“But the biggest problem with conspiracy theories is that they keep us not only from the truth but also from confronting our faults and problems. …This way of thinking relates any given problem to external elements, and thus does not [lead] to a rational policy to confront the problem. He who speaks of ghosts [as the reason behind any given problem] can do nothing to solve it.”
“Anyone, who adopts the conspiracy theory becomes so helpless that he ends up surrendering or committing suicide. The thinking of conspiracy theorists shifts between surrender and suicide, between helplessness and passivity, between negligence and failure.”
“I am Iranian,” he began — leading our gang ensconced in “bloggers row” to turn in unison to the Iranian ex-pat in our group for his verdict. After the questioner got out another sentence, our friend rolled his eyes and muttered, “Idiot…”
The Iranian up at the mic had asked a reasonable question about how much the U.S. had armed Iraq before they decided Iraq was their enemy and invaded them. (Steyn’s answer: according to a Stockholm “peace research institute”, only 1% of arms sales to Iraq since the 1970s had come from America. Most came from France and Germany. Ooops.)
What came next led everyone else in the hall to roll their eyes.
Just as, in the famous phrase of Abba Eban, “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” it seems that Muslims never miss an opportunity to toss out some pointless, idiotic conspiracy theory.
In this case, Steyn’s questioner was particularly agitated about the “fact” that Saddam Hussein had once been awarded the “key to the city of Kansas City.” To this young man, this naturally proved conclusively that… well, I’m not sure, but Steyn managed to get some comic mileage out of it.
As it turns out (and this too is typical), the Iranian questioner was half-right about the facts, and wrong about his conclusions. According to Wikipedia and other sources, Saddam Hussein was honored with the Freedom of the City of Detroit — write your own jokes in the comments — for donating a huge sum to a local church.
I think it was Canadian journalist Robert Fulford who called conspiracy theories “history for stupid people.” Given the level of illiteracy in the Muslim world, this is as good an explanation as any for why millions of Muslims, even “educated: ones, believe crazy stuff. I recently heard Canadian Muslim author Tarek Fatah relate stories of his latest visits to the Middle and Near East; he said he was most often regaled with 9/11 “troother” nonsense by relatively wealthy Pakistanis with university degrees.
Of course, the unpleasant fact is that the Muslim world has been in decline for centuries. Since this decline contradicts their self-image as a superior people, there must be some other explanation for their backwardness. Conspiracy theories provide that explanation, while short circuiting the very self-criticism that international Islam desperately needs to get itself out of its hole.
It’s easy to laugh at these conspiracy theories, and maybe watch Jesse Ventura’s new show about them, “just for laughs.” However, as memorably laid out in one of my favorite books — The Cost of Deception: The Seduction of Modern Myths and Urban Legends, by John A. Williams — conspiracy theories, far from being harmless fun, actually pollute the public square. Misinformation undermines civil society by making trust in one’s fellow man a mug’s game. Paranoid cynicism becomes the default “sophisticated” worldview.
Indulging in conspiracy theories isn’t healthy, whether or not those indulging are on the right or the left. And when those theories are being spread by millions of people who have the potential and the will, to kill, they can be fatal.
And now, on to the 6 stupidest conspiracy theories that millions of Muslims believe:
#6 “Cockroach Lady Diana had 700 Boyfriends!”
“Lady Diana is called, Cockroach Diana, because, Britain is humiliatingly called, Cockroach Britain & all English, Scottish & Welsh are known with the indignant remark of, “Shakespeare Cockroaches”. London is called, Cockroach London, Birmingham as, Cockroach Birmingham, Manchester as, Cockroach Manchester etc.etc. All British media is called, Cockroach Media & BBC, which is the most notorious liar of the world, is called Cockroach BBC & its lies are called, Cockroach Lies. In short, everything to do with Britain is called, with the humiliating description of, ”Cockroach ———- “.”
My husband, blogger BlazingCatFur, spends a lot of time researching radical Muslim weirdness. (Too much?) So I owe him a Coke for making my assignment a little easier by passing along a links to two Muslim conspiracy theory blogs:
There you will discover that “Cockroach Lady Diana was an International Prostitute of Cockroach Shakespeare Britain,” the alarming truth about President Abe “Lincoln, Terrorist of Mickey Mouse America” and, well, this:
Nope, me neither…
#5 The Incredible Shrinking Penis
Last month mass hysteria apparently swept the capital city, Khartoum, after reports that foreigners were shaking hands with Sudanese men and causing their penises to disappear. One victim, a fabric merchant, told his story to the London Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi. A man from West Africa came into the shop and “shook the store owner’s hand powerfully until the owner felt his penis melt into his body.”
I know the feeling. The same thing happened to me after shaking hands with Sen. Clinton.
On Twitter last night, I asked my followers to play “unpaid intern” and DM me links to the weirdest Muslim conspiracy theory they’d ever heard. Most mentioned the “shrinking penis” urban legend that was, er, big in the Muslim world a few years back.
Needless to say, the Jews were blamed for this imaginary phenomenon.
As Steyn remarks, this primitive ignorance is being spread by modern technology, which pours cold water on the notion that if only Muslims are dragged from the past into the present and exposed to 21st century ways, they’ll give up their unenlightened mass hysteria:
The telling detail of the vanishing penis hysteria is that it was spread by text messaging. You can own a cell phone, yet still believe that foreigners are able with a mere handshake to cause your penis to melt away.
And come to think of it: if you own a cell phone, it probably runs on Israeli technology.
Of course, even that’s all part of the Jews’ evil plan!!
#4 Allah’s name taken in vain
Many devout Muslims believe that “Allah can write his name on everything he wants,” as the title card of the video below shows.
Like foolish Christians who get excited by “apparitions” of Jesus or Mary on grilled cheese sandwiches, these Muslims may be indulging in harmless wishful thinking.
However, this proclivity for seeing the word “Allah” everywhere makes it easy for Muslims to claim offense at every accidental squiggle rendered by an unsuspecting infidel. And so it was that, in 2005, Burger King capitulated to complaints about an optical illusion:
THE fast-food chain, Burger King, is withdrawing its ice-cream cones after the lid of the dessert offended a Muslim.
The man claimed the design resembled the Arabic inscription for Allah, and branded it sacrilegious, threatening a “jihad”.
The chain is being forced to spend thousands of pounds redesigning the lid with backing from The Muslim Council of Britain. It apologised and said: “The design simply represents a spinning ice-cream cone.”
The offending lid was spotted in a branch in Park Royal last week by business development manager Rashad Akhtar, 27, of High Wycombe.
He was not satisfied by the decision to withdraw the cones and has called on Muslims to boycott Burger King. He said: “This is my jihad. How can you say it is a spinning swirl? If you spin it one way to the right you are offending Muslims.”
As Daniel Pipes noted, NIKE was hit with a similar complaint back in the 1999s.
And who can forget the great “Sex Toy Outrage” of 2008, when Muslims complained about the British sex shop selling a male blowup doll named “Mustafa Shag.” (Get it?) “Mustafa” is one of the honorary titles of Mohammed, you see. (Irony and puns are not really a big “thing” in Islamic culture, which makes their mass immigration to England, of all places, all the more confusing.)
Seeing things that aren’t there is second nature in any culture that takes conspiracy theories seriously.
Rewarding idiots for doing so has, alas, become second nature here in the West.
#3 Israeli Sex Gum and the Sodas of Doom
Given strict Islamic rules about food consumption, it isn’t surprising that a number of conspiracy theories concern food, drink — and even chewing gum:
Hamas suspects that Israeli intelligence services are supplying its Gaza Strip stronghold with chewing gum that boosts the sex drive in order to “corrupt the young,” an official said on Tuesday.
Last time I checked, sex was still, you know, where babies come from. Are more Palestinians really in Israel’s best interest? (Silly me: even that “side effect” must be part of the Jews’ cunning plan. I’m just too stupid to understand the nuances.)
Many Muslim conspiracies involve big brand names, like Coke and Pepsi. In some cases, these theories hold that these soft drinks contain forbidden pork products:
According to a report published in Jordanian magazine, the head of Delhi University’s Science and Technology Center , Dr. Mangoshada scientifically proved that the key element in Pepsi and Cola contains extract from the intestines of Pig which causes cancer and other deadly diseases.
The Indian university conducted tests on the impact of drinking Pepsi and Coca Cola which proved that drinking them lead to more rapid heart rate and low pressure. Also drinking 6 bottles of Pepsi or Cola at a time causes instant death.
(What until they hear about the whole “Mentos” thing…)
Other conspiracy theories take advantage of the habit mentioned above, of seeing things that aren’t there, in this case in the products’ logos: some Muslims believe “Pepsi” is an acronym for “Pay Ever Penny Save Israel” or that “Pepsi” really spells “Israel.”
And then there’s the “secret backwards Coke logo,” pictured above.
It doesn’t stop there. According to this report aired on Iranian TV, pretty much every major brand name product contains an insult to Islam. (For example, Disney is bad because “Walt Disneys [sic] Millennium exhibition at the Epcot Centre in Florida depects [sic] Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” And who says “nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee“?)
I guess if you haven’t invented anything important in the last thousand years, the next best thing is to slander those who have:
#2 The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
I haven’t much to add to the thorough debunking of the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Here’s some background, on the off chance you aren’t familiar with this book:
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a forgery made in Russia for the Okhrana (secret police), which blames the Jews for the country’s ills. It was first privately printed in 1897 and was made public in 1905. It is copied from a nineteenth century novel by Hermann Goedsche (Biarritz, 1868) and claims that a secret Jewish cabal is plotting to take over the world. (…)
The Protocols were published in 1920 in a Michigan newspaper started by Henry Ford mainly to attack Jews and Communists. Even after they were exposed as a forgery, Ford’s paper continued to cite the document. Adolf Hitler later used the Protocols to help justify his attempt to exterminate Jews during World War II.
And even if the facts were presented there, the Protocols are such a handy tool I doubt it would make any difference. The book is so popular that it has been adapted as a TV mini-series for broadcast in various Muslim countries.
#1: 9/11 was a Mossad operation
Not long after September 11, it wasn’t uncommon to encounter Muslims chatting on the internet and proclaiming, with apparent sincerity, that Muslims couldn’t possible have pulled off the attacks because, well, Muslims weren’t that smart.
Only one group of people were, and those people were… the Jews!!
The good news is, some Muslim commentators have condemned 9/11 conspiracy theories. One asked rhetorically:
Didn’t Arabs try to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993? Aren’t Arabs capable of flying planes? Aren’t Arabs responsible for suicide operations in Southern Lebanon and in occupied Palestine? Didn’t Arabs come up with the idea of hijacking and blowing up civilian planes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and then give it up after it turned out that this method failed abysmally in achieving their political goals…?'”
Another wrote with palpable exasperation:
“The Arabs keep insisting on their innocence and accusing the Mossad of planning the deed with the aim of launching an aggressive war against the Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq… But this tale clashes with the fact that Jews are cowards and do not commit suicide. So the theory was amended, and it was claimed that the Mossad had planned and funded [the operation], and a group from among our innocent young people was deceived and ensnared by the Mossad, and that it was they who carried out [the operation].
“I do not know how long this [Muslim] arrogance will continue. Why don’t we want to acknowledge that these young people were the sons of a culture that is hostile toward the world, not idiots or mad. No one enticed them, and they did not suffer from oppression, repression, or poverty. They carried out the operation because of their belief that it was Jihad and martyrdom. They were our young people and our sons, and they were our responsibility.”
The bad news is that these condemnations were more frequently heard in the years following the attack. If anything, belief in “9/11 conspiracies” has increased in the intervening years.
That doesn’t mean we should give up debunking these theories at every opportunity. However, we have to acknowledge that we are trying to educate people who, in many respects, either cannot or will not change their minds, no matter how much evidence we present or how much mockery we employ.