The Rise of Populist Fear Mongering

Monday, May 28, 2012

From “Birthers” who claim that President Obama was not born in the United States to those who believe that the Constitution is in danger of being replaced with Sharia law, conspiratorial beliefs have become increasingly common in our public discourse. Arthur Goldwag explores the ideas and rhetoric that have animated extreme, mostly right-wing movements throughout American history. His new book is The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right.


Arthur Goldwag

Comments [4]

art525 from Park Slope

OK come on admit it. It's really John Malkovich that you're interviewing here isn't it?

May. 28 2012 12:26 PM
Doris Mooring from Paris, Texas

@political pop
No, he is not, as none of John of Patmos' predictions, which were for the next twenty years of his life or so, came true. Even the delusory voices in your _own_ head are probably more reliable than accounts of voices in ancients' heads.

May. 28 2012 11:36 AM
Gerald Fnord from Palos Verdes, Ca.

People no longer call it "future shock", and I think it's largely to blame for this, as well as the growth of Islamicist fanaticism in the Muslim world and nativist, right-wing, movements in Western Europe. As people's lives are disrupted, many of us can't cope, and finding spiritual refuge in an idealised past---however fictionalised, and to whatever ends---constitutes a comfortable mind-trap.

An ideology which explains that one is basically a Good Guy who deserves none of his pain and confusion and that explains Everything, complete with an handy villain or three, will appeal however inchoate or ill-thought-out or hateful it may be. In fact, the cynic in me insists that that which were least rational may appeal most to the gut, and to the early primate brain---much of the time, the neo-cortex is just along for the ride.

Against this, we have only Reason, observation, and a sense of self-interest informed of how much better the Enlightenment has been than all the epochs preceding it, however dislocating it can be.

May. 28 2012 11:26 AM
political pop


May. 25 2012 01:49 PM

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