BY CJ GIBSON
From “Wake up, America!” posters to “if it flies it spies” t-shirts, the Birds-Aren’t-Real (BAR) movement has appeared on college campuses across the nation, including FHSU.
This movement’s finding an audience in Gen Z should not be a surprise. In an era of radical conspiracy theories like QAnon and vaccine microchips forming serious followings, the meme generation is coping with the concerning state of society by supporting an even more absurd conspiracy: that all birds are government surveillance drones.
Despite how implausible the movement appears, many followers portray profound faith in the movement’s ideals. BAR’s fall 2021 “Truth Tour” raises the question: should the movement be taken seriously?
While the Birds-Aren’t-Real movement may initially seem to poke fun at radical conspiracy theories, the movement’s large following, detailed history, and thought-provoking arguments warrant consideration as a true conspiracy.
Though BAR is a supposedly satirical movement, the large number of bird truthers who show earnest belief suggests otherwise.
As of September 2021, the BAR Instagram page has over 330 thousand followers.
The movement ran for president in 2020, though the number of votes BAR received is unknown.
Even Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, has openly supported the movement, tweeting in response to news of robotic dragonflies:
Not everyone who follows the movement creates the impression of sincerity, but the sheer number of deadpan comments supports more than simply pretense. As there is no direct instruction for bird truthers to fake their faith in BAR, thousands of people so consistently feigning belief in a movement with no merit would be unlikely.
The initial magnetism between BAR and Gen Z could be coincidental, but BAR is taking advantage of that connection to form roots in the future leaders of the nation.
BAR asks college students to doubt the presumed information age: “Did you know that the United States government systematically slaughtered every bird in North America and replaced them with surveillance drone replicas? No? How much did it cost you to attend college? How much did you really learn?”
By spreading among young adults through meme-based humor, BAR has built a substantial following for the movement’s first set of rallies across the country.
BAR may have capitalized on meme culture in recent years, but the movement’s history saga suggests BAR existed far prior to its first Instagram post in 2017.
The BAR website provides an in-depth explanation of the movement’s history since it was founded in 1976, soon after the genocide and artificial replacement of all birds in the U.S. between 1959 and 1971.
One remaining piece of evidence included on the website highlighting the movement’s past efforts is a recovered BAR advertisement from 1987. The video contains relics such as landline telephones and computers with internal floppy disk readers and has a quality of only 480p, similar to VHS tapes, which verifies the date of the footage.
The bird genocide aligns with historical events according to this timeline. The bird genocide project, known as operation “Water the Country” to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), occurred during the Cold War when the fear of communism within the United States’ borders was at its strongest.
The CIA was founded in 1947 to locate potential communist spies, and implementing billions of unnoticed drones would have helped achieve that: “[Allen] Dulles [the CIA director] and his team wanted to create the greatest surveillance system ever imagined, with the capability of tracking someone on foot, in a vehicle, or even in their personal home” (Birds Aren’t Real).
BAR also suggests that Dulles had a particular grudge against birds, as the post-World War II economy gave the pigeons in the Washington, D.C. area more to eat and thus more to defecate onto American cars.
In Operation “Water the Country,” the CIA invented a virus and dropped it from airplanes. This virus only infected birds and was highly contagious, causing a sort of advanced leprosy that disintegrated the billions of bird corpses.
Once the CIA had the authorization to follow through with this project, the agency could manipulate more significant events.
BAR explains why the United States devoted so many resources to the Vietnam War: “The nation of Vietnam contains the third-largest reserves of Bauxite ore on the entire planet. . . .This ore was the primary component of aluminum—which would be used to create the robots.”
BAR also suggests that President John F. Kennedy wanted to shut down Operation “Water the Country” and was therefore assassinated. Coincidentally, JFK’s assassination took place in the same year that Alfred Hitchcock’s propaganda film The Birds (1963) was released.
To keep the truth hidden, the CIA has supposedly manipulated election results henceforth using an inconspicuous voter fraud framework.
The psychedelic drug use of the 1960s also plays into the secrecy; the laborers of the drone construction built the new birds in fallout shelters while they were under the influence of hard drugs, altering the memory of those involved.
This explicit manipulation of memory differs from conspiracies like COVID-19 vaccine microchipping and QAnon, which inconceivably require at least hundreds of people who would know about the conspiracies to stay silent with little explanation as to how this could be achieved.
In a similar manner, BAR provides explanations for the more farcical elements of the movement.
For one, the technology behind BAR answers some contradictions of nature.
Birds are somehow able to sit on power lines without being electrocuted. According to BAR, this occurs because bird drones sit on power lines to charge their batteries.
Myriad pigeons roam urban areas, yet people never see baby pigeons. If pigeons are make-believe, as BAR suggests, baby pigeons would not exist, as drones do not age or need to reproduce.
Birds defecate onto cars more than other surfaces. BAR argues that bird feces are a liquidated tracking device, creating another method for the government to monitor a person’s location.
What Americans know to be “chicken” or “turkey” is artificial.
With recent improvements in faux meats spurred by the vegetarian and vegan communities, leading to the recent recognition of “Impossible Foods” by chain restaurants like Burger King and Starbucks, the industry has proven that nearly indistinguishable fake poultry is possible.
BAR claims that all poultry and eggs that the average American consumes are this sort of artificial protein, though the 2020 Ted Cruz email leak dubbed “Poultrygate” revealed that chickens still exist in America in secret farms for the elite.
Many Americans buy their food from grocery stores without knowing where the provisions originated. As long as the meat tastes real, the government could serve the public a substitute with few questions asked.
Furthermore, the United States is not the only country using bird surveillance.
China, in particular, has revealed the use of bird drones for surveillance.
The models that China openly displayed are far more primitive than that of the United States’ bird drones, according to CNET: “The bird-like drones mimic the flapping wings of a real bird using a pair of crank-rockers driven by an electric motor. Each drone has a high-definition camera, GPS antenna, flight control system and a data link with satellite communication capability.”
China could be hiding their full bird surveillance capabilities, as governments are apt to conceal groundbreaking technology from their citizens.
Nevertheless, the drones China exhibited show the potential for bird drone surveillance, and China’s willingness to use these drones proves that governments would spy on their citizens.
Perhaps the most unreasonable part of BAR is that the United States government would have the hidden advanced technology needed to build billions of bird drones that are realistic enough for the general public not to tell the difference.
This point is where the so-called feathered gospel relies mostly on faith.
To accomplish “Water the Country,” the United States government needed to hide technology that was at least fifty years beyond its time and have the resources to mass-produce said technology.
The CIA would need a colossal cover-up.
If the United States federal government did have to hide the mass murder and replacement of birds, cracks in this facade would cause citizens not to trust the government. Thus, if BAR was legitimate, bird drone surveillance could explain the development of radical conspiracies in the post-truth era.
If BAR is satirical and not intended to spread awareness of bird surveillance drones as the movement claims, the purpose of BAR is unclear.
BAR has the potential to make arguments regarding climate change, big government, big tech, and conspiracy theories, but these are broad areas. While BAR vaguely suggests its position on those topics, the movement focuses on its “truth.” As the leaders of BAR maintain this focus rather than using the movement’s popularity to fight an underlying issue, the concept that birds are government surveillance drones could be an actual priority.
Despite the movement’s seemingly absurd qualities, BAR is no more unreasonable than other widely-believed modern conspiracy theories.
When asked whether the BAR movement was more ridiculous than the COVID-19 vaccine microchip conspiracy, Peter Tramel, Fort Hays State University assistant professor of philosophy who has taught a course on The Philosophy of Conspiracy, replied: “I think for birds to be drones it would be pretty amazing, but I doubt either one are possible to get away with without people knowing” (Tramel).
As with many conspiracy theories, the BAR movement stems from a lack of trust, and few creatures are less trustworthy than birds and politicians.
Unlike 5G COVID-19 and the faked suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, however, BAR is not politically motivated. BAR does not stand to gain from government partisanship, only from accomplishing their goal: to destroy the billions of government surveillance drones that monitor American citizens.
At first glance, Birds-Aren’t-Real can seem satirical, but regardless of whether its hundreds of thousands of followers believe that bird-watching goes both ways, bird truthers take the movements seriously.
The short-form nature of memes excludes the detailed history and arguments that BAR followers defend. BAR creates a frightful rendition of reality, one where the United States federal government committed mass avicide and replaced the animals with billions of ultramodern surveillance drones.
The government of BAR’s dystopia now uses these bird drones to monitor its citizens’ every move while many Americans remain unsuspecting “sheeple.”
However, the bird truther movement is spreading. As BAR sells more t-shirts and tour tickets, one outlook is assured: people believe in the Birds-Aren’t-Real movement, whether or not the conspiracy is true.