What’s (Or Rather Who’s) Really Out There
I don’t understand these people who can choose what to believe, and continue believing it in the face of any evidence thrown at them. I’ve had theories that I believed without evidence, but when someone shows me a fact that contradicts the theory, I stop believing it. That’s not a choice, not for me anyway; I simply can’t do it.
How can you believe obviously false things? It’s fascinating, in a creepy way. They’ll usually put some kind of window dressing on why they reject the fact, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any attempt to even make it convincing.
I’ve just had a long discussion with someone who holds as a matter of faith that slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War. I quoted some Confederate documents, including passages from the Articles of Secession of all four Confederate States who issued such; all of them explicitly state that slavery was a primary reason for their rebellion.
Georgia declaration of secession: “The North demanded the application of the principle of prohibition of slavery to all of the territory acquired from Mexico and all other parts of the public domain then and in all future time. It was the announcement of her purpose to appropriate to herself all the public domain then owned and thereafter to be acquired by the United States. The claim itself was less arrogant and insulting than the reason with which she supported it. That reason was her fixed purpose to limit, restrain, and finally abolish slavery in the States where it exists. The South with great unanimity declared her purpose to resist the principle of prohibition to the last extremity.”
Mississippi declaration of secession: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. ”
South Carolina declaration of secession: “The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution.”
Texas declaration of secession: “…was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery – the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits – a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.”
Confederate Constitution: “No bill of attainder or ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”
C.S. President Jefferson Davis: “… the productions of the South in cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco, for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable, had swollen to an amount which formed nearly three-fourths of the exports of the whole United States and had become absolutely necessary to the wants of civilized man. With interests of such overwhelming magnitude imperiled, the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced.”
C.S. Vice President Alexander Stephens: “The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution… Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”
You’d think that would cause him to revise his theory; I know that if those States had issued documents unknown to me that offered to end ther internal slavery in return for being left alone, I’d have had to adjust my view of the Civil War.
Not so for this fellow; he finds it easier to believe that there was a huge conspiracy of Northern historians who wanted to make the South look bad, so they lied and forged documents. I pointed out how many documents that involved, from what must be hundreds of surviving copies of the aforementioned Articles of Secession, newspaper articles and letters of the time, personal letters of soldiers and civilians, posters… it would require a conspiracy spreading across the whole continent, one with unbelievably tight discipline to keep the stories consistent and interlocking. Since new historical evidence comes to light still, either the conspirators were incredibly profligate in efforts to stash papers in unlikely spots where they’d be undiscovered for over a century, or this conspiracy would have to be ongoing to the present day planting new evidence.
This line of reasoning cut no ice either; he “knows the truth passed down generation to generation in Southern families” and it is easier for him to believe in the Lincoln Illuminati than to accept that any Southern families might have shaded the truth to make themselves look a little nobler. In an attempt to show how ridiculous the line of reasoning was, I mentioned that there was no ultimate way to know that Fu Manchu hadn’t faked all of American history from the Revolution to the Moon landings, but he took that as an admission that my theory was no better than his… only his was correct.
I see the same pattern in other conspiracy theorists, of course. If any evidence appears to support the theory, however shaky, it is accepted without question; if any contradicts it, it is ‘obviously’ faked. The “Kenyan birth certificate” of Barack Obama and his actual Hawaiian one are a perfect example pair; the “Kenyan” one contains multiple obvious errors and yet there are still people insisting it is correct, or at best saying it was planted by the same nefarious conspirators who planted a Kenyan in the White house in order to discredit the so-called Birthers; the Hawaiian one, which compares perfectly with other contemporary examples and has been verified as genuine by everyone from the Hawaii State Department of Health to the WorldNet Daily editorial staff (who had originally supported the birthers, as they have many another looney conspiracy theories), and yet it is soundly, indeed angrily rejected by the Birthers.
Essentially the same group of people are now also becoming known as the Deathers, because they promulgate wildly inaccurate myths about the efforts to reform how healthcare is paid for in the United States, including the ludicrous notion that old people and others with expensive health issues will have to face ‘death panels’ to decide if they live, an idiocy first made public by Queen of Delusion Sarah Palin.
Not that all the lunacy’s on one side of the political spectrum, mind you; there are plenty of lefties in the 9-11 Truth Movement, who believe depite all common sense and evidence that the most incompetent stumblebums to disgrace the governmental stage of America in living memory were able to carry out a huge and complex conspiracy to fake the Al-Quaeda attacks.
It’s always the same; they have “the truth” and the evidence has to be made to fit that “truth” or else it must be discounted. The other thing that’s constant is that the true believers are deeply emotional about their belief; the Birth-to-Deathers shudder with rage as they wave their birth certificates and their guns at rallies, the Noble Southrons take gainsaying as a vicious attack on the people and culture of the South, the Truthers are as angry as any of us (just at a different perpetrator, and given the subsequent acts of the Bush crew there’s a certain irony there) and – of course – hardcore theists want to make ‘blasphemy’ (toward their god or gods) a crime.
They can’t all really believe this crap, can they? They’re just putting us on for some reason, right? It’s one big, elaborate… oh.