There was an interesting segment on 60 Minutes last week titled “Jihadists And ‘The Narrative’”. You can watch it here:
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“The Narrative” is the all too pervasive worldview among radical Muslims that says the United States is secretly bent on destroying Islam. Near the end of the segment it became clear that The Narrative relies heavily on conspiracy theories for its support. In this case the radical Muslims are convinced that the CIA was the driving factor behind the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attacks on the United States. The logic is that the CIA put Al Qaeda up to the attacks so America would have an excuse to invade Iraq and Afghanistan and to proceed with its secret agenda to destroy Islam.
Now the motivation for the U.S. to desire to destroy Islam is completely unclear. But the problem with these sorts of twisted conspiracy theories is that no amount of logic or evidence seems to convince true believers that the theory is ludicrous. Any contrary evidence is assumed to be fabricated as part of the conspiracy.
Humans are prone to this sort of irrationality. We Americans and we Mormons are certainly not immune to the allure of logic-defying conspiracy theories. I spend some time at a BYU sports message board and I’m always shocked at the high number of conspiracy-assuming conservative wingnuts among the ranks of Mormon BYU fans. Here are just a few recent examples:
- I saw a recent poll on that board that asked if the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was a legitimate accident or sabotage (presumably sabotage by liberal tree huggers or something). Although only 30 or so people voted about half of them voted it was probably sabotage.
- Some guy put linked to a site that claimed the EU was literally trying to be the modern version of the Tower of Babel. The page was complete with pictures. See here. The fact that anyone on earth would take that rubbish remotely seriously baffles me.
- There are a handful of real live “birthers” over there who still think President Obama may not be a U.S. citizen and that the birth certificate is still missing
- There are plenty of people who think global warming isn’t really happening at all (let alone debating human involvement in it)
What is the point of all of this? Maybe that the type of crazy we see among Muslims is not all that different at its core than our local type of crazy.
Or maybe this is the true deep and weighty point: We all know that people are the same wherever you go. There is good and bad in everyone. But we learn to live, we learn to give each other what we need to survive — together alive…