Yesterday President Trump posted a statement on the White House website saying his administration will be standing with the House of Saud despite the CIA’s assertion that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman personally ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was living and working in the United States.
The statement reads like a long form version of one of Trump’s tweets, replete with gratuitous exclamation points and slogans like “America First!” and the lie that Iran is “the world’s leading sponsor of terror,” which will never be true no matter how many times this administration deliberately repeats it. The world’s leading sponsor of terrorism is of course Saudi Arabia, along with Israel and the United States.
Trump’s alleged opposition has responded with melodramatic outrage, as though a US president continuing to stand by Saudi Arabia in the face of horrific acts of violence is somehow new and unprecedented and not standard operating procedure for decades. Dismembering a journalist while he’s still alive would be a fairly typical Tuesday afternoon for the Saudi government and would not rank anywhere near the top ten most evil things this government has done, but because it involves America and a conspiracy it’s a sexy story that everyone laps up. Add in the fact that Trump is more blunt and forthcoming about American depravity and you’ve got yourself a yarn.
Dear @realDonaldTrump: You are the President of the United States of America. You should not grovel to Saudi Arabia.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) November 21, 2018
This has remained a hot story through to today, invigorated by a tweet by America’s WWE president in which he crowed about low gas prices and added “Thank you to Saudi Arabia” like a good little muppet. And amid all the fist-shaking and rending of garments about the killing of one man by the Saudi government, a far less magnetic story has been published saying that about 84,701 Yemeni children under the age of five were starved to death between April 2015 and October 2018. And I say “were starved to death” instead of “have starved to death” because their starvation is the direct result of a blockade and relentless violence by Saudi Arabia.
The lack of any sense of proportion in response to the Khashoggi case compared to the destruction of civilian lives in Yemen has been roundly criticized by anyone with a public platform and open eyes, and rightly so; obviously a government murdering a journalist in cold blood would be a terrible thing, but to hold that as more worthy of attention than the anguished deaths of untold tens of thousands is obscene.
This dynamic is also not unique to Saudi human rights violations. Take the ongoing Russiagate conspiracy theory, for example. Even if Mueller’s investigation did somehow prove that Trump colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election (and it won’t), that act would still have been far less horrible than the ongoing cold war escalations that this administration has been continually advancing against a nuclear superpower. The existence of every single organism on this planet has been placed in jeopardy by Trump’s idiotic, unforgivable, still very much ongoing game of nuclear chicken with Russia, but hardly anyone ever talks about it. They focus on an empty conspiracy theory instead, partly because it is the mass media’s job to manufacture support for warmongering while downplaying its risks, and partly because theoretical conspiracies draw more attention than the things our rulers are doing right out in the open.
85,000 children under 5 may have died of starvation in Yemen war https://t.co/B2JfnsocA3
— Afshin Rattansi (reclaiming the ❌) (@afshinrattansi) November 21, 2018
I often get conspiracy buffs asking/telling me to write about this or that theory of 9/11 or the JFK assassination or whatever, and I’m just like, dude, have you seen the stuff they’re doing in broad daylight?? It’s not that I have any attachment to the official narratives the TV tells me I’m required to believe, I just find I can get a lot more traction with much better arguments pointing out the facts that are publicly known and undisputed, especially because those things are often far worse than anything alleged in any conspiracy theory.
I mean, take 9/11. Pretty bad, right? 2,996 dead human beings. If that were engineered or permitted to happen by any faction of the US government or any of its allies, that would be pretty diabolical. But would it be worse than a million Iraqis killed in a war based on lies? Even if you only care about American lives, just the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq already far exceeds the death toll of 9/11. This was a war engineered by secretive government agencies and DC insiders, justified and sold to the public with government lies, lies which were advanced as objective and unquestionable fact by the mass media. The war was rammed through without any public accountability, a million human lives were snuffed out, and when they were done nobody was tried for war crimes. Nobody was even fired. No changes were ever made to prevent such horrors from being inflicted upon our world again.
On paper, I’d say that’s far worse than 9/11. Yes, I know the two are related, but just looking at the objective facts of those two occurrences, one is clearly more egregious an offense than the other, regardless of what specifically happened on that September morning.
It isn’t necessary to go diving down every conspiracy theory rabbit hole to understand that there’s an alliance of plutocrats and secretive government agencies running things; it’s right out in the open. You can point to them using publicly available, noncontroversial facts.
— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) November 10, 2018
Pretty much all other conspiracy theories are like this as well; interesting and intriguing due to the idea of catching powerful people in the act of something horrible, but much less horrible than the things those same powerful people are doing publicly. Mass media outlets make no attempt to hide who owns them or to mask their virulently pro-establishment bias as they manipulate our minds day in and day out, medicine money is spent on bombs and war ships, civilians are starved to death with sanctions, wars are waged on lies and when those lies are uncovered we get nothing but a “Fuck you we do what we want,” billionaires influence the legislative branch with corporate lobbying and campaign donations right out in the open to tilt the scales in favor of the plutocratic class, money is hemorrhaging upward to the richest of the rich while Americans die of lack of healthcare, we inch closer to extinction by either ecocidal end-stage capitalism or nuclear holocaust, and lucrative arms deals are cut with an unfathomably wealthy royal family that is causing the worst humanitarian crisis on earth in Yemen.
If we could see with fresh eyes what is being done to us and our fellow man right out in the open, we would recoil and fall to the ground trembling in abject terror. The only reason we don’t treat these terrible things like what they are is because they have been normalized for us to the point where we take them for granted and assume that’s the only way things could possibly be. Conspiracy theories sparkle because those are new stories we haven’t been desensitized to, but it’s usually the things that powerful people do out in the open that does the most damage.