Deconstructing and Countering the “Conspiracy Theorist” Smear

June 28, 2023

Deconstructing and Countering the “Conspiracy Theorist” Smear

Calvin Mulligan, June 28, 2023 (c) All rights reserved

The old “conspiracy theorist” smear is clearly a favourite weapon in the on-going war of words. The term is now more than 36 years old and part of the lexicon of a third generation since its coinage. It’s remarkable, but it doesn’t appear to have lost any of its original potency despite having been used on a regular basis since its origin. The fact the invective is still an effective tactic for silencing dissent explains its continuing popularity with propagandists. They wield it like a bull whip. Whooshtt — just crack it a few times in the direction of the crowd, and people nervously retreat to the safe confines of the Establishment’s approved narrative. Crack it a few more times and they start regurgitating the term themselves to affirm they are on side with the official story line. (Oh no, I’m not one of those crazy, tin-foil hat people).  

A conversational road block

Over the past three years, many of us have been trying to engage family, friends and acquaintances in serious conversations about the “plandemic” and the risks of the vaxx. We were concerned that they could be caught up in the tide of relentless media propaganda and persuaded to line up for the shot. But we often encountered psychological barriers and emotional barriers; many were hesitant to even consider the possibility of an alternative explanation. You may have been rebuffed with something like: “conspiracy theories don’t really interest me”. Or perhaps the person justified their decision by saying, “Sorry, I’m not a conspiracy theorist.” The implication here is that anyone proposing an alternative to the official state-approved narrative (you included) is a “conspiracy theorist.” At that point, does one simply surrender the individual to the all powerful Propaganda Machine? Or just ignore the toxic term and push on, risking abrupt termination of the conversation and/or damage to the relationship?

In early 2021, I made a mental list of all those I might persuade to consider the risks linked to the experimental Covid injection. A gifted young man of 16 or 17 years from my church came to mind. If I could keep him from becoming canon fodder in the information war, I would. So I gave “Shawn” a telephone call. I’d just barely led into the reason for my call when he signalled he wasn’t one of those conspiracy theorists regarding the vaxx. An immediate “oh shit” pang hit me in the gut. It was as if Shawn had been pre-emptively inoculated against the truth by Big Pharma propagandists. What to do? I decided to stop mid-stream and alert Shawn to the ploy he had unconsciously fallen prey to. The next part of our conversation went along these lines:

Me: Do you know the origin of the term you just used? 

Shawn: What term is that?

Me: “Conspiracy theorist”… Here’s a bit of history as to how and why the term was stigmatized and why it matters. 

(I subsequently offered a brief explanation regarding the use of the term and encouraged him to exercise restraint concerning the vaxx.). Here’s the fuller version of that history according to Mark Crispin Miller.

The weaponizing of “conspiracy theorist”, “conspiracy theory”

Mark Crispin Miller is a professor of media studies at New York University where he teaches courses in propaganda. (Ironically, the university administration is engaged in a court battle with Miller regarding his speech rights.) Miller was recently interviewed by Greg Hunter of  USA Watchdog. Here’s a transcript of a portion of that interview where Crispin Miller describes the historic, shrewd  weaponization of the words, “conspiracy theory,” and “conspiracy theorist” by the CIA. 

“A turning point for lying to the country was what happened in the aftermath of the JFK assassination in Dallas, Texas in 1963. MCM explains, ‘There was the smashing success of the CIA’s drive to make ‘conspiracy theory’ the phrase of choice, to dismiss inconvenient notions, to dismiss taboo ideas. . . . In 1967 . . . the CIA sent out its memo ‘1035-960.’  It’s online and anyone can find it.  It instructed all the CIA station chiefs worldwide to use their propaganda assets and friends in the media . . . to start attacking the writings of these few investigators who started to raise really good questions about the Warren Report, concerning the assassination of JFK in Dallas. . . . Their problem was people pointing out the Warren Report was completely incredible.  It was laughable. . . . The Executive Summary of the Warren Report didn’t seem to bear any resemblance to information in the other volumes.  There were all kinds of contradictions within it, and it didn’t make any sense.  They were basically calling for a new commission.  

What did the CIA do?  It got its people to mount a covert propaganda drive where politicians and journalists started to take potshots at these critics.  They called them ‘conspiracy theorists.’  This term was never used before 1967* . . . and what it meant was you are crazy. . . . There were many (CIA) talking points in this memo.  One was you were echoing communist propaganda and that kind of thing.  This was a wildly successful operation, and it did not stop. . . . That phrase would continue to be used and was used after the assassination of Bobby Kennedy.  It was used after Martin Luther King’s assassination.  It was used during Iran Contra. . . .  conspiracy theory, conspiracy theory, it was used certainly after 9/11 . . . .and now if you quarrel with an outcome in an election, you are a conspiracy theorist. . . . To be called a conspiracy theorist is a form of mockery.  It’s the whole tin foil hat thing. You are kind of crazy.’”

*Note: Miller subsequently elaborates saying the US press had used the term conspiracy theory occasionallybut not “systematically” or,  presumably not in a weaponized way before 1987. He suggests that the term, conspiracy theorist had not been used prior to 1987.

Challenging the use of CIA epithets 

The “safe and effective” lie is sustained by the constant barrage of “conspiracy theorist” “conspiracy theory” smear attacks on those who dare to challenge it. And because of the protection given to the lie, millions of vaxxed individuals were injured and died world wide. This diabolical war of words has already produced more casualties than many previous kinetic wars. The casualties will continue to mount as long as the victims remain illiterate regarding of the rhetorical weaponry being used against them. 

The next time a family member, friend, acquaintance or someone in public office glibly uses the term conspiracy theory to disqualify your claims or uses the term conspiracy theorist to discredit you, I urge you to immediately confront the use of the term. Why give a free pass to the glib recitation of a CIA-invented invective? Again, there are lives at stake. What is a reasonable tact? I suggest that you counter with two simple questions: Specifically: “Why are you introducing an old CIA smear into the conversation?” And, “wouldn’t we stand a better chance of getting to the truth if we respectfully debated the actual evidence?” 

We’re approaching the 60th anniversary of the assassination of JFK (November 22, 2023). We can honour JFK’s memory by standing firm in our resolve to uncover and share the truth in all matters, including his murder, and by remaining unmoved by the “conspiracy theorist” insult. Consider it a badge of honour. As the satirical axiom goes, “Yesterday’s conspiracy theory = today’s conventional wisdom.” 

— Calvin Mulligan 


CV-19 — a propaganda master piece – Mark Crispin Miller:

Lying legacy media helped murder millions — Mark Crispin Miller:

NYU ignores academic freedom, investigates Mark Crispin Miller’s course content, blog post:

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