Sophia's Peace Work

Friday, May 07, 2004

Conspiracy Theories Abound

Noor is a Iraqi guard at the gate of the University of Baghdad. She helps search the ladies and check their purses for explosives and other nasty objects they might be carrying. I've only spoken to her a few times (luckily I usually come onto the campus by car but when I walk in or out, she nabs me). Today she told me, as best as I could understand from her broken English, that members of the school administration were out to get her.

"Please don't tell them I spoke to you," she said pulling me away from the other guards, "Just tell them I asked you about America."

She apparently loves America and Americans. She then told me that the pictures of tortured and abused Iraqi prisoners from the prison at Abu Ghraib were a big hoax. They were made by an Iraqi nurse that must have worked at the prison.

When I pointed out that is was an American soldier that had come forward with the pictures and information about the problems at the prison, she denied it.

"No, no, believe me," she insisted, "The pictures are fake!"

Noor seems set in her conspiracy theories. Jo told me of another conspiracy theory she got from someone via email. The killing and mutilation of the four American contractors was simply a conspiracy by the Mujaheden to force the American to come into Fallujah with a heavy hand and that they had somehow forced the Americans to shoot at women, unarmed old men, children and ambulances in a sinister plot to make the Americans look bad.

I know there is another theory going around now (based on some reporting by an Iranian news service) that the U.S. is secretly shipping in weapons of mass destruction to be planted in Iraq and conveniently found prior to the U.S. election. I know many people who believe in or at least consider this last theory plausible. Personally I'm sitting on the fence on this one.

My philosophy on conspiracies is that if they really are conspiracies there is no way for me to know one way or the other until the truth finally comes out, so I really don't put much effort into espousing them until that happens. I also feel that vast conspiracies and sinister plots are a bit tough to pull off because at some point someone is going to spill the beans ... it's just human nature when you have a big juicy secret like that. So even though I think Noor and Jo's email friend are more than a little off the mark with their theories, I wouldn't bother to argue with them. Time will usually prove them wrong (or right, I suppose).

And if the Americans suddenly turn up some WMD's a few months before the election? Well, I'll be taking a good, hard look at the investigative reporting and evidence that comes out before I make up my mind about it.


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