I am one of those people that other people think they can talk to. Maybe it's the Howdy Doody face, I just seem to be approachable. Or it could be that anyone who knows me knows that I have an opinion on everything. I have a little knowledge about a lot things and it takes me pretty far in dealing with these folks who just feel compelled to speak to me.
I was speaking with some people about not much of anything when one of them said she was sick of Michelle Obama and how she was always talking about how hard it is to be black and how she is looking for sympathy for being descended from slaves. My head nearly snapped off as I turned to look at her and could only utter Huh? (witty I know). She said that she was tired of blacks blaming white people for their ancestors slavery when it was their fault to begin with. Now I am not above having a bring it on conversation with people but this was neither the place or time. But, I had to ask for more details.
I pointed out that it was white people who were the slave owners and that the slaves that were being owned were black and from Africa. Who else was there to blame. Her response: They were. Thinking she was just trying to get a rise out me I said "Yeah they just jumped onto those ships and put themselves in irons and set for a better life in America as property of some fat white guy and that the women were particularly eager to be raped and have their children sold to other plantations - good times indeed." She said the the wealthy Africans sold the poor ones to be slaves and therefore it was the black peoples own fault. I said that they were still slaves though. She responded that reparations were bullshit. I looked over to another person in this little group who just stood there with his mouth open. I asked if she was serious or was she just trying to get a rise out of the old white liberal with the black life partner. She informed me that she was serious and that the fact of it was not open to debate. I was stunned and I wanted to learn more about the genesis of this theory but other people came up and the subject was dropped. My other friend just shrugged, chuckled and congratulated me on my self control.
I am rather fond of the this woman, I think she has a lot of street smarts and common sense, or at least I did. She is hard working, smart, has raised two children alone and decided to go back to community college to better her life. So I was kind of floored by this. I have never seen any racist behavior in how she reacts with other people. We never really talked much about politics so I really don't know where she stands on other issues but I never got the impression she was a wacko right wingnut. Maybe she is. I just hope to hell she's not a birther.
This brief conversation made me wonder about how these theories get started. Are the people who dream up odd theories and conspiracies unstable? Are they delusional? Can they be treated with drugs and psychotherapy? Do they have too much free time on their hands and then their minds wander off the reservation of normality? And, what about the people who subscribe to these theories, what is it that allows them to believe this stuff? What happened in their lives to leave them open these ideas?
Did you know there are many people walking around out there who actually believe that President Obama is the Anti-Christ?
Next time you are in line at the grocery store look around you and try to pick out the person that thinks Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster in the White House and took his body out to the national park where he was found. Does the person with the soy milk, turkey burger and a head of lettuce in his basket really believe there are 13 Grand Masons that really control everything in the world? Maybe I am just being paranoid?