Home > Uncategorized > Op-Ed Columnist – Paranoid About Paranoia – NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist – Paranoid About Paranoia – NYTimes.com

National opinion polls reveal support for numerous far-out or noxious-seeming notions.

There’s the 32 percent of Democrats who blame “the Jews” for the financial crisis. There’s the 25 percent of African-Americans who believe the AIDS virus was created in a government lab. There’s support for state secession, which may have been higher among liberals in the Bush era than among Republicans in the age of Obama. And there’s the theory that the Bush White House knew about 9/11 in advance, which a third of Democrats endorsed as recently as 2007…

It’s worth taking all these polling responses with a substantial grain of salt. For all but the hardest-core conspiracy theorizers, they may express what Sanchez calls “symbolic beliefs.” These are “propositions you profess publicly” but would never follow through on, because they’re adopted as a kind of political and cultural statement rather than out of deep conviction…

But obsessing about the paranoia of the masses is often a way for American elites to gloss over their own, entirely nonsymbolic failures. In the Bush era attacking the conspiracy theories of the “angry left” made it easier for conservatives to avert their eyes from the disaster the Iraq war had become. Today, establishment liberals would much rather fret about the insanity of the Republican base than reckon with the unpopularity of Barack Obama’s domestic program.

Some fretting is justified. (Just ask the Discovery Channel.) But over all, Americans still have more to fear from the folly of establishments than from the paranoia such follies summon up.

via Op-Ed Columnist – Paranoid About Paranoia – NYTimes.com.

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