The world had to wait a half hour, max, for people to speculate that the Boston Marathon bombing was a “false flag,” i.e., a disaster manufactured by the government and pinned on someone else for political ends. Among the first to apply his apparent omniscience and determine, based on virtually no facts, that the attack “stinks to high heaven” was a fellow named Alex Jones. He has made a career of claiming 9/11 was an inside job meant to provide cover for the American government to vilify and attack Muslims on the way to total martial law. (Would you believe, he hosts a radio show in Texas.) His open speculation was hardly the last. By nightfall on Monday the governor of Massachusetts was hearing it directly from the scrum at his evening presser, where the first question posed was, "Is this another false flag attack staged to take our civil liberties?"
But conspiracy theories aren't merely blowback from an act of terrorism; they may also be precursor. Once the names Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were known to the public this blog post went up. For years the author, Alyssa Lindley Kilzer, made regular visits to their home for their mother's cosmetic treatments. It’s worth a read. Among the interesting points, as others have noticed, is the description of an intensifying religiosity in the home. Most poignant in hindsight, though, is the following. With the obvious caveat that it’s a third-hand anecdote, you can take this for what it’s worth:
During this facial session she started quoting a conspiracy theory, telling me that she thought 9-11 was purposefully created by the American government to make America hate Muslims. “It’s real,” she said, “My son knows all about it. You can read on the internet.”
That is, one of her sons, who quite likely went on to commit an act of terror, may have been influenced by the very malarkey being floated online by conspiracy theorists who then leap to dark conclusions to explain that act of terror.
We do not know the degree of connection between the bombings and the idea that the American government carries out mass murder for cover in attacking the rest of the world. But as this is a plausible line to draw — that such charges, taken at face value, could inform a person’s decision to harm Americans — let’s perhaps rethink this practice of slinging half-cocked paranoiac nutbaggery. Somewhere, someone may actually be taking it seriously.
Photo credit: AP
I've met the Boston bombers [alyssalindley.tumblr.com]