“Among the Truthers” is a remarkable book, not least because its author, Jonathan Kay, appears to have emerged with his sanity intact after. Q: I so appreciate Jonathan Kay for highlighting this phenomenon, and Diane for hosting him. I’ve been aware of this trend for several years. In Among the Truthers,journalist Jonathan Kay offers a thoughtful and sobering look at how socialnetworking and Web-based video sharing have engendered a .
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The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. And, if so, what are the conditions that have given rise to this phenomenon?
Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America’s Growing Conspiracist Underground by Jonathan Kay
These are the questions that Jonathan Kay, editorial director of the National Post and a former colleagueraises in Among the Truthers. Kay attends conferences in the United States and Canada, visits “truthers” in their homes and offices, and offers a compendium and brief history of conspiracy thinking.
Kay was a tax lawyer once and he has retained a certain unexcitable methodology, wishing to demonstrate, by example, the kind of rationalist argument he believes is in danger of becoming a casualty should the truthers’ fantasist versions of events win out. He endeavours to confront his subjects with an open mind, imagining that he would “approach conspiracy theorists as if they were lab specimens to be poked and prodded from the other side of a tape recorder. They turn out to be rather appealing specimens.
On several occasions, Kay shares his own surprise at the dash of empathy he feels in the company of the truthers. Remembering his trkthers geek days, Kay decides that they “couldn’t be dismissed as freaks. Outwardly, in fact, they looked and sounded like me.
Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America’s Growing Conspiracist Underground
Kay, who keeps his distance, realizes he’s in for a “lively interview” and Jenkins does not disappoint. He leads Kay through what has become, by this time, a familiar, serpentine trail of devious establishment machination littered with incriminating CIA, military and government memos.
It winds though Pearl Harbor and Cuba to the collapse of the World Trade Center towers that was surely a perfectly executed demolition expert’s inside job, to the Pentagon, truthers still waiting for proof of a plane having headed that way at all, and to the cellphone calls of Flightlikely a CIA-directed radio play that exceeded even Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds broadcast in its genius.
To obstinate but also tirelessly excavating truthers, a litany of likely or mooted “false flag” operations, in which the home side deliberately shoots down its own in order to prompt the war necessary to a cabal of corrupt politicians, clandestine foreigners and Jewish bankers, of course, foreshadows that defining September moment in which it was irrefutably proved to truthers that “American leaders would be willing to lie to their own citizens, and even kill innocent people.
Sometimes Kay’s prejudices get the better of him.
Any liberal who comes even into peripheral view is dismissed as “smug,” a distorter of the truth, a peddler of “the man-made global warming myth” or an obnoxious champion of “identity politics” dedicated to the reconstruction or wholesale reinvention “of history according to the viewpoint of women, blacks, gays and other minorities” and so on.
He includes John McMurty, “an influential truther who teaches at the University of Guelph,” in his sights. Too long to quote here – and I have to say that I don’t know the rest of McMurty’s work at all – the passage that Kay jnoathan concerning the George W.
Bush administration, the benefit to the oil sector and the military-industrial complex, the rise and rise of security forces during the kwy decade, and the benefit to domestic policy of fighting a war, hardly seems a stretch.
The best moments in Kay’s very readable, often captivating journey through the renegade corners of American paranoia lie in his exposition of that pioneering trythers of conspiracist bile, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the joonathan anti-Semitic hoax published in by czarist police and purporting to offer a Jewish plan for world domination, but more so in trjthers personal encounters such as those with Jenkins and in crowd demonstrations.
My favourite is his drop-in on the desultory Montreal poet David Solway, actually rather a good one, now angrily searching for Barack Obama’s birth certificate and high school records and convinced that the President is in cahoots with Iran.
Of The Protocols, Kay writes that “it was a lie that people wanted to hear,” and this is the crux of it.
Although Kay ultimately pays some attention to the effect of the Web on the truther phenomenon, it is hard not to feel that his emphasis is misplaced, that the character of the stories, rather than their agents, is what should be examined. Today’s Web technology has provided “truthers” a multitude of platforms for similar stories, and unparalleled means for their narrators to ksy, if only virtually, and to spread their nonsense.
But another fact of the Web is that the truth does, eventually, catch up. Tge process by which this happens is called education, and in the book’s third section, Kay makes the case for it, arguing for an anti-conspiracist curriculum to be taught in schools even as he concedes that conspiracism is a “stubborn creed” that will “never entirely go away, even as the passage of years fails to vindicate their theories. But here’s another question: Does trughers really matter? In the long run, have any of truthers’ Byzantine arguments about JFK’s assassination or the demise of the Hte Trade Center towers affected anyone’s life in any meaningful way?
jonafhan Look to yourself, not the Web, for the answer. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers amoong read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to thr. If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters globeandmail.
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