How America’s Rich Legacy of Fear and Hatred Fuels the Conspiracy Theories of Today

Originally published at: How America’s Rich Legacy of Fear and Hatred Fuels the Conspiracy Theories of Today - TPM – Talking Points Memo

This article was adapted from The Politics of Fear: The Peculiar Persistence of American Paranoia. It appears at TPM by arrangement with Vintage Books, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. If America’s paranoid style is homegrown and unique, conspiracy theory is universal. By the early 1920s, The Protocols…


“Prejudices are what fools use for reason.” – Voltaire


comments not working on Morning memo for me, anybody else?




Catholics were driven out of the Northern European countries. They were a thousand year deep prototypical middle class, a previous power structure that in those countries was brutally neutralized.

Protestantism was a devolution in those lands because it was those that had spent over a thousand years achieving nothing of note that were elevated for their violence against their own people.

The kings of the most powerful nations, who all got their own translation of the Bible made for them, thank you, and all elevated to a state of divinity also, never had a better device for maintaining power.

It is the unwritten genocide of those internal Catholic populations that is important. The Protestants of America had that blood fresh on their hands. Scotland’s culture was almost completely erased. Worse than the Native American culture.

The common thought is the RC church was thrown over because they limited scientific innovation. How, in anybody’s name, was the church supposed to by spying on the ancient sheds where the ancient tinkerers were working.

Worth mentioning also that the great artistic innovators came from countries that did not kill off their middle classes in the name of the king. Also, that Protestantism was a whole lot less effective in their evangelism, likely because it was lip service.

These people are genetically predisposed to religious violence, but also predisposed to blame others for their troubles. Their church tells them they will be rich. When they’re not, they don’t blame the church. They blame the same people they’ve been blaming since they were sat in the mud.


Same here. I went to “the Hive” option on my account, and found a lot of stuff that was meaningless to me. But no Morning Memo.

Are we fated to not see cat pix anymore? And on Cat Blogging Friday?!


MY problem with morning memo was solved today by logging out and signing back in, but nothing appears to be consistent.


Now they’re getting their revenge on the Supreme Court.


Catholics in America had to watch what the fuck they said or they’d go the same way as the folks back home.

Those RCs on the SCOTUS were groomed for their intellectual vanity but more for their absolute willingness to fluff the powers that be. That is how American Catholicism survived: staking out radical positions so as to assure those around you that you shouldn’t been enjoined with the same group.

The US Catholic church is unrecognizable to Catholics worldwide.


Religious nuts scare me as much or more than MAGA nation. Sadly, they are often the same people. Until the First Amendment is repealed, this is in no sense a “Christian“ nation.




While reading this, I kept flashing back to Umberto Eco’s masterpiece Foucault’s Pendulum. For those who haven’t read it, it’s basically what you get if you pretend all those conspiracies are real, and then some dummy independently invents those conspiracies and draws the attention and ire of those groups. It is insightful and funny and profound.


You wrote:

That’s a very one sided, myopic view of the European religious wars.

“ St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

Religious violence escalated again soon enough. The worst of it came as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572, which saw murders of up to 70,000 Huguenots across France, under the direction of Catherine de Medici, the regent queen and mother of King Charles IX.

During the three days of violence that began on the night of August 23, 1572, and spread from town to town, officials recruited Catholic citizens into militia groups that hunted down Huguenot citizens, indulging not only in murder but gruesome torture, mutilation and desecration of the dead.”

Long story short, my 7th great grandfather, Henri Guerin, was tortured and murdered by Catholics because he would not renounce his Huguenot (Protestant) faith; The Edict of Nantes was revoked and it became open season on Protestants. He was hunted, captured and broken on the wheel in 1696.

One result was that Henri’s two sons, Daniel and Pierre and their families, fled from France, first to England, and then to America, sailing into the Chesapeake Bay in 1700. Their destination was a Huguenot settlement of Manakin Town, near what is now Richmond, VA.


The Catholics were the only church in Europe for over one thousand years. Let that sink in. That’s the longest period of cross-cultural/cross-language/social hegemony in the history of modern man.

The Calvinists were a group that thanks to the printing press were convinced of their own interpretation and new religion that made the richest, most powerful man in the land its leader. Let that sink in. Who do you think paid for the printing?

The Calvinists are the cultist rebels in this scenario, in a Catholic country. The English version of the Bible that made their King ‘divine’ would spread terror worldwide in the name of their Queen. The Germans got their own too. Are they preternaturally disposed to violence against their own countrymen in the name of racial purity?

Would you permit a religion to be founded in your country that expressly called for the death of Catholics under some new interpretation of the Bible from a different country altogether?

Should the French have been more like America, claiming religious freedom, but in the end, it’s almost all Protestant - there’s only 1 Catholic signature out of 55 on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

All this is dumbass monkey bullshit, in truth. But the fact that the genocide of the Scots is not even mentioned in history is proof positive this pasty, Protestant idea of the world we live in now, where wealth is proof of moral good, etc. These are Protestant ideas.

And Trump is the Protestant King. Vicious, ugly, born to wealth, claiming omnipotence, dumb as a rock, and can raise an army of people that are the direct blood relations of those that put to death the middle class all across Northern Europe.

All they need to do now is reinterpret the foundational documents of our nation, through some kind of whacky ‘originalism’ and we’re in Reformation II, Electric Boogaloo.

The disaffected have been armed and are rising against a perceived enemy that has something to do with - they don’t know exactly what. It’s in their nature to do what they’re doing. Before they had murderous religious righteousness they had nothing.

And hey, I notice this week there is a statute of limitations on murder after all, at least in Tulsa. That wasn’t the 1500s, bud.


I think this overview is informative and persuasive. We underestimate the power of magical thinking, even among the ‘highly educated’, at our peril.


Well, that was a bit unhinged.

Calvin was an extreme offshoot of the larger Protestant Reformation ignited by Martin Luther’s 95 theses. In short, the Protestant Reformation rejected the Catholic notion of the clergy being a necessary interlocutor between the people and God.

That contrived relationship was a big part of the early social dominance of the priesthood. If you have to go through them to get to God, then that is a powerful source of religious and social control. What Luther did was to tear down that wall separating people from the word of the divine.

Part of the process was to translate the Bible from Latin into the local languages, so the people themselves could see for themselves what the good news is, and not what some tithe grubbing cleric told you.


This article appears to accept that the Catholics brought new levels of political corruption to the cities where they established political machines. Now they have brought a new level of political corruption to the Supreme Court. It’s certainly not the case that there aren’t good Catholics. I largely like the pope, and I love my wife. But the abuse of children placed in Catholic institutions goes back centuries, as does its cover up. This is not a conspiracy theory, and not just priests. The nuns in Ireland were especially deadly.

The Protestant revolt was largely motivated by the corruption of the church (e.g. selling indulgences), and the underground translations of scripture to native languages readable by the rising, literate merchant class (as compared to the elites, who could read Greek and Latin). That said, for a fair moral comparison of Protestants to Catholics ask the Native Americans. The French Catholics made allies of, and largely respected, the natives, while the English Protestants largely slaughtered therm.


“His words, spoken in a courtly southern drawl, left an indelible impression on me.”

Make that “mush-mouthed hick accent.”


This piece is a useful Baedeker’s Guide to conspiracism in the US.

“You know, I am not antisemitic, and I am not anti-Black; that’s a complete misunderstanding of what I am,” Tucker Carlson recently, reportedly, said. “I am anti-Catholic.”

Carlson certainly IS antisemitic and anti-black, but still fascinating, considering how many Catholics made up his Fox News viewer base, and given the fact that ultramontane Catholics like Alito are the cutting edge of right-wing revanchism in this country.

I suppose Umberto Eco really knew what he was taking about when he called fascism “syncretic,” meaning it welded together disparate or even contradictory elements:

  1. That accounts for the right wing in the US containing Catholics and anti-Catholics.

  2. The right-wing is racist and white supremacist, but that doesn’t stop Kanye West, or Byron Donalds, or the GOP nominees for the US Senate from North Carolina and Minnesota from buying into it.

  3. The right-wing is antisemitic, but Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner were at the very pinnacle of the Trump administration, and billionaire and Zionist Paul Singer is a big Trump donor, as is Sheldon Adelson’s widow.

Has anyone in the MSM ever explicitly pointed this out, or is it taboo?


I see most of this through the lens of class warfare:

[America’s financial, political, and social elites] work hard to protect their interests. Despite what they tell us, what’s good for them is not always what’s good for everyone else… Most of their energies go into union busting and political lobbying to keep their taxes low and regulations at a minimum. The owner class constantly tests the limits of what they can get away with, and they get away with a lot.

Where “get away with a lot” means literally dictating most of our laws, raping and murdering our children, and raiding our savings.

A great many of America’s problems share a hidden factor. The conspiracy theorists may not identify it correctly

…the implicit promise of white, Protestant, male hegemony no longer holds

The implicit promise of the entire American dream has been broken for a long time, and everybody can feel it; white Protestant men are a group who got eaten near the end, and they have been extremely thick about figuring it out.

As Dan Olson puts it:

people who feel their opportunities shrinking, who see the system closing around them… who feel the future getting smaller

All the doors of opportunity have been cemented shut, and are guarded by the likes of Musk and Bezos; any idea you might have is already their property, and you will pay their attorneys’ fees if you force them to sue you to death over it.

Rupert Murdoch has been stealing all our cookies and tricking us into blaming each other for the theft. Charles and David Koch spent uncountable fortunes tearing down the social compact, and have been at it since before most of us were born. These villains joined forces, stoking conspiracy theories across all media, drowning out the truth (e.g. “bad news for Biden”), and cultivating deranged intellectuals who spew useful apostatic sophistry. Without their meddling, a lot of this nonsense would never have gotten off the ground – there wouldn’t be seven different kinds of “Truthers.” Instead, there would be a smattering of cranks with absurd ideas rolling around in their heads, but their misbehaviors would have zero effect on the fate of the nation or the world, and nobody would let them drive a school bus, let alone write majority opinions for the highest court in the land.

As a result, they own the Judiciary, they rent our Legislature, and they steal our Executive every other cycle. TRUMP’s melding of Fox + the GOP has inverted that arrangement such that the stooges in Congress effectively rent their positions from the oligarchy. All three organs now proclaim on the daily that it would be improper for them to help each other climb out of the quagmire of regulatory capture that is the hallmark of late-stage capitalism as it metastasizes into its terminal form (nevermind that was the animating reason for our tripartite federal government).

Now we are ruled by the worst of all men, rapacious crooks none of us would trust alone in the dark with so much as a candy bar. Thieves and pimps run free, and good men and women are executed in the court of public opinion for their pleasure.


Time to go check my sites; I must know if any of the Kardashians have lost weight since last night.