New ADL report on rage in America, conspiracy theories and other scary stuff
11/19/2009 - 00:00
James Besser
Thursday, November 19th, 2009 Those folks at the Anti-Defamation League keep churning out reports, and sometimes they’re downright they’re downright terrifying. This week the ADL released a report on the growing mood of rage and suspicion gripping the nation since President Barack Obama’s election a year ago, fueled by “theories about gun confiscations,”  anti-government “tea parties” ‘ and a “resurgent militia movement.” The result, the ADL says: a “toxic atmosphere of rage in America.” “While not all of America has bought into these conspiracies, they seem to be seeping more and more into the mainstream,” said the ADL’s Abe Foxman.  “And since many of these expressions are interconnected in some significant ways, we wanted to try and connect the dots and ask the basic questions of why the anger, why now, and where might it lead.” The ADL study cites influential conspiracy theories like Alex Jones, who presides over a big internet and radio empire, an increasingly extreme “birther” movement convinced President Obama is not legally qualified to be chief executive, anti-Federal Reserve Bank activists and this summer’s health care reform “town hall” disruptions as examples of growing extremism and rage. What I didn’t see in the report: the connection between many Evangelical Christian broadcasters and the extreme anti-government conspiracy theories that seem to be burgeoning since Obama’s election. One of ADL’s conclusions: “This hostile wave of anti-Obama anger and paranoid anti-government conspiracy theories goes well beyond mere transgressions of civil political discourse. Anti-government agitators launch many attacks that do not merely disagree with government policies or positions, but rather attempt to delegitimize the government itself. Indeed, an increasing number of anti-government activists are convincing themselves, or have already done so, that the government is illegitimate. These growing beliefs threaten to create a large pool of people more susceptible to extreme anti-government conspiracy theories and even calls to resistance on the part of extremist groups and movements, such as the militia movement, which may grow as a result. One of the group’s unstated but implied conclusions: when conspiracy theories about malevolent government bureaucrats and satanic international bankers flourish, can anti-Semitism be far behind? Scary stuff. Don’t take my word for it; read the report here.

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