How I Became a "Soros Operative"
May 6, 2008 - 4:45pm ET
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Fox News personality John Gibson said I was one—which means, of course, it is true. On his radio show the other day, he opined that because I once worked at Brave New Films (which may get some George Soros money) and the publisher of my new book, The Real McCain, is a friend of Soros', well then case closed. I am on Soros' payroll, which is why one of the two cars my wife and I drive is a Subaru with 125,000 miles on it.
But this is a great anecdote to point out a larger virus that infects conservatism, and has for a long time now: Paranoia. For that, Soros is perfect. Jewish, of foreign birth, living in New York and a "financier," he is a fourfer!
If only he were gay too.
One of the books I have found most useful in understanding the modern Right is The Paranoid Style In American Politics, written by one of the preeminent historians and social commentators of the 20th Century, Richard Hofstadter. Hofstadter did not live to see his warnings about the Bircher Wing of the GOP come to fruition to become a full-fledged menace to society (although, in truth, he underestimated their appeal in that he did not realize that having a vast fortune and media megaphone behind these conspiracy theories could do wonders to keep them alive). But he knew what he saw, and related it to our history as a nation better than anyone I have ever come across in prose.
This paranoia is what allows Gibson to write a fantasyland tome called "The War On Christmas," because hordes of Jews and Muslims plan each year—after eating the youngest member of their family for Thanksgiving—how they can cream Santa Claus in the coming month. In reality, as you probably know, Gibson is simply appealing to the worst in people. What Karl Rove has made a career of doing. What Sen. John McCain's friend Pastor John Hagee does on a weekly if not daily basis. (I have a whole chapter on the conspiracy preachers in my book—McCain is knee deep in their influence.)
Tell people that their lot in life has waned because of a conspiracy among some evil group that is holding them back. Liberals. Jews. Muslims. Gays. Blacks. Abortion. People For The American Way. You know, the people Jerry Falwell blamed for 9/11.
If you can do that, then they might never question why CEO salaries have skyrocketed, health care has disappeared and their job is in China. In any case, I am honored to be on Gibson's list. But for the sake of our democracy, we must expose this vile conspiracy-mongering whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.
Cliff Schecter is the author of The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don't Trust Him And Why Independents Shouldn't. Buy a copy (for only $10!) and keep both his 18-month old son and John McCain in diapers.
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