I dismissed his predictions about the way I dismissed a lot of his prophecies and basic insistence about how the world works. Morton and the other conspiracy theorists on the boat were confident of a whole lot of things I found unbelievable, but which have plenty of adherents in the US and abroad. The government was covering up not just the link between vaccines and autism but also the cures for cancer and Aids.
Everywhere they looked, there was a hidden plot, a secret cabal and, as the gospel of Matthew teaches about salvation, only a narrow gate that leads to the truth. I chronicled my stressful, occasionally hilarious, unexpectedly enlightening experience onboard the Conspira-Sea Cruise as a reporter for the feminist website Jezebel , and then I tried to forget about it. I had done a kooky trip on a boat, the kind of stunt journalism project every feature writer loves, and it was over.
Conspiracy theorists, after all, were a sideshow. But I began to notice that they were increasingly encroaching on my usual beats, such as politics. In July , I was walking down a clogged, chaotic narrow street in Cleveland, Ohio, where thousands of reporters, pundits, politicians and Donald Trump fans had amassed to attend the Republican national convention.
I was there as a reporter and was busy taking pictures of particularly sexist anti-Hillary Clinton merchandise.
A Conspiracy of Little Things : Michael C Staudinger :
Some of the attendees were from InfoWars, the mega-empire of suspicion — a radio show, website and vastly profitable store of lifestyle products — founded by Austin, Texas-based host Alex Jones. For many years, Jones was a harmless, nutty radio shock-jock: a guy shouting into a microphone, warning that the government was trying to make everyone gay through covert chemical warfare, by releasing homosexuality agents into the water supply. Jones and Donald Trump were longtime mutual fans. At the end of September, Jones began predicting that Clinton would be on performance-enhancing drugs of some kind during the presidential debates; by October, Trump was implying that, too, and demanding that Clinton be drug-tested.
One of the first people the president-elect called after his thunderous upset victory was Jones.
Then, in a very short time, some of the most wild-eyed conspiracy-mongers in the country were influencing federal policy and taking meetings at the White House. But when they did consider the subject, they loved Trump, even the left-leaning among them who might have once preferred Bernie Sanders. Just as Morton said, they were sure that was going to change everything. At one particularly low point he even went so far as to accuse his political opponents of inflating the number of deaths in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria. At the same time, Trump brought a raft of conspiracy theorists into his cabinet: among them was secretary of housing and urban development Ben Carson, who suggested that President Obama would declare martial law and cancel the elections to remain in power.
There was also National Security adviser Michael Flynn who was quickly fired , notorious for retweeting stories linking Hillary Clinton to child sex trafficking. With the candidacy and then election of a conspiracy pedlar, conspiratorial thinking leaked from its traditional confines to spread in new, more visible ways across the country. As a result, a fresh wave of conspiracy theories and an obsession with their negative effects engulfed the US.
We fixated on a conspiracy theorist taking the White House, and then we fretted over whether he was a true believer or just a cynical opportunist. And as left-leaning people found themselves unrepresented in government, with the judicial, executive and legislative branches held by the right, they too started to engage more in conspiracy theorising.
The reality is that the US has been a nation gripped by conspiracy for a long time.
The Atlantic Crossword
The Kennedy assassination has been hotly debated for years. The feminist and antiwar movements of the s were, for a time, believed by a not-inconsiderable number of Americans to be part of a communist plot to weaken the country. A majority have believed for decades that the government is hiding what it knows about extraterrestrials.
Many black Americans have, for years, believed that the CIA flooded poor neighborhoods with drugs such as crack in order to destroy them. The Trump era has merely focused our attention back on to something that has reappeared with reliable persistence: the conspiratorial thinking and dark suspicions that have never fully left us. Conspiracy theorising has been part of the American system of governance and culture and thought since its beginnings: as the journalist Jesse Walker writes in his book The United States of Paranoia, early white settlers, including history textbook favourite Cotton Mather, openly speculated that Native Americans were controlled by the devil, and conspiring with him and a horde of related demons to drive them out.
And for all of our bogus suspicions, there are those that have been given credence by the government itself. We have seen a sizeable number of real conspiracies revealed over the past half century, from Watergate to recently declassified evidence of secret CIA programmes , to the fact that elements within the Russian government really did conspire to interfere with US elections.
There is a perpetual tug between conspiracy theorists and actual conspiracies, between things that are genuinely not believable and truths that are so outlandish they can be hard, at first, to believe. But while conspiracy theories are as old as the US itself, there is something new at work: people who peddle lies and half-truths have come to prominence, fame and power as never before.
If the conspiratorial world is a vast ocean, was clearly the year that Alex Jones — along with other groups, such as anti-immigration extremists, anti-Muslim thinktanks and open neo-Nazis and white supremacists — were able to catch the wave of the Trump presidency and surf to the mainstream shore. We are all prone to believing half-truths, forming connections where there are none to be found, or finding importance in political and social events that may not have much significance at all.
I was interested in understanding why this new surge of conspiracism has appeared, knowing that historically, times of tumult and social upheaval tend to lead to a parallel surge in conspiracy thinking. I found some of my answer in our increasingly rigid class structure, one that leaves many people feeling locked into their circumstances and desperate to find someone to blame.
I found it in rising disenfranchisement, a feeling many people have that they are shut out of systems of power, pounding furiously at iron doors that will never open to admit them. I found it in the frustratingly opaque US healthcare system, a vanishing social safety net, a political environment that seizes cynically on a renewed distrust of the news media.
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Together, these elements helped create a society in which many Americans see millions of snares, laid by a menacing group of enemies, all the more alarming for how difficult they are to identify and pin down. It is a belief that a small group of people are working in secret against the common good, to create harm, to effect some negative change in society, to seize power for themselves, or to hide some deadly or consequential secret. Conspiracy theories tend to flourish especially at times of rapid social change, when we are re-evaluating ourselves and, perhaps, facing uncomfortable questions in the process.
In , the civil liberties lawyer and author Frank Donner wrote that conspiracism reveals a fundamental insecurity about who Americans want to be versus who they are. I n the past few years, medical conspiracies have undergone a resurgence like few other alternative beliefs, and they have a unique power to do harm. The one thing that makes me hesitant to go all out with the five stars is the whole backwards plot development thing. At least early on in the book, it struck me as a little gimmicky, especially since the end result is so dramatic.
Estha doesn't talk any more. Why doesn't Estha talk any more? Something must have happened to him. When did it happen to him? As a child, something very bad happened to him as a child. You're probably wondering what that is now, right? Well now let's talk about his aunt. He's got a mom too.
This is what their garden is like. Hey, remember Estha, that kid you're wondering about? Yeah, something definitely happened to him as a kid.
A Conspiracy of Little Things
Keep reading, suckers! But I shouldn't say that, because, of course, it turns out you're not a sucker for reading this book, and the joke is on me for ever thinking so in the first place.
pemaxirass.tk View all 29 comments. Apr 26, Siria rated it did not like it Shelves: 20th-century , by-poc , indian-fiction. Please excuse me while I go sit in this corner and be dreadfully underwhelmed. And yet I really didn't like it. It's not a bad book - far from it. The characters she has created are really wonderful, and she has succeeded in evoking all the noises and sights and smells of Kerala, even for someone like me who's never been further east than Poland.
The narrative structure is disjointed, wandering from the Please excuse me while I go sit in this corner and be dreadfully underwhelmed. The narrative structure is disjointed, wandering from the now to and back again, but I never found myself getting confused by it. The language use is inventive and creative and original; there were times when I found myself pausing to read back over a particular metaphor or simile because it was just that beautiful or thought-provoking.
But the further I read into the book, the more strained the language seemed.