'Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11' by Kathryn S. Olmsted
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Chicago Tribune
Posted: March 7th, 2009
In August 2006, almost five years after the catastrophic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a poll by Scripps Howard and Ohio University found that 36 percent of respondents thought it "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that officials of the federal government "either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them." The poll also found that those who regularly use the Internet but do not habitually consult mainstream media "are significantly more likely to believe in 9/11 conspiracies." Kathryn S. Olmsted, in her exquisitely researched and annotated new book Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11, points out that although such views "may seem to belong to the fringe," they are held by millions of Americans and a majority of those between the ages of 18 and 29. In fact, Olmsted asserts that the tendency to see conspiracies everywhere "long ago spread from the margins into the main body of American political culture," and that the quelling of political dissent is an exacerbating factor. She has set out to track the history and patterning of conspiratorial beliefs as they relate to politics and public policy. Her thesis that conspiracy theories thrive in part because the government has misled the public or acted illegally and covertly, and been caught at it frequently enough to make them credible is a disconcerting one. But the historical detail she marshals (which demonstrates a tendency for fusion of far-left and far-right political views) is persuasive in its cumulative power.
Note: For more on the important Scripps/Howard poll showing that high percentages of American citizens suspect US government complicity in the 9/11 attacks, click here. For a 15-minute clip of a powerfully revealing documentary on this, 9/11: Press for Truth, click here.