Friday, March 23, 2007

Last-minute proposals

Partly because of an illness, I may not get back to everyone who sent into proposals after Wednesday night. I rarely reject them outright so assume you can get to work unless I tell you otherwise. If you are still planning to send in a paper proposal Friday (email is fine), here is what I am looking for, quoting an email I sent to several of you:
You need to write a proposal defining the topic (including some details on the conspiracy theory, the groups or events it concerns, its political or social context, and the time period you plan to look at) and giving your preliminary ideas about what you might argue. You should append a preliminary bibliography including at least some print sources from outside the course.
I do plan to try and keep office hours Friday if my health permits at all. UPDATE: Actually I will not be able to make it in today. Feel to give me a call this afternoon at 446-2724 if you have any questions.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Our sign at the Neo-Nazi protest, 3/10/2007

Someone asked below about what the sign said that my son and I had at the neo-Nazi protest. Here's Owen modelling it:

Real ID as the Mark of the Beast

There was a unusually good conspiracy-related story in the Metro section of today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It seems that the post-9/11 Real ID program has run into a roadblock in the form of our good friend premillenial dispensationalism, though that is not the term used in the story. Apparently there is a pretty widespread belief among Apocalypse-oriented Christians that a uniform national ID would fulfill the Biblical prophecy about the Antichrist forcing anyone who wants to buy or sell to accept his mark or number. Of course the number given in Revelations is 666, and Real ID is of course not the first time the population has been numbered. (Try functioning in modern society without a Social Security number or travelling abroad with a passport.) The real rub for dispensationalists is that, I understand it, the Mark of the Beast is part of the Tribulation that is supposed to come after all the good Christians have been Raptured. So anyone who gets a Real ID won't be joining Jesus in heaven anytime soon.

Conspiratorial thought in the Early American Republic

Non-comprehensive bibliography on conspiratorial thought in the Early Republic

I am posting this more for my historian colleagues online than for the class, but some of you guys may find this useful too. Colleagues feel free to post additional citations in the comment section.
  • Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967.
  • Billington, Ray Allen. The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860: A Study of the Origins of American Nativism. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1964.
  • Briceland, Alan V. "The Philadelphia Aurora, The New England Illuminati, and The Election of 1800." Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 50 (January 1976): 3-36.
  • Carter II, Edward C. "A "Wild Irishman" Under Every Federalist's Bed: Naturalization in Philadelphia, 1789-1906." Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 94 (1970): 331-46.
  • Davis, David Brion, ed. The Fear of Conspiracy: Images of Un-American Subversion From the Revolution to the Present. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971.
  • ________. The Slave Power Conspiracy and the Paranoid Style.The Walter Lynwood Fleming Lectures in Southern History. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1969.
  • ________. "Some Themes of Counter-Subversion: An Analysis of Anti-Masonic, Anti-Catholic, and Anti-Mormon Literature." Mississippi Valley Historical Review 47, no. 2 (September 1960): 205-24.
  • Formisano, Ronald P. and Kathleen Smith Kutolowski. "Antimasonry and Masonry: The Genesis of Protest, 1826-1827." American Quarterly 29 (1977): 139-65.
  • Goodman, Paul. Towards a Christian Republic: Antimasonry and the Great Transition in New England. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
  • Howe Jr., John R. "Republican Thought and the Political Violence of the 1790's." American Quarterly 19 (1967): 147-65.
  • Hünemörder, Markus. "The Society of the Cincinnati: Conspiracy Theory in the Early American Republic." Bulletin of the German Historical Institute, no. 31 (Fall 2002): 65-80.
  • Knight, Peter, ed. Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia. 2 vols. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2003.
  • Kutolowski, Kathleen Smith. "Antimasonry Reexamined: Social Bases of a Grass-Roots Party." Journal of American History 71 (September 1984): 269-93.
  • ________. "Freemasonry and Community in the Early Republic: The Case for Antimasonic Anxieties." American Quarterly 34 (1982 ): 543-61.
  • Murrin, John M. "Escaping Perfidious Albion: Federalism, Fear of Aristocracy, and the Democratization of Corruption in Postrevolutionary America." In Virtue, Corruption, and Self-Interest: Political Values in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Richard K. Matthews. Bethlehem, Pa.: Lehigh University Press, 1994.
  • Nash, Gary B. "The American Clergy and the French Revolution." William and Mary Quarterly 3d ser., 22 (1965): 392-412.
  • Newman, Simon. "The World Turned Upside Down: Revolutionary Politics, Fries' and Gabriel's Rebellions, and the Fears of the Federalists." Pennsylvania History 67, no. 1 (2000): 5-20 .
  • Pasley, Jeffrey L. "Conspiracy Theory and American Exceptionalism from the Revolution to Roswell." Unpublished conference paper, May 2000. Available at
  • Ratner, Lorman. Antimasonry: The Crusade and the Party. American Historical Sources Series: Research and Interpretation. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969.
  • Ridgway, Whitman H. "Fries in the Federalist Imagination: A Crisis of Republican Society." Pennsylvania History 67, no. 1 (2000): 141-60.
  • Rohrs, Richard C. "Partisan Politics and the Attempted Assassination of Andrew Jackson ." Journal of the Early Republic 1 (Summer 1981): 149-63.
  • Schultz, Nancy Lusignan, ed. Fear Itself: Enemies Real and Imagined in American Culture. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1999.
  • Smelser, Marshall. "The Federalist Period As an Age of Passion." American Quarterly 10 (Winter 1958): 391-419.
  • Stauffer, Vernon. New England and the Bavarian Illuminati. New York: Russell & Russell, [1967].
  • White, Ed. "The Value of Conspiracy Theory." American Literary History 14 (Spring 2002): 1-31.
  • Wood, Gordon S. "Conspiracy and the Paranoid Style: Causality and Deceit in the Eighteenth Century." William and Mary Quarterly 3d ser., 39, no. 3 (July 1982): 401-41.
I should also include a few works on early American freemasonry that I habitually recommend to my students even though they do not spend much time on Antimasonic conspiracy theories.
  • Brooke, John L. "Ancient Lodges and Self-Created Societies: Voluntary Association and the Public Sphere in the Early Republic."In Launching the 'Extended Republic': The Federalist Era, eds. Ronald Hoffman and Peter J. Albert, 273-377. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1996.
  • Bullock, Steven C. Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1996.
  • Lipson, Dorothy Ann. Freemasonry in Federalist Connecticut, 1789-1835. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Neo-Nazi aftermath

I have been meaning to post this all week. You may have seen below that our class web site has also had a visit from the Nazis, albeit from a different neo-Nazi group with nearly same name that hates the group that came to Columbia. This is the way it goes in the world of fringe politics -- lots of tiny splinter groups fighting as bitterly with each other as they do against anyone else. I thought the student comments below were quite good, and you probably already saw that my younger son and I made the papers last Sunday. Owen was the only little kid down there, that the reporter could see anyway.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Notes on Midterms

I just wanted to say good job on the exams, overall they were sound, but a few notes I want everyone to be aware of:
1) citations: Do not only cite direct quotations. If you took an idea or fact from another author, you MUST cite, otherwise it's plagairism. There were far too many questionable statements, this might have been a take home midterm, but you were still expected to identify your source; no one will ever mark you down for citing too much (unless you are failing to understand the author).
2) quotations: use sparingly. A few will strengthen a paper, but too many weakens your authorial voice, to the point where the reader understands you're just rehasing someone else's arguement, and not necessarily demonstrating an understanding of the material. But by rephrasing, or even better, incorporating the author's arguement into your own, you demonstrate a true grasp of the material.
3) examples: Many papers either went too heavy into theory, or too lightly touched up on it. The best papers demonstrated an ability to encorporate theory with examples. If you say CTs come from distrust of the government, show it. Saying "Distrust of the government can be seen in the many conspiracy theories revolving around 9/11." While this is true, you are only telling the reader this fact, not showing it to them. A stronger way of stating that would be: "The conspiracy theories revolving around 9/11 demonstrate a basic distrust of the government, since people are unwilling to accept either the government reports, or statements from outside and qualified experts. Instead, the amateur investigator turns to their own resources, and anyone who counters his point of view becomes wrapped up in the conspiracy." In this second version, you have shown how distrust of the government created 9/11 conspiracies.
4) Just for my own gratification: MCCARTHY WAS A BLOODY DRUNK WHO DRAGGED UP THE RED SCARE TO PROP UP A FAILING POLITICAL CAREER. Perhaps he believed it, more likely he just enjoyed the attention. Yes, there were communists in America, yes we were at odds with the Soviet Union; this does not mean that McCarthy uncovered some grave scheme to overthrow American democracy. Rather, he was a failing politician who needed some sort of gimmick to attract attention, and more importantly, votes. This is Hofstadter's point. Hofstadter did not believe there was a communist conspiracy, instead he was using McCarthy as an example of a politician who used fears of CTs to gain political power, as he had been marganilized from the politics of the days.

Monday, March 12, 2007

mid terms

Just to let you folks know, midterms should be back by Thursday, but for those who need them for sports teams and what not email me and I will be certain to have yours graded by tomorrow (You won't get them back, but I will give you the grade).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Conspiracism on parade in Columbia

As you all know by now, Columbia is receiving a visit this Saturday from a racist hate group that has a lot in common with many of the groups we have been talking about this semester. The National Socialist Movement, or "America's Nazi Party," appears to be a sort of youth-oriented hate group that ties together older neo-Nazi and militia groups with a younger skinhead scene and mixes in some Christian Identity rhetoric (ZOG, etc.) and simulated Nazi uniforms . The youth orientation can be seen in the neo-Nazi hoodies, punk rock records, and video games ("ZOG's Nightmare") for sale on their web site. They even have their own record label. I will reproduce a couple of examples here to save you the skin-crawling experience of actually looking through their web site.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lecture links 3/8: "Paul is Dead" and Carl Oglesby's "Yankee and Cowboy War"

Here are some links that will give you access to more information on some topics to be mentioned in Thursday's lecture:

The "Paul is Dead" rumor (a Beatles-related conspiracy theory)
Carl Oglesby, Students for a Democratic Society leader turned JFK conspiracy theorist

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Fear of "Facebook"

Just a quick link passed onto me by August King, demonstrating that conspiracy theories can emerge about anything, even Facebook.