In your essay on Jesse Walker’s new book The United States of Paranoia (“America the Paranoid,” Oct. 16) you write, “Paranoia and conspiracy-theorizing must be understood in the context of reality: endless wars of aggression, two generations of decline in workers’ wages …”
The problem is, you left out something very important, namely, that extreme right-wing, quasi-Nazis such as David Duke, Pat Buchanan and radio personality Chuck Harder use this argument to advance their own conspiracy theories, which are very close to what Adolph Hitler himself believed.
To wit, that the Jews are secretly plotting to take over the world by manipulating the global financial and political system. Nothing justifies anti-Semitism, and when documented anti-Semites use arguments such as yours to advance their evil ideas, it’s time to take a second look at those arguments – valid though they may be on the surface.
Remember, despite these “endless wars” and “decline in workers’ wages,” the U.S. has seen remarkable improvements in things such as violent crime, civil unrest (remember the riots of the 1960s and early 1990s after the acquittal of the LAPD officers who beat Rodney King?), and property crime (which you would expect would soar after 40 years of stagnant wages).
We’ve gone through what can only be described as a mild depression; where are the protests? The marching armies of the unemployed? Runs on banks? Why have we not seen the kind of civil unrest that’s now a daily occurrence in places like Greece, Spain and Italy?
If there truly were a conspiracy behind the wars and the stagnant wages, we’d see a lot more unrest and violence in this country. Populists such as yourself – and the Tea Partiers – have lost sight of how good we really have it here in America. You are blinded by your anger; you have lost your capacity for critical thinking and calm, reasoned, logical reflection. And that’s a shame.
Daniel Weir, via email