Interesting post featuring useful commentary from Noam Chomsky. Clearly his background in science has better qualified him to weigh evidence than leftists like Michael Lerner, Howard Zinn, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, and Van Jones, whose ill-considered and in some cases hastily-retracted expressions of support for the 9/11 Truth cause have only served to distract attention from the real issues. Al Qaeda brought down the buildings and the planes. But our government has much else to answer for.
The JTA recently reported a ghoulish new conspiracy theory about Israelis kidnapping Algerian children and selling their organs to Americans. “This is a new variation of the ancient blood libel,” said Abraham Foxman of the ADL. A few weeks ago The New York Times’s Freakanomics blog (hope this link isn’t firewalled to non-subscribers) debunked a story that originated in Sweden about Israeli soldiers harvesting Palestinians’ organs.
If they’re going to be successfully transplanted, organs need to be carefully matched to their recipients and kept fresh while they’re being rushed to where they’re needed–it’s highly unlikely that soldiers in the field would be able to maintain necessary medical standards. The story would seem preposterous if it weren’t for the fact that Levi Rosenbaum, a real American rabbi with undisputed connections to Israel, was just arrested for trafficking organs for obscene profits. Nevetheless, all his arrest proves is that individual Israelis and individual American Jews have been accused of committing particular crimes. Even if they’re proven guilty, it’s still just a loathsome criminal enterprise cooked up by some Jews, which is not at all the same thing as a Jewish Conspiracy. There are those (not me) who would say that Rosenbaum isn’t even so villainous, since an argument can be made on economic grounds that it’s more equitable and efficient to allow the marketplace to allocate as scarce and precious a resource as organs than to put sick people on waiting lists and hope that someone volunteers or dies in an accident. But a shondah is a shondah–I don’t think anyone could conclude that this is good for the Jews.
I suppose it could be worse…. I could be getting terrible reviews in the newspapers and raves from Amazon customers. If your Amazon reviews are too fulsome, potential book buyers think they’re written by ringers. But nobody would ever mistake this bunch for friends and family: “Pompous and dishonest…a waste of paper and ink,” reads one headline. “I did become angry over the fact that the author so bald-facedly was lying to his readers through his highly personal, subjective, half-assed assessments as to what was true and what was speculation,” another reviewer observes.
It seems that I am not just a pragmatist and a Polyanna but a quick buck artist, who cut-and-pasted CULTS, CONSPIRACIES, AND SECRET SOCIETIES off the Internet (everybody knows how disreputably pragmatic the stuff you find on the Internet is). I suppose I should be flattered that my prose inspires such passions, but what galls me is the accusation that “I see nothing odd going on.” I see nothing but odd things going on. Everything that I see confounds me–to me, the world is a fathomless mystery.
“A conspiracy,” wrote Don Delillo, “Is everything that ordinary life is not.” Though conspiracies happen around us all the time–businessmen are forever purchasing politicians and cheating their stockholders; greedy preachers prey on the prayerful; policemen collect protection money from drug dealers–they don’t suffice to explain anything more than their own existence, or to illustrate how corruptible human beings can be. Conspiracy Theorists, on the other hand, like some religious people, believe that they understand the hows and whys of most of the major trends in human affairs. They occur because a specific group of people with an identifiable agenda have orchestrated things so that they’ll play out exactly as they have. Empowered with that knowledge, they’ve broken out of the Matrix. The rest of us sheeple are stuck here for good.
I mentioned in an earlier post that one of my reviewers accuses me of believing that there are “no real secrets, or hidden cloaked sinister agendas out there floating through our present.” I take tremendous issue with that. I live in a world where children starve, governments carry out genocides, and global limited liability corporations rob, cheat, and poison with impunity. Bad things happen to good people and good people are often complicit in bad things; people lie and cheat all the time. But all of this is the stuff of ordinary life, which is messy and complicated, unpredictable and sad, but beautiful and endlessly interesting–and infinitely more inspiring than a computer game.
You have to be thick-skinned if you’re going to stick your neck out, which is what you’re doing any time you write a book. Bad reviews are annoying and hurtful, but they come with the territory. And sometimes you can learn from them. It’s embarrassing when it happens, but I’m grateful when reviewers point out factual errors. If the book goes back to press I can have them fixed; if the opportunity never arises, I can still take some comfort in knowing that the record has been corrected in a public forum. Truth is important to me.
CULTS, CONSPIRACIES, AND SECRET SOCIETIES has clearly pissed off a lot of people, as I would have expected it to. Fair’s fair–if I can call you a nut, then you can call me arrogant, close-minded, shallow, misinformed, intellectually dishonest, opportunistic, sleazy, smug or whatever. But what kills me is the prosecutorial zeal with which some reviewers have pointed to the book’s lack of an index, as if its non-existence were prima facie evidence of my many failings as an author–laziness, lack of rigor, see above. Clearly, they imply, I have something to hide. If I didn’t, I would have provided an index, which would have made it easier to find. It isn’t just malicious reviewers, either. Arnold Zwicky, a linguist, devoted a whole blog post to his annoyance with my “fascinating, though dismaying” book’s lack of apparatus.
The plain fact is that the whole time I was writing CULTS, CONSPIRACIES, AND SECRET SOCIETIES, I assumed that it was going to be indexed. My original introduction contained a paragraph about “how to use this book” which pointed readers to the index as well as to the bold-faced cross references. Much to my dismay, my publisher made a last minute decision to forgo it. There’s no conspiracy here, honest–just a parsimonious publisher in an economically challenging season. But if I ever write another book and the same thing happens, I will absolutely put my foot down.
Margaret Thatcher’s perfidy towards East Germany–sometimes the truth is stranger (and more disturbing) than the wildest conspiracy theories. Interesting post (though some of the commentary is predictably bizarre).
It’s been a long time since I finished writing CULTS, CONSPIRACIES AND SECRET SOCIETIES and I admit I’ve fallen a bit out of touch. This evening I decided to take a virtual walk down memory lane and revisit some of my old cyber stomping grounds. Googling this and that, following links where they led me, I caught up on the newest about Obama’s birth certificate and death panels and the controlled demolition of the WTC. What else did I learn? That Pope Benedict is a member of the Illuminati, the cabal of 300 that has been running the world since the 1700s. With Satanic disregard for the Biblical injunction to dominate the earth, they have been indoctrinating young people with lies about eco-consciousness and climate change, hobbling agriculture and industry so that tens of millions of “useless eaters” can be starved to death. Population control is also the reason that AIDs and abortion were invented and that the homosexual lifestyle is so vigorously promoted.
I learned that the last Pope, John Paul II, was a Zyklon B gas salesman for IG Farben; his biggest client was the Nazis. Not surprisingly, the Vatican Press office left that out of his official biography but William Cooper somehow dug up the truth. Alex Jones commemorated the eighth anniversary of 9/11 with the news that David Rockefeller is retiring as the secret governor of North America and Senator Jay Rockefeller is taking his place. The Queens of England and the Netherlands and Lord Rothschild, the other three rulers of the world, have no plans to retire at this time.
Tomorrow I will buy THE LOST SYMBOL. Something tells me that a lot of people are going to be asking me about the Masons in the next couple of weeks.
From left to right: James Surowiecki, me, Erin Arvedlund and Matthew Goodman. The topic was “Believe it or Not: Great Scams and the Public that Loves to Loathe Them.”