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Reader comment on item: The "October Surprise" Theory

Submitted by Peter J. Herz (Taiwan), Mar 21, 2004 at 19:25

Here in Taiwan, when President Chen was campaigning, an attempt was made on his life while he was riding in an open jeep through a large crowd, protected by a rather thin screen of police, while firecrackers were bing lit right and left (yes, the Taiwanese are a chunk of southern China that floated out to sea). Someone fired a pistol at him, striking his running mate in the knee and, had the glass of the windshield not deflected the bullet, would have gotten him right in the lower thorax (but the deflection caused the bullet to graze his stomach). Witnesses (from a supportive crowd) say they thought the pistol shots were just loud firecrackers, and the first indication that an attack had been made was when the Pres. and VP exclaimed that they were bleeding. Well, the opposition now charges that the whole thing was staged to get the beleagured President a sympathy vote, and wants an investigation. I'm sure that the theory will take on a life of its own, and not go away, no matter how many ballistics experts testify about the difficulty of controlling a gunshot.

It seems to me that conspiracy theorizing needs a society where it is generally believed that people are basically good, and without some group of sinister operators, things would chug along just fine. If Taiwan proves a harbinger of democratization in the Sinitic world, watch conspiracy theorizing flourish among the Hua peoples, just as it flourishes in the post-original sin societies of Islam and the enlightenment West.

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