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Go Away -- We're Plotting

October 26, 2003

Is there perhaps some vast, mysterious conspiracy out there -- a faceless cabal of bald men in dark suits with smelly cigars in a dim warehouse -- delicately dribbling out minute, mysterious hints about hidden conspiracies that possibly control all kinds of things in our lives that we can easily fear but not quite describe? Have some once-trusty officials overlooked telling clues, what with so many things going wrong these days: the economy, labor strikes, Iraq, the Cubs? Interesting that this should all happen now.

Today, that inexplicable autumnal clock-resetting is done. (Was that suggested by corporations selling smoke alarm batteries?) Halloween comes quickly now, faster than imagined when those first conspiratorial candy displays appeared. Is it coincidence that so much is colored orange this time of year? Soon comes Guy Fawkes Day, when British society annually celebrates the traitor who conspired to blow up Parliament numerous monarchs ago. Now, ask yourself why would a reasonable people, who obey the law outside of soccer stadiums, ignite bonfires and parties for some nut case in a funny hat plotting to demolish democracy's symbol? Unless they'd been somehow fooled en masse into thinking subversion is fun.

The other day Princess Diana's butler said she had written, months before dying in a car crash, of fears that her car would be sabotaged. Makes you recall Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy. Both are dead, as are Kennedy's assassin and the assassin's assassin. Both Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth contain 15 letters. Even Oliver Stone smells something.

Conspiracies, vast and vacuous, have long infiltrated history. The Roswell UFO cover-up. Watergate. Enron. Were the moonwalks staged on Earth? Is J. Edgar Hoover really dead? Did Judas operate alone? Et tu, Brute? But we come to explore conspiracies, not praise them. Society's suspicions resemble shadows, easy to fear, hard to define, dispute -- and shoot. Osama and Hussein. Americans can't conceive of losing unless there's a conspiracy. Might this actually say more about our fears than our foes?

Or is this editorial perhaps part of a vast centrist conspiracy creating an irrational calm to think in, not scream at?

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