Dead men tell no tales. But, as with everything else in politics, conspiracy theorists and opportunists are only too willing to exploit tragedy to advance their agendas.
Conspiracies alleging the dead uncover great truths that lead to their own demise go far beyond George R.R. Martin’s high fantasy tales. In Game of Thrones, Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, discovers that Joffrey and his siblings were born of incest. A frightening yet thrilling prospect that is sure to make viewers tune in next week. Great plots that threaten to undo a nation in a single blow and arching narratives that make for nail-biting television only really happen in fiction for a reason. They are entertaining. But they are mostly bogus. In reality, things just… happen. Knots untie themselves. There is no man operating in the shadows.
Our own political royals are never far away from stories of smoke-filled rooms teeming with cut-throats. But the truth is boring. Reading is hard. And being the designated detective in your circle of friends is fun. The John F. Kennedy plot is far less interesting when one realises neither the mafia nor the CIA colluded to murder the president and it was, in reality, just a communist fanatic with good aim. If John Hinkley Jr. managed to murder President Reagan in 1981, who would be brave enough to bet those same grassy knoll-obsessed conspiracy theorists would not suddenly valorise Reagan as an anti-establishment revolutionary? Even the living cannot escape accusations they have been murdered for some greater plan. Paul McCartney is targeted by legions of people who want to believe he is an imposter disguised as the man who really co-wrote Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
Reagan got lucky. Kennedy did not. The fates of great men fall at the feet of nobodies like you and me all the time. But still, this meme that every death is a piece in a greater political plan spreads. And it has spread to one of the greatest dynasties of our time- the Clintons. The murder of Seth Rich is the unfortunate case of a man who worked for the Democratic National Committee being shot in the back by a criminal who – so far – remains free, just like a great many murderers. It cannot be so simple to those who believe in the greater plan, though. Seth Rich was the mole who leaked DNC material to Wikileaks, they say. He was disgruntled by the corruption and wanted justice. And, for that, he was murdered by a Clinton cut-throat. As it stands today, conspiracy theorists led by the usual suspects – Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Mike Cernovich – disseminate the ‘truth’ about Seth Rich. Supposedly legitimate journalist Seymour Hersh has apparently discovered that Seth Rich was indeed the DNC leak and ‘RussiaGate’ was a CIA ploy all along. All unveiled on Infowars, the paragons of alt-media propaganda. Don’t expect this to be validated by any sources. It won’t happen. The real victims remain: Seth Rich’s family have asked people to stop using their son as a political volleyball and leave them alone. No, say those who seek justice for Seth, they know better than his family.
Seth Rich is not the first victim of the Clinton’s and will not be the last, according to the growing circles of far-right paranoia. Vince Foster was a Deputy Whitehouse Counsel and friend of the Clinton’s. Like Seth, he got too close to the truth and needed to be shut up. Vince Foster was found dead; he struggled with depression. Sure, elites, sure… Scores of books that are not worth the paper they’re printed on by authors not worth a damn make a hefty sum catering to people who want to believe. And, again, Vince Foster’s devastated family are harassed by buffoons, freaks, and frauds. It’s a common theme. Even the late rock singer Chris Cornell has been the subject of conspiracy theories through the PizzaGate conspiracy. The Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation discovered John Podesta was involved in child trafficking; Andrew Breitbart was right; It’s all connected! And his friend, Chester Bennington, another late rocker who struggled with depression, found out the truth. Another one rubbed out by the elites.
The internet is the epicentre of human intellectual endeavour and the most dismal repository of its waste. For every journalist reporting the truth about the horrors of Assad’s regime, there is an equally diligent hack defending his genocide. For every scientist trying to understand the complexity of human biochemistry, there is a snake-oil salesman trying to sell you a miracle powder. And for every intellectual, there is a dishonest propagandist trying to “red-pill” you. It’s our job to figure out who’s worth our time. Most of us are failing.
Mitchell is a blogger currently studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Bath