If you're in the Ann Arbor area Wednesday night, come see me speak about political paranoia:
Wednesday, March 9 · 7:00pm—8:30pm
G168 Angell Hall, University of Michigan
• Is this really a time of unusually fierce fear and violent rhetoric?
• Is political paranoia just a fringe phenomenon, or is it also found in the middle of the road?
• What does a conspiracy theory have in common with a can of Four Loko?
From James Wenneker von Brunn, the neo-Nazi who opened fire at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, to Jared Lee Loughner, the "conscious dreaming" enthusiast who opened fire in Tucson in January, we've heard ample warnings about extremist paranoia since Barack Obama became president. We've heard much less about the paranoia of the political center. But when mainstream commentators treat a small group of unconnected crimes as a grand, malevolent movement, they unwittingly echo the very conspiracy theories they denounce. Both brands of connect-the-dots fantasy reflect the tellers' anxieties much more than any order actually emerging in the world.
Jesse Walker will give a more complete account of political paranoia in the United States. The fear of conspiracies is not merely a phenomenon of the fringe, he will argue. It is, and always has been, present in the American center, though the establishment rarely recognizes its own conspiracy theories as "conspiracy theories."
Right now the plan is for me to speak for 45-60 minutes, take questions for about half an hour, and then, as a grand finale, rip off my "human" mask and reveal I was a KOCH-FUNDED LIZARD MAN all along.