Except for the far-remote possibility that some birther might assassinate the President, I’m ready to label the birthers “mostly harmless.” I mean, birthers are just a bunch of people who believe something that will lead them not to vote for Barack Obama, a bunch of people who wouldn’t vote for him anyway. I’d say the same for those who believe in many of the crank conspiracy theories at which I shake my head in wonder.
However, there are times when conspiracy theories intersect public policy in meaningful ways. Joshua Holland, writing for Alternet.org, has a new article titled How Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories May Pose a Genuine Threat to Humanity. In the article Holland uses conspiracy theories about global warming (i.e., it’s not true) and how they motivate people at the local level. Holland wrote:
Earlier this month, Darryl Fears, reporting for the Washington Post, offered a glimpse into the madness that city planners have faced in recent months as a local Tea Party group, convinced that a nefarious plot by scientists and city officials is afoot, have disrupted their work trying to mitigate the potential impacts of rising sea levels.
Holland paints a bleak picture, but it is a picture that I don’t buy into 100%. We’ve always had our share of cranks and politics is by nature messy. It is unfortunate that we have right-wing nut jobs in our society, but consider the alternative: an authoritarian society where we didn’t tolerate them.
Certainly we cannot tolerate people shouting down other people at public meetings — thuggery like that is how the Nazis started. Order in public meetings can be enforced. I don’t think the conspiracy theorists are going to do us in, at least not the current crop.