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Conspiracy Theories: The Right Woos the Left

Program #BERC001. Recorded in Cambridge, MA on November 14, 1991.

Oliver Stone’s film JFK sparked widespread popular interest in conspiracy theories ranging from who killed President Kennedy to the October Surprise to a plethora of banking scandals, not to mention CIA plots. Conspiracy theories abound on the right and the left. They deflect the public’s attention from perceiving and addressing genuine problems. Instead, convenient scapegoats are identified as the locus of our troubles. Classic propaganda techniques are employed in manipulating race, class, ethnic and religious prejudices to promote the notion that a sinister group is at work in defiling and destroying our way of life. Some of the methods used are: making allegations and them referring to them as facts; reduction of complex issues to simple equations; assigning causation to sequence; unsubstantiated assertions; and leaps of logic and faith.

Speaker(s):

Chip Berlet

Chip Berlet is senior analyst with Political Research Associates, an organization which monitors and reports on right-wing movements. His articles appear in The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Progressive magazine. He is the editor of Eyes Right: Challenging the Right Wing Backlash and co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America.

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