Monday, September 21, 2009

Catching Up with Kevin Barrett

Through a long series of free associations I recently found myself on Kevin Barrett's blog last weekend and out of a morbid sense of curiosity I decided to stick around and inspect some of his wares -- really give him the attention that I had not previously bothered to offer.

I now have a confession to make. I have greatly underestimated Mr. Barrett: he's far more batshit insane than I previously understood.

I gotta say, I never gave much thought to how 9/11 Truthers spend their days. I was naively under the impression that they yap about cruise missiles and controlled demolitions and all that jazz -- and to a certain extent this appears to actually be the case -- but, man, by no means do these guys stop waxing crazy with "9/11 was an inside job!" shtick.

Here are a few other assertions Barrett makes on his blog:
  • Former Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff is an "unregistered agent of a foreign power," legalese for spy.
  • The U.S.S. Liberty incident was the result of "treasonous LBJ and his enablers in the secret covert-ops executive committee of the National Security Council collud[ing] with hardline forces in Israel to launch the 1967 war, then attempt to bring the U.S. into the war by attacking the U.S.S. Liberty and blaming it on Egypt."
  • The following were "false-flag" operations carried out by Israel and blamed on Muslims: "9/11, 7/7, London, Bali, Madrid, Bombay, Achille Lauro, Entebbe, Locherbie, and of course the botched Lavon Affair and USS Liberty attacks are examples."
  • "I certainly do think the prime authors of 9/11 were probably of Jewish ethnicity, yet religiously har[d]core atheists, like their mentor, Leo Strauss."
Wow. I mean, just ... wow. Where does one even start?

My favorite is that Osama bin Laden was killed in 2001. I suppose that would naturally mean this was pre-recorded...

I would suggest that addressing each of these points individually would be a waste of time and that looking at the common theme running through all of these, i.e. that the Jews are somehow responsible for all the ills of the world, would be a far more productive way to expedite this fisking. I'm not sure what came first, Barrett's virulent antisemitism or his nutjob conspiracy theories (though I can offer an informed guess), but the two do seem to have a symbiotic relationship that is hard to ignore.

Barrett's Hebraic hatred isn't just limited to alternative histories. Sometimes it becomes more overt. Apparently Barrett has recently had Kevin MacDonald -- a fringe figure who, I'll just let his Wikipedia page do the explaining -- on his radio show. (MacDonald, you may notice, and much to my chagrin, is a native of Oshkosh). MacDonald is an odious figure who deserves to be denounced in the strongest possible terms. Instead, Barrett merely distances himself slightly only to find value in MacDonald's work: "MacDonald's message should be taken as a warning and a wake-up call," Barrett writes.

No, it shouldn't. Judge for yourselves -- I doubt it will take long for any reasonable person to determine that MacDonald is not a credible thought leader on the subject.

Then there are the times when Barrett is aggressively antisemitic, such as:
A gang of genocidal lunatics, otherwise known as Zionists, has already invaded, occupied, and ethnic-cleansed Palestine, and they are intent on extending their reign of terror to the whole Middle Eastern heartland.

Don't believe me? Take a look at the Israeli flag. See those two blue stripes, one on each side of the star of David? One stripe is the Nile, the other the Euphrates. The Zionist nutballs believe that a genocidal god named Yahwe promised them this entire stretch of land. Sort of like David "Son of Sam" Berserkowitz, these people are hearing hallucinatory voices telling them to engage in mass murder.
The bit about the Israeli flag is classic PLO and Hamas propaganda. The actual symbolism and origins of the flag are far more benign.

There is little that Barret is the kind of person that Richard Hofstadter was thinking of when he wrote "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." The problem is that Barrett's Trutherism is merely a symptom of a genuinely repugnant hatred.

Barrett's yesterday's news. His "run" for Congress was little more than an uncomfortable piece of amateur performance art that exposed his tenuous grasp on reality and deep-seated emotional instability (the press releases alone from his campaign -- alas, no longer available online -- were stunning works of fevered paranoia). Yet as something of the Ur-Truther it's instructive to see how one fundamentally untrue belief -- in this case, 9/11 did not happen like we think it happened -- can lead by corollary to dozens of others.

Far be it for me to ascribe logic to Truthers, but that first step that led Barrett to considering 9/11 a "hoax" led him to an almost fully realized alternate reality. In other words, conspiracy theorists like Barrett don't devote their energies to "proving" an alternative view of one historical event, they quickly move one to others and ascribe the same haphazard skills of analysis infused by an irrational hatred of someone else to those events. In short order they've constructed an entire worldview based a false assumptions and it seems like after a certain point there's no going back.

I hope Barrett is an anomaly and not a harbinger of things to come. He's no longer got the crazy market monopolized -- he's competing with Birthers and neo-Birchers these days and God only knows what else down the horizon. Hopefully he'll just end up as a cautionary tale on the dangers of succumbing to postmodern paranoia and not as the latest incarnation of an all too familiar American political archetype.


Anonymous said...

I remember Tony Palmeri and the UWO Greens supporting Barrett a few years back.

Anonymous said...

My impression was not that they supported him or his views, but that they supported his right to hold those views and his right to share them in a public speech on campus, which are entirely different things.

snug.bug said...

Barrett has been an embarrassment to the truth movement for a long time with his juvenile antics, sloppy scholarship, and blatant bigotry. He has been banned from posting at most of the 9/11 Truth forums, and seems lately to be relying on his wife as an editor (and publisher).

Please don't take Barrett as a representative of the Truth movement. He's just a nut.

Jb said...

We don't take the "Truth movement" seriously at all.

snug.bug said...

Jb, the reason a lot of people don't take truthers seriously is because wackos like Barrett give them an excuse to ignore the complex and unpleasant subject of 9/11.

That's why it's important for people to understand that his sloppy scholarship, his bigotry, his violence-mongering, and his promotion of discrediting science-fictiony stuff is antithetical to the truth movement, and deplored by its responsible members.