#3. Everyone Is Nazis
The Conspiracy Theory:
Calling someone a Nazi is the easiest way to out oneself as a lunatic. As we've covered before, Hitler comparisons are par for the course on the Internet. You can't legitimately call yourself a politician if you haven't been compared to Hitler. But when someone calls someone else a Nazi, it just makes you wonder why they didn't go full Hitler.
Do they think the accused is actually a card-carrying member of some secret Nazi party? It gives off the lunatic aroma of the weirdo Nazi memorabilia collectors like Marge Schott and Charles Manson. Hitler comparisons make it clear that they're angry and probably stupid, and that their Caps Lock key could probably use a breather. Nazi comparisons suggest a much more permanent brand of insanity. One that suspects that behind closed doors in the halls of power (or just at parties they're not invited to), everyone's secretly goose-stepping around in Nazi armbands, waiting for the right moment to make their move.
It's hard to have a secret agenda when your right arm keeps seizing up.
Unfortunately for sane people everywhere, even the craziest people on the face of the earth are right every once in a while, and that time was during the space and nuclear arms race during the Cold War.
After the Nazi regime collapsed in a pile of starving jackboots in May 1945, the Allies had no qualms about going through the rubble of Hitler's failed empire for stuff that might be useful. In some cases, they went sifting for actual Nazis.
"In a couple of years, people won't even remember this whole 'world war' kerfuffle."
In the closing years of the war, the Nazis were desperate to create a superweapon that might save the Third Reich and destroy the rest of the world. Once the war ended, the U.S. government decided that they needed to tap some of those Nazis minds before the commies got their red hands on them. To this end, the Americans drew up a plan to round up German scientists, giving jobs to the best and the brightest even though most of them deserved to be on trial for war crimes.
President Truman approved what was known as Operation Paperclip soon after the war, but added strict directives to ensure that the worst Nazis not be included, presumably in a last-ditch effort to be able to go to sleep at night.
Trying to figure out who the good Nazis are is like deciding which kick in the nuts hurts the least.
Of course, this turned out to be a completely empty gesture. The most valuable scientists would also have been the most heavily utilized in the Nazi regime. To get around Truman's moral objective, the American military created the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency, which was tasked with creating fake background information for brilliant scientists who were unapologetic, Dr. Strangelove-grade Nazis. With their records bleached, hundreds of Nazis were able to get past Operation Paperclip's "only good Nazis" vetting process and move to America as high level government employees.
The German scientists were punished by sending them to Texas.
#2. The KGB Was Involved in the Kennedy Assassination (But Not How You Think)
The Conspiracy Theory:
We can't blame JFK conspiracy theorists. We all want to be the only person on the planet who knows something really important, and it's hard not to feel intriguing while quietly confiding to someone that "There were men who wanted Kennedy dead. Powerful men. Men who would kill me if they knew I was telling you this." To quote True Lies' Bill Paxton, our favorite movie spy of all time, people "need some release! Promise of adventure, a hint of danger."
"You get their pilot lit, they could suck start a leaf blower."
Whether they're doing it to get laid, to feel smart or because taxes make them furious and they don't have the luxury of being a Libertarian, there's one thing the JFK conspiracy theorists would never suspect: that they themselves are unwitting parts of a vast conspiracy drawn up by powerful men, and that if those men knew they were explaining "the truth" about the Kennedy assassination, those powerful men would probably have hugged them.
"Why are you hugging me? Is it BEES?"
Of the acronyms that people like to blame for the Kennedy assassination -- FBI, CIA, LBJ, NBA (one of Bill Simmons' more far-fetched David Stern conspiracy theories) -- the KGB has always been one of the least popular, even though it's probably the most straightforward. Oswald was a communist sympathizer who spent a couple years in Russia, giving the KGB easy access to his washable brain.
Of course, the Russian intelligence community was probably aware that assassinating Kennedy would be strategically pointless and needlessly risky, since the U.S. Constitution doesn't grant power to whichever political party killed the president. We didn't say it was perfect, just the least convoluted. Which of course is why it's probably unpopular with conspiracy theorists, who tend to prefer more surprising theories like the ones that appeared in Oliver Stone's movie.
"The KGB? Heh ... where's the fun in that?"
But the one thing the KGB theory has that none of the others do is documented proof that they were actively involved in a conspiracy connected to the JFK assassination. In 1992, when a former high level KGB official defected to the U.K., he brought along an archive of detailed, top secret information known as the Mitrokhin Archive. Since it hit the intelligence community like a new Harry Potter book, the information it contains has been authenticated by everyone from the FBI, members of the British Parliament, the United States Air Force Academy, the American Historical Review and perhaps most impressively of all, Wikipedia.
One of the more surprising revelations was that the KGB was actively involved in an extensive campaign to spread misinformation about the Kennedy assassination and undermine the U.S. government. In short, there was a KGB-led Kennedy conspiracy... to spread conspiracy theories!
We're not too worried. It's probably a crazy conspiracy theory.
That might sound suspiciously meta for a Russian intelligence community not written by Dan Harmon, but it makes sense when you realize that the CIA and the KGB were openly engaged in a culture war (even backing opposing styles of modern art). The KGB was acutely attuned to American popular culture, and were particularly impressed with Americans' ability to generate and believe new JFK conspiracy theories that fly in the face of the evidence.
"How are these people winning the Space Race?"
Using handwriting samples and phrasing from letters written by Oswald while he was in Russia, the KGB forged a letter from Oswald to a known CIA operative that referenced a secret meeting just days before the assassination. It was so expertly done that everyone from handwriting experts to Oswald's freaking wife confirmed that it must have been written by him. After the KGB sent the letter around to conspiracy theorists in America, the letter eventually made it to the mainstream media, in accordance with the trickle-up law of sensational b.s. The New York Times reported that three handwriting experts had confirmed its authenticity. An official government inquiry was launched into the letter. By the late '70s, the KGB were pleased to find that "far more Americans believed some version of [the KGB] conspiracy theory ... than still accepted the main findings of the Warren Commission."
Because convincing Americans to believe a conspiracy is about as difficult as convincing dope fiends to take another hit.
So, there's good news and bad news, JFK conspiracy theorists. There was a JFK assassination conspiracy! Unfortunately, you were the puppets, making this the saddest example of fans getting manipulated by their obsession prior to the Star Wars prequels.
#1. The Fictional Attack That Started a War
The Conspiracy Theory:
Any time America starts a controversial war, people are going to ask questions, and crazy people are going to shout them. By now, you're probably familiar with the nonsense theory that the U.S. government orchestrated the attacks on 9/11 in order to justify the Iraq War, but what about the Pearl Harbor Truthers? A popular conspiracy theory after America entered WWII was that FDR was in on the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
It seems that no war is just enough to keep crazy people from doing the political equivalent of claiming that America was secretly begging for it, and wouldn't have been dressed like that if it wasn't looking for trouble.
You know what that is, conspiracy nuts? Strut shaming.
On the night of August 4, 1964, at the height of the tensions between the U.S. and North Vietnam, the communist navy made the bizarre decision to attack two American destroyers -- the USS Turner Joy and the USS Maddox. The American ships were outside of North Vietnamese territory when they radioed that they were being attacked by three North Vietnamese torpedo boats.
Since this constituted an act of war, this meant that America had the right to invade Vietnam. Hours after the first radio message from the Maddox, President Johnson was on TV announcing that the communists had attacked us in international waters and asking for permission to make the beef real in Vietnam. The incident is often cited by historians as the key inciting event that started America's involvement in Vietnam, and a few years ago, it was cited by the National Security Agency as utter b.s.
"These could be ships, or they could be kamikaze seagulls. But whatever, let's declare war."
In 2005, an NSA report on the records from the night of the Gulf of Tonkin incident concluded that the event was blown out of proportion on purpose, which is pretty significant, since the NSA was the one who did the initial blowing. According to the report, "It is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night." Yes, the North Vietnamese attack that started the Vietnam War didn't actually happen, and American officials knew it almost immediately.
An hour after the battle, the commander of one of the destroyers sent a message that there might not have been a single Vietnamese boat in the area, explaining that "Freak weather effects on radar and overeager sonar men may have accounted for" the initial reports. When the sun rose on the gulf and there wasn't a single shred of wreckage from the two torpedo boats they'd fired on and believed they'd sunk, it was pretty clear to everyone involved that the U.S. Navy had been playing with itself in the dark the night before.
You keep your turrets away from that stern, mister!
Unfortunately, within 30 minutes of the imaginary attack, Johnson had already decided to retaliate. America had been aiding the South Vietnamese army for years, and they were just looking for an excuse to make their relationship official. While the Gulf of Tonkin attack was completely imaginary, there's no telling how long it would take the North Vietnamese to actually attack them. So Johnson and the NSA said good enough and made a "conscious effort" to make it look like there was an attack.
So in light of the truth about the Tonkin incident, is it really so crazy to think that 9/11 was an inside job? Yes. Still crazy. In fact, the Gulf of Tonkin conspiracy makes such elaborate conspiracy theories seem even more unlikely (to the sane). It proves that you don't need to orchestrate elaborate conspiracies to justify an unjust war. All you need is the ability to ignore 90 percent of the facts and focus on the ones that support the case for war. In that way, the Tonkin incident bears a much closer resemblance to the many intelligence oopsies that happened in the run up to the Iraq War.
"Sir, I think we've progressed into full 'whoops.'"
Now that was a conspiracy worth getting pissed off about. Like the Tonkin incident, the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq featured an ass-backward intelligence-gathering process that was designed to justify a war, rather than to answer the question of whether there should actually be one. But conspiracy theorists aren't interested in boring stories featuring things like incompetence and the truth. They want the story where evil people cause explosions. In this way, they're exactly like the presidents who they believe are a species of lizard people.
And now the rest of us can't ever unsee it.
Eric Yosomono writes for GaijinAss.com and you should LIKE them on the GaijinAss Facebook page, all the cool kids are doing it! Jacopo della Quercia is on Twitter. Follow him! Mohammed Shariff can be found on Facebook, Twitter and email, but NOT on Google Plus.
For more conspiracies that we were right about, check out 6 Insane Conspiracies Hiding Behind Non-Profit Groups and 6 Crackpot Conspiracy Theories (That Actually Happened).
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Mathematical Proof That the Media Is Sexist and Bad at Math.
And stop by LinkSTORM, because it's Friday and you're allowed to slack off.
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