Enemies, Mostly Domestic

Robert Blaskiewicz

The last month has seen a disturbing number of high-profile mass shootings, and these events, when filtered through the conspiratorial worldview, become distorted and magnified in strange and interesting ways. In the footnotes of my previous Conspiracy Guy article, I made reference to Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the National Rifle Association, who has again made it a part of his election-year rhetoric that Barack Obama is plotting against the Second Amendment:

Tavis Minnear, a writer for the Ashland Times-Gazette, reported that in November 2008, a year that saw the Supreme Court uphold handgun rights in Washington, D.C., and only a week after Obama’s election, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA told members: “…that an ‘elite ruling class’ of anti-gun politicians has ‘declared war on our individual rights’ by trying to restrict Americans' ability to keep and bear arms.

“Seventy-five years ago in his first inauguration as president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,' he said. Today, I would argue almost the exact reverse is true. The greatest thing we have to fear in many ways is not enough Americans are afraid, because not enough realize what grave dangers are out there to our freedoms.” (http://bit.ly/KVWVvM)

This rhetoric, whether cynically uttered or not, is a major component of a widely held belief of the paranoid right that the federal government is going to disarm the populace and then sweep in an impose tyranny, or martial law, put the “true patriots” into FEMA-run concentration camps, or whatever. Crucial to this fantasy of oppression is that there will be a high profile false-flag attack on the American people, which will of course serve as a pretense for taking away all of the guns. The past month has sadly seen a number of high-profile mass shootings that quickly became fodder for conspiracy theorists.

Predictably, as soon as word of the theater shooting in Aurora, CO broke on July 20, and as the human toll became clear (twelve dead and fifty-eight wounded), the conspiracy-theory-o-sphere was abuzz with speculation about what REALLY happened in that darkened movie theater. In the first few days after the shooting, the number of people who were “actually” responsible for the shooting swelled beyond reason; the FBI, CIA, the Illuminati, MK-Ultra, and the President all were named as being behind the shooting. It seemed that everyone except the person who pulled the trigger was responsible for the massacre. To many, the destruction of the Second Amendment seemed imminent.

To conspiracists, it was clear that the shooter was a patsy and that by definition this had been a false-flag event. As often happens, conspiracy theorists misjudged the relative usefulness of the first burst of eyewitness accounts, which suggested that there might have been an accomplice inside the theater to open the emergency exit for the shooter. In the fullness of time, the investigation found that the shooter acted alone. Of course, revelations that the suspect, James Holmes, had been a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado instantly led to the contention that he was some sort of mind-controlled hit man. Conspiracy theorists also latched onto word that the alleged gunman’s father had once worked for a company that had DARPA contracts. To them, the mind-control hypothesis seemed the natural conclusion from Holmes’s apparently disoriented and bizarre countenance at his first court appearance.

On August 5, word broke of another mass shooting, this time at the Sikh Temple outside of Milwaukee. Six people were killed and four were injured. The only suspect, Wade Michael Page, killed himself at the scene. Page had been a figure in the white supremacist “hate core” music scene and had been tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The conspiracy theories that surfaced following the Sikh shooting were of two types. The first was conventional and fit well within a rather worn conspiracy narrative. The other, not so much.

The first, an example of which I take from the execrable white supremacist site Stormfront.org, claims that a white veteran was set up/drugged and disposed of, or in the words of commenter Thor9019: “So this was likely a set up from the start and now they can go and blame it on 'white supremacists' like they always do.”1

This is actually a long-standing self-pitying and persecutory narrative that goes back at least as far as the Oklahoma City bombing, which was of course carried out by former military, unapologetic white supremacists. And it closely parallels the plot of a peculiar and frustrating bit of what Tom Lolis (interviewed in my last article) has termed “militia fiction,” Matthew Bracken’s Enemies Foreign and Domestic (2003). I say frustrating because it represents a world where the paranoid are correct about the government’s conniving to take their guns away and impose tyranny. In the opening scene of the novel, a sniper opens fire into an arena at a sporting event, spurring a widely televised panic that results in hundreds of deaths. Killed at the scene is a disturbed but upstanding veteran who it is clear has been drugged and is being painted as a white supremacist.2 This is the role that Page has been painted into by conspiracists.

A second line of conspiracy theories that has sprouted out of the Sikh killings was decidedly less expected. It began, I believe, when UFOlogist and Disclosure Project founder Steven Greer tweeted: “Sirius filmmaker Arm Kaleka's father shot at Sikh Temple. He is on scene now. Please pray for his family. Dr. Greer.”

Sirius is the title of a documentary project that Greer and filmmaker Amardeep Kaleka are working on and have been attempting to raise funds for. Kaleka’s father was the Temple President and was killed. Last year, Greer was a keynote speaker at the TruthCon in Atlanta, which I wrote about in my first CSI article. Greer was drumming up funds for his Orion Project, a scheme that would extract free energy from the expansion of the universe and deliver it to the people of the world, ending war and hunger for the bargain basement price of $5.7 million. The $5.7 million is earmarked for a secure facility where Greer can protect the scientists he’s recruited and their families from the Secret Government. It appears that the movie Sirius is intended to cover the Orion Project.

Within nanoseconds of Greer’s tweet, and even though I have seen neither Kaleka nor Greer claim that this was an attempt to silence them, UFO conspiracy theorists were raising the alarm. The blossoming of potential suspects in response to a single YouTube video about the shooting includes: JFK’s killers, Nazis, illegal black ops, private companies who put microchips in hit men’s heads, the CIA, Big Oil, bankers, and the Wall Street elite.3 Elements of the other line of conspiracy also appear in the comments, for instance, that the media are now actively pushing hate crimes laws (thought to unjustly punish whites), and that the media is being spun and distracted by the white supremacist angle. Unlike history, which jostles out untruths and favors facts to ultimately settle on a version of events that historians agree upon, conspiracy theory is ever more open and resists closure and consensus, ensuring that those who practice it will never be satisfied.


1. Another poster, the ironically named “Ballistic,” remarked:

“You know it's curious – every single one, without exception, of the racially-aware/White Nationalist-minded people I personally know are the most unremarkable, and least "extreme" people one could meet!! They are in no way distinguishable from any other White American – and in many cases, their own friends and family are probably totally unaware of their political/ideological outlook.”

Touché. From: http://www.stormfront.org/forum/t905331/.

2. While Bracken makes clear that the gun-owner veterans who are at being framed for hate crimes by the government are in no way racist, one of his main (and presumably meant to be sympathetic) characters says: “If they really wanted to stop terrorism, they’d go after the real threat, and they still won’t even say there’s a problem with Muslims. And now they’re trying to frame up white ‘militias’ as the next big terrorist threat.” Touché.

3. One commenter disagrees: “it's the judeo masonic mafia…..it's not nazis. get real.” Touché.

Robert Blaskiewicz

Bob Blaskiewicz is Assistant Professor of Critical Thinking and First Year Studies at Stockton University, where he specializes in and teaches about World War II veterans’ writings, science and pseudoscience, extraordinary/paranormal claims and conspiracy theory. He is the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry’s “Conspiracy Guy” web columnist, a blogger at skepticalhumanities.com, a regular panelist on the live weekly web show The Virtual Skeptics (Wed 8PM Eastern), and contributes a monthly essay to the Skepticality podcast. He also works with an elite cadre of skeptical superheros on The OTHER Burzynski Patient Group website, The Houston Cancer Quack page, and the Skeptics for the Protection of Cancer Patients Facebook group.