More about Jared Loughner's politics, plus some conspiracy debunking resources
Diane Vera printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 04:31:23 PM EST
Very few commentators have noticed Loughner's interest in the rather arcane teachings of one David Wynn Miller, a leader in the "sovereign citizen" movenent, which is a branch of the so-called "Patriot" movement.  (For a collection of relevant links, including some debunking of "sovereign citizen" claims, see my earlier post Jared Lee Loughner and the "sovereign citizen" movement here on Talk To Action.)

More widely noted was his fondness for the popular conspiracy video Zeitgeist, which has been aptly described, on Boing Boing, as "the John Birch Society on acid" (Jay Kinney reviews Zeitgeist, the Movie, posted by Mark FrauenFelder, August 6, 2007).  It is a paradoxical blend of hippie attitudes and extreme right wing economic views, plus grand conspiracy claims derived from extreme right wing sources.

Part 3 of Zeitgeist (debunked here by Edward L Winston, November 29th, 2007) features a collection of standard right wing conspiracy claims involving the Federal Reserve and income tax, as commonly advocated by nearly everyone in the so-called "Patriot" movement.  The claims about the Federal Reserve (also debunked here by economist Edward Flaherty) are derived, in part, from the "Jewish banker" conspiracy allegations of various extreme anti-Jewish bigots, but presented in sanitized form, minus any overt animus against Jews.

But Zeitgeist differs from most of the right wing in its attitude toward religion.  These days, most American conservatives - and most "Patriots" too, as far as I can tell - promote Christian supremacy to one degree or another, whereas the first section of Zeitgeist denounces Christianity, and theistic religion in general, as mere tools of social control.  Zeitgeist also ends with love-and-peace platitudes that one does not normally expect to hear from right wingers of any kind.

Zeitgeist's blend of superficial hippyishness and right wing conspiracy claims is neither new nor unique.  Another example that has gotten quite a following is the writings of David Icke.  (See David Icke And The Politics Of Madness: Where The New Age Meets The Third Reich by Will Offley, Public Eye, February 29, 2000.)  Extreme right wing conspiracy claims have also gotten popularized to very large, politically mixed audiences on late-night radio shows such as Coast to Coast AM.  (See Conspiracy theories propel AM radio show into Top 10, San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, November 12, 2006.)

Right wing grand conspiracy claims have long been a magnet for some left-leaning folks too.  On the Guardian (U.K.) website, Amanda Marcotte has written, in Austin, Texas: paranoid politics central, Friday 19 February 2010:

Austin and the surrounding areas of Texas are the cultural centre for a certain brand of paranoid politics that stretches far beyond partisanship and sees enemies and conspiracies around every corner. They hated Bill Clinton, but they hated George Bush, too. They're mostly very conservative, but they attract left-leaning paranoids, who share their affection for conspiracy theories.


The biggest media empire in the US for disseminating unhinged conspiracy theories is located in Austin. The website for this empire is Infowars, and the radio show that's broadcast to over 60 stations nationwide is called the Alex Jones Show. Jones's politics are ostensibly libertarian-conservative, but really, his ideology is paranoia. His empire sucks in rightwingers with conspiracy theories that feed the militia gun culture, but they also love conspiracy theories that appeal more to the left, such as the belief that 9/11 was an "inside job".

Actually, 9/11 inside job theories have always attracted some libertarians and extreme right wingers as well as some leftists.  9/11 inside job theories appeal to people of all stripes who are anti-government for whatever reason.  (As for debunking sites, the one I would recommend most highly, on most of the alleged evidence, is 9/11 Myths.)

Amanda Marcotte goes on to say:

And then there are unclassifiable ones, such as the belief that gatherings of elitist power players at the Bohemian Grove are actually Satanic rituals.

Actually, that last one is NOT politically "unclassifiable"; it is Christian supremacist.  Only a Christian who is paranoid about seeing demons, demons everywhere would (without prompting from someone like Alex Jones) see the Bohemian Grove's "Cremation of Care" ceremony as "Satanic."  To anyone not predisposed to see it that way, the "Cremation of Care" ceremony is just a goofy poetic skit about temporarily killing off one's own boring, everyday self ("Dull Care") so that one can focus on enjoying a two-week vacation.  (See Edward L Winston's debunking of Alex Jones's video Dark Secrets: Inside Bohemian Grove.  A transcript of the alleged "Satanic ritual" itself, interspersed with notes by by Edward L. Winston, begins on page 17.)

The idea that the world is controlled by an elite conspiracy of Satanists, occultists, and Pagans has become -- as far as I can tell -- the unifying grand conspiracy narrative of most of the "Patriot" movement.  Essentially it's the Protocols of the Elders of Zion with Satanists, occultists, and Pagans substituted for Jews.  Not everyone who advocates this claim is a Christian supremacist, but it clearly is of Christian supremacist origin and serves a Christian supremacist agenda.

Here is a large list of resources for debunking grand conspiracy claims.

A bit more information just came out through the SPLC regarding the Sovereign Citizen movement.

by ArchaeoBob on Thu Jan 20, 2011 at 12:40:01 PM EST

I tried to watch that movie, the truth is I couldn't handle it.  It was boring and more flashy than informative, as most conspiracy literature tends to be.  If I'm not mistaken, one of the versions starts out with a bunch of nonsense claims that I could not find any external sources for that Jesus came from the Egyptian Myth of Horace or something like that, even down to the supposed date of "December 25th."

At the same time, I can't help but look at men like Todd Bentley, Benny Hinn, Jack Coe, and wonder if they're not onto something with this "the heathen elite" theory.  Though it's not been removed from YouTube, there's a video of Benny Hinn in South Africa telling a 12 year old with Cystic Fibrosis in front of at least 10,000 people that God has completely healed him.  His evidence?  The kid thinks he's been healed, and so Hinn is off the hook for providing any evidence of the healing.  Yet, the general consensus of the non-ill audience is that the man is truly imbued by God to bring this kind of healing to terminally ill children.  Needless to say, assuming the child was sick in the first place, he is not actually healed of Cystic Fibrosis which is a horrific genetic mutation.  I wonder in my heart what kind of empty-hearted person could lie so viciously and callously in front of so many people in the name of what is, in print, a very benevolent Messiah.

I can't say I've moved beyond thinking that every conspiracy theory is without merit.  After having read things like "The Franklin Coverup" by former Senator John DeCamp, "The Enemy Within" by Robert F. Kennedy, "Morals and Dogma," and a great deal of political, rhetorical, and theological theory, one really starts thinking that the top is a little more evil than they present themselves, and a little less benevolent than people think.  I, of course, do not confine my distrust to government, and am more concerned about Christian Reconstructionists seizing government by turning the masses against the government through bunk conspiracy theories.  I mean to read "The Family" as well.

As for 9/11, I've not seen much evidence to indicate that most of the supposed "evidence" for conspiracies put forward is accurate.  Most people are eager to believe what they want to believe about it anyway, that works both ways, for anti-government and pro-government sentiments.  I've never quite got over the fact that the Assistant Director of the FBI, John O'Neill, who prosecuted Abortion Clinic Bombings and White Collar Crime, and was the first to heavily lobby the brass about the dangers Bin Laden posed, managed to get fired a few weeks before 9/11, and ended up starting his job as chief of security at the World Trade Center 2 days before 9/11, and how he managed to die there.  Things like that are creepy.

In addition, after reading "The Looming Tower" by Lawrence Wright, I really felt the government and media had seriously glossed over the fact that Osama Bin Laden was one of the children of the founder of one of the most powerful and wealthy construction firms in Saudi Arabia, that his father was once appointed "royal builder" by the former King of Saudi Arabia.  I felt someone had seriously held back critical information in trying to understand the politics and motivations in these wars.

I don't know what to think about the Satanist claims.  Mostly it plays to Conservative Christian propanganda, and likely streams mostly from the panic in the 80's of "Satanic Ritual Abuse."  Having actually been a victim of documented Christian-themed ritualized group molestation, I don't know what to make of those claims.  John DeCamp's book has some compelling points to make, though I really think "Satanism" is the wrong term and represents the same kind of evil men such as Benny Hinn trying to keep invisible Shepard dogs biting at the heals of their flock.

I know it's not healthy for a Democratic Republic to have a group of highly powerful men from government and business taking retreats together and discussing matters of public importance in private away from stenographers and the eyes of the public, and being annoyed about that is justified.

I don't think debunking conspiracy theories would have prevented Loughner from doing what he did.  Anyone who is serious about understanding the world looks closely at things, and he did not.  He had little insight and apparently couldn't even handle basic algebra.

I most certainly see the "Christian Supremacist" dogma circulating behind most of the Conspiracy Theories one hears, it seems to be their goal to turn as many people against the Federal Government as possible, and once that happens, I have no clue where this country will wind up.

by OldChaosoftheSun on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 02:52:50 AM EST

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