Image via WikipediaI write about this topic today because of an excellent New York Times column "The Captive Arab Mind" by Roger Cohen at this link. Cohen uses the common Arab conspiratorial mindset in the Middle East as an example of the fruitless conspiracy mania that keeps so many from ever accepting the truth of many matters. His example focuses on how there is a tendency in Arab or Muslim countries to blame every mishap to some nefarious and sly Israeli or American secret plot, no matter how absurd the alleged explanation. The best example is the unbelievable opinion of some in the Arab/Muslim world that the 9/11 attack itself was carried out by Israel or the U.S. or both as an excuse to wage a war against Islam.
But certainly let me not stop there and pick on our Middle Eastern brethren only. Conspiratorial thinking is often rooted in denial of harsh truths that we do not want to face. My own tribe is quite guilty also. In the face of the horrendous sexual scandals among clergy, the initial reaction of many Catholic conservatives was that all of this was concocted and/or exaggerated by the liberal media, such as the "New York Slimes." I am sure some still hold to that opinion. Well, today we see that the scandals were worse than even the liberal media could ever have gleefully imagined. Recently, the Pope in fact labeled this ongoing humiliation of the Church as "unimaginable."
Let's be more specific. The great, celebrated "vocations" engine known as the Legionaries of Christ has been as discredited as it is possible for any religious enterprise to be discredited. I recently read that the Legion was now in the process of removing portraits of its psychopathic founder from its facilities. Good. One of the supposed Catholic heartlands of Europe--Ireland--has been shown to have been immersed in a binge of child molestation and rape for decades by many clergy. The latest disclosure is of a priest who raped a boy in the restroom of a pub. In the face of these horrendous, documented facts, the relatively new, highly courageous Archbishop Martin of Dublin still has had--unbelievably--to brave the ire of some within the Church in order to expose these long running evils that were assiduously hidden by his predecessors.
We, of course, see the same conspiratorial mania of denial in politics. Some liberals absurdly believe that George W. Bush gleefully and intentionally exacerbated the Katrina disaster out of racial bias. Some conservatives absurdly maintain that Obama was not even born in the United States, even if the evidence is lacking. Too often, we believe what we want to believe out of a knee-jerk, emotional reaction that puts the truth in second or even last place. That habit does no one any good, whether the habit is practiced by Arabs or Muslims or Catholics or American liberals and conservatives.