For millions around the world, the inauguration of Barack Obama signified not only the end of the tumultuous Bush era, but the beginning of a new vision for America, one in which the frequently vilified nation would make a phoenix-like ascent from the ashes and rubble of post-9/11 precariousness to once again establish itself as a stable and progressive leader on the world stage.
To Patrick Whyte, who owns Conspiracy Culture with partner Kadina Yu, it meant even more than that.
Whyte isn’t prone to being blindly mesmerized by the surface gloss of a subject, and neither are most of the patrons who shop at his spacious and light-soaked store at 1696 Queen Street West . In fact, many of them are already looking ahead to 2012, with theories that Obama’s historic tenure at the helm of a nation starving for change will ultimately lead America to its true saviour — Arnold.
“People are really interested about Barack H. Obama, who he is, what he’s all about…and whether or not he’s actually an American citizen,” Whyte explains to CityNews.ca. “There’s speculation that he was born in Kenya… there are court orders sealing his documents, his university records, his Chicago law firm records.”
“I would watch for Arnold Schwarzenegger being the president in 2012. That’s why the conspiracy surrounding Obama is so interesting. If he isn’t in fact an American citizen…then that just opens the doors.”
For years the doors were tightly closed when it came to finding information on conspiracies, and theorists were stereotyped as tin-foil hat wearing weirdos. Those perceptions began to change with the emergence of the internet, and the terror attacks on September 11 th. As more and more people shared information online, it became clear to many that mainstream media was offering only snippets of the full story, and quite often their political allegiances and agendas were skewing the information available to the public.
“I think it was 9/11 that was the catalyst of our generation becoming more aware to these sort of subversive ideas or counter-culture ideas,” Whyte adds. “And I know for me, 9/11 was the moment that I was sort of slapped in the face with reality.”
With more interest in conspiracies and a mounting distrust of the media, Whyte saw a void, and decided he would try to fill it.
“We realized that there’s been an absolute lack of this type of material available in most of the mainstream shops, so what we did out of our own necessity was we figured we would open up a place completely dedicated to ideas and theories that are not necessarily inside the box…and basically have an entire physical space dedicated to the world of conspiracy and all things outside the norm.”
He opened Conspiracy Culture in August of 2006, and has seen a steady stream of seekers pass through his doors since.
The store contains a wealth of rare books and DVD’s, and also hosts discussions, film screenings, and guest lectures from prominent figures in the world of conspiracy.
“For the most part the majority of the people who walk through our door are free-thinking individuals, who don’t necessarily conform to most of the ideas that are circulating out there.
“The more society deteriorates the more people are going to be looking for answers because what they read in the mainstream isn’t going to be satisfactory. So actually when things take turns for the worse, we notice that there’s an increase in business.”
Whether it’s the assassination of JFK, allegations of staged moonwalks, or the plethora of theories that surround the terror attacks of September 11 th, Whyte believes it’s up to an individual to seek out their own version of the truth.
“People should take responsibility for their own thoughts rather than letting a particular channel or station or paper provide them with their thoughts. Our motto here is ‘Please Think Responsibly’, and it’s up to you to make up your own mind, you shouldn’t really let others do it for you.”
Whyte believes conspiracies are everywhere, affecting all of us all the time, and as long as people want answers, they’ll continue to seek out the information that will liberate them.
“You can look at any facet of daily life and there’s some sort of conspiracy transpiring in some capacity,” he explains. “Social issues, politics, big pharma, health and environment, there’s just so much going on and people nowadays are becoming more affected by these situations.”
He also admits that offering that information can have inherent risks.
“I’m at risk by providing this service, essentially you’re at risk by putting this story out there,” he notes while cradling a giant skull.
“If you go against the grain you’re going to rub somebody the wrong way…(but) If I lived in fear I wouldn’t get anything done, there’s just too much to be afraid of really.”
What he isn’t afraid of is people losing interest in the ardent pursuit of truth. The growing number of customers at his store attests to the fact that they’re hungry and distrustful and as long that distrust remains, than much like Arnold — they’ll be back.
More From Conspiracy Culture’s Patrick Whyte:
Potential North American Union :
“Right now people seem to be really interested in the potential North American union. Since 2007 there’s been discussion of the merger of Canada , the United States , and Mexico and the bringing about of a new currency called the Amero. And if you look at what’s going on right now with the economy and the suspension of the Canadian parliament, you have to wonder what’s really going on…Is this the birth pains of a new economy, or is this just something that’s cyclic and we’re going to get out of in a few months?
Fighting The Stigma That Conspiracy Theorists Are Insane:
“Some people would say paranoia is just another form of awareness. I haven’t really encountered anyone who I would deem mentally unstable, but for the most part I think the problem is most people associate conspiracy with theory, when in fact a lot of it is fact…they think it’s just a lot of fringe and speculation, whereas you can go to any courthouse anywhere in the country and people are being charged with conspiracy every single day, so it’s very factual it’s very true, a lot of people don’t want to admit or accept the fact that there are a lot of nefarious activities taking place.”
On The Influence Of The Internet:
“Definitely the internet sort of poses a double-edged sword, it provides a lot of information and allows people to share that information at such a rapid rate, but at the same time, there’s specific factions within organizations that do nothing but flood the internet with misinformation and disinformation which makes searching for the truth that much more difficult.”
On The Government:
“People are losing more and more faith in their government and the people who are supposed to be protecting them and having their best interest at heart. JFK was the end of the age of innocence where people really lost faith in the government and what was really being done behind the scenes.”
Role Of The Media:
“I think the mainstream definitely lets us in on what’s going on, but you sort of have to read between the lines and pick out the headlines behind the headlines and connect the dots, but there’s definitely a lot of valuable information put forward through the mainstream, but for the most part it’s very one-sided, very biased.
“Most people have very little trust in organized mainstream media.”
Illuminati / New World Order:
“Illuminati is a term that’s thrown around in the conspiracy arena, it’s pretty much an umbrella term for groups or individuals that have been privy to various bits of information and would therefore be considered illuminated or enlightened. People seem to be really interested in the secret organizations that exist and basically dictate how we as pawns in society live our lives.”
“If you reference the Book of Revelations in the Bible, there is a section about people being unable to buy sell or trade unless they’ve got the mark of the beast on their right hand or their forehead, and if you look at how things are going in the economy with everything becoming digital and chips in cards and so on and so forth, it really makes you wonder whether or not these are self-fulfilling prophecies or what, but it’s definitely something that exists and you can’t ignore it.”
Based on different materials I’ve read and researched there’s definitely a lot of individuals out there who believe there is some sort of involvement by government creating various diseases and germs. I mean there’s definitely bio warfare these days and you can just investigate Plum Island in the U.S. which is basically where they do all these tests with germs and bacteria.”
“If the Chinese government prior to the Olympics stated that if the opening ceremonies were threatened by bad weather they would just do something in the ionosphere that would basically just remove any possibility of rain, I don’t know why that’s so far-fetched. I mean various governments have been utilizing weather modification for years.
“When you understand weather modification anything is possible really, if people want to get further into it they can always check out Haarp, a facility in Alaska . They’ve been doing weather modification out of that venue for years. It’s definitely there, it’s just a matter of whether or not people want to open up their minds and accept these ideas as reality or they just want to scoff and laugh and roll their eyes and dismiss it as being mere non-sense, but it’s there.”
Photo Credits In Order Of Appearance:
Photo 1 – Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images
Photo 2 – David McNew, Getty Images
Photo 3 – Alex Wong, Getty Images
Photo 4 – Michael Talbot, CityNews.ca
Photo 5 – Michael Talbot, CityNews.ca
Photo 6 – Saul Loeb, Getty Images
Photo 7 – Nicholas Kamm, Getty Images
Photo 8 – Mark Wilson, Getty Images
Photo 9 – Michael Talbot, CityNews.ca
Photo 10 – David Silverman, Getty Images
Photo 11 – Michael Talbot, CityNews.ca
Photo 12 – Jeff J. Mitchell, Getty Images
Photo 13 – Tedd Aljibe, Getty Images
Photo 14 – Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images