The Poisoning of the American Mind

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Exene Cervenka

Exene Cervenka, a member of the 1980’s punk band X, has made the claim that the recent killings in Santa Barbara were a hoax. She also claims that the Newtown shootings were a hoax. She says these things are part of a conspiracy by the government to take away our guns. (If the government really wanted to take away our guns, it would go ahead and do it.) There are other people besides Cervenka who believe these things. Some of them have harassed the family members of the Newtown victims.

Think back to the Columbine shootings in 1999. No one ever claimed the shootings were a hoax. The only controversy was over whether stricter gun control laws might have prevented the shootings. The term “false flag event” didn’t even exist in people’s vocabularies at the time. What happened between then and now were the September 11th attacks and the conspiracy industry that grew up in their wake. This industry claimed that the government, the media, and the military had conspired in the attacks and in a subsequent cover-up. If someone is willing to believe that hundreds, if not thousands, of people willingly committed treason just to give George W. Bush a political advantage, it’s not much of a stretch for that person to believe that almost anything in the news is a hoax.

9/11 conspiracy theories were mostly associated with the Left, but there were some on the Right who took them up, most notably Alex Jones. Jones’s Facebook page has 799,491 likes. (Consider that the largest far left group in the US, the ISO, has fewer than a thousand members.) Jones’s followers and like-minded people make up a small percentage of the population, but they are becoming increasingly vocal and militant. It’s worth remembering here that it only took one person to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City.

I don’t pretend to know what to do about this problem. What I do know is that we shouldn’t simply dismiss these people as funny kooks. We need to think seriously about what to do about this problem before somebody gets hurt.

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4 Responses to “The Poisoning of the American Mind”

  1. Andrew Coates Says:

    As a European we have a lot more seriously deranged people around: as the UKIP vote in Britain, and the Front National showed!

  2. les Says:

    frankly, we’ve been drifting to the right ever since the election of thatcher in the uk and reagan in the us. and i don’t know that there’s been much of an effective set of social forces or social movement over the last 30 years to actually prevent that. in fact, when you come right down to it, large sections of the left (at least here in the states) have adopted the paranoid style of politics and conspiracy mongering that at one time back in the 1950s and 60s was identified much more closely with the extreme right. you know, when there was the whole rhetoric about things like fluoridation as a communist plot, and how communists were hiding everywhere getting ready to take over and bullshit like that. what i’m most afraid of is that much what passes for the left these days is driven by a kind of petty bourgeois resentment and hyped-up rage that puts it closer to populism, and a very nasty and reactionary populism at that. and i would include in this amorphous and atomized group every blogger who has ever used the term “micro-aggression” in lieu of a political program.

    oh, and one other thing, as long as we’re talking about punk rock stars. moe tucker, the former drummer for the velvet underground apparently came out a few years ago as a big tea party supporter. of course, maybe when popular culture subsumes radical politics, something like that is inevitable.

    • The Spanish Prisoner Says:

      You make some good points there, Les. I think the fundamental problem is the lack of a strong labor movement. I’m not sure what, if anything can be done about this, but we need to think of something.

      And I promise not to use the term “micro-aggression”.

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