I had a part time job while in college at a little newspaper, a real advertising rag, called the Lubbock Retailer News. It was run out of a small house and owned by a family of two brothers and a son, all of whom sold advertising, one of whom wrote weekly hyper conservative columns. I wasn’t surprised when it went out of business; I bailed before it completely died.
The brother who wrote the columns was a fascinating, bigoted, frightening and loquacious old man. It was my first real exposure to people who lived their lives in the midst of conspiracy theories. It was my first real exposure to someone who skillfully hid their hatred behind patriotism and eloquence. The man waxed on interminably about the Tri-Lateral Commission, the Rockefellers, the Jews, the banks, one world government and the Illuminati.
Me, I was young, impressionable and naïve and I had never really heard of any of this nutty stuff. While I had been weaned on Kennedy and Lincoln assassination theories, this stuff was new and bordered on nothing more than comic relief. I would often go home and relate this stuff to Marty and we would just die laughing. As young and stupid as I was I knew this guy took craziness to new heights.
The old man had served in WW II, was pretty old and hobbled by an accident which involved the ground, his glider, and alcohol. Yes, he was a pilot. He lived in the old house where we all worked and I got to see his scars up close one day as he came out of the shower wet, white and buck naked and walked into his bedroom. It hurt my eyes; old men (as I am fast approaching) should never be naked.
I listened to this well educated, erudite old man talk for hours about how the world was coming to an end and how his beloved country was going downhill fast. I heard him talk about how we needed to rise up and fight the evil Tri-Lateral Commission and their insidious one-world aspirations. I heard him amazingly blame the Jews of the world for all of this and how they had taken over our government, the economy and the banks. He really believed the Zionists were trying to take over the world. The man had specifics, he had facts, he had hooey on his side and he was passionate about spreading his hooey.
I actually met a guy from the John Birch society as he came in and brought columns to print in this paper. I was amazed and thought ridiculous the ugliness and bile these two men were spewing as they couched their invective in patriotism. I couldn’t help but laugh at how ludicrous these old men sounded as they talked, they sounded completely nuts.
They actually believed their own tripe, they really thought they knew what no one else knew, they thought they were that much smarter, that superior to the rest of us. I was flabbergasted that anyone could believe anything these people would say. More than once I saw the old man’s nephew and brother just shake their head in disbelief at the stuff that came out of this guy’s mouth. I know they were embarrassed. You just didn’t say the stuff this guy said and certainly not around real people lest they think you a complete crack pot.
Today, things not discussed openly or among people with ½ a brain, are being represented as dire facts and warnings of the coming demise of the good old’ USA. Michele Bachmann is talking about the whole one world government canard when she talks about not wanting to be a part of the world economy. She apparently lives under a rock. Someone should ask her about the Illuminati
Glen Beck and his ilk are personally trying to rehabilitate the John Birch society and raise the specter of communist plots. They delight in hatred, ignorance and just enough fact to scare the Bejesus out of people. Beck is not so different from the old man in my past except what was once comical in its lunacy is now trying to go mainstream; what we once laughed at in its absurdity is now used to bludgeon all of us. Conspiracy theories that were comical in their ignorance, ideas that completely ignored established fact, are now being shouted as if they really aren’t the ravings of the lunatic fringe.
Bachman says she doesn’t want us to be part of the world economy, Steve King inveighs about despots in our government and Beck parrots the John Birch party line about Communists in the kitchen. To these guys Joe McCarthy was slimed and he was right in his witch hunt. We need to say of these people what I said about the old man, they are nuts.
To me they are the ones who we should fear. To me these guys are just as ridiculous as the old man who introduced me to conspiracy theories, but they are worse because instead of talking in hushed tones about this nonsense they are shouting their lunacy at the highest volume they can and couching their hyperbolic lunacy in patriotism.
They aren’t patriots; they are demagogues who apparently only believe in the electorate if they vote for them or in what they and they alone believe. They have no faith in our systems or the American people, they say they do and then they call us stupid and uninformed for our votes. These people are now publicly espousing what most of us would never say in polite company, they are promoting fringe lunacy like it was right and normal. They are just as crazy as the old Lubbock newspaper man and unlike what I did years ago we need to say it out loud, these people are crazy.