I was 19 years old when I first imagined anything political. Back then, young and foolish, I was a libertarian, meaning I hated authority and I smoked pot. For two years, in the late 1970s, I also was a dues-paying member of the John Birch Society. I attended monthly meetings and read their material that was readable (some of it wasn’t) because somewhere in the deepest recesses of my young mind I just knew politics was corrupt and selfish wealthy businessmen were pulling the strings of governments around the world.
On top of those suspicions, I joined the LDS Church around that time and was a faithful and dedicated student of the Book of Mormon – <a href=”https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/ether/8?lang=eng” target=”_blank”>a text</a> that warned me of “secret combinations” and to “awake to a sense of [my] awful situation” and “suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above [me].” So I read books such as <em><a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Naked-Communist-W-Cleon-Skousen-ebook/dp/B00G58SEXQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471555076&sr=1-2&keywords=The+Naked+Communist” target=”_blank”>The Naked Communist</a></em>, <em><a href=”https://www.amazon.com/None-Dare-Call-Conspiracy-Allen/dp/0686057376/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471555135&sr=1-2&keywords=none+dare+call+it+conspiracy” target=”_blank”>None Dare Call It Conspiracy</a></em>, <em><a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Politician-Robert-Welch-ebook/dp/B0006BLR50/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471555181&sr=1-1&keywords=the+politician+welch” target=”_blank”>The Politician</a></em>, the Birch Society’s own <em><a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Book-John-Birch-Society/dp/B000QPLZIK/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471555240&sr=1-3&keywords=Blue+Book+of+the+John+Birch+Society” target=”_blank”>Blue Book</a></em> and everything written by Ezra Taft Benson.
My first semester at BYU gave me access to the wonderful Harold B. Lee library on campus. I spent hours upon hours researching the conspiracies. One of my first history papers was how a financier named August Belmont bankrolled both sides of the Civil War – do you think he had any influence to keep that war alive?
One day I went to a religion professor to tell him what I’d found and he told me a story. He told me of a book he had written about Satan. It was meticulously crafted and exposed most of the works of anyone and anything that possibly could be referred to as anti-Christ. Alas, the LDS Church that had published other works of his wouldn’t publish that book. Instead this BYU religion professor, as he told me directly, was called to meet with a very senior LDS Church leader. The leader explained to him why they were not going to publish his book about Satan. In short, the leader said that Church members were ill equipped spiritually and intellectually to handle it – the Church didn’t want to encourage a study of Satan. The members, he said, had a hard enough time studying Jesus Christ.
So, not only did this BYU professor follow the counsel to drop the subject entirely, he commended me for my studies and politely counseled me to put away such dark things of the world, most of which purposely lie in the shadows, are speculation and generally cannot be proven. I took his wise counsel. No more conspiracy theories for me.
And yet, even setting aside cynicism, we know, what Mormons call “secret combinations” do exist. We know that wealthy people manipulate financial markets. We know that Hollywood manipulates historical narratives and cultural standards. We know that secularists plot and scheme to undermine the cause of faith. We know that pornographers and cigarette manufacturers create so-called “research” out of thin air to tell us their products do no harm. All sorts of conspiracies are afoot.
Just the other day I read an article describing how billionaire radical George Soros had many of his email records hacked by outside sources revealing that he has conspired to push anti-Israeli political agendas, donating $10 million to those causes, and even pushed black unrest such as occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, with $33 million. One thread of emails describes how Soros communicated with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the issue of political unrest in Albania. He gave her suggestions on how to handle the situation and, what do you know, the State Department did exactly what Soros recommended. Unsurprisingly, Soros has donated $25 million to the Clinton campaign and lent Donald Trump $160 million to build his Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. If the Koch Brothers are guilty of conspiring for freedom, certainly George Soros is guilty of conspiring for his pet causes.
Conspiracies exist. But what to do about them? Was President Eisenhower a communist agent, as the Birchers believe? Who killed President Kennedy? What are the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderburger Society? I think I saw Jay-Z say something about the “Illuminati.” In 1990, to justify war in Kuwait before Congress, President Bush used the term “new world order.” Has he been a part of the one-world conspiracy cabal?
Among the many problems with conspiracy theories, the main problem is that the lack of proof seems to be proof, speculation alone justifies condemnation, and the bigger the story the greater it is believed. I concluded long ago that if you don’t have the proof, don’t bother me with your stories. We’ll just have to rely on the constitutional wisdom of our founding fathers and all people of good will to expose crimes and corruption when they rise to the surface. We pay law enforcement at all levels to track down crooks and conspirators. It’s simply not my job and it never was.
I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.