Robert Hubbell is the author of one of the newsletters that appear in my inbox each weekday; some months ago, my sister recommended that I add him to my daily read and I can echo her endorsement.
Hubbell recently considered the anti-Semitism displayed by one of RFK, Jr.’s many conspiracy theories–this one, that the Chinese had “bio-engineered” COVID to disproportionately target Caucasians and Black people., while immunizing Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people.
As Hubbell wrote
Over the weekend, we learned that Kennedy’s conspiratorial thinking regarding the origins of Covid and the (alleged) evils of vaccines led him to the place where many conspiracy theories seem to inevitably land—blaming “the Jews” for the world’s problems. Most conspiracy theories begin by blaming the ubiquitous and anonymous “they”, which inexorably morphs over time to “liberal elites,” then “Bill Gates and George Soros,” and then “the Jews.”
I sure wish we Jews were as powerful as these conspiracy-addled lunatics clearly think we are. (Really, if I had a space laser, don’t you think I’d have used it against some of these nutcases by now??)
In Hubbell’s subsequent discussion of Junior’s “bioweapon” theories, he meticulously examined the ignorance it required.
He claims that the Chinese and American governments are developing “ethnic bioweapons.” The notion that governments are building bioweapons that will selectively attack people based on their “ethnicity” is a delusion based on monumental ignorance about DNA, biology, race, ethnicity, science, politics, and reality. It is the stuff of 1950s comic books, adolescent imagination, and Nazi eugenics—which is how sheer stupidity morphs into absolute evil in the reality free cauldron of conspiracy theories.
Hubbell examined RFK,Jr.’s “copious documentation” (so that we don’t have to), and found that–to the extent any legitimate documentation exists regarding “ethnic bioweapons”– “it relates to the fear that some government might exploit the gene editing technology CRSPR/Cas9 to develop ethnic bioweapons in the future.”
Rather obviously, a concern about what might occur sometime in the future is not “evidence” that U.S. and China are developing bioweapons targeted at various genetic groups.
What struck me about this particular eruption of anti-Semitism–and Hubbell’s ability to demonstrate the ignorance that prompted it–was an insight it prompted about the nature of conspiracy theories in general: people who don’t understand the world they inhabit, and who are unable to tolerate the ambiguities resulting from that lack of understanding, are desperate for answers and explanations they can comprehend.
Conspiracy theories provide those answers. (So do some religions.)
Are LGBTQ people more visible than they used to be? There must be more of them, and that means that some groups–librarians and Drag Queens among them– are “grooming” children and turning them gay.
Are the FBI and Department of Justice closing in on Donald Trump’s myriad crimes? That’s convincing evidence that those federal agencies have been “weaponized” against Republicans.
Did your 87-year-old grandfather die a month after getting a COVID vaccine? Was your sister-in-law’s next-door neighbor’s brother’s child diagnosed as autistic after getting her measles vaccine? Aha! Evidence that vaccines are dangerous.
Are you a man who’s unable to get a date? (Okay, unable to get laid?) It isn’t because you’re unattractive or unpleasant (or nuts). As your fellow Incels will tell you, it’s evidence that “women’s lib” groups have poisoned relations between the sexes.
Is your life not unfolding in ways you had hoped? Are your children behaving in ways that you disapprove? It’s evidence that some shadowy group–probably the Jews–is running the world in ways that disadvantage good White Christians like you…
I’m sure readers of this blog can add to the list….
There is a reason for the growing political and social gap between educated and uneducated Americans. And by “educated” I don’t mean people with degrees; I mean people who read books and newspapers, open themselves to the lessons of history, and respect science and technical expertise. Educated people are humans who recognize–and have learned to live with– the inevitable ambiguities of modern life. They are people who understand that the world is a complicated place, that we humans are still learning about causes and effects, and there are many questions we can’t answer.
They are people who can tell the difference between evidence and fantasy, and are comfortable saying “I don’t know.”
Other people–those who are frantic for simple answers and desperate for someone or some group to blame for their distress– cope by adopting fantasies that justify their fear and hatred of the “other.”
Today’s America evidently has a lot of them. Until their fevers subside, they can and do make life for the rest of us very uncomfortable–and for some of us “others,” very unsafe.