While the nation's ideologues of paranoia have most likely moved on to analyzing the hidden agendas behind the attempted car-bombing in Times Square and the capture last night of the alleged perpetrator, Mr. Right is still intrigued, albeit in a detached fashion, by rumormongering from last week. He asked me the other day if I'd heard the story, reportedly based on Russian naval intelligence reports, that a North Korean naval vessel was responsible for the explosion and sinking of the BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. I had not. He was quick to say that he distrusted rumors emanating from Russia, but he also wondered aloud why the "mainstream media" was not even reporting the existence of the rumor.
I've been busy in the office for the past few days, but I have enough of a breather this morning to do some quick research on the history of this rumor. It seems that right-wing bloggers first heard about it on Michael Savage's radio program. Savage's source, and apparently the origin point of the story, is an apocalyptic-sounding organization called the Sisters of Sorcha Faal, which offers no documentation of the Russian intelligence reports it purports to cite. "Sorcha Faal" claims to be a Russian academic, but skeptics claim that it's a mask for an American conspiracy hoaxer. The site asserts that North Korea's motive was twofold. 1. It was a blow at the South Korean economy, since the rig was apparently built by a South Korean conglomerate. 2. It is designed to embarrass the United States by forcing it to detonate a nuclear device in the Gulf, on the assumption that a nuclear explosion is the only effective way to stop the spread of the oil spill.
The easy answer to Mr. Right's question, then, is that the story is too ridiculous to take seriously. Since he seems to agree with that point, he seems to have another answer in mind. I suspect that his preferred answer has to do with a "mainstream media" reluctance to report anything that might inflame public opinion against the Kim Jong Il regime or remind people of the necessity, already accepted by neocons and their radio allies, of regime change in North Korea. Mr. Right and the "MSM" are apparently in agreement on the implausibility of the Sorcha Faal report (though I don't know if he's traced it to its source), but he thinks that the MSM should have reported it, if only to refute it, yet didn't for some essentially cowardly reason.
When he brought it up the first time, I said I was surprised that his right-wing sources hadn't tried to blame the oil rig disaster on environmentalists. He said he'd heard some people speculate about that, but didn't believe that idea, either. He was skeptical because radical environmentalists or eco-terrorists, he believed, made a point to take credit for their exploits. I couldn't help suggesting that, even if he was right about their habits, this time might be an exception, given the consequences for the Gulf. "You have a point," he admitted.
Mr. Peepers had been listening in on our talk. Finally, he chimed in: "The environmentalists have fuel for their arguments now."
"What, against offshore drilling?" I asked.
"Fuel, get it? Fuel for their arguments."
It was a struggle not to throw something at him as he shuffled off.