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How would you respond to this?


Dan Stevenson
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Hello,

This is my first attempt at a new topic thread.

I joined this forum to find a new community after spending a few years on a college football (American) forum.

I feel this community to be so much more intellectually satisfying than the old one.

I have been diigently reading old threads to try to get caught up and to avoid redundancy.

And, as I am still back in early 2005, I was not planning on posting anything new for quite a while.

However, something came up due to my unfortunate decision to share some of what I've been learning here on my old college football board. Even though in general sports tends to bore me these days I find it easier to interact there until I get my bearings here.

That was a bit of a mistake.

In response to sharing some of my thoughts about the global players behind world events, I received a link to an essay titled "The Paranoid Sytle in American Politics and other Essays"

Here is the link:

http://studyplace.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/files/courses/reserve/Hofstadter-1996-Paranoid-Style-American-Politics-1-to-40.pdf

While I only gave a quick scan of the essay, I saw enough to conclude that the piece is one of the best and most articulate examples of the manner in which legitimate decent and investigative inquiry is summarily and dismissively marginalized as representing some kind of character flaw or mental aboration.

I have several ways that I handle this kind of thing.

But I am wondering if anybody is familiar with this particular piece of writing.

What do you think about it?

How have you or would you respond, if at all?

My response is that the article is irrelevant because it fails to distinguish between legitimate concerns stemming from well documented sources (ie. The Project For a New American Century) of a new world order and consolidation of global power and a specific attitude or attributional style of a particular personality type.

While normally I like to stay strictly on topic regarding the JFK assassination, the essay does use the JFK assassination as an example and so it is directed at all of us.

Thanks,

Dan

I

Edited by Dan Stevenson
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I'm sorry.

I forgot to include a general summary of the essay:

The article was a quick follow up to a lecture given at Oxford in NOVEMEBER OF 1963!

The article does a good job of covering the many areas where conspiracy research has

achieved some valance. It basically atributes those that are questioning the official account or are suspicious about secret societies as angry. He also point out that his critique is by no means partisan. His over arching point is that there is a paranoid style to such folks. And they are only one step above those that fear someone is out to get them personally.

If you'd like me to copy and paste the entire text, I can do that. Here are his first 2 paragraphs:

ALTHOUGH American political life has rarely been touched by the most acute varieties of class conflict, it has served again and again as an arena for uncommonly angry minds. Today this fact is most evident on the extreme right wing, which has shown, particularly in the Goldwater move­ment. how much political leverage can he got out of the ani­mosities and passions of a small minority. Behind such move­ ments there is a style of mind, not always right-wing in its affiliations, that has a long and varied history. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the qualities of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression "paranoid style," I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunarics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to people with pro­foundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phe­nomenon significant.

When I speak of the paranoid style, I use the term much as a historian of art might speak of the baroque or the mannerist style. It is, above all, a way of seeing the world and of express­ing oneself. Webster defines paranoia, the clinical entity. as a chronic mental disorder characterized by systematized delu­ sions of persecution and of one's own greatness. In the para­noid style, as I conceive it, the feeling of persecution is central, and it is indeed systematized in grandiose theories of conspiracy. But there is a vital difference between the para­noid spokesman in politics and the clinical paranoiac: although they both tend to be overheated, oversuspicious, overaggres­sive, grandiose, and apocalyptic in expression, the clinical paranoid sees the hostile and conspiratorial world in which he feels himself to be living as directed specifically against him; whereas the spokesman of the paranoid style finds it directed against a nation, a culture, a way of life whose fate affects not himself alone but millions of others. Insofar as he does not usually see himself singled out as the individual victim of a personal conspiracy, he is somewhat more rational and much more disinterested. His sense that his political passions are un­selfish and patriotic, in fact, goes far to intensify his feeling of righteousness and his moral indignation.

Edited by Dan Stevenson
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I'm sorry.

I forgot to include a general summary of the essay:

The article was a quick follow up to a lecture given at Oxford in NOVEMEBER OF 1963!

The article does a good job of covering the many areas where conspiracy research has

achieved some valance. It basically atributes those that are questioning the official account or are suspicious about secret societies as angry. He also point out that his critique is by no means partisan. His over arching point is that there is a paranoid style to such folks. And they are only one step above those that fear someone is out to get them personally.

If you'd like me to copy and paste the entire text, I can do that. Here are his first 2 paragraphs:

ALTHOUGH American political life has rarely been touched by the most acute varieties of class conflict, it has served again and again as an arena for uncommonly angry minds. Today this fact is most evident on the extreme right wing, which has shown, particularly in the Goldwater move­ment. how much political leverage can he got out of the ani­mosities and passions of a small minority. Behind such move­ ments there is a style of mind, not always right-wing in its affiliations, that has a long and varied history. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the qualities of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression "paranoid style," I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunarics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to people with pro­foundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phe­nomenon significant.

When I speak of the paranoid style, I use the term much as a historian of art might speak of the baroque or the mannerist style. It is, above all, a way of seeing the world and of express­ing oneself. Webster defines paranoia, the clinical entity. as a chronic mental disorder characterized by systematized delu­ sions of persecution and of one's own greatness. In the para­noid style, as I conceive it, the feeling of persecution is central, and it is indeed systematized in grandiose theories of conspiracy. But there is a vital difference between the para­noid spokesman in politics and the clinical paranoiac: although they both tend to be overheated, oversuspicious, overaggres­sive, grandiose, and apocalyptic in expression, the clinical paranoid sees the hostile and conspiratorial world in which he feels himself to be living as directed specifically against him; whereas the spokesman of the paranoid style finds it directed against a nation, a culture, a way of life whose fate affects not himself alone but millions of others. Insofar as he does not usually see himself singled out as the individual victim of a personal conspiracy, he is somewhat more rational and much more disinterested. His sense that his political passions are un­selfish and patriotic, in fact, goes far to intensify his feeling of righteousness and his moral indignation.

Welcome, Dan.

Just thought I'd let you know that being clinically paranoid (preferably with delusions) is a prerequisite to being a member of this, or any other, JFK assassination "forum."

--Tommy :sun

PS It helps to believe in the genetically-engineered or separated-at-birth Harvey and Lee (and Henry) look-alikes, as well.

LOL

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Ha ha

When I first posted this, I did not realize that the essay was literally written right after the JFK hit.

Was someone feeling a little defensive?

Were the elite's at Oxford trying to shame people away from talks of conspiracy?

Did it work?

How much water cooler talk was similar to this in response to those that dared suggest LHO did not act alone?

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I'm sorry.

I forgot to include a general summary of the essay:

The article was a quick follow up to a lecture given at Oxford in NOVEMEBER OF 1963!

The article does a good job of covering the many areas where conspiracy research has

achieved some valance. It basically atributes those that are questioning the official account or are suspicious about secret societies as angry. He also point out that his critique is by no means partisan. His over arching point is that there is a paranoid style to such folks. And they are only one step above those that fear someone is out to get them personally.

If you'd like me to copy and paste the entire text, I can do that. Here are his first 2 paragraphs:

ALTHOUGH American political life has rarely been touched by the most acute varieties of class conflict, it has served again and again as an arena for uncommonly angry minds. Today this fact is most evident on the extreme right wing, which has shown, particularly in the Goldwater move­ment. how much political leverage can he got out of the ani­mosities and passions of a small minority. Behind such move­ ments there is a style of mind, not always right-wing in its affiliations, that has a long and varied history. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the qualities of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression "paranoid style," I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunarics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to people with pro­foundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phe­nomenon significant.

When I speak of the paranoid style, I use the term much as a historian of art might speak of the baroque or the mannerist style. It is, above all, a way of seeing the world and of express­ing oneself. Webster defines paranoia, the clinical entity. as a chronic mental disorder characterized by systematized delu­ sions of persecution and of one's own greatness. In the para­noid style, as I conceive it, the feeling of persecution is central, and it is indeed systematized in grandiose theories of conspiracy. But there is a vital difference between the para­noid spokesman in politics and the clinical paranoiac: although they both tend to be overheated, oversuspicious, overaggres­sive, grandiose, and apocalyptic in expression, the clinical paranoid sees the hostile and conspiratorial world in which he feels himself to be living as directed specifically against him; whereas the spokesman of the paranoid style finds it directed against a nation, a culture, a way of life whose fate affects not himself alone but millions of others. Insofar as he does not usually see himself singled out as the individual victim of a personal conspiracy, he is somewhat more rational and much more disinterested. His sense that his political passions are un­selfish and patriotic, in fact, goes far to intensify his feeling of righteousness and his moral indignation.

Welcome, Dan.

Just thought I'd let you know that being clinically paranoid (preferably with delusions) is a prerequisite to being a member of this, or any other, JFK assassination "forum."

--Tommy :sun

PS It helps to believe in the genetically-engineered or separated-at-birth Harvey and Lee (and Henry) look-alikes, as well.

LOL

Just read your bio. Your psychology background should help you deal with most of us.

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Dan, actually I can see some validity in the essay, at least the paragraphs you cited. Having been a teenager in 1963 and an avid Goldwater supporter I can assure you popular political paranoia was alive and well - and certainly as angry as the article described.

I particularly like the following though:

"It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phe­nomenon significant."

It seems an eerily accurate insight into what would happen to American news/talk radio in the 21st Century

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Larry: I posted this because I think the author has a point. But I'm not sure how you express strong dissent against things that are of concern without sounding like this.

Or is it a type of PTSD leaking out through political discussion after being shell shocked by things like political assassination, 9/11 etc.

When I was a child, I was very positive and happy. And as long as I stayed naive, I remained that way.

Is this type of editorial, an attempt to protect against the negative reality and the subsequent psychological damage as much as it is to suggest a better way of expressing oneself?

Maybe I should read your book.

I did buy it, but I gave it away as a gift.

He finally started reading it and was all fired up about how messed up the FBI was.

We are on a book trade system.

I'll read it when I get it back from him.

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Dan, this certainly goes into some heavy philosophical areas.....its the sort of thing that I recall chewing up lots of hours in talk sessions at the College student union, only to be resolved later at a local student pub...grin.

Would be fun to do that sort of thing again.

More seriously though, I think he does have a point and that there is a real issue when he writes about the the felling of persecution being central, systematized to grandiose theories of conspiracy. He may have left

out a step though, I think the real risk is going from feelings of helplessness in the face of the larger system (my generation called it the "establishment") to feelings of persecution....then to grand conspiracy. The problem

is when you get in that final state, you begin filtering everything against your new world view.

Fortunately I had a chance to meet some of the first generation JFK researchers who I think had a healthier answer. The best of them simply called themselves "skeptics", not believers in conspiracy, with the view that you challenge everything equally....what you want to believe, what you don't want to believe and what you don't believe. I think that sort of skepticism can be healthy, not so much on paranoia. Its not as much fun as being young and naive, but

that's the breaks.

There is a simple acid test for healthy skepticism. If you get three emails, one you intuitively believe, one that agrees with your politics or world view but might be a bit extreme, and one that you find totally

implausible - and you fact check all three emails before you forward them - then you are in skeptic space. If not, to quote an old phrase, you are becoming part of the problem rather than the solution.

-- and that was way too deep, need to lie down for a bit now..

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Hofstader's essay was resurrected among the magazine press at the time of Watergate as well, so it has a history of being associated with right-wing excesses, which are not typically reactions to the 1960s assassinations. One could always research and compile Nixon's recorded reactions to Kennedy's killing in riposte, such as his threat to expose CIA to the fallout from "the whole Bay of Pigs thing," which has been much discussed in this Forum. George Bush's tasteless grinning over the "lone assassin" myth - performed at Gerald Ford's funeral - is another telling reaction, as is LBJ's post presidency interview assertion that he did not discount conspiracy notions about JFK's death.

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Larry:

Interesting you bring up the term "helpless"

part of my thesis for my Psychology BA included studying a concept called "learned helplessness".

It is related to attribution theory.

Briefly, attribution theory has to do generally with how people attribute cause an effect. Is it outside their control (external locus i.e.. luck) or inside their control (internal-i.e. effort).

Learned helplessness is what happens when folks become external after learning that effort makes no difference.

These concepts are very relevant to political movements and the relationship of the individual to the larger power structure.

These psychological effects are very real.

IMO--Many folks in this world are suffering from learned helplessness, which is like untreated grief or PTSD, without realizing it.

It may explain the political apathy currently affecting modern American society.

Edited by Dan Stevenson
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Larry:

Interesting you bring up the term "helpless"

part of my thesis for my Psychology BA included studying a concept called "learned helplessness".

It is related to attribution theory.

Briefly, attribution theory has to do generally with how people attribute cause an effect. Is it outside their control (external locus i.e.. luck) or inside their control (internal-i.e. effort).

Learned helplessness is what happens when folks aquire become external after learning that effort makes no difference.

These concepts are very relevant to political movements and the relationship of the individual to the larger power structure.

These psychological effects are very real.

IMO--Many folks in this world are suffering from learned helplessness, which is like untreated grief or PTSD, without realizing it.

It may explain the political apothy currently affecting modern American society.

"When folks acquire become..."

?

--Tommy :sun

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Dan, your ideas in post #10 above somewhat parallel Greg Burnham’s post 159 on the “Proof of Motorcade Stopping” thread. Greg’s post below:

Vincent J. Salandria was interviewed by Gaeton Fonzi in 1975. It was quoted by Fonzi in The Last Investigation (1993)

"I'm afraid we were misled. All the critics, myself included, were misled very early. I see that now. We spent too much time and effort microanalyzing the details of the assassination when all the time it was obvious, it was blatantly obvious that it was a conspiracy. Don't you think that the men who killed Kennedy had the means to do it in the most sophisticated and subtle way? They chose not to. Instead, they picked the shooting gallery that was Dealey Plaza and did it in the most barbarous and openly arrogant manner. The cover story was transparent and designed not to hold, to fall apart at the slightest scrutiny. The forces that killed Kennedy wanted the message clear: 'We are in control and no one - not the President, nor Congress, nor any elected official - no one can do anything about it.' It was a message to the people that their Government was powerless. And the people eventually got the message. Consider what has happened since the Kennedy assassination. People see government today as unresponsive to their needs, yet the budget and power of the military and intelligence establishment have increased tremendously.

"The tyranny of power is here. Current events tell us that those who killed Kennedy can only perpetuate their power by promoting social upheaval both at home and abroad. And that will lead not to revolution but to repression. I suggest to you, my friend, that the interests of those who killed Kennedy now transcend national boundaries and national priorities. No doubt we are dealing now with an international conspiracy. We must face that fact - and not waste any more time microanalyzing the evidence. That's exactly what they want us to do. They have kept us busy for so long. And I will bet, buddy, that is what will happen to you. They'll keep you very, very busy and, eventually, they'll wear you down."

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I can only go by my own experience on the subject of conspiracy and paranoia.

In my youth I accepted the Warren Commission findings because that was what the government said happened. This was America and we had to trust our leaders. Even when I had watched Ruby shoot Oswald on TV, the idea of a conspiracy didn’t even cross my mind. As best as I can recall, I thought that Oswald got what he deserved. Thanks, Jack.

Was I paranoid yet? No, I was a sheep.

I remember reading a review of Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgment in Time Magazine. The book sounded interesting, but Time basically poo-pooed it, so I figured Time had it right. I mean, it was Time Magazine!

Was I paranoid yet? No, it was Mark Lane who was sick.

Fast forward to the HSCA report, concluding that there was probably a conspiracy. I thought, well, it looks like Oswald may have had someone help him. It’s too bad that the guy got away.

Was I paranoid yet? No, I was still grazing contentedly in the government’s pasture.

Now to the 1980s. I was a librarian, and my library got a copy of David Lifton’s Best Evidence. The subtitle about “Disguise and Deception” clearly suggested conspiracy surrounding the assassination and autopsy. I refused to read it. The book was thick and why should I waste my time? This Lifton had clearly concocted a bunch of crap to make a lot of money.

Was I paranoid yet? No, I was now a middle-aged SHEEP.

I think the first conspiracy book I read was Jim Marrs’s Crossfire, and only because my brother recommended it. It was only then that I sat down and read Best Evidence and other books on the subject. So did paranoia lead me to believe in conspiracy? No, my belief was the result of sitting down and reading the obvious evidence for conspiracy for the first time in my sheepish life.

Am I paranoid now? You bet, that’s what truth will do to you, It poisons the mind. I’m now just as sick as anyone else here.

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There have always been efforts, and there continue to be efforts, to try and explain conspiracy beliefs in psychological terms. This is not far removed from the steadfast media talking point that people just can't accept that a "nobody" like Oswald was able to kill a powerful figure like JFK, and are forever in search of "complex" explanations for it. The Soviet Union used to label citizens who opposed them as "mentally ill," and sent them to Siberia.

"Conspiracy theorist" has become the mainstream media's catch-all label to describe anyone, "Left" or "Right," who is questioning authority. As I hope I proved in my book Hidden History, the official narratives about everything from the JFK assassination to 9/11 to October Surprise to the plane crash that took the life of JFK, Jr. were absurd and should be doubted by any intelligent, rational person.

We are fooling ourselves to continue to try and reign in the size and scope of the conspiracy and cover-up of the JFK assassination. When I heard Stephen King was writing about the Kennedy assassination, I knew he would say Oswald did it. It's not a bit surprising that actor James Franco, who will star in the movie based on King's book, is a fan of the Warren Report. This kind of universal consensus on the part of those in a position of public influence, compelled Richard Belzer to declare, "90% of the American people think there was a conspiracy. The other 10% work for the government or the media."

The continuing nature of the cover-up, by persons who mostly were not even born yet in 1963, demonstrates quite effectively that it wasn't a "renegade" group within the CIA, or anti-Castro activists, or the mob, that were behind the death of Kennedy.

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Tom: I am familiar with that quote and that post.

It is a perfect example of how a dedicated man can become or feel helpless from trying to face up to the depressing facts surrounding political scandals. And he may have been right to feel helpless. I don't know.

FWI, I am still going through some of the older posts so I don't create too many redundancys.

Ron and Don, I share your perspectives.

The tole it takes to work towards truth and justice, whatever that means, is considerable.

It makes me wonder how any truth movement will ever become a mass movement.

That is something to research as well.

It also makes me totally respect all of you and it inspires me to write my own book.

For now, I am thrilled to find this community and I am learning a lot just from researching this "JFK Assassination Debate" topic on this board.

I am working forward from 2004 and have only just begun 2005. So I have read many great posts by all here and I have wanted to respond at times but felt it better to wait and not bump old threads.

FWI, technically I don't qualify as a teacher or researcher. For now I'm really just a dedicated student. But I do pay close attention and I do have my own theories.

To me the biggest keys that I have yet to see adequately answered are...

1) The trajectory of the kill shot--Grassy knoll or farther in front towards the overpass?

2) The behavior of Jackie Kennedy during the ordeal and to some degree after? Not suggestion anything sinister here, just curious.

3) Oswald, of course

4) JD Tippitt's murder and the Dallas Police in general.

5) Why did Ruby seem to be everywhere and know everyone, even though he was "low level"? The guy got around.

6) To a lesser degree, how did a guy (read crook) like Hoover manage to stick around for almost half a century as the top law enforcement official? Kennedy should have fired him before he did all the rest. That would have changed everything.

Anyway, I have already read quite a few posts on these topics, but have yet to be fully satisfied. But I am still back in 2005. So I'm sure something will pop up.

Edited by Dan Stevenson
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