Wading Through The Swamp
Let us begin with a reading from Ambrose Bierce’s “The Devil’s Dictionary”:
‘PATRIOTISM, n. Combustible rubbish read to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.
In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.’
I had occasion to dip my toe into the dark and frightening waters of anti-government (just about anti-everything, really) conspiracy theories. It was purely in a research capacity, I am pleased to tell you. It may not surprise you that this is an area that has been growing in popularity in recent years. The main cheerleaders will perhaps be familiar to you: Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Marc Levin. There are others, such as Alex Jones in Texas. I have a confession to make: I had no idea just how outlandish some of this stuff was.
One thing I noticed pretty early on in my researches was the strident, screaming tone of the rhetoric coming from both the right wing hacks and their followers. The following is a “comment” taken from one of the conspiracy theory forums:
Enjoying Freedom again will be as it was in the good old days; getting away from Large Cities, Pollution, No Taxes, Crime, Queers, Corruption in Politics and the Galloping Crud of Mass Humanity invading civilization and our Country. Fought in Nam (wounded) and believed in the good old USA only to find out its a Total Fraud. For the last 20 years hoping our Elective Representatives would come to their senses and wake up and correct its course of action to preserve America is a MYTH. I see the Mongrel Humans, Free Martins, The Illuminati, The Invisible Empire and a One World Government taking over our country before my very eyes as our Government is a Cesspool of Legalized Criminals and Financial Jew Bastard Terrorists.
The first thing that leaps out from that comment is that the writer is absolutely barking mad. Secondly, it is depressing to note the depth of hatred contained in this and other such comments. The civilization/way of life these folks seem to want to preserve is one of xenophobic seclusion in underground bunkers; not something I thought was quintessentially “American”. Perhaps I am wrong. I would like to think, however, that folks like this are in the minority. Their sentiments, though, are echoed by right-wing radio talk-show hosts and tea party sympathizers. We may be headed for trouble, and that’s a concern.
I am not finished wading through the conspiracy theory swamp in my researches yet. These thoughts were just desperate to get out… There may be more.