Friday, October 23, 2009

The Commonwealth Legion

The conservative group Accuracy in Media is having their 40th anniversary conference in Washington DC today. C-Span is providing a true public service by covering the whole thing live. It's worth tuning it any point to get a sense of the current political environment in the USA and in particular the extent to which views that were once on the fringe of conservatism have gone mainstream conservative.

For the participants, Barack Obama, global warming, the rise of China, the Israel-Palestine question, the fall of Communism, the rise of Islamism etc are the convergence of a relentless march of America-haters who have skillfully manipulated events and perceptions thereof to advance their America-hating agenda.

Since there's already quite enough of the Internet devoted to these theories, enough said. Instead, one side observation about the conference: an out of proportion number of the speakers, telling the loyalists what they wanted to hear, were not American.

Consider this morning. New Zealander Trevor Loudon drawing a line between meat packing strikes in Chicago in the 1940s and a Communist in the White House today, just as the New Zealand hard left had taken over there in the mid-1980s. There was the Irish journalism veteran Ann McElhinney complaining, inter alia, about the challenge of buying non-organic food in Whole Foods. And telling tales of children coming home from school saying that they hate their parents' lifestyles as a result of what they had heard about global warming.

The republican audience (one would assume in both American senses of the word) lapped up the global warming scepticism of the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, who assured them all that the science was a massive hoax. He was also signing books outside. And then luncheon speaker Tony Blankley, who despite the long-time career as a Washington media operative, is still somewhere back in the mists of time a Londoner.

So what's the interpretation? The obvious one is that American conspiratorial rabble-rousing is best served up with a Commonwealth (& ex-members) country accent. It seems to add to the credibility. For the audience (and this came up during Loudon's Q&A), it only proves that the conspiracy is indeed so vast that most Americans have already been co-opted by it and only furriners can see the truth. It's worth noting that this is not a new phenomenon: The Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard was a critical cog in the Clinton wars of the 1990s, because he would launder the loony theories through the Telegraph, thus providing a legitimate source for the establishment US media to "discuss" the stories.

And for the foreigners, it shows that America is still the land of opportunity. Ireland, New Zealand, and even the UK just don't have the market size on their own to make a living out of knowing that you're right and everyone else is wrong. America has the size and the politics to make it work. Is this a great country or what?

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