Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Worth reading

Jonathan Kay's article on the recent Nashville Tea Party Convention attendees: Black Helicopters Over Nashville, deserves a read. While a lot of the attention got lavished on Palin and her low tech "PalmPilot", self-identified conservative Kay was looking at the make-up of the rank-and-file attendees. What he saw was far from flattering. Apparently, he's writing a book on 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and has the ability to discern conspiracy nuts:
Within a few hours in Nashville, I could tell that what I was hearing wasn't just random rhetorical mortar fire being launched at Obama and his political allies: the salvos followed the established script of New World Order conspiracy theories, which have suffused the dubious right-wing fringes of American politics since the days of the John Birch Society.

This world view's modern-day prophets include Texas radio host Alex Jones, whose documentary, The Obama Deception, claims Obama's candidacy was a plot by the leaders of the New World Order to "con the Amercican people into accepting global slavery"; Christian evangelist Pat Robertson; and the rightward strain of the aforementioned "9/11 Truth" movement. According to this dark vision, America's 21st-century traumas signal the coming of a great political cataclysm, in which a false prophet such as Barack Obama will upend American sovereignty and render the country into a godless, one-world socialist dictatorship run by the United Nations from its offices in Manhattan.


A software engineer from Clearwater, Fla., told me that Washington, D.C., liberals had engineered the financial crash so they could destroy the value of the U.S. dollar, pay off America's debts with worthless paper, and then create a new currency called the Amero that would be used in a newly created "North American Currency Union" with Canada and Mexico. I rolled my eyes at this one-off kook. But then, hours later, the conference organizers showed a movie to the meeting hall, Generation Zero, whose thesis was only slightly less bizarre: that the financial meltdown was the handiwork of superannuated flower children seeking to destroy capitalism.

And then, of course, there is the double-whopper of all anti-Obama conspiracy theories, the "birther" claim that America's president might actually be an illegal alien who's constitutionally ineligible to occupy the White House. This point was made by birther extraordinaire and Christian warrior Joseph Farah, who told the crowd the circumstances of Obama's birth were more mysterious than those of Jesus Christ. (Apparently comparing Obama to a messiah is only blasphemous if you're doing so in a complimentary vein.) To applause, he declared, "My dream is that if Barack Obama seeks reelection in 2012 that he won't be able to go to any city, any city, any town in America without seeing signs that ask, 'Where's the birth certificate?'"
I tend to be allergic toward movements that embrace conspiracy theorists and/or advance conspiracy theories. I might be somewhat sympathetic toward individuals who are concerned about the economic problems we face or the rather dysfunctional state of our government. However, the moment I'm asked to contribute time or money to groups that go around advancing eliminationist or hate speech (think of Tancredo's address at that convention), or weird conspiracy theories (e.g., the birthers and New World Order nuts), I'll simply have to say "no thanks." If a populist movement that is considerably saner forms (and by saner I mean no racists, no conspiracy idiots, etc.), I'll give it a look. The "Tea Party" bunch is not it. Avoid like the plague.

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