While having lunch with two of my colleagues today I asked what had been in the news recently. I haven’t looked for several days and so I was interested to know what I had missed.
Apparently people in Turkey are rioting after their government got a bit heavy-handed when putting down a protest about a park.
My colleague asked if I had heard about the “beheading” of Lee Rigby a week or two earlier. With two fingers from each hand he placed inverted commas around the word “beheading” to show that in his opinion it shouldn’t be taken literally.
My female colleague asked why he had felt the need to introduce an element of doubt into the issue. Surely it was a plain beheading, no inverted commas needed.
‘There are just one or two things that don’t seem to fit’, said our colleague. He made it clear that it wasn’t necessarily he that disbelieved the official story. It was just that some people did and he was simply informing us of these people’s doubts. He seemed to believe that because some people doubted the incident this automatically made it doubtful. That there might be people who are either completely nuts or have something to gain by spreading doubt, in this case Muslims wanting to distance their ‘Religion of Peace’ from the murder, didn’t seem to have occurred to him. After all, just because some maniac believes the world is flat doesn’t mean that the round-earth theory is in doubt.
Anyway, he made it clear that he was just the messenger and we shouldn’t shoot him. Even so, it was fairly clear to me, and I think to my female colleague, that he did have doubts about the authenticity of the official story.
I remarked that surely there couldn’t be any doubt about the murder since the perpetrators had stayed on the scene of the crime, talked to passers-by about what they had done and even insisted on being filmed so they could tell the world why they had murdered this soldier. What was there to doubt?
Well, said my colleague, it was just that one or two things didn’t fit, like the passer-by who passed very close to one of the men who was still holding a meat cleaver. Which person in their right minds would do that? And in two pictures there was something different about one of the knives. Maybe it didn’t have blood on it while in another picture it did, I now can’t recall. My mind was still reeling from so much creativity.
I have had similar arguments with religious people. They bog you down with details of the Doctrine of the Trinity and all sorts of arcane stuff when all anyone really needs to know is that there is no evidence at all for the existence of God. Once you have established that, then all the nonsense about Trinities and such is just another example of adults making stuff up, either to look clever or because they are scared, in this case of dying. Such discussions are like arguments over whether Santa’s sleigh is aerodynamic enough to fly, when every normal person knows that Santa doesn’t exist.
So why was my colleague nit-picking over details of people’s behaviour and puzzling over photos when the fact that Lee Rigby was killed by two black Muslim men is not doubted by anyone, least of all the two accused? Why would a white liberal want two black Muslims to be innocent of a murder they had confessed to and actually bragged about? Who did my colleague want to be guilty of the crime of either killing Lee Rigby or framing two black Muslims? Could the Jews be behind this, or maybe bankers, or some right-wing organisation?
The fact that my colleague is a white liberal probably goes a long way towards explaining why he thinks it impossible that someone could be both black and a murderer. There are an awful lot of liberals out there who blame whites for every crime, even those committed by black people. In their rather condescending way, these liberals see black people as being so childlike and having such poor impulse control that even when they murder someone it’s not really their fault.
I asked my colleague if he also thought that 9/11 had been perpetrated by Jews and the CIA. He said that there were things that didn’t fit there either. There was, for instance, the man who owned a nearby building who had taken out a new insurance policy just days before the planes hit the Towers. This was surely a fishy coincidence.
Of course, for the building owner to know that his building would soon be destroyed meant he had to be in on the plans of the ‘Glorious 19’, the Muslim hijackers who brought down the Towers. Whether my colleague believes that only the building owner was in on the attack, or whether he represented just the tip of the iceberg of white capitalists and politicians manipulating 19 angry but gullible Muslims, I can’t say.
There are of course various problems with the insurance scam theory. One is that coincidences happen every day. Most insurance comes up for renewal once a year so it’s unsurprising that one of the affected buildings had recently been insured. Also, tens of thousands of people were affected, directly or indirectly by 9/11, and you would expect one or two coincidences to happen. For all coincidences to have been suspended for the day would in itself be peculiar. And simply because someone benefits from a tragedy does not mean he had a hand in it. When my parents die I will inherit their money but this doesn’t suggest I killed them.
Of course, it could be the case that the ‘Glorious 19’ first phoned George Bush at the White House, who then passed on the message to his buddy the building owner who then quickly took out a new insurance policy, this time one that included ‘damage by hijacked aircraft’.
The problem with this is that to take out such a specific new insurance policy just days before an “accident” would be an incredibly stupid thing to do. It would be like the man who takes out a life insurance policy on his wife just hours before he cuts her brake cables. Both the insurance company and the police are going to be very interested in such a man. Surely the building owner wouldn’t be that stupid?
Still, while we’re in fantasy land we may as well spread our wings a little. What if the New York Police Department was in the pay of George Bush? He could have ordered them not to investigate the building owner. Bush could also have paid off the insurance company who then kept schtumm about the whole thing. Any of the hundreds of people who were in on this conspiracy and showed signs of wanting to blow the whistle could be quietly executed by the CIA without any fuss. Or maybe the whole thing was staged by 20th Century Fox and there were no plane crashes and the Twin Towers never existed. After all, I have never been to New York so how would I know?
For all I know, such speculation wouldn’t seem at all far-fetched to my colleague. Even so, the problem with such radical doubt is that it gets you nowhere. Your mind becomes so open that your brain is in danger of falling out. Believing that nothing is as it seems is more stupid than believing that everything is as it seems. You soon start believing that your mum could be a shape-shifting alien who has poisoned your scrambled egg, or that at your next step the ground in front of you could open up and swallow you whole, leaving you to free fall down a hole until you land on a dozen filthy mattresses at the bottom from where you are dragged away by half a dozen men clothed in aluminium foil and put to work in a James Bond-style underground factory. This factory is run by the Knights Templar or the Free Masons who are planning to take over the world – with the help of George Bush, of course, and Margaret Thatcher, who faked her own death a couple of months earlier and has her scientists working on the creating of the elixir of youth.
Of course, in theory everything really is possible. It is possible that the laws of physics were suspended 2,000 years ago and Jesus really did walk on water, turn water into wine and rise from the dead. All we can ever say is that such things are extremely unlikely and when faced with two interpretations of an incident you should choose the more likely one. There is nothing clever about choosing the unlikely one, though some people seem to believe otherwise, reasoning that anyone who accepts the more probable-sounding story must be an unimaginative oaf, a gullible fool and a dupe of the grey-suited men who, from behind the scenes, secretly control all we do.
Choosing the unlikely explanation will make you feel like an original thinker. While you have an instinct for the truth and can think outside the box, others are poor plodding sheeple who believe everything they are told. It’s you, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and Alex Jones against the rest of the world.
Another reason you might choose the wacky but sexy version of events is that you want that version to be true. For my colleague it would be much nicer to believe that two innocent black Muslims had been set up by Mossad or a cabal of greedy bankers than to have to admit that sometimes Muslims – and black Muslims! – do indeed commit crimes.
One thing I should have asked my colleague but didn’t is this: If he thinks the sight of people passing close by a man holding a blood-covered knife is so suspicious, why did the movie makers include these people in the scene in the first place? After all, if it was all a set-up the director could just as easily have left them out, or even shown people passing at a greater distance, or people scared out of their wits.
Back at the lunch table, my colleague had clearly had enough of the topic and was suddenly in a hurry to take his tray back to the hatch and leave. Perhaps he genuinely did have to go. His parting shot on leaving was, ‘I just think it is good to doubt.’ I suspect he believes that there is no downside to doubting. I disagree. There is already enough uncertainty in the world without extending it to areas where a high level of certainty exists. Doing so just gives succour to genuinely guilty criminals and throws unnecessary suspicion onto others. Only criminals and apologists for criminals have something to gain by muddying waters that are, in this particular case, crystal clear. I also find it disrespectful to Lee Rigby and his family.
If you are going to doubt that Muslims were behind 9/11, despite the video messages they left behind and all the evidence that it was indeed 19 Muslims that crashed planes into the Twin Towers; and if you are going to doubt the guilt of two Muslims who drove a car into a defenceless man and then proceeded to execute him with butcher’s knives and meat cleavers and then stood around bragging about what they had done, then there is probably no evidence in the world that would convince you that a Muslim might be guilty of anything. Then you have become the kind of person a criminal would want on his jury; a bleeding-heart liberal, someone whose ideology has blinded him to the bleeding obvious.
Once you have reached this stage then it should be clear that something has gone seriously wrong with your thinking. Perhaps you should even consider driving down to your old alma mater and asking your old cultural Marxist lecturers to undo the indoctrination you underwent while under their care. And to return your tuition fees.
I think my colleague needs to ask himself the following question: If it had been two members of the British National Party who had run down an unarmed black Muslim, disembowelled and then beheaded him in front of witnesses, then stood around having their photos taken and being filmed, would he still be so cautious about rushing to judgement? Would he be spending his time reading about alleged discrepancies in the story? Would he still think it is good to doubt? Somehow I doubt it, and unlike his doubt, mine is probably justified.