In the early 1960s, William F. Buckley — the founder of the right-wing magazine National Review — drove the John Birch Society out of the conservative movement by labeling the Society’s founder Robert Welch as “idiotic” and “paranoid.”
In 2010, the John Birch Society re-emerged into the daylight as a co-sponsor of the annual conservative conference CPAC.
Led by Fox News’ Glenn Beck, the “paranoid style” had become the Republican mainstream. Theories about forged birth certificates, global caliphates and FEMA camps were often on the lips of elected officials with an “R” after their names.
Many wondered who would play Buckley’s role and cast out the kooks. But a grassroots effort to boycott Glenn Beck did the right a favor and drove the self-described “rodeo clown” off national television.
Obama’s re-election seems to have reignited the right’s passion for fantasy and drawn serious ridiculousness into the halls of Congress.
The right wing media’s promotion of a widely debunked Alex Jones conspiracy theory about the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ammunition acquisitions prompted House Republicans to hold a hearing to investigate. The theory, which assigns some sinister motivation behind the recent ammo purchases, first gained traction on the websites of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones before finding its way to Fox News and Fox Business and finally to the halls of Congress.
On April 25, Republican Reps. Jim Jordan (OH) and Jason Chaffetz (UT) held a joint hearing “to examine the procurement of ammunition by the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General.” The hearing followed right-wing media reports speculating about the reasons for the acquisitions.
Following talk-radio conspiracies is a way of life for Republicans, but the difference here is that Infowars’ Alex Jones isn’t a conservative radio host. Jones is as ardent about an unregulated Second Amendment as they come, but his theories are almost a parody of what more mainstream Republicans believe.
It all revolves around a belief in a “new world order,” where the “globalists” are trying to murder most of the planet. This conspiracy, led by King Albert II of Belgium, involves genetically modified foods, MTV and fluoride, which was often the focus of John Birch Society theories.
Here’s a taste:
He’s entertaining, scary and now forming the basis for policy choices by elected officials.
Unlike Beck and Rush Limbaugh, Jones has no interest in furthering Republican political ambitions. And for that reason, he’s actually earned a rebuke from a conservative publication — Buckley’s own National Review.
Betsy Woodruff — a William F. Buckley fellow — frames Jones’ politics for her conservative readers in a new article called “The Gospel of Alex Jones.”
Woodruff quickly dismisses Jones’ theory that was adopted by Republican members of Congress: “…as tends to be the case with Infowars’ narratives,” she writes, “it turns out to be a non-issue: The DHS buys large quantities of ammo to use at law-enforcement training centers, and there’s little change in the quantity purchased this year compared with previous years.”
But she’s not content to let her readers think that this is just some harmless theorizing. She puts Jones’ worldview in terms of theology.
“We should credit Jones’s success to his status as the ultimate street preacher. In the town square of cyberspace, he’s the sign-waving, Bible-beating, sackcloth-and-ashes-sporting prophet of end times that you just can’t ignore,” she says.
But the subtext for the rest of the article is that Jones isn’t a Christian like you, National Review reader. He’s a ” latter-day gnostic”:
Alex Jones has the optimism you can have only if you think everything has already gone to Hell. It’s easy to write him off as a kook and a lunatic, but that’s what they did to Jeremiah. The difference between Jones and Jeremiah, of course, is that Jones appears to be a paranoiac.
It isn’t enough to say that Alex Jones is “paranoid” or “idiotic” source who should not believed. That’s an argument that could be made against Glenn Beck, Louis Gohmert (R-TX) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN).
No, he’s different and dangerous. And worst of all, he won’t help you win. Beware.