‘Patriot’ Paranoia: A Look at the Top Ten Conspiracy Theories
Scholars continue to debate the psychological and sociological origins of conspiracy theories, but there is no arguing that these theories have seen a revival on the extreme right in recent years. Over the last two decades, a far-right conspiracy culture of self-proclaimed “Patriots” has emerged in which the United States government itself is viewed as a mortal threat to everything from constitutional democracy to the survival of the human race. This conspiracy revival — which has been accompanied by the explosive growth of Patriot groups over the last year and a half — kicked into overdrive with the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, who is seen by Patriots as a foreign-born Manchurian candidate sent by forces of the so-called “New World Order” to destroy American sovereignty and institute one-world socialist government.
Since Obama’s election, the constituent theories within the overarching narrative of the New World Order have increasingly made inroads into the mainstream national discourse. Thanks to conservative cable news hosts like Glenn Beck (of Fox News) and Lou Dobbs (formerly of CNN), conspiratorial rants about FEMA concentration camps and the “North American Union” have been beamed directly into the living rooms of millions of Americans. Websites popular with Tea Party conservatives, meanwhile, have further stoked fears of a socialistic one-world government takeover by “un-American” forces. Joseph Farah’s worldnetdaily.com, for example, has grown its influence by peddling paranoia about the president’s birth certificate and AmeriCorps’ “domestic armies.” Earlier this year, the John Birch Society, a group with a long history of hatching and promoting wild conspiracy theories (including the idea that President Eisenhower was a communist agent), co-sponsored the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual powwow of leading conservatives and Republican Party figures.