Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Those Crafty Hebrews..."

Jonah Goldberg in National Review Online on the prevalence and danger of conspiracy theories - America the Treacherous:

This rough beast slouches toward sedition because it assumes not that our leaders are knaves or even mere criminals, but that they are murderous Supermen with no loyalty to nation, decency or law. Our Constitution is a fraud, a charade for the rubes some of us naively call citizens. If you disagree, you’re either fool or “in on it.” In his 1964 essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Richard Hofstadter demonstrated that this fever of the mind is as old as America itself and its outbreaks flare up across the ideological landscape. What is so sad and frightening is that this diseased thinking is reaching epidemic proportions. More than a third of Americans believe the U.S. government was likely to have been involved in 9/11.

In the past, when these outbreaks occurred on the political right, liberal hand-wringers fretted about incipient fascism and rising McCarthyism. Today, the best we get from them is a bemused and sterile chuckle.