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The Era of Distortion
NY Times ^ | January 6, 2004 | DAVID BROOKS

Posted on 01/05/2004 8:52:46 PM PST by neverdem

Do you ever get the sense the whole world is becoming unhinged from reality? I started feeling that way awhile ago, when I was still working for The Weekly Standard and all these articles began appearing about how Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Doug Feith, Bill Kristol and a bunch of "neoconservatives" at the magazine had taken over U.S. foreign policy.

Theories about the tightly knit neocon cabal came in waves. One day you read that neocons were pushing plans to finish off Iraq and move into Syria. Web sites appeared detailing neocon conspiracies; my favorite described a neocon outing organized by Dick Cheney to hunt for humans. The Asian press had the most lurid stories; the European press the most thorough. Every day, it seemed, Le Monde or some deep-thinking German paper would have an exposé on the neocon cabal, complete with charts connecting all the conspirators.

The full-mooners fixated on a think tank called the Project for the New American Century, which has a staff of five and issues memos on foreign policy. To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles.

We'd sit around the magazine guffawing at the ludicrous stories that kept sprouting, but belief in shadowy neocon influence has now hardened into common knowledge. Wesley Clark, among others, cannot go a week without bringing it up.

In truth, the people labeled neocons (con is short for "conservative" and neo is short for "Jewish") travel in widely different circles and don't actually have much contact with one another. The ones outside government have almost no contact with President Bush. There have been hundreds of references, for example, to Richard Perle's insidious power over administration policy, but I've been told by senior administration officials that he has had no significant meetings with Bush or Cheney since they assumed office. If he's shaping their decisions, he must be microwaving his ideas into their fillings.

It's true that both Bush and the people labeled neocons agree that Saddam Hussein represented a unique threat to world peace. But correlation does not mean causation. All evidence suggests that Bush formed his conclusions independently. Besides, if he wanted to follow the neocon line, Bush wouldn't know where to turn because while the neocons agree on Saddam, they disagree vituperatively on just about everything else. (If you ever read a sentence that starts with "Neocons believe," there is a 99.44 percent chance everything else in that sentence will be untrue.)

Still, there are apparently millions of people who cling to the notion that the world is controlled by well-organized and malevolent forces. And for a subset of these people, Jews are a handy explanation for everything.

There's something else going on, too. The proliferation of media outlets and the segmentation of society have meant that it's much easier for people to hive themselves off into like-minded cliques. Some people live in towns where nobody likes President Bush. Others listen to radio networks where nobody likes Bill Clinton.

In these communities, half-truths get circulated and exaggerated. Dark accusations are believed because it is delicious to believe them. Vince Foster was murdered. The Saudis warned the Bush administration before Sept. 11.

You get to choose your own reality. You get to believe what makes you feel good. You can ignore inconvenient facts so rigorously that your picture of the world is one big distortion.

And if you can give your foes a collective name — liberals, fundamentalists or neocons — you can rob them of their individual humanity. All inhibitions are removed. You can say anything about them. You get to feed off their villainy and luxuriate in your own contrasting virtue. You will find books, blowhards and candidates playing to your delusions, and you can emigrate to your own version of Planet Chomsky. You can live there unburdened by ambiguity.

Improvements in information technology have not made public debate more realistic. On the contrary, anti-Semitism is resurgent. Conspiracy theories are prevalent. Partisanship has left many people unhinged.

Welcome to election year, 2004.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: District of Columbia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: antisemitism; conspiracy; davidbrooks; neocons; neoconservatism
Hey, you talking to me, you talking to me?

Happy New Year!!!

1 posted on 01/05/2004 8:52:46 PM PST by neverdem
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2 posted on 01/05/2004 8:54:11 PM PST by Support Free Republic (Freepers post from sun to sun, but a fundraiser bot's work is never done.)
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To: neverdem
there is no neo-com agenda, there is no weekly standard, there is no project for the new american century, paul wolfowitz never existed, and bill kristol is a comedian.
oh, and the world is and never has been controlled by tightly organized, malevolent forces.
i don't like the buchananites using anti-semitism against the neo-coms either, but this article reminds me of the time mario cuomo said the mafia doesn't exist.
3 posted on 01/05/2004 9:21:35 PM PST by drhogan
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: neverdem; admin
The writer, David Brooks, needs a credit.
5 posted on 01/05/2004 11:16:24 PM PST by JoJo Gunn (Help control the Leftist population - have them spayed or neutered. )
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To: JoJo Gunn
The writer, David Brooks, needs a credit.

May I ask for a good or a bad article?

6 posted on 01/05/2004 11:44:27 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: neverdem
It's a pretty good piece. I especially liked the "Planet Chomsky" bit.

(What I'd meant, though, was that you forgot to enter his name when you posted the article).
7 posted on 01/06/2004 12:26:19 AM PST by JoJo Gunn (Help control the Leftist population - have them spayed or neutered. )
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To: neverdem
ADDENDA:

I've always thought the world is a wide open insane asylum, but I saw a picture of a sewer diver in Berkeley holding an "Adolf Bush" sign only about 6 weeks after the attacks, and then I knew beyond doubt the world was more than mad.

sigh But what did I expect? I knew deep down all those liberal congressmen singing God Bless America on the Capitol steps the evening of the attacks was out of the Twilight Zone too.
8 posted on 01/06/2004 12:35:18 AM PST by JoJo Gunn (Help control the Leftist population - have them spayed or neutered. )
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To: JoJo Gunn
It's a pretty good piece. I especially liked the "Planet Chomsky" bit.

(What I'd meant, though, was that you forgot to enter his name when you posted the article).

I had more than a few chuckles, but how do you enter the author's name without screwing up the search before posting needlessly. Does that mean you must do a double or triple search before posting?

I prefer qualifying a search with "match exact phrase", but I've found that I've made a redundant posting because the original poster modified the title with a parenthetical description, whether the author's name or some sort of forewarning, e.g. long read.

9 posted on 01/06/2004 1:12:42 AM PST by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: neverdem
I've only posted one article, so I don't have any pointers. But you gotta be careful once you're committed to posting.

Michael miserable failureMoore

10 posted on 01/06/2004 2:20:29 AM PST by JoJo Gunn (Who knows what goes on in the tiny, constipated chambers of a Leftist's mind?)
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To: neverdem
bttt
11 posted on 01/06/2004 5:52:58 AM PST by RJCogburn ("I need a good judge."......Lucky Ned Pepper to Mattie Ross of near Dardenelle in Yell County)
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To: neverdem
Distortion is what we have been fed. Welcome to the Era of Truth.
12 posted on 01/06/2004 6:14:59 AM PST by PGalt (Freedom)
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To: neverdem
btt
13 posted on 01/06/2004 9:08:36 AM PST by presidio9 (protectionism is a false god)
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Yehuda; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; ...
If you'd like to be on or off this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.

An old article, since neocons seem to be on topic lately, thanks to Gen Zinni, Sen Hollings, and fellow dems.

14 posted on 05/25/2004 1:22:20 PM PDT by SJackson (Strength of the prophets of Israel...proclaimed the Truth when everything was against it, A. Malraux)
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To: neverdem

Amazing how he equates the murder of Vince Foster with outrageous conspiracy theories about how the Jews control the world.

I'm still convinced that Foster was murdered, and I'll be happy to revisit the evidence in detail in front of an impartial audience. Unlike the Jews-control-the-world theory, the Vince Foster murder charge is substantial.


15 posted on 05/25/2004 3:33:46 PM PDT by thoughtomator (Any "church" that can't figure out abortion and homosexuality isn't worthy of the appellation)
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To: thoughtomator

Brooks is usually on the money, but the Foster "suicide" smells to heaven.


16 posted on 05/25/2004 4:02:52 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: neverdem
Do you ever get the sense the whole world is becoming unhinged from reality?

Duh, it is insane. The Democrats are in political dementia. I'm hoping we are wittnessing political a Supernova.

17 posted on 05/25/2004 5:05:15 PM PDT by Helms
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To: SJackson

The neocons are coming, the neocons are coming! RUN for your lives!


18 posted on 05/25/2004 10:03:17 PM PDT by Valin (Hating people is like burning down your house to kill a rat)
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To: SJackson

bttt


19 posted on 05/26/2004 12:50:44 AM PDT by lainde (Heads up...We're coming and we've got tongue blades...And panties!)
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