in order to catapult the propaganda, or something to that effect, of course no one really listens to him.

Time for America to wake up!

I would recommend, but oddly there is no recommend button. Conspiracy?

Oh you tricked me! I got to this via your journal and didn't realize it was a post within another thread and my paranoid mind wandered off into...


You really should post this as its own thread imho.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #6
11. Had an odd glitch in uploading that post. No tricks, honest, lol. n/t
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cui bono Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-03-07 02:47 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Heh.
btw... when I said you should post this as its own thread I only meant that it was worthy of it. When I just reread what I wrote it almost sounded like a criticism, and that's not what I meant at all. Just thought I'd say that even though you didn't comment on it.

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-03-07 09:38 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. Hey, no problem! This piece does need wider coverage, for sure.
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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 12:04 PM
Response to Original message
3. Delete
Edited on Sun Sep-02-07 12:14 PM by seafan
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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 12:08 PM
Response to Original message
4. Delete
Edited on Sun Sep-02-07 12:14 PM by seafan
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BridgeTheGap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 12:35 PM
Response to Original message
5. A woman historian said:
"Those who see conspiracies behind everything are just as narrow minded as those who see no conspiracies at all."
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cui bono Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Yes, one must choose carefully when shopping for conspiracies. eom
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tom_paine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 01:59 PM
Response to Original message
8. K & R To the greatest Page, with you!
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Rageneau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 02:01 PM
Response to Original message
9. Funny, tho, how RWers readily buy into conspiraccies like the Clinton Body Count.
My point being that not All conspiracies are ridiculed by the status quo -- some are GENERATED by them.
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Usrename Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 02:36 PM
Response to Original message
10. They are all one now.
The government, the corporations, and organized crime; they are one and the same.

At least they can no longer be talked about coherently as separate entities. Too many individuals are involved in all three.
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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-03-07 09:19 AM
Response to Original message
13. Is it conspiracy, framing, or awakening?
I have found, many times, when someone has had a 'light bulb' moment and they exclaim that there is a conspiracy, it really wasn't. This observation in some cases have proven to be true, mainly, because the information had been there all along.

Case and point, the Iraq war. Many Americans knew during the drumbeat leading us to war that the alleged reasons (9-11, democracy, Saddam is a dictator, WMD) were all problematic. I remember people making comparision of 'yellow' journalism of the Spanish/American War to show parallels. The echo chambers drown out their voices.

Years later, these same Americans who cautioned their brothers and sisters about going to war and were labeled as unpatriotic, their words of wisdom is the centerpiece of todays dialog about the conspiracy that lead us to war. A large number of Americans use the word 'war' and do not realized that the U.S. hasn't formally declare war since WWII. The word 'war' merely triggers powers that can be exercised and spending patterns in Washington, D.C.

It troubles me when I heard arguments that nothing is going on in this country that violates our constitution. If anyone bothered to read it, they would instantly know that a thirty year budget for the R&D of a military airplane is a violation of the constitution.

Hopefully, I didn't ramble too much and I have made my point that the information is/was there all along. Many Americans simply didnt recognize what they were witnessing. And, today, instead of saying they were wrong or didn't understand, they claim that they were duped. There are other dynamics at work.
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BridgeTheGap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-04-07 09:18 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. PNAC was very open about what they were up to and what they wanted
The intent to invade Iraq was there all along, even in the GOP platform in 2000.
Now, what they did with inteligence to bolster their case, that qualifies as a conspiracy, i.e. the smearing of Valerie Plame & Joe Wilson.
Cheney/Rove & company were clearly conspiring to smear and marginalize anyone who disagreed with their plans or the evidence they were putting forth.
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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-04-07 10:01 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. Agreement with qualifies as a conspiracy ...
Someone from a panel discussing this administration said something to the effect, outraged Americans making claims that this administration is operating illegally assumes that they are operating within the bounds of a democracy.

I strongly agree with you that the attack machine in place amounts to conspiring. Then again, if these folks are not playing within the democracy ruleset and consistently operates outside of the bounds of democracy, where does that leaves us?
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BridgeTheGap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-04-07 11:30 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. Impeachment or revolution
If they bomb Iran, we're really in deepER shit!
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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-04-07 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. My preference is Impeachment
If real intense energy is given to the impeachment process, I have hopes that it will succinctly record the dismantling of the government, as we knew it.

This is my hope, although, deeply, I feel we are far from the ability to repair the damages no matter what steps are taken via legal recourse.
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BridgeTheGap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-04-07 02:12 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Yeah, that's my preference too
but there seems to be little momentum for it in Congress.
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