The American Style of Paranoid Politics

My latest contribution to JFK Week — it’s like Shark Week, but
it happens every 10 years instead of every summer — is an article
for CNN called “The
Roots of American Conspiracy Theories
.” Here’s an excerpt:

Why does it always have to be a picture of MY book? This is a pretty good one too.America is not unusually
suspicious. Conspiracy stories flourish all over the world, some of
them far less plausible than the notion that more than one man was
involved in the King or Kennedy killing. As I write, Europe is
undergoing one of its
periodic panics
about international child-stealing gypsy
conspiracies. Over the summer, the prime minister of Turkey

blamed a global plot
for the protests against his government.
Last year, the host of Nigerian Idol
lashed out
at the local press for reporting that he was a
high-ranking member of the Illuminati. In Iran, it is apparently
considered savvy to
claim that the Holocaust was a hoax
. The fear of conspiracy
isn’t the property of any one nation — it’s more like a universal
human trait.

But if Americans are not unique in being suspicious, it’s true that
we can be suspicious in distinctive ways. Every country’s
conspiracy stories reflect that country’s culture, and that’s as
true of the United States as any place else. There is an American
style of paranoid politics.

You can read the rest

I also have a cameo in
report about the Kennedy assassination. And I’ll be
about all this stuff
on the public radio show Radio
at 11 a.m. Mountain Time today; you can tune in to that

from Hit & Run

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