Summary of 2/03 meeting

Reflexion on how we are going to define conspiracy theory (linking it with globalisation)

Calance Madalina – Globalization and the Conspiracy Theories, 2015

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212567115004748

She talks about the conspiracy theories on globalisation which appears to be a new form of imperialism, an economic one.

Globalism –Trump

We are looking at the similarities, common themes between some particular conspiracy theories – UFO and antisemitism, Mexico, Brexit-.

Then we will try to identify the similarities between both and in order to make up our conspiracy theories.

We need to look at the following characteristics of conspiracy theories:

– Audience

– Fear of the others

– Leader

– Significant moment

We looked up if any conspiracy theories concerned Jews in particular.

Research on UFOs and immigrants

Following UFO/anti-Semitism conspiracy theories research, and tied to theme of ‘Fear of the Other’.

Rhetorical link between aliens and foreigners in the media:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/27/trumps-new-immigrant-hotline-trolled-callers-reporting-ufos/

In April 2017, prank callers spammed Trump’s new immigrant hotline with reports of UFO sightings. Clearly, there are many Americans who would link immigration anxiety to conspiracist thinking, and who want to suggest such thought is paranoid, ridiculous, and unfounded.

‘Activists rallied on social media under the hashtag #AlienDay to encourage others to flood the hotline with fake calls.

‘Wednesday happened to coincide with Alien Day, which commemorates the 1986 sci-fi classic starring Sigourney Weaver.’

 

Scholarly sources:

Thomas E. Bullard, ‘Other than Ourselves’, in The Myth and Mystery of UFOs (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2010)

  • The imaginative link between outward space travel and colonisation means that we view any evidence of incoming aliens with trepidation, as an act of colonisation. Outer space offered what JFK called the ‘New Frontier’, a framework which will inevitably conjure aliens as potential outsider colonising forces.
  • ‘God and monsters, fairies and devils, wild men and extraterrestrials hold little of appearance or habit in common, but all share the quality of alienness. […] They are outsiders to our familiar personal, social, and cultural inside yet close at hand with necessary but unsettling reflection and commentary. They are the Others who remind us of who we are by exemplifying what we are not—or hope we are not.’ Monsters and aliens represent something external which threatens to become internal: incoming aliens or foreigners, or else alternative belief systems which threaten to proliferate and take over.
  • ‘whether UFO aliens are visitors from outside or are an inside job, ideas about them match the contours of countless myth-based preconceptions of what the Other should be.’
  • A history of monsters: ‘Time and again the idea of a base savage or enemy of mankind has arisen to threaten civilization and justify drastic measures to stamp out the supposed evil. The European witch hunts enacted an archetypal crusade for social purification against a cabal of enemies.’ ‘The anti-Semitic propaganda of the Nazis harnessed similar themes of a malevolent and destructive conspiracy eating at the heart of society’ ‘A similar tactic dehumanized Native Americans as so cruel that the only good Indian was a dead Indian, and African Americans as lazy, dirty, oversexed, and violent. The Irish, Jews, Italians, Chinese, and many other ethnic immigrants faced accusations that they brought disease, crime, anarchy, promiscuity, economic ruin, or un-American religions and values.’
  • Thus, ‘Aliens from space take up where monsters of the past left off’ and ‘extraterrestrial hybrid-makers replacing the undesirable foreigners that were once the focus of concern’

 

Peter Knight, Conspiracy Culture: From Kennedy to the X Files (London: Routledge, 2013)

  • ‘Conspiracy theories in American society have traditionally served to cohere a sense of the mainstream (“we, the people”) who are under threat from a sequence of “alien” dangers, from Catholicism in the nineteenth century to Communism in the twentieth. As David Brion Davis explains, “movements of countersubversion have thus been a primary means of restoring collective self-confidence, of defining American identity by contrast with alien ‘others,’ and achieving unity through opposition to a common enemy.’

Conspiracy theories, particularly those pertaining to alien outsiders, are especially relevant in the US because of a need for a coherent sense of identity.

 

A less scholarly source, from a writer who buys into UFO phenomena:

Budd Hopkins, ‘Aliens Here and Now,’ in Sight Unseen: Science, UFO Invisibility and Transgenic Beings, ed. Budd Hopkins and Carol Rainey (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004)

  • Xenophobia—the fear of foreigners or strangers—is unfortunately basic to man’s essentially territorial nature. To show how deeply this xenophobic fear of the unknown infects us all, let me use myself as an example. In 1964, I had a daytime UFO sighting on Cape Cod, an incident which led to my subsequent research into the UFO phenomenon. At the time I remember regarding the circular, hovering, dull-aluminium-coloured object as a thing, an artificial craft of some sort, but I did not for a moment think there might be intelligent nonhuman beings inside. That was too exotic a thought to entertain even for a moment—and on some unconscious primitive level, far too disturbing.’
  • UFOs were supposed to be out there somewhere, looking down maybe and flying around, but essentially leaving us alone. The closer the phenomenon seemed to come, the more my natural self-protective, xenophobic objection manifested themselves.’
  • Xenophobic thought does not take issues with foreigners themselves—‘out there somewhere’ they are seen as benign. It is the threat of closer proximity which inspires anxiety.

Research on Martin Mawyer’s ‘No-go zones’: Contextualising Islamaphobia in the US

Christopher A Bail, ‘Chapter 2, From The Slave Trade To The September 11th Attacks’, in Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2016)

  • Before the 9/11 attacks, Muslim Americans were a largely invisible minority, often confused with Latinos or Southern Europeans. The growing number of Caucasian and African American converts were similarly invisible.
  • ‘Though Muslim Americans experienced significant discrimination during earlier periods, a November 2000 public opinion survey revealed a plurality of Americans held favourable views of Islam.’ (17) This changed drastically after 9/11.
  • The history of Islam in America is tied to a wider history of slavery: many slaves kidnapped from West Africa were Muslim. Indeed, what little history of early Muslim Americans is known suggests that they played an integral part in African American resistance to slavery, just as organisations like the Nation of Islam became powerhouses of black nationalism. Relevance: attitudes toward the Muslim American population can be understood within the deeply embedded history of slavery’s institutional racism.
  • The 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act created a new wave of Muslim migration, many of whom were the beneficiaries of their home country’s rich oil reserves. This wave of Muslim migration included wealthy and highly educated Muslims who strove to keep a low profile and blend into American society.
  • Public opinion began to change in 1972, when Palestinian extremists murdered eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, creating significant anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. Later, hundreds of Iranians were deported during the 1978 Iran hostage crisis.
  • During the 1980s, two violent attacks upon Americans in Muslim-majority countries also stirred up racial hatred. These are the 1983 detonation of a car bomb in Lebanon, killing 299 American and French servicemen, and the jihadist hijacking of a plane later that year.
  • In the 1990s, conflicts in Muslim-majority countries began to replace the Cold War as the principal foreign policy concern of the US. Anti-Muslim fringe groups emerged as the Cold War faded into history, no longer the principal neoconservative concern. Seemingly, the fear of the ‘Other’ can be straightforwardly transferred from one group to another.

Takeaway points:

  • In terms of the ingredients for a conspiracy theory, it seems important that there are watershed moments, turning points like 9/11 which trigger paranoia, although this has to be embedded within a deeper history of suspicion, here found in the matrix of institutional racism and violence.
  • Conspiracy theories respond to social anxieties of the time. Just as monsters are culturally-specific historical phenomena, conspiracy theories offer overblown and grotesque manifestations of contemporary cultural anxieties. Devious plots are assigned to the supposedly monstrous and alien Other, which can just as easily take the form of Russians as Muslims, depending on what is perceived as the most imminent danger.

Analysis of Mawyer’s account

Is there any legitimate evidence for Mawyer’s account?

On Islamberg:

Washington Times report —

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/10/muslim-group-sues-ban-christian-action-network-boo/

  • Attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud says Muslims of America’s residential communities are peaceful — “the property upstate has farms; it has gardens; it has buildings for work; it has little stores. It’s a community of families and of individuals who are just trying to get by day to day.”
  • “The group said that it has always counseled members and residents to abide by U.S. laws and avoid criminal, immoral, and antisocial behavior. The communities include doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, tradesmen, farmers, and business people, with workshops, seminars, and interfaith outreach open to the public”

On no-go zones:

On the FBI / NYPD:

  • Mawyer, however, claims to be informed by Aziz about the negligence of the FBI
  • https://can-test.squarespace.com/news/undercover-informant-accuses-nypd
  • “The FBI knows about the training. So does the NYPD. They have tapes. They have videos. They have the audio. They have a lot. They have everything – enough evidence they can close these camps”
  • If they are aware of the existence of these camps, why aren’t they being shut down?
  • In the case of the NYPD —> “Though it is now evident that the NYPD has a presence throughout the US, even a small police branch in Israel, a little known secret is that the NYPD also has a presence in not-so friendly foreign countries such as a Venezuela, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. These countries, of course, did not extend an open invitation to the NYPD to come set up a counter-terrorism branch. Nor would they. The only way into these nations was to piggy-back on an organization that could get them into their country – the MOA”

On Ali Aziz:

  • No online record of Ali as an NYPD informant

 

Analysis of Mawyers’ reader demographic: ( ** expand)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16226307-twilight-in-america

Most reviewers are white (from photographs given)

 

American Conspiracy Theories — Uscinski & Parent

Chapter 4: Who are the conspiracy theorists?

  • “There is an ideological belief system that determines how likely a person is to see conspiracies and believe in conspiracy theories. This belief system, the conspiracy dimension, exists on a separate plane from political ideology and partisanship” (74)
  • Seeks to place greater emphasis on the “underlying predispositions that drive” belief in conspiracy theories (76)
  • “The heart of conspiratorial thinking: powerful groups covertly controlling events against the common good” (79)
  • Perhaps can relate to US government knowledge and negligence of no-go zones / training camps
  • “As for race, the findings are mixed. Whites have the highest rate of falling into the high category compared to Hispanics and blacks, but only by about 4 percentage point” (83) — “high” is in reference to the highest predisposition to believe in conspiracy theories
  • “When it comes to schooling, having fewer years of formal education correlates with more conspiracy theorizing. Forty percent of those without a high school degree have high conspiratorial predispositions, and that drops steadily as educational attainment rises. Only half as many postgraduates are high on the conspiracy dimension” (86)
  • Yet —> “In a nutshell, the profile of the average conspiracy theorist has a barely passing resemblance to many prevailing notions. Instead of a bookish middle-aged white man, the next conspiracy theorist you. meet is just as likely to be a poorly educated, 40-something minority woman. Yet these are only rough demographic descriptors and averages; the meat of the matter is in beliefs and behaviors” (87)
  • How does Mawyer’s other beliefs relate to his theory on no-go zones?

 

Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture — Mark Fenster

Part II: Finding the Plot

  • “Although understanding conspiracy theory as a paranoid form of interpretation provides some insight, it displaces the cultural and specifically semiotic challenge posed by conspiracy theory’s interpretative practices onto a relatively simplistic notion of pathology” (95)
  • “Conspiracy theories prodigiously commit to learn and know the presumed secrets of power and domination. In their endless striving for more information, conspiracy theorists clearly want something – specifically “the truth,” as they would understand it” (100)
  • “Because everything — the economy, political power, culture, and so on — connects in some way, the theorist develops a kind of reflex of seeking other orders behind the visible” (101)
  • ^ Possibly relates to the no-go zones conspiracy to point out the indifference of the US government to Islamic extremism
  • ^ (NYPD example, criticizing the left, school classes about Islam)
  • “Conspiracy theorists’ interpretation moves — back in time, around and through events, collecting details, surrounding the conspiracy and leashing it to a long and growing signifying chain” (110)

Potential ideas for our own conspiracy

A idea for where we could base our own conspiracy regarding Brexit, perhaps?

  • There’s been lots in the news the past couple of weeks about George Soros and his “plotting against Brexit.” Essentially, Soros is a Hungarian-American billionaire who survived the holocaust and went on to make a fortune. He has donated much of his wealth to charity and recently has formed a group that is intent on reversing Brexit. It is worth noting here that Soros is a jew and as a result his attempts to undermine Brexit has been subject to much anti-semitic conspiracy and hatred.
  • https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/15/dirty-tricks-demonise-george-soros
  • https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/08/george-soros-demonised-by-populists-nationalists-and-right-wing-press
  • https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/10/brexiters-now-march-with-toxic-conspirators-of-orbans-hungary
  • Could we potentially research and create a conspiracy surrounding attempts to stop Brexit by Jewish business/New World Order kind of people?
  • This would then have a crossover between globalisation conspiracy, ethnic conspiracy and the UK (brexit) etc. etc.

 

Overview: Plan de Aztlan Conspiracy / Glenn Spencer

Genesis: 

  • The so-called theory imagines a plan by Mexican-Americans, backed by the Mexican Government, to “reconquer” the seven Southwestern states of America and merge them with Mexico.
  • The theory is based on a misreading of the “Plan Espiritual de Aztlan,” a real document adopted in 1969 at the First National Chicano Liberation Youth Conference, a radical and often poetic document that reflected the spirit of the times, the plan called on Chicanos to “reclaim the land of their birth” and unite to fight “oppression, exploitation and racism.” Despite quite clearly being a product of a counter-culture that was prevalent primarily in the 1960s, to conspiracy theorists it has become the founding document of an apparently legitimate and well-established plan that is endorsed and backed by the Mexican state.

Lead Figure: Glenn Spencer

  • White American man – born 1938
  • Heads a group called “The American Border Patrol”
  • Inciting incident: Spencer joined the anti-immigration movement in 1992, when he formed Voice of Citizens Together (originally Valley Citizens Together), also known as American Patrol, in California as a response to the violence he saw perpetrated by “Mexicans” during the L.A. riots prompted by the acquittal of four police officers who beat Rodney King.
  • Glenn Spencer is also one of the biggest proponents of the Plan de Aztlan theory, in a speech at San Ysidro, Calif., on July 29, 2000 he said: “The dream of conquering Aztlan lies deep in the heart of the Mexican psyche. … This explains why some are willing to risk death. Their goal is more than jobs, it is conquest. They believe what they are doing is noble. They are defying the Gringo to take back what is rightfully Mexico’s.”
  • Issued a full page add in the Los Angeles Times in 1997 that claimed that Mexico, with the help of Latino advocacy groups, was trying to retake the American South-West.
  • The conspiracy was then taken up and mentioned on air by Lou Dobbs: a CNN anchor and conspiracy theorist – https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2009/07/23/cnn-conspiracy-theorist-lou-dobbs-discredits-hi/152393

 

SOURCES:

https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/glenn-spencer

https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2007/exploring-nativist-conspiracy-theories-including-%E2%80%98north-american-union%E2%80%99-and-plan-de-aztlan

Anti-immigration in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1 — By Kathleen R. Arnold

General notes and rough outlines re: poll and presentation structure

General Research and Notes 

Observations from our conspiracy theories case studies:

  • There is usually a leader or leaders that peddle the ideas, push them at rallies, radio, tv interviews, books, websites, podcasts etc. Leadership is key.
  • Also often borne out of some tenuous relationship to fact: the leaders push the idea that they are being objective, “relentlessly factual.”
  • Often the catalyst for conspiracy is a single traumatic event- often violent/shocking/monumental – conspiracy used as a way of explaining it. E.g. 9/11 Muslims, race riots in LA in 80s – Chicano involvement.
  • Audience: on the one hand there is the much discussed archetype of the white, poorly educated, lower or middle class man, but also worth considering the propensity for minorities themselves to be both the victims of, and the believers in, conspiracy theories.

Interview and online poll rough outline:

  • POLL:
    Age
    Level of education
    Nationality
    Ethnic Origin
    Gender
    Then – presentation of our own researched conspiracy theory
    Do you find this believable?
    If so, why? If not, why not? etc.
    Do you think it would appeal to people you know? Friends, colleagues, relatives.
    Do you believe in similar theories/find similar theories appealing?

 

  • Rough outline/plan for our presentation (to be revised, just providing a bit of structure)
    1: conceptions and definitions of conspiracy theory
    2: Relationship of our word – “globalisation” – to conspiracy
    3: Relationship of minorities/immigration/’the other’ to conspiracy theory
    4: Conspiracy and its preeminence in America, its global appeal.
    5: Our 3 case studies – acknowledgement and observations of what conditions and features unite them. Globalisation. Plan de Aztlan, Muslim ‘no-go zones’.
    6: Establish and put forward our observations into a coherent argument (what we expected in the course of own independent investigation)
    7: Present our own original conspiracy theory: how we researched it, what is based upon, how we conduct the research and interviews, how it relates to observations we noted previously etc. etc.
    8: Broad conclusions and tying back to globalisation as a theme.

Overview: No-go zones / Martin Mawyer

No-go zone:

  • an area from which particular individuals or groups are barred from / an area with a reputation for violence or crime

Within the United States, the term “no-go zone” is at times used to refer particularly to strictly Muslim-only areas governed by Sharia law.

Martin Mawyer is the founder and director of the Christian Action Network (CAN), an organization which states that its “primary goals are to protect America’s religious and moral heritage through educational efforts.” His book, Twilight in America: The Untold Story of Islamic Terrorist Training Camps, is an exposé into the supposed no-gone zones hidden within American neighbors which threatens the United States’ “religious and moral heritage” of which the Christian Action Network is keen to protect.

Twilight in America: The Untold Story of Islamic Terrorist Training Camps — Martin Mawyer

  • Explores 22 villages (no-go zones) within 9 states across the US
  • Is centered around a group known as Muslims of the Americas (MOA) and the stories of Egyptian undercover NYPD agent, Ali Aziz, from his time living with those occupying these territories within the US

Who is the MOA?

  • The “front-group” for Jamaat ul-Fuqraa
  • Jamaat ul-Fuqraa is an organization of mostly African-American Muslims based in Pakistan and the US / was listed as a possible terrorist organization in the 1999 Patterns of Global Terrorism report by the U.S. State Department

Who is Ali Aziz?

  • Mawyer claims that Ali Aziz, as an undercover agent for the NYPD, approached Mawyer to tell him that he knew about Mawyer’s studies and wanted to tell him his stories from his eight years pretending to be an Islamic radical
  • Mawyer claims Aziz first informed him of “Islamberg,” an Islamic community that had formed in Hancock, New York
  • Mawyer initially wrote a blog post on CAN’s website stating: “The town of Islamberg is a bold attempt by an Islamic community, located about 3 hours northwest of NYC, to set up its own city-state with its own laws, its own government and even its own military. The group behind the initiative is an organization called, Muslims of the Americas (MOA). MOA has nearly three-dozen villages, camps and Islamic compounds scattered around the US, all of varying sizes and population. But this camp in Hancock, which also serves as their headquarters, is the first to be so brazen to set up its own Islamic government”
  • ^ This blog post has since been deleted, but the text can be found here: http://uk.businessinsider.com/donald-trump-muslim-training-camps-2015-9?r=US&IR=T  
  • &  https://www.truthorfiction.com/islamberg-new-york-is-a-militant-muslim-enclave/

What are these no-go zones?

According to Mawyer, these no-go zones operate as training camps.

  • https://www.israelvideonetwork.com/muslim-no-go-zones-in-the-usa/
  • During an interview with Fox News, Mawyer states that in these particular no-go zones, “they have gates, they armed guards, they have security forces, and when you go up into them, you are specifically told to leave.”
  • Within these training camps: “They teach them how to kidnap people, how to strangle them, how to kill guards, & how to do other types of warfare training”

The inciting incident:

  • 9/11 and the kidnapping and killing of Daniel Pearl, Wall Street Journal reporter, in 2002
  • Mawyer post 9-11: “I was deeply affected by what I had experienced, and I began to pay closer attention to the news and al things involving Islamic terrorism. So when Daniel Pearl was first reported kidnapped a little more than four months later, the obvious work of terrorists, my interest was keen” (Intro from Twilight)

Initial research: American conspiracy theories related to external threats

http://listverse.com/2014/08/09/10-outlandish-conspiracy-theories-about-the-usa/ proved a useful starting point

Mexican Invasion (esp following the 1969 Plan Espiritual de Aztlán)

The Plan Espiritual de Aztlán is a pro-indigenist Chicano manifesto produced in 1969. This text underpins a conspiracy theory popular with US citizens who oppose immigration across the US-Mexico border, and Chicano nationalists who strive to reclaim the territory ceded to the US in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848). Although the Chicano Movement is not the origin of Mexican unrest—the 1915 Plan de San Diego, for example, was a much more explicit call to arms which aimed to overthrow American rule in Texas—the Plan de Aztlán marks the point at which American suspicion garners force.

Anti-immigration advocates like American Patrol and FAIR claim that the Mexican invasion is covertly underway, that Mexicans are either preparing to take the South by force or via the ‘birth canal’, i.e. Mexican women who give birth in the American borderlands with the view to seizing control via demographic force.

Source: Barbara Perry, Hate Crimes (2009).

  • What I find interesting about Mexican Invasion theories is that a key source of American paranoia is the threat of land being reclaimed. The space of America is fundamentally contested, and paranoia seems to arise from this precarious existence. There is a foundational anxiety surrounding who the land belongs to.

 

UFOs and anti-Semitism (since the 1950s)

If conspiracy theories in the American context speak particularly to racial anxieties, it follows that speculation around alien invasion would draw from a distrust of terrestrial immigrants. Each pertain to foreign infiltration, and an encounter with unknown or unwelcome parties. ‘Aliens’ and ‘foreigners’ have, after all, been rhetorically linked since the Aliens and Seditions Act of 1798. In my research, however, I found less material concerning aliens and the threat posed by immigration, and more concerning aliens and the threat posed by those who are already within US borders—Michael Barkun’s A Culture of Conpsiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (2003) explores how UFO conspiracy theories relate to the scapegoating of Catholic, Masons, and especially Jews.

  • Barkun writes that in UFO literature, descriptions of aliens are replete with racial typologies. He cites prominent American conspiracy theorist Michael William Cooper, best known for his Behold a Pale Horse (1991), who speculates that those aliens visiting Earth can be subdivided into benevolent blonde Nordic/Aryan types, and malevolent Grays, who exhibit Jewish characteristics. ‘The evil Grays are dwarfish with grotesque features—not unlike stereotypes of the short, swathy, hook-nosed Jews of European anti-Semitic folklore’ (144).
  • Anti-Semitism abounds in conspiracy thinking—the New World Order, after all, centres on international banking corporations bent on world domination, headed by a small number of Jewish elite.
  • Precise origins of otherworldly anti-Semitism are difficult to trace. Barkun lays much of the blame with William Dudley Pelley, an American fascist and occultist who wrote in the first half of the twentieth century, who greatly influenced George Hunt Williamson, UFO contactee and metaphysical author. In 1953, Williamson published Other Tongues—Other Flesh, in which he conjectures that there is a cosmic distinction between virtuous Pleiadeans and evil aliens from Orion, the latter of which are presented in characteristically anti-Semitic terms: ‘Their faces are thin and they possess weak bodies…they astound intellects with their words of magnificence. While their wisdom may have merit, it is materialistic’ (155). Later, in UFO Confidential! (1958), Williamson discusses the evils of ‘International Bankers’, whom he claims all governments are under the complete control of.
  • So an obsession with secret controlling powers has led conspiracy theorists to draw on age-old racially-coded motifs. It’s interesting to me that a proposed extra-terrestrial threat does not produce a discourse which unites the human race, but rather defaults to older suspicions of racial Others. Further, these racial Others are those already within US borders—the most external threat imaginable is bound up not with a fear of foreigners but reveals a deep-rooted anxiety surrounded the enemy already within.

 

The demography of conspiracy theorists:

Given that we’re thinking about an attitude towards minority groups through the lens of conspiracy theories, I thought it worthwhile to look into the demography of conspiracy theorists. Joseph E. Uscinski and Joseph M. Parent have conducted a study into this in American Conspiracy Theories (2014). Their study divides various social groups into low, medium, and high propensity for conspiracism.

pp. 83-84

  • ‘When we look the high and medium categories together, 89% of Hispanics and 86% of blacks fall into the medium or high category compared to 72% of whites.’
  • In Native American, Asian, Middle Eastern and ‘other’ groups, over 80% fell into the medium to high category.
  • Uscinski and Parent argue that the smaller a racial group, the more predisposed its members to conspiracist thinking.
  • Black American conspiracy theories have centred on institutional racism manifesting in state-sponsored genocide: HIV, the legalisation of abortion and the contraceptive pill and its promotion in black communities have all been envisioned as means of wiping out the black population. Uscinski and Parent note, however, that there is a generational difference among African-Americans: the older generation, those brought up under Jim Crow oppression or socialised by parents who were, are more inclined to this kind of thinking.
  • While speculation around Mexican Invasion and alien contact may express a far-right white antagonism to multiculturalism, ethnic communities also generate their own conspiracy theories based on these racial politics.

 

Meeting Summary (06/01):

In today’s meeting, we firstly decided on the three examples of conspiracy theories related to globalization which we will closely study throughout the course of this project.

Our conspiracy theories of choice are:

  1. The relationship between UFOs and anti-semitism
  2. Islamic “no-go zones” across the US
  3. Plan de Aztlan / Chicano nationalist movement

A relevant text is also linked to each conspiracy theory:

  • A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America / ‘UFOs and the Search for Scapegoats II: Anti-semitism among the Aliens’ — by Michael Barkun
  • Twilight in America: The Story of Islamic Terrorist Training Camps — by Martin Mawyer
  • The work of American Border Control — Glenn Spencer (*subject to change)

We believe that grounding our studies within the United States allows us to study examples of conspiracy theories within a nation with a rich history of immigration and a particularly interesting and consistently evolving sense of self.

In briefly assessing each conspiracy theory, we have concluded that it would now be useful to draw links between each conspiracy theory. In doing so, we aim to use said links to define the “key ingredients” of conspiracy theories more generally. As a starting-point, we have identified a “fear of the other” prevalent throughout most conspiracy theories.

In addition to studying the characteristics and origins of conspiracy theories, we are also keen to draw conclusions regarding the targeted audience of conspiracy theories. As we attempt to construct an outline of the way in which our project will manifest, we have also concluded that it would be particularly interesting to construct our own conspiracy theory and collect data on the way in which people of varying demographics react to this conspiracy theory. Whether by means of an online poll or in-person  interviews, we have also recognized the necessity of submitting a Minimal Ethical Risk Registration form.