Your New Reality
Tuesday, Oct 13th, 2009
A letter arrives at Salon from a concerned uncle, worried that his nephew is being seduced into a life of crippling fear and disabling paranoia by paying too much attention to Alex Jones.
The situation and concerns described in the letter may well be true, and some of the advice offered in return is good and solid : get your nephew away from the computer and take him camping in the wild for a week. But plenty about this letter doesn’t ring true.
The uncle claims to know a great deal about what his nephew is up to, and what be believes, what he thinks, the machinations of his nephew’s daily family life, even though the uncle admits he only has contact with his nephew a few times a year at family gatherings.
The letter, simply, reads Fake. I’m not saying it is fake, but that’s how it reads to me.
Like a planted attack.
It ticks all the boxes of a classic smear.
Here’s the Letter To Salon (excerpts). Decide for yourself :
I have a 17-year-old nephew who is a smart kid but a very poor student.
We used to have in-depth historical and political conversations (I have a B.A. in global history and a J.D., speak several languages, and have lived in many parts of the world), but I got married a couple of years ago and subsequently moved to a nearby state, and our interactions became limited to family functions a few times a year.
Over the last few months, he’s gotten sucked into the Internet conspiracy black hole created by some guy named Alex Jones.
Jones does an Internet video broadcast alleging all sorts of conspiracies. It’s the same litany of shadowy cabals manipulating governments, businesses, etc., that have existed for centuries.
What bothers me is the quasi-religious zeal with which he embraces this mix of paranoid half-truths and apocalyptic fantasies. He smugly asserts that any criticism of this Jones is a product of the nefarious dark forces out to discredit the only man intelligent enough and courageous enough to tell the truth.
As far as I can find out, Jones is in many ways like the more public purveyor of this nonsense, Glenn Beck, that is, simply some deejay with a high school degree and not much else.
I kind of get the feeling that my nephew’s reaction is what 17-year-old young men in 1930s Germany felt like when told that they were in fact part of a master race being manipulated by the international Jewish conspiracy.
What can I do, if anything, to rescue my nephew from getting sucked down this black hole?
He was spouting stuff about “the Hegelian dialectic” and “neo-Malthusians,” which he gleaned from the broadcasts. He was surprised when I walked across the room to my bookshelf and pulled down my college-annotated versions of both Hegel and Malthus.
But I don’t know that if I spend the time to factually debunk Jones’ nonsense point by point that it will break through the “faith” aspect of my nephew’s fascination.
Please let me know what I can do to help guide my nephew away from this cultish fear-monger.
Thanks. BuckSo why is a man who is clearly intelligent, informed and educated (”a B.A. in global history and a J.D., speak several languages”) writing to an online magazine to seek a solution for something he clearly believes is dangerous to his nephew, who’s welfare he claims to be seriously concerned about?
‘Buck” writes : “But I don’t know that if I spend the time to factually debunk Jones’ nonsense point by point that it will break through the “faith” aspect of my nephew’s fascination.”
If he’s so concerned, in this age of instant information exchange (even from another state), why doesn’t he just find the time to do some point-by-point debunking? His nephew, with whom the uncle says he once spent a great deal of time, would probably appreciate the attention, and the arguments and debate.
Here’s a checklist of all the impact words and phrases ‘Buck’ managed to squeeze into his short letter :
“very poor student”All the classics are included.
“conspiracy black hole”
“nefarious dark forces”
“international Jewish conspiracy”
“this black hole”
“cultish fear monger”
I wonder if there are a whole bunch of Letters From A Concerned Relative, featuring those same impact words and phrases, entwining the names ‘Alex Jones’ and ‘Glenn Beck’, now arriving in the e-mail boxes of online news media editors and advice columnists?
Nah. I’ve probably just been listening to too much Alex Jones.
UPDATE : Steve Watson at Alex Jones’ Prison Planet responds to the Salon attack :
To even suggest another person is “mentally ill” because they choose to read different versions of the same news, or consider different interpretations or opinions on reality-quaking, historical events is offensive to everyone who believes in freedom of thought. Salon’s Cary Tennis
refers to Jones as a “cultish fear-monger” and advises the reader named “Buck” that his nephew’s visits to Jones’ websites may be an indication that he is mentally disturbed.
Tennis initially reels off the usual psychobabble about people wanting to find simple explanations for complex things, needing to feel like there is a vast conspiracy to get them, and wanting to feel like they are privy to exclusive information that the masses are not aware of.
Labeling as mentally disturbed anyone who is skeptical or open to the possibility that conspiracies may have a basis in reality is a move we have witnessed before.
Last month Psychology Today
published a piece with the exact same implications. Writer John Gartner made Alex Jones the centerpiece of a story in which he attempted to define distrust of authorities and alternative explanations for the “official story” put out by governments and their corporate media arms as mental illness.
In our previous article
we pointed out that there is a long history of those very forms of authority designating dissenting explanation as a psychological illness as a means to stamp it out along with all forms of critical thinking.