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Fear is based on a conspiracy theory

(Brian Feeney, Irish News)

In 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to walk on the moon. Their exploits attracted the biggest live TV audience in history.

Nevertheless, there are some nutters, almost exclusively in the US as you'd expect, who believe the moon landing never happened – that it was all a studio mock-up.

Aldrin in particular has been plagued by these nuts.

In 2002, Bart Sibrel, a publicity-seeking conspiracy theorist, confronted Aldrin shouting "liar, coward, thief", demanding he swear on the Bible that he'd never been to the moon. The 72-year-old Aldrin produced a beautiful, textbook left hook to silence Sibrel. His attempts to prosecute Aldrin were dismissed.

Sibrel should try his luck here. Unionists are likely to vote for him in large numbers. Why not? They've been voting for his political equivalent here for decades.

Since it was established in the 1970s the DUP's prospectus has been based on a gigantic, fearsome conspiracy theory and the party has prospered as a result. It's a classic, the sort of conspiracy theory which has fooled gullible people through the ages.

The DUP version which developed out of the Paisleyite conspiracy theory of the 1960s essentially claims "'Ulster' is in danger' and repeats that ad nauseam.

"'Ulster' is in danger" from a powerful, malevolent alliance – Washington, London, Dublin, the IRA, the EU, the Pope (whoever he may be for the time being), the UN, Martians, MI5 and the CIA. They're all 'agin the unionist people'.

The conspiracy takes various forms. Last week it took the shape of the chief constable, the Parades Commission, Peter Hain, the PSNI – individually and collectively – and of course 'the meedja'.

They were all agin the unionist people. Somehow they all knew to act in concert at the same time. That's the power of dark forces you see. At all times in the decades-long conspiracy, unionists are up against tremendous odds, a necessary but not a sufficient requirement of conspiracy theorists.

The NIO is agin unionists because it gives more money to Catholics. Protestants are worse off and are being discriminated against in jobs and investment. As you can see, conspiracy theorists present what is at bottom a political fraud, a lie.

Protestants are not worse off.

They are not discriminated against. Catholics do not get more money. No matter. The power of the conspiracy theory has always been that it provides a simple explanation for complex problems.

It always offers a slogan, a mantra to explain poverty, depression, frustration. It also, more dangerously, identifies an enemy to blame. Paisley himself has been adept at manipulating the fears of unionist voters over the years. There's always a crisis, a threat.

It's always doomsday, the last ditch.

None of it is true of course. 'Ulster' is not in danger. Less so now than ever. All elements of nationalism and the Irish government have agreed the future of the north lies in the hands of its voters.

Ah no, protest the Paisleyites. It's a trick to lure us in. Things have never been worse. We'll never talk to Fenians because you can't trust them. We'd be tricked into selling the pass. Sir Max Hastings in the Guardian last week addressed this fraudulent political diet the Paisleyites feed their naive supporters.

He concluded that: "Unionists' transfer of allegiance to Paisley and his kind represents a rejection of rational politics. No constituency which gives its political support to such a leader as Paisley possesses a plausible vision of its own future."

So this week as the IRA completes the decommissioning of its main arsenal, the DUP will deny it happened as they deny any decommissioning has ever happened. They must do so because their fraudulent conspiracy theory requires a bogeyman, and the ultimate DUP bogeyman is the IRA. Can anyone begin to explain why London, Dublin and Washington all accept the IRA's bona fides and General de Chastelain's testimony and are satisfied the IRA's weaponry will be gone next month if it isn't true?

Dead simple. They're all part of a conspiracy agin the unionist people. This is a time therefore when the unionist people must be more vigilant than ever.

It would be interesting to know how many DUP voters agree with Sibrel. Does Paisley make any more sense?

September 22, 2005

This article appeared first in the September 21, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News