Book Review and Commentary: Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America’s Growing Conspiracist Underground

Book Review and Commentary: Among the Truthers: A journey Through America’s Growing Conspiracist Underground:
By Jonathan Kay

As published in the Peace and Environment News: July / August 2011.

National Post columnist and editor Jonathan Kay recently attempted to discredit legitimate political dissent by cheaply labelling it, “the conspiracist underground.” His new book, Among the Truthers: A journey Through America’s Growing Conspiracist Underground, claims to track, “…a recent resurgence in a media culture that allows likeminded people to find each other and share information online, and to banish any information that diverges from their worldview.” Actually, that sounds more like a National Post editorial meeting or a session of the Harper cabinet.

Casual reading shows that history is replete with ugly and murderous conspiracies and the future will certainly feature many more. There is nothing odd about suspecting that powerful people will secretly bend our laws and break the rules to secure their advantage. The unfortunate fact remains that writers like Kay have managed to legitimize the false notion that conspiracies either don’t exist or that their dangers are exagerated. This feat is akin to the fabled Satanic deception whereby the Prince of Lies has convinced the world that he is a fantasy. In both cases the evil continues not only unabated but also aided and abetted by those in the position to influence public opinion.

Kay attacks oppositional writers like Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. While they aren’t above criticism; such writers consistently inspire us to question the behaviour and motives of our intertwined political and corporate leadership. As an aside, I must note Kay’s clumsy and slightly desperate device of lumping “Conservative” pundit Glenn Beck in with Chomsky and Klein who are Beck’s ideological polar opposites. Corporate scribes like Kay seek to deny the effects of the first axiom of power, namely, that the powerful do as they please and the weak must accept their fate. This is as true on the school playground as it as at the UN Security Council and it isn’t likely to change any time soon.

Here’s a real conspiracy theory for you: Jonathan Kay et al rise to their positions of influence by regurgitating the belief systems of their future masters. In this way they may honestly claim that they are “free” to write what they wish because what they wish to write pleases the corporate master. By way of comparison I will include here my impression of Ottawa Citizen writer Robert Sibley’s take on the recent Carleton University Chomsky lectures. It might as well have been written by Jonathan Kay.

In condemning Chomsky’s take on the Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge genocide, Sibley fails to mention a number of facts documented by Chomsky, namely; that the Khmer Rouge genocide was intensified rather than caused by Cambodian rice crop failures after the massive U.S. carpet-bombing campaign destroyed agriculture in rural Cambodia and Laos. Additionally, and more importantly, Chomsky documented the fact that U.S. print media coverage of the concurrent Indonesian genocide in East Timor received dramatically less reportage. Sibley conveniently ignores this vital information.

Concerning Sibley’s take on Chomsky’s post 911 commentaries, Chomsky never said, “We had it coming.” Rather, he posited that such attacks were sadly inevitable considering the West’s traditional practice of supporting brutal Middle Eastern dictatorships against their own people for the sake of petroleum security. Would Canadians not react with equal resentment after decades of foreign-backed oppression? Chomsky was hardly the only public intellectual reaching this rather obvious and bland conclusion about the political economy of terrorism.

Rather than attempting to diminish and dismiss power’s dangerous prerogatives; Kay might take a deeper look at the dark history of the CIA or America’s dysfunctional relationship with Israel. The recent “Rapture” excitement in America reminds me that the Israeli government is dangerously beholden to Jewish religious extremists bent on territorial expansion and supported by fundamentalist U.S. Christian sects who see Israel’s growth as key to the fulfillment of a Biblical prophecy involving Armageddon and The Rapture. These militant Christians don’t care who dies and see the Palestinians as road kill on their highway to heaven. Are such people really different from Osama bin Laden and other so-called terrorists?

The above-noted insanity is vividly real, but Jonathan Kay would probably dismiss it as another conspiracy. It does lead me to wonder why President Obama would suddenly declare it wise for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders; now that such a move is largely impossible. Here’s my theory: Obama looks tough, Netanyahu looks patriotic and the Palestinians get another dose of false hope from their cynical oppressors. They actually stand a better chance of being swept up in the Rapture than ever enjoying their right of return to the lost farms and fields of Palestine. Maybe they’ll meet Jonathan Kay in the clouds and be treated to his reasoned deconstruction of their fate as just another conspiracy theory.

AUTHOR BIO: Morgan Duchesney is an Ottawa writer and Karate instructor with an interest in political economy, international affairs and martial arts. His work has appeared in the Peace and Environment News, the Ottawa Citizen, Adbusters, Tone Magazine and Humanist Perspectives.