Tag Archives: Remember the Alamo

New studies: ‘Conspiracy theorists’ sane; government dupes crazy, hostile (aka—I’m not crazy, everybody really does hate me….)

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2013/07/14/whatabout7/

Is this building falling or exploding? If you say “falling” you need to take your meds…..

 by Kevin Barrett

Recent studies by psychologists and social scientists in the US and UK suggest that contrary to mainstream media stereotypes, those labeled “conspiracy theorists” appear to be saner than those who accept the official versions of contested events.

The most recent study was published on July 8th by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent (UK). Entitled“What about Building 7? A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories,” the study compared “conspiracist” (pro-conspiracy theory) and “conventionalist” (anti-conspiracy) comments at news websites.

The authors were surprised to discover that it is now more conventional to leave so-called conspiracist comments than conventionalist ones: “Of the 2174 comments collected, 1459 were coded as conspiracist and 715 as conventionalist.” In other words, among people who comment on news articles, those who disbelieve government accounts of such events as 9/11 and the JFK assassination outnumber believers by more than two to one. That means it is the pro-conspiracy commenters who are expressing what is now the conventional wisdom, while the anti-conspiracy commenters are becoming a small, beleaguered minority.

Perhaps because their supposedly mainstream views no longer represent the majority, the anti-conspiracy commenters often displayed anger and hostility: “The research… showed that people who favoured the official account of 9/11 were generally more hostile when trying to persuade their rivals.”

Additionally, it turned out that the anti-conspiracy people were not only hostile, but fanatically attached to their own conspiracy theories as well. According to them, their own theory of 9/11 – a conspiracy theory holding that 19 Arabs, none of whom could fly planes with any proficiency, pulled off the crime of the century under the direction of a guy on dialysis in a cave in Afghanistan – was indisputably true. The so-called conspiracists, on the other hand, did not pretend to have a theory that completely explained the events of 9/11: “For people who think 9/11 was a government conspiracy, the focus is not on promoting a specific rival theory, but in trying to debunk the official account.”

In short, the new study by Wood and Douglas suggests that the negative stereotype of the conspiracy theorist – a hostile fanatic wedded to the truth of his own fringe theory – accurately describes the people who defend the official account of 9/11, not those who dispute it.

Additionally, the study found that so-called conspiracists discuss historical context (such as viewing the JFK assassination as a precedent for 9/11) more than anti-conspiracists. It also found that the so-called conspiracists to not like to be called “conspiracists” or “conspiracy theorists.”

Both of these findings are amplified in the new book Conspiracy Theory in America by political scientist Lance deHaven-Smith, published earlier this year by the University of Texas Press. Professor deHaven-Smith explains why people don’t like being called “conspiracy theorists”: The term was invented and put into wide circulation by the CIA to smear and defame people questioning the JFK assassination! “The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.”

In other words, people who use the terms “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” as an insult are doing so as the result of a well-documented, undisputed, historically-real conspiracy by the CIA to cover up the JFK assassination. That campaign, by the way, was completely illegal, and the CIA officers involved were criminals; the CIA is barred from all domestic activities, yet routinely breaks the law to conduct domestic operations ranging from propaganda to assassinations.

DeHaven-Smith also explains why those who doubt official explanations of high crimes are eager to discuss historical context. He points out that a very large number of conspiracy claims have turned out to be true, and that there appear to be strong relationships between many as-yet-unsolved “state crimes against democracy.” An obvious example is the link between the JFK and RFK assassinations, which both paved the way for presidencies that continued the Vietnam War. According to DeHaven-Smith, we should always discuss the “Kennedy assassinations” in the plural, because the two killings appear to have been aspects of the same larger crime.

Psychologist Laurie Manwell of the University of Guelph agrees that the CIA-designed “conspiracy theory” label impedes cognitive function. She points out, in an article published in American Behavioral Scientist (2010), that anti-conspiracy people are unable to think clearly about such apparent state crimes against democracy as 9/11 due to their inability to process information that conflicts with pre-existing belief.

In the same issue of ABS, University of Buffalo professor Steven Hoffman adds that anti-conspiracy people are typically prey to strong “confirmation bias” – that is, they seek out information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs, while using irrational mechanisms (such as the “conspiracy theory” label) to avoid conflicting information.

The extreme irrationality of those who attack “conspiracy theories” has been ably exposed by Communications professors Ginna Husting and Martin Orr of Boise State University. In a 2007 peer-reviewed article entitled“Dangerous Machinery: ‘Conspiracy Theorist’ as a Transpersonal Strategy of Exclusion,” they wrote:

“If I call you a conspiracy theorist, it matters little whether you have actually claimed that a conspiracy exists or whether you have simply raised an issue that I would rather avoid… By labeling you, I strategically exclude you from the sphere where public speech, debate, and conflict occur.”

But now, thanks to the internet, people who doubt official stories are no longer excluded from public conversation; the CIA’s 44-year-old campaign to stifle debate using the “conspiracy theory” smear is nearly worn-out. In academic studies, as in comments on news articles, pro-conspiracy voices are now more numerous – and more rational – than anti-conspiracy ones.

No wonder the anti-conspiracy people are sounding more and more like a bunch of hostile, paranoid cranks.

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March 6, 2011—Remember the Alamo! (and Goliad too!)

What more can anyone say?  “Remember the Alamo and Goliad too!” My grandparents Helen and Alphonse Meyer took me to visit the Alamo as almost the first thing to do in Texas when I arrived to live with them in Dallas, Texas after my parents split up.  This move was the first extremely strange transition in my life: my maternal grandmother Helen and her butler named Kermit went to pick me up and take me from my parents, whom my grandparents considered to be neglecting me.   This was in 1966, long before the State of Texas made its is business to interfere in every possible event in every family’s life.  And as unorthodox as this method of making child-custody transfer might sound to the modern reader, it might possibly have been the case that my parents were in fact neglecting me because my mother only showed up in Dallas quite a bit later, not having noticed my absence for sometime.  Anyhow, all of this happened the summer after I turned six.

And so it was then that “Remember the Alamo” became the first “Patriotic Slogan” I ever remember learning.  I obviously had already learned “God Save the Queen” first, but I was very young and don’t remember actually learning that particular salute.  But I do remember my grandparents teaching me to Cheer outloud “Remember the Alamo” although I’m not sure where I was supposed to use this cheer or to whom I was supposed to address it.  I recall my grandfather, “Al”, stopped the family at some particularly significant place around the Alamo and led us in a private family prayer for the fallen heroes.

Though himself the grandson of a British peer of the realm, my grandfather was born in Galveston and steeped in Texas history and patriotism. In his opinion, he insisted it was just as important, if not more so, to remember Colonel Fannin and the March 27 massacre at Goliad as it was to remember the Alamo, because more men died at Goliad, and they died more brutally, having been executed in cold blood.  So this initial tour of South Texas in 1966 also included a trip to Goliad and finally to the San Jacinto Battlefield and the Battleship Texas.

But unlike William Barret Travis’ “I am besieged…I have sustained continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man….I shall never surrender or retreat” February 24, 1836 letter from the Alamo, Colonel Fannin had left no eloquent written testimonial to pass down and post on the library wall.  Nor have dozens of movies been made about Fannin and Goliad, certainly nothing like John Wayne’s “The Alamo“.  This great mythical movie (historians say not a single scene in the picture can be directly related to any document-based “fact”) was completed and released the year I was born in Texas (1960) on October 24, which just happened to be the day my parents arrived in London on the Queen Mary.  This particular cinematic extravaganza just happened to have been made in Texas ONLY over John Wayne’s efforts and objections.

Happy Shahan was a rancher in southern Texas [Wayne’s team constructed an “Alamo Village” near Brackettville in Kinney County, on the old “Camino Real” between San Antonio and El Paso, just a few miles from the Rio Grande and Mexican Border]. ….  [Shahan’s] big break came when he secured The Alamo (1960).  John Wayne had originally decided to make the film in Mexico where he owned land. However, it quickly became apparent he would face a boycott from the Daughters of the Republic and it was politically expedient to make the film in Texas (Rothel, 1990: 13-15).  http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/mgt/research/working-papers/2006/wp36-06.pdf

It is one of those passing ironies of the interaction of history and myth that Wayne wanted and originally planned to film his Epic of Texas Independence in the State of Durango, Mexico, which to Wayne at least and the other producers looked much more like Texas “should” have looked in 1836 than Texas in recent times ever could have looked.  John Wayne also owned a ranch in Durango and made several other films there.  The point is that the reenactment of history is a matter of politically powerful myth—and apparently the Daughters of the Republic of Texas believed that to make a movie about the Alamo in Mexico would somehow be “taboo”—even though Wayne certainly would have been right in pointing out that, of course, when the Battle of the Alamo was fought, and for the three hundred years preceding the siege, Texas had been politically and legally defined (in European law and cartography at least) as part of Mexico—first as part of the the Viceroyalty of New Spain, then as part of the Empire and finally the Republic of Mexico).

There is some unfortunate documentation in the record of diaries left by certain Mexican officers that Davie Crockett in particular and other nearly legendary heroes may not have died quite as heroically as portrayed in the movies, but the simple truth is that the Texas Revolution started to defend the Mexican Constitution of 1823, and the defenders of the Alamo flew a flag to prove that point.  In 1836 there was no conflict between Anglo and Hispanic (Mexican) Creoles in Texas—there was only a conflict between dictatorship and Democratic-Republican Government.  Any modern attempt to recast the Texas revolution as an Anglo-Hispanic race-oriented dispute have to deal with the fact that the Texas Declaration of Independence was written by the Tecoh, Yucatan-born Mexican Statesman Ernesto de Zavala and that Texas and Yucatan both separated from Santa Ana’s Mexico and formed an independent alliance—and although both Yucatan and Texas applied for U.S. Statehood, somewhat tragically, only Texas was admitted.  Yucatan Governor Justo Sierra O’Reilly made the mistake of trying to seek admission for Yucatan as a “free” state—despite the existence of a Plantation economy throughout the Peninsula—and the South at the point relied much too heavily on the Missouri Compromise of 1820 *(later declared unconstitutional in Scott v. Sanford, 1857) and did not wish to allow “free” states both south and north of the Dixie Heartland.  The Yucatan Peninsula would have made a fine addition to the United States, and the Yucatec Creoles and Maya an amazing enrichment of the United States population (both White and Native American).   It is easy to see how the outcome of the war of 1861-65 would have been different, if it had happened at all, had Yucatan been part of the Confederacy….instead of the most pro-Imperial province of the Hapsburg Emperor Maxmillian’s shortlived “Imperio Mexicano”.

Ernesto Zavala’s house in Merida still bears a plaque celebrating the historical contacts between Texas and Yucatan and is preserved as a historic landmark.  In Texas, there is not only a “Zavala” County but also a building on the Texas State Capitol grounds, just southeast of the South Facing domed statehouse, named after him, the Zavala building—it is the State Archive and Historical Records building.  During the Short-Lived Republic of Yucatan, which declared its independence (without bloodshed) in 1838, two years after Texas, Texas and Yucatan jointly developed a very small Naval force to patrol the Gulf of Mexico between Galveston and Progresso.

Justo Sierra O’Reilly’s travel to Washington applying for admission to the Union is the subject of quite a bit of writing in Mexico, and he is a controversial figure in that he was seeking (among other things) a U.S. alliance against the Maya uprising known as “The Caste War of Yucatan”.  Yucatan’s separatism from Mexico preceded the U.S. War with Mexico in 1846-48, but Justo Sierra O’Reilly’s interest in seeing Yucatan admitted continued even after the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo confirmed the transfer of California, Texas, New Mexico, what is now Arizona, Nevada, and Utah to the United States in 1848.  Yucatan was officially neutral in the war with the United States but many in Sierra O’Reilly’s position supported full annexation and integration, even while the stars and stripes flew over Chapultepec Castle under the immediate intendency and command of one Colonel Robert E. Lee, nephew of a signer of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  Some Mexicans regard Sierra O’Reilly as a traitor like Benedict Arnold or Aaron Burr in the U.S., but those who fly the (suppressed) flag of the independent Republic of Yucatan regard him as a hero.  Justo Sierra O’Reilly wrote a very disappointed “Impresiones de un Viaje a los Estados Unidos e Canada” which used to be and probably still is in print in Yucatan, although I haven’t noticed it on the bookstore shelves in recent years.   Yucatan’s separatist tendencies survived a long time after O’Reilly.  Empress Carlotta, even in her madness later in life, recalled the especially warm welcome she and her ill-fated husband received in Yucatan, and there was an active separatist movement in Yucatan as late as the 1960s.

One could say that the de facto annexation of Cancun and the East Coast of Quintana Roo as an American colony (at least during Spring break, but for most of the winter tourist season) starting in 1971 was the final death blow to Yucatec separatism—in that one can now hear significantly more English spoken on the streets and beaches of Cancun than one can on the streets of Miami or Miami Beach…