The Heirs of the John Birch Society

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Via Matt Yglesias, conservative Jonathan Kay describes the conspiracy theory madness that was running rampant at the national tea party convention last week:

In Nashville, Judge Roy Moore warned, among other things, of “a U.N. guard stationed in every house.” On the conference floor, it was taken for granted that Obama was seeking to destroy America’s place in the world and sell Israel out to the Arabs for some undefined nefarious purpose. The names Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers popped up all the time, the idea being that they were the real brains behind this presidency, and Obama himself was simply some sort of manchurian candidate.

A software engineer from Clearwater, Fla., told me that Washington, D.C., liberals had engineered the financial crash so they could destroy the value of the U.S. dollar, pay off America’s debts with worthless paper, and then create a new currency called the Amero that would be used in a newly created “North American Currency Union” with Canada and Mexico. I rolled my eyes at this one-off kook. But then, hours later, the conference organizers showed a movie to the meeting hall, Generation Zero, whose thesis was only slightly less bizarre: that the financial meltdown was the handiwork of superannuated flower children seeking to destroy capitalism.

Kay was appalled at all this, but in fairness, he’s a Canadian conservative, so he’s probably something of a parlor pink by tea party standards. He doesn’t really count as a true believer. As for the movie, centrist conservative John Avlon liked it. It was “a smart and comprehensible look at the results of fiscal irresponsibility,” he said, though he undermined that point immediately by admitting that it featured “commentary from Amity Shlaes, Shelby Steele, Victor Davis Hanson, and Newt Gingrich, among others.” But you can watch the trailer for yourself and make a snap judgment. We’ll have to wait for spring to see the whole thing.

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