Wednesday, November 6, 2013

FBI Thinks 'New World Order' Theory May Have Motivated LAX Shooter - HP | The Evolution of the ‘New World Order’ - The Daily Beast


This week, on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront," I tried to explain how a note written by alleged LAX shooter Paul Ciancia contained several hallmarks of the antigovernment "Patriot" movement's animating "New World Order" conspiracy theory. My remarks were based on references to the Federal Reserve and "fiat currency" that were exclusivelyreported by Hatewatch over the weekend.
My jousting partner in the exchange was Michael Medved, a conservative radio show host, frequent television commentator and columnist. Medved told the audience that my comments were "very dangerous" and "unforgiveable," that I was "completely unfair" to use the word "Patriot" in describing a key sector of the radical right, and that I was "try[ing] to tar" the political right with the Nov. 1 shooting that left one TSA agent dead "when the clear problem is mental illness."

Even as Medved spoke, the FBI was, in effect, backing me up with its own suspicions about Ciancia's motives. The Associated Press reports the FBI obtained a warrant yesterday to search Ciancia's cell phone for, in the words of its request, materials reflecting his "views on the legitimacy or activities of the United States government, including the existence of a plot to impose a New World Order."

In other words, the FBI also is looking into the possibility that Ciancia's views about the New World Order -- a feared totalitarian "one-world government" that he also reportedly mentions in his note -- may have been part of his motivations. That is precisely the point I was making on CNN. Even then, I carefully pointed out that we had no information suggesting Ciancia was involved in any Patriot group.
Medved is normally a fairly reasonable and calm debater and, to be fair, he was not very clear in many of his remarks on CNN. But he was clearly incensed at my description of the Patriot movement and, in particular, its name.
What he did not seem to realize is that this is what these groups, by and large, call their own movement -- this is not some name I made up to describe them. At times, they call themselves "Christian Patriots," but I don't think that would have made Medved any happier. He seemed to think I was impugning all conservatives.
I understand the idea -- at one point, Medved said, "I'm not willing to give up the word 'patriot' to those people." But to suggest, as Medved did, that by using the name I was simultaneously attacking the Tea Party Patriots and other groups closer to the political mainstream, is not only false, but just plain silly. It reminds me of complaints I've heard from some Christians when I speak about the wildly racist and anti-Semitic theology of Christian Identity. None of us may like it, but the proper name of the religion is, in fact, Christian Identity, even though it has no links to any belief system associated with any mainstream branch of Christianity.
In my original weekend post about Ciancia's note, I noted that the TSA, whose agents Ciancia was apparently seeking out to kill, was not particularly the target of most groups on the radical right, though many do despise its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security. (I also reported exclusively that the note called former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano a "bull dyke" and contained the phrase "FU Janet Napolitano.") But Gawker last night put up a good post noting that the TSA had been repeatedly vilified by such conservatives as National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg, former Fox News host Glenn Beck, Fox's Geraldo Rivera, several Republican congressmen and a number of other well-known figures on the right.
Will Michael Medved now attack Gawker's reporting as well? I'd love to discuss this with him, but so far, my note to Medved suggesting we get together on his radio show to continue the conversation has met with complete silence.

Mark Potok


The Evolution of the ‘New World Order’

The suspected LAX gunman reportedly referenced the ‘NOW’ during an attack that left one TSA agent dead—and the phrase has been floating on the fringes of American paranoia for decades.

In the wake of alleged LAX gunman Paul Anthony Ciancia’s shooting rampage that left one TSA agent dead and two others wounded, police are analyzing a handwritten note—riddled with anti-government sentiment—that they say Ciancia was carrying at the time of the attack. Among the ramblings about law enforcement “pigs” and “fiat currency,” the letter reportedly contains a reference to the “NOW”—the New World Order, a common topic among conspiracy theorists and fringe groups. As it turns out, the idea of a New World Order has been around for decades—and has long been tinged by the specter of violence. The Daily Beast traces the evolution of the idea from the First World War to the end of the Cold War and beyond.   
Richard Nowitz/Getty
‘The Open Conspiracy’
It might be easy to mistake the NWO as a concept born out of Tea Party politics, since the movement occasionally throws the term around, especially when talking about the Obama administration. But Jesse Walker, author of The United States of Paranoia, says that the idea has been a constant in modern American political life and its historical roots run deep. Today, paranoiacs associate the phrase ‘New World Order’ with a shadowy one-world government—one in which sinister bankers, United Nations officials, and corrupt government leaders collude in secret to make the rest of us into Orwellian mind-slaves.
According to Walker, the League of Nations introduced the term to the political and cultural lexicon after the First World War to describe “evolving world institutions.” The New World Order was also the titular subject of writer H.G. Wells’ 1940 treatise, published one year after the outbreak of World War II, which advocated that nation states band together to prevent future outbreaks of war (“I am not going to write peace propaganda here,” Wells wrote.) The idea of a one-world government also appears, in a thinly-veiled form, in Wells’ 1933 book The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints For a World Revolution (whose subtitle he later changed to, “What Are We To Do With Our Lives?”), which encouraged a “mental sanitation process” to erase nationalistic ideals from people’s consciousness so they can accept their new roles as “world citizen[s].”
The Birchers Vs. Soviet Communists
A new band of conspiracy theorists perpetuated NWO paranoia in the 1950s, championed by the John Birch Societynamed after an American intelligence officer and Baptist missionary killed during a melee with Chinese communists. Birch, often called the “first victim of the Cold War,” became a martyr for the far right.
A new band of conspiracy theorists perpetuated NWO paranoia in the 1950s, championed by the John Birch Society.
“They were infamous for accusing prominent, powerful Americans of being tools of an international communist conspiracy,” says Walker of the Birch Society. “By the 1960s, Birch Society people and others of that orientation started picking up on [the New World Order]...When they use a phrase like New World Order that sets off alarm bells. It’s tied up with an anxiety not just about a loss of sovereignty but a fear of centralized power of all kinds.” (These days, the John Birch Society often comes upin articles and blog posts about the billionaire Koch brothers, whose father was aprominent member.)
‘90s Counterculture Adopts NWO Theories
As the Cold War receded into history, the New World Order was redefined again. In the 1990s, NWO conspiracy theorists believed the bipolar world—in which the superpower of the West faced off against the superpower of Communism—would be replaced with a one-world government established by the Cold War victors. It didn’t help when, in a 1990 speech, President George H.W. Bush used the term to define the new post-Cold War era.
The populist right, the militia movement, and anti-Bush leftists became obsessed by the phrase—and it entered the counterculture. “It summarizes this whole idea that not only are we losing our individual liberty to big government at home but we’re losing national sovereignty to some larger global force,” says Walker. “Conspiracy theories often take real trends and turn them into a metaphor where there’s a vast intelligence behind that trend. So someone writing critically about the NWO in a conspiratorial way and a non-conspiratorial way might be criticizing the same thing.”  
In comparison to other NWO conspiracy theorists, experts say Ciancia is an outlier. Yet, as Walker notes, the leap from despising a New World Order to demonizing TSA agents is, sadly, not a huge one. “Of course, if you’re worried about moving towards a dictatorship or a police state—the creation of a new police-like agency with intrusive powers—I’m not surprised that someone who complains about NWO complains about TSA.” 

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