Conspiracy theorists detrimental to libertarian movement
After every major tragedy, conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones, founder of InfoWars.com, are bound to spew claims about how the event must have been a government conspiracy. These assertions are patently ridiculous and deserve no serious attention. More importantly, they do active harm to those who expose actual government wrongdoings.
For quite some time prior to Edward Snowden exposing it to the press, there was ample evidence of the existence, if not the extent, of the NSA phone surveillance. Libertarians, like me, frequently tried to expose this. However, it was almost invariably dismissed as "just another libertarian conspiracy theory" like how the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an inside job or the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a false flag operation by the United States government to gather public support for gun control. However, unlike the other ridiculous "conspiracies," there was ample evidence to support the one about the NSA's activities, and it was later confirmed to be fully true. Had conspiracy theorists such as Jones not discredited the libertarian movement with their ridiculous theories, more people would have taken us seriously about the NSA. Instead, it took several years before people finally believed our claims.
Furthermore, many of the same people who make up these false flag stories also claim that terrorist attacks happen because of America's intervention in the Middle East. While this is probably not the only factor, it is likely one of many contributing to the terrorists' activity. However, this argument makes no sense coming from the same people who claim every "terrorist attack" is really a false flag by our government. After all, it is either the terrorists attacking us or our own government. It is not possible for it to be both simultaneously. In this case, the ridiculous conspiracy theory argument discredits the legitimate argument against interventionism. Furthermore, it discredits all sane people who advocate for non-interventionism by lumping them in with the loony conspiracy theorists.
Additionally, supporters of these ridiculous theories tend to gravitate toward libertarian politicians such as Ron Paul. This in turn discredits those politicians and prevents people from taking them seriously. Paul's supporters are known for being especially crazy with their beliefs. Many of them believe, among other things, that every terrorist attack ever was an inside job or that an "Illuminati conspiracy" controls the world. Paul himself probably does not believe these absurd assertions, but because his supporters do, that makes him look crazy. This may be one of the reasons he has ran for president on numerous occasions but none of his campaigns have been remotely successful.
Finally, and perhaps most troublingly, since many conspiracy theorists are libertarians, their activities discredit the entire libertarian movement. This is a quickly-growing movement in the United States that could someday become very large, but in order for that to happen, it needs to be taken seriously. As long as well-known libertarians such as Jones are claiming that everything (and in some cases almost literally everything, including mundane events such as the blackout at the Super Bowl last year) is part of a vast conspiracy involving some combination of the government, the Illuminati and the Jews, few people are going to take libertarianism seriously. Furthermore, the "Jewish conspiracy" theories are downright anti-Semitic, which does even more harm to the general libertarian movement.
There are many libertarians who are quite sane. Most of us do not believe the ridiculous theories about vast government conspiracies. However, there are a few libertarians who do believe these claims, and they damage the entire movement. Furthermore, they prevent hard-working and reasonable libertarians from successfully exposing the few government conspiracies that actually exist. The libertarian movement had been exposing government surveillance for years before Snowden came along, but few people took us seriously due to the work of Jones and other loons. What these consistent conspiracy theorists do is essentially cry wolf about conspiracies. As a result, people are less likely to take libertarians seriously in general, especially when there is a real conspiracy to expose. These conspiracy theorists are causing significant harm to the libertarian movement and to freedom in general.
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