The American Style of Paranoid Politics

JFK Week continues.


My latest contribution to JFK Week—it's like Shark Week, but it happens every 10 years instead of every summer—is an article for CNN called "The Roots of American Conspiracy Theories." Here's an excerpt:

America is not unusually suspicious. Conspiracy stories flourish all over the world, some of them far less plausible than the notion that more than one man was involved in the King or Kennedy killing. As I write, Europe is undergoing one of its periodic panics about international child-stealing gypsy conspiracies. Over the summer, the prime minister of Turkey blamed a global plot for the protests against his government. Last year, the host of Nigerian Idol lashed out at the local press for reporting that he was a high-ranking member of the Illuminati. In Iran, it is apparently considered savvy to claim that the Holocaust was a hoax. The fear of conspiracy isn't the property of any one nation—it's more like a universal human trait.

But if Americans are not unique in being suspicious, it's true that we can be suspicious in distinctive ways. Every country's conspiracy stories reflect that country's culture, and that's as true of the United States as any place else. There is an American style of paranoid politics.

You can read the rest here.

I also have a cameo in this report about the Kennedy assassination. And I'll be talking about all this stuff on the public radio show Radio West at 11 a.m. Mountain Time today; you can tune in to that here.