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The Baltimore Bridge Collapse: Conspiracy as Mother’s Milk

The human mind is often incapable of tolerating the limitless nature of a universe, the absence of a divine architect, or appreciate that intended designs may be absent when it comes to events awful, ghastly and catastrophic. A disaster with some human agency is bound to have arisen because of a constructed plan, a template to harm, a scheme to injure.

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore was another event to befuddle those searching for the plan. The Singaporean-flagged MV Dali container ship lost power on March 26 and collided with the bridge in the early morning, causing the dramatic destruction of the bridge and the deaths of six construction workers who fell into the Patapsco River.

The authorities were quick scotch notions of foul play. FBI Baltimore stated that there was “no specific and credible information to suggest any ties to terrorism at this time. The investigation is ongoing.” President Joe Biden, while betraying confusion about whether he ever travelled by train over the bridge or not – an impressive feat if so, given that the bridge never had train lines – described it as “a terrible accident. At this time, we have no other indication – no other reason to believe there was any intentional act here.”

The Kraken of conspiracy had, however, been unleashed. Andrew Tate, the Count of Online Misogyny, was quick to the digital podium in suggesting a cyberattack. In a post of breathless excitement, he notes how the “Lights go off and it deliberately steers towards the bridge supports.” For the influencer facing charges of human trafficking, forming an organised crime group, and sexual assault in Romania, this was the work of “Foreign agents of the USA”. With apocalyptic flavour, he declared that a “Black Swan event” was imminent.

 

 

With tearing speed, former security advisors and current political representatives made their offerings of conspiratorial theory. Former US national security advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about meetings with Russia’s ambassador to the United States leading up to Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, added his own agreement with Tate. “Black swans normally come out of the world of finance (not military) … There are harbor masters for every single one of these transit ports in America that are in charge of assuring the safety of navigation … start there.” How exciting.

Former Florida state congressman Anthony Sabatini preferred a vaguer, more intangible culprit, identifying the enemy ideologically. It all came down to a policy of diversity, equity and inclusion, with the insinuation that the swarthy types were responsible. “DEI,” he stated with certainty, “did this.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) worried whether this was “an intentional attack or an accident” and demanded an investigation, the very thing happening even as she bloviated on the subject.

Almost on cue, culturally charged theories began to froth and bubble. Matt Wallace, yet another cerebrally overheated influencer with 1.6 million followers, drew a comparison (and connection) between the collapse of the bridge and the Obama produced Netflix film Leave the World Behind, which featured a cargo shipping losing power and running aground on the coast of Long Island.

In the film, the ship’s destination is Sri Lanka. The country’s national flag sports a lion. The MV Dali’s destination? Sri Lanka. The name of the cargo vessel in the film? White Lion. Celluloid could be effortlessly married to harmful plot and wicked design, or what another overly exercised social media user drunk on Christ and premonition liked to call “predictive programming”.

On CNN, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was trying to calm matters. “We’re in the business of dealing with roads and bridges and sometimes ships and trains. So we are not in the habit as a Department of Transportation, of being in the business of dealing with conspiracies, or conspiracy theories or that kind of wild thinking. But unfortunately, it is a fact of life in America today.” This, at best, is an airy reading of history.

The lifespan of the US Republic has been one of numbing conspiracy. In the land of Hope and Glory, with Freedom’s wash, conspiracy is mother’s milk. The Salem witch trials in Massachusetts pointed to Satan’s industrious work; the fledgling republic feared the clandestine seizure of power from within by well organised European elites. In the 1800 presidential race, rumours were sown by the Federalist Party that the wily Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican, was a closeted atheist keen on handing over the new state to France on his election. Jefferson won, and far from surrendering territory to France, doubled the size of the US with the purchase, from France, of 828,000 square miles.

At its creation during the Cold War, the John Birch Society, after ventilating about global communist conspiracy and home-grown threats, redirected its focus to the fanciful conspiracy that the United Nations was keen on world government and trimming US sovereignty. This was much too flattering: the UN is rarely united and more akin to a collection of fractious tribes in permanent disagreement.

The problem with conspiratorial overheating is that the residual ash in the incineration can provide clues to something distantly plausible. This is helped by the fact that governments and state institutions have not been shy in breaching the social contract with the citizenry. The deep state notion, for instance, is laughed off by the very people who represent such interests and regard it as a crank’s viewpoint.

Fundamentally, there is no need for conspiracy when there is a consensus, an understanding of agreed-upon facts and agreed-upon hierarchies of power. But as for such calamities as befell the Francis Scott Key Bridge, never let human imbecility, incompetence and error off the hook. To misjudge is to be human.

 

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10 comments

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  1. Douglas Pritchard

    Isnt it just an absolute hoot to watch Uncle Sam writhing in a state of paranoia.
    Like Jews, and those living in Israel, the inhabitants of America are spending a high proportion of their time looking over their shoulder. Losing a lot of sleep, and tending toward a nervous disposition.
    “Everyone hates me, and wants to level the playing field, and kick me in the nuts”.
    As if this isnt the reality?!
    Mind you, I would not put my hand to explain to them that is not the case.
    They have taken some liberties in their role as global copper, and its returning like the boomerang.
    (Mathematicians may see a pure sine wave in all this)

  2. uncletimrob

    I sometimes wonder if conspiracies take hold in part because of the increasingly complex world we live in and the ability for the initiators of the conspiracies to get their word out and keep it out, because nothing is deleted.
    Dare I live in the past and say that life was much simpler in the 1970’s (for example) as there were 3 TV stations and a few newspapers and radio stations to choose from to get information about what was happening.

    I use an example the “flat earth” theory, which only really became popular with the advent of social media, which gave the message a wide spread. Yes, I know that some flat-earthers are in it for the money they can con out of the masses, but I do actually know people who believe it, usually either because “the Bible says so” or “scientists, governments and NASA are keeping the truth from us, and brainwashing our children with false knowledge”

  3. corvusboreus

    Like my favourite author Dr Kampmark, I also rejoice that Andy Tate and Alex Jones have been re-enabled with a global megaphone platform by Elon Musk, who is an absolute living legend.

    A MAJOR VICTORY for FREE SPEECH against the TORTUOUS ENSLAVEMENT of CENSORSHIP!!!

  4. Phil Pryor

    Wartbrain Tate and other similar defectives yabber a string of lies and rubbish, to be seen and noticed. The undercivilised and undereducated USA ranks of simple souls cop this and digest it, pure unadulterated faecality of no worth. Sick, Trumpian.

  5. Canguro

    Also noted is the recent phenomenon of female teachers quitting their jobs here in Aust because of the constancy of misogyny directed towards them as a function of pubescent male teenagers aping the antics of the vile subhuman Tate and his implicit messaging of ‘it’s ok to be an arsehole towards women.’ FMD, just wtf is the world coming to?

  6. Clakka

    When lazy, complacent, apathetic knobends abdicate their natural franchise and responsibilities to craven, manic power seekers, despots, demagogues, kleptocrats and oligarchs, they are usually the first suckers to be consumed by conspiracy. And the craven, manic power seekers, despots, demagogues, kleptocrats and oligarchs will be the first to infer it or peddle it.

  7. B Sullivan

    The crucially important meaning that the word conspiracy is supposed to communicate is that more than one person was involved in perpetrating an act. A single person acting alone cannot single-handedly “conspire” to commit anything. It takes at least two people to have a conspiracy.

    A conspiracy theory differs from a theory only by contending that more than one actor is complicit. Some conspiracy theories are plausible some are not, some are debunked and some are proven. Yet there is a constant “conspiracy of ignorance” by so many to redefine the term conspiracy theory as nothing more than an irrational fantasy to be dismissed out of hand without any critical assessment. Dissent is stifled by just applying to it the label conspiracy theory. Was that the intent of this article? After all, the video record of the bridge collapse does clearly show a ship appearing to alter course into a bridge support. It is commonly supposed that the momentum of these giant ships means that altering course to prevent a collision may require a lot more time to achieve than is actually available before the collision takes place. Perhaps the powerless ship was just following the course of the current sweeping round a bend. Perhaps it was accidentally steered by by the effect of the loss of power on the ship’s rudder. If it was accidentally or even deliberately steered to collide by an acting alone helmsman there is no conspiracy, but still cause for concern. Sabotaged steering by a cyber attack perpetrated by more than one agent – that would be a conspiracy. By a lone independent hacker it would be sabotage but not a conspiracy.

  8. Douglas Pritchard

    BS
    My understanding is that the ship dropped the port anchor at the time it lost power.
    This wont bring it to an abrupt halt, but will slow its movement and at the same time it will take an eratic course.
    Into the bridge.
    You dont stop stuff like this quickly and without steerage control, there could be an absolute disaster.

  9. Clakka

    This is a rant. Is it a conspiracy theory?

    In the entire abomination, that is the outburst of Netanyahu-Likud / IDF war, the current WCK outrage is diminished by the fact that they have been herding and killing Palestinian citizens, journalists, aid workers, and removing vital services (incl water, sewer, waste collection, electricity & comms), blocking aid, and obliterating housing and built infrastructure, all since the get-go. All with only pathetic whimpers by the ‘west’, with many still providing weaponry and munitions to them to this day.

    One has to consider not only the continuing and increasing Israeli nakba but also the not-so-old and re-emerging implications over a huge region.

    The 1918 Sykes-Picot Agreement divided up a huge region (Levant / Fertile Crescent / Ottoman Turkey) to control by UK, France and Russia, but the Agreement tables were turned against Russia, which then set in motion the Crimean War (with ongoing implications today).

    In the establishment of the USSR, the bolsheviks used the regional power and influence of Iran to subvert the Turkmen, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Kyrgyz and Kazakhs to facilitate expansion, theft and control by the Russians via the USSR. Of course the British and Americans divisively meddled in the people’s socio-political foundations of Iran giving rise to the current horrendously barbaric theocratic rule. And so the list of various incursions and actions further eastward, most notably recently in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    It’s all very well for the ordinary folk of the UK and USA (and now Russia) to dwell in the exceptionalist haze of being British or American (or Russian), no matter where they have arrived from, but many that remain in the regions of their incursions do not forget. Take for example the recent attack by ISIS-K (Afghani) via Tajiks on the Moscow concert hall – they do not forget Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan nor their long term and ongoing brutalization of the Tajiks.

    The layers upon layers of implications that can be read into or applied to the actions in Israel / Palestine, and the associated behavior of the ‘west’ are indeed breathtaking. For example: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/1/25/israel-gaza-war-spillover-risk-mapping-recent-strikes-in-middle-east

  10. leefe

    Sully, Doug:

    Ever heard of currents or windage? There are a multitude of factors that will influence the course of a large powered vessel that suddenly loses power. The line that ship took after the power cut out looks far more like natural drift than deliberate steering.
    The pilot’s report is that an anchor was dropped to try to slow the vessel, and the rudder was swung over hard as well. It wasn’t enough.
    It might not be a bad idea to can the ignorant suppositions until more is known about why the engines cut out.

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