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Friday, June 19, 2015

Dylann Roof and the abysmal state of American conspiracism

Dylann Roof's massacre has, predictably, resulted in the usual cries of "false flag." The accusation loses all impact when it becomes pro-forma and inevitable. Predictability breeds contempt.

This conspiracy theorist cried "Photoshop!" upon sight of the widely-reproduced photo of Roof wearing clothing that bears images of the flags of old South Africa and Rhodesia. No, it isn't Photoshop. Think about it: References to Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa are rather abstruse in the modern context. Journalists covering this story have felt compelled to offer explanations as to how Rhodesia was once run, because most Americans under the age of 30 simply do not know the history. (I'm a little surprised by the fact that Dylann did know.)

I doubt that any forger would have used such an obscure reference. A forger would have been more likely to slap a confederate flag or a swastika onto Roof's clothing. You want to paint someone as a bad guy? Wrap him in a swastika. Instantly comprehensible. Works every time.

And then we have this supposedly damning bit of information:
Dr Norvel Goff, a senior African Methodist Episcopal pastor, gave this description of the shooting after meeting families and the mayor:

"He [the gunman] walked in, from my understanding, not so much as a participant but a brief observer, who then stood up and started shooting."
That is supposed to be evidence of conspiracy? Seriously?

Am I the only one who recalls the days when paranoid folk still felt compelled to come up with actual evidence?

Here comes the Reddit brigade:
I promise you people this is a false flag. The president commenting on how easily this guy got a gun, and the story that he "was there to shoot black people", and the fact that his facebook page was created just this year, and that many of his 80 friends on fb are black. It just so happens that the only pictures this guy has available anywhere on the internet show him with racist images in the picture. Finally, this image aledgedly shows him walking into the church at 8:16pm. Now the story they are telling us is that he sat in the church during the meeting for at least an hour before shooting people. This would mean that the shootings happened after 9:16 pm which is not what we are being told. Anyhow, I will let you decide, but I am convinced this is bullshit. 9 people die in a shooting at a black church in SC in one night, and Obama is on tv peddling gun control. 9 people are killed in Chicago and it's called Tuesday night.
What awe-inspiring scholarship! Peter Dale Scott would bow his head in deep respect.

Okay, let's talk seriously: According to ABC News, Roof walked into the church at 8:16 and began shooting shortly after 9 pm. Normal people would conclude that he probably spent that time steeling his resolve. Only the wackiest sort of conspira-goon would argue that the "quiet hour" somehow indicates that the Illuminati were behind this scheme.

Look, folks: When conspiracism becomes a morbid game -- a game in which players are encouraged to toss out wild suppositions without any regard for proof or logic -- great injury is done to the credibility of anyone who questions mainstream opinion on any topic. Even in areas were the questions are legitimate, the questioner looks foolish. Personally, I disagree with many of the things that the mainstream media has told us about Russia and Syria, and I also happen to be an old-school critic of the Warren Commission. Lemme tell ya: The nutcases quoted above don't make my work any easier.

The conspiracy theory subculture has become a toxic wasteland. In fact, I would go so far as to say that modern conspiracy buffs have become tools of the Establishment (if I may resurrect that useful '60s term). Their function is to make dissent look like lunacy.

Is Graham crackers? My favorite Theory of Roof comes from the ever-delightful Lindsey Graham:
“There are real people who are organized out there to kill people in religion and based on race, this guy’s just whacked out,” he said. “But it’s 2015. There are people out there looking for Christians to kill them.”
Dig it: In Lindsey-vision, Roof wasn't out to kill black people. He was out to kill Christians -- because everyone knows that there are soooooo many people roaming our streets looking to plug any and all lovers of Jesus.

Does loony Lindsey really believe this nonsense? Or is he cynically playing to the sicko persecution fantasies of the fundamentalist crowd?
->Pure co-incidence:
I'd rather not have to discuss the "sicko...fantasies" of Senator Graham, since I suspect they are similar to those of the late J. Edgar Hoover. But I'm willing to give the black pastor a pass on his comment that he perceived the gunman as "not so much a participant but a brief observer." I think he meant that he saw the young white man as not being a participant in the church service, but only an observer. The pastor's meaning has either been misunderstood or else deliberately twisted so some people can take the ball and run clear off the field with it. But yes, Joseph, there is a significant branch of American Christianity that would absolutely love to play the role of persecuted martyrs, and we know what happens when a fundamentalist version of religion starts manufacturing martyrs.

Just in my opinion Lindsey Graham is playing to the audience that really believes the earth is 6,000 years old, God is going to blast 95% of humanity into nothingness any day now, and that's a good thing, and we all should worship Israel in the meantime. That kind of belief system makes conspiracy theories seem like near beer.
My question is why are RWNJs so het up about disproving the racial context to this mass shooting? If Roof only wanted to kill Christians, there are vastly more white Christian churches for him to choose from than black. So why target a black congregation if no racism was involved?

And since so many racists have spent so much time denigrating the black people filmed getting abused/murdered by the police, why are they now acting all shocked and surprised that one of their own would take the racism to the next step?
They can stick the facial recognition on the pearly gates and keep out the riff-raff.
There has been scant mention on the Internet that the full-resolution surveillance images of Roof entering the church at 8:16:58 show him wearing what clearly appears to be body armor under his sweatshirt.

He asked for Clementa Pinckney, a state Senator and pastor, by name. Pinckney left a session of the state Senate in Columbia at 5PM to drive to the Charleston Church for the prayer meeting. Roof lives in the Columbia area, and it is fair to surmise that he followed Pinckney to Charleston.
My guess is the only churches with the budget to cover something like Churchix are also those with an actual need for such a beast: Namely, the [primarily] fundy mega-churches. According to Wiki (citing a Hartford Institute study), there are 50 U.S. churches with weekly attendance of 10,000 or more, with the largest averaging 47,000 worshipers. That's only good enough for 14th place on the world list, where the largest megachurch, the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, averaging 253,000 attendees. *That's* a little beyond the range of someone making a tick mark on a note card at the beginning of Sunday school and handing it to the church secretary to tally...
The RW machine really leaves one breathless in how they seem to instantly generate absurd talking points. And deliver them so earnestly. They have their War on Christians narrative to flog and flog they will.
If any conspiracy buffs want a tidbit for Dylann Roof as a tool, consider this: ‪#‎ClementaPinckney‬ was lead activist in S.C. to make cops wear body cameras after death of ‪#‎WalterScott‬ (news not reporting that)
That's well said, Joseph: "When conspiracism becomes a morbid game -- a game in which players are encouraged to toss out wild suppositions without any regard for proof or logic -- great injury is done to the credibility of anyone who questions mainstream opinion on any topic. Even in areas were the questions are legitimate, the questioner looks foolish."

Kneejerk conspiracism about every violent public event dumps doubt on legitimate questions about watershed public events such as 9/11--such that the questions themselves can be countered with "humorous" suggestions that "the abominable snowman did it with space-beams from the grassy knoll."

After Cass Sunstein famously proposed that the government should deploy agents to counteract internet conspiracy theories with "cognitive infiltration" of internet discussions, he was appointed as head of the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Obviously the most economical way to defeat those who question official pronouncements is to create a climate of conspiracy fatigue by promoting nutty conspiracy theories right and left. This would be particularly effective if advocates of loony theories would harass journalists with their nonsense in 3:00 am phone calls and public confrontations to induce an advanced state of question-phobia and conspiracy fatigue among the target group.

My casual reading of Dylann Roof's massacre is that while it has a racist wrapping it appears to be more about a grossly immature young white male dealing with alienation issues. He has a father who gives him a handgun for his birthday (what kind of a jerk does that?) and presumably FA else by way of psychological guidance. Somewhere or other he has picked up the hideous and idiotic narrative that "blacks are raping our [white] women." Never mind that he has probably never been laid in his life. But the meme gets transformed in his immature mind. He has a hope for some narrative to replace the bigotry of his childhood and goes to a black church where he sees people comforted and inspired by their religion and "thinks maybe this is for me." But the happy message of hope is from the blacks he's been told are the cause of his suffering, and worse, there's these sexually unattainable black women there who are smiling and fulfilled. He can't bridge the gap between the happiness and promise he sees before him and his own twisted isolation. There's nothing else for it but to obliterate the promise they present and their lives with it. Back to being with Dad, white supremacism, victimhood and the saccharine sweetness of self-pity and a final proof that the world cannot be trusted. I don't think this guy is capable of racism. He's too self-absorbed and childish for that. But, for the cold-blooded killings, he should get his life in jail.
I'm always glad when you take the conspiracy industry to task (because I love conspiracy).
And sometimes it's not a conspiracy but the event is just so weird with coincidence (kinda like your personal clown stories).
So, this coincidence bothers me: his name is Dylan STORM ROOF.
You can't make that shit up, as they say. Or, you could.
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