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A Response to Chip Berlet’s “Toxic to Democracy”

Response to Chip Berlet’s “Toxic to Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, and Scapegoating”

By Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff

Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored

censorship1 300x224 A Response to Chip Berlet’s “Toxic to Democracy” In his recent essay “Toxic to Democracy,” Political Research Associates (PRA) Senior Analyst Chip Berlet uses the very same methods of demonization by association that he so strongly opposes. Berlet convolutes historical context, ideological differences, and progressives vis-à-vis extreme conservative/neo-con/libertarians in a diatribe of meaninglessness.

Berlet lumps valid academic research on State Crimes Against Democracy (SCADs) in with anti-Semitic jingoism and far right wing extremism.  He suggests that any research that even implies some sort of conspiracy is dangerous and suspect, seemingly forgetting a long list of proven US and other government conspiracies (SCADs) including: Operation Mockingbird, COINTELPRO, Gulf of Tonkin “Incident,” October Surprise, CIA-Contra Dark Alliance, Iran-Contra, WMDs and Iraq Invasion, and the overthrow of governments in Iran, Guatemala, Haiti, Chile, Greece, Indonesia, Panama, and many others.

Outrageously, Berlet categorizes progressive intellectuals such as Peter Dale Scott, Michael Parenti, David Ray Griffin, Michel Chossudovsky, and by innuendo the two of us, as dangerous conspiracists. He uses a straw person technique by positing former LaRouche analyst Webster Tarpley, and the Church of God Evangelistic Association founder David J. Smith in the same category as the progressive intellectuals listed above.

At the end of his essay, Berlet attempts to distinguish between people who do power structure research such as G. William Domhoff—who served on Peter Phillips’ dissertation committee regarding the Bohemian Grove in 1994— along with Holly Sklar, former PRA associate and author of a study on the Trilateral Commission compared to those who see elite networks as potential places of planning for self serving advantages. Of course, elites conspire to maximize their power and profits whenever possible.  Corporate boardrooms are rife with such activity and the resulting actions/PR manipulations—as recently evidenced by British Petroleum.  That does not mean one should simply dismiss researching the lies and manipulations of the powerful because it might imply a conspiracy, especially when the lies fail to explain how a 47-story steel frame building (WTC Building 7) collapsed in its own footprint at freefall speed on September 11, 2001, or how a scientific, peer-reviewed, academic journal discovered unreacted nano-thermite in the dust from the World Trade Centers (The Open Chemical Physics Journal).

While we have solid respect for the long tradition of research into extreme right wing and racist organizations for which PRA is well known, we are most dismayed by Chip Berlet’s reactionary dismissal of academic research into conspiracies/State Crimes Against Democracy by long time progressive intellectuals.

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and President of Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored

Mickey Huff is an Associate Professor of History at Diablo Valley College and Director of Project Censored/Media Freedom Foundation

See Berlet’s essay “Toxic to Democracy” at http://www.publiceye.org/conspire/toxic2democracy/

  • Henry Macwhirr July 24, 2010

    Berlet is simply a charlatan. His claim to be a “progressive” is a sham. The Ford Foundation does not fund “progressives.”

  • Shawn Hamilton July 27, 2010

    It might interest some of your readers to know that a resolution was presented to the Pacifica (radio) Board that would limit undisclosed contributions to $5000 because of allegations that Democracy Now! Host Amy Goodman was receiving “CIA conduit foundation funding from the Ford Foundation and other sources” for her silence on 9-11 topics.

    The Ford Foundation may indeed fund “progressives,” but there may be strings attached.

    http://theswillbucket.com/?p=201

  • Suzan July 29, 2010

    Amen.

    I’m currently trying to finish JFK and the unspeakable : Why He Died and Why It Matters, in which Oswald is exposed as both a CIA and FBI agent who had to be silenced because he admired JFK (remember him yelling to the “media” that he was a “patsy?”), and Jack Ruby is exposed as an old gun-runner for the Mafia and the CIA who was tasked to murder him to silence him before he could testify any further to what had happened that day.

    Read it. It’s only the tip of the iceberg as to how long the U.S. has been controlled by the true “conspiracists.”

    While we have solid respect for the long tradition of research into extreme right wing and racist organizations for which PRA is well known, we are most dismayed by Chip Berlet’s reactionary dismissal of academic research into conspiracies/State Crimes Against Democracy by long time progressive intellectuals.

  • Shawn Hamilton July 31, 2010

    James,

    Can you state your thesis please?

  • ProudPrimate August 12, 2010

    Don’t forget to include Operation Gladio among the fully accredited SCADS attributable to CIA/MI6, well documented in three hour-long BBC episodes of TimeWatch. It might be added that Tarpley’s team was at the forefront of this exposé, with their book “Chi Ha Ucciso Aldo Moro?”

  • OK, if my first LONG comment gets approved, I owe readers an explanation — and myself a disclaimer — about the site a click on the name might link to:
    “http://www.sntp.net/education/CFAT.htm” which I found recently and echoes some serious concerns I’ve had for years about the whole word gone behavioral science and armchair psycholanalyst.

    I like to read about the history of things, bad ideas & good ideas. I’ve been trying to explain to some friends of mine (if they wish to continue as friends) that better to trace the principles (logic) behind and argument than attempt to fight psychological labeling with psychological labeling.

    I do have a blog, but some privacy issues (i.e. an open court case (divorce/custody etc. It’s probably just going to pass its expire date, at this rate; closure nearly impossible) and am not proud enough of the blog to promote it on better-laid out (and proofread) ones — so sometimes I just direct readers (when submitting comments) to other sites that seem to speak to the topic. That’s where I got all hot & bothered about “say no to psychiatry.” (“SNTP.net”) in theory. I tend to think that’s good advice in general.

    Add to this, that with the amount of personal trauma have been through, I’m fairly preventative/alternative health oriented, rather than drug-it oriented. Hey, some of us are. In general, I’m as healthy as a lot of health-insured people my age, overall. I’m responsible for what goes in my mouth at least; cuts down on the Rx reactions; life is complex enough without them….

    So the SNTP site, labeled “Gene Zimmer co. 1999.” seemed a basic (though probably not current) summary of general trends for the lay readers. Plus it linked to a “Gary Null” site; I’ve read some of the books on there, also as an “educator.”

    But when looking for Who IS that guy? (Zimmer), another link led to a Scientology-type ad, and finally — to “clear” myself (pun intended!) — the site appears to be a Scientology front. Count me OUT, OK? At least per (this may not be much better, but someone else checked):

    http://www.conspiracyarchive.com/Commentary/Scientology_Fronts.htm

    Large excerpt below:
    “o wrap it up then, The Leipzig Connection was/is indeed published by a Scientology organization. It is not clear whether the authors (Paolo Lionni and Lance J. Klass) were Scientologists or not. I think it’s more subtle than this. As far as I’ve been able to confirm through excerpts on the web, the book doesn’t endorse Hubbard nor Scientology, per se. What is obvious is the fact that the book documents the infiltration of Experimental Psychology and Behaviorism into the educational establishment. Since Scientology places so much importance on controlling people through education, combined with its avowed hatred of psychiatry, The Leipzig Connection seems like a perfect book to promote. The exact methods used by the Wundts, the Young Hegelians, the Deweys, the G. Stanley Halls, the Skinners, etc., need to be replaced – according to the technocratic madmen running the cult called Scientology – by the equally insidious techniques of L. Ron Hubbard. Of course they would want to expose the competition!

    In connection with this, I feel a duty to inform the wary reader of the site sntp.net (in which large excerpts of the book in question can be read). With a title such as Say No To Psychiatry – The Danger and Harm of the Sham Pseudoscience Known As Psychiatry, in hindsight it seems obvious that it’s run by a Scientologist. In the past I’ve linked to some stories on the site; you’ll find there a good assortment of articles inveighing against the state of education, elite hegemony, the hegelian dialectic, and the dangers of humanism. But there’s another side …

    The WHOIS record for sntp.net:

    Registrant:
    Zimmer
    Eugene T. Zimmer
    3959 Van Dyke Road, PMB #258
    Lutz, FL 33558
    US
    +1.7278258677
    37525@whois.gkg.net

    Eugene T. Zimmer is otherwise known as Gene Zimmer, and the following can be found at the foot of every page on the site: “©Gene Zimmer 1999″. If you go to the following webpage, it is claimed that Gene Zimmer is a high-ranking Scientologist: an “Auditor” and a “Clear” who has either taken, or is the instructor of the OT (Operating Thetan) Doctorate Course; further, this page says he was a former Sea Org member, and links to a rather lengthy document he supposedly penned. Morever, again utilizing the in-site search feature reveals Mr. Zimmer’s allegiance: site:www.sntp.net scientology || hubbard. … Reader beware. ”

    Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, OK? That’s what I get for writing, searching the internet for illustrations of the point, and in general, probably not being more connected to more concrete activities with real people.

    Have been through some very, very hard times both in marriage, and afterwards in family law, and with family of origin. Multiple traumas and close-calls with (let’s just call it lethality factor), and after shortly, and briefly, re-connecting with the local community, creatively (marriage was abusive and attempts to repeatedly sabotage work/out of the home connections existed), the continual emotional shock factor came from a family who couldn’t accept the changed situation. No, I was not interested with exploring family history — most of ours have their own skeletons — but the experience was becoming more and more like attempting to leave a serious cult.

    I kept trying to put a handle, or a label, on the dynamic, or understand why writings about the oppression of polygamy/sharia (which had not experienced, although I lived with someone who might have approved of it), or cults, or perhaps it was gangs. The intense anger of my own family was affecting the communities I connected with, and always had (we were not much of a connected family).

    Add to this a legal system that was lurching down the road sideways, and pretty soon it became hazardous to one’s health to be associated with me as a client, employer, or even friend. This is personally humiliating, not to mention frightening, as the destruction was not haphazard, but identifiable on several fronts. And wouldn’t have happened without my own family’s participation. We aren’t wealthy (that I know of), but the behavior characterizes some of the “ruling families” in our tri-county area, several of who are in government. a.k.a., some of them are just nuts, and typical behavior is picking a black sheep and consolidating/hiding assets, etc.

    Years went by, jobs evaporated, court dates multiplied, and it was as though an emotional vacuum cleaner was constantly on the “on” position. After a while, narrating this gets old.. as does repeatedly starting over, and over, and over. I came to find how common my situation is, and got to know a lot of homeless people, homeless for any variety of reasons, not all self-inflicted. Right now, without fast change, I’m housed, but borderline homeless; a parent has just died, and it’s either take more abuse or do without inheritance, being unemployed. I kept trying to find ways to start up something apart from family so as not to watch it sabotaged, etc.

    That behavior of attempting to totally destroy another person characterizes Scientology, and attempts to leave it are similar to leaving heavy-duty cults. It is frightening, I assure you. This site by ex-Moonie Steve Hassan may illustrate:

    http://www.freedomofmind.com/

    Not far from the indoctrination practices are usually aspects of RICO, money-laundering, etc. and certain aspects in my particular family situation (deceipt, dishonesty, refusal to leave a paper trail, anger when one is requested) etc. seem to be cluster characteristics. I know quite a bit about the religious groups (for the record, I identify as Christian/Protestant, generally speaking, but have figured out, finally, to stay away from churches, especially networked evangelical protestant-style church “plants,” about which I could tell recent horror stories…

    Do not know if I’ll be able to turn the corner somehow, and get to a productive (but with positive cash flow) time of life and contribute some insights across a few different fields. It’s been a very, very interesting life so far. I regret that I no longer trust people, or organizations in general. Have recently lost an elderly parent, contact with both daughters, felt it wise not to attend memorial services, and have not been able to even mourn, while attempting to resolve the longstanding other issues. Meanwhile, attempting to leave some dialogue on-line just in case.

    For about a year and a half, I have been looking at some money trails and learned a lot about foundations behind institutes at various universities. Before that, all I looked at was the nonprofits. I no longer teach or hang out with children, in part because it reminds me of my own, and in part because enough is enough. Certain schools or kid-oriented organizations attract dubious personalities who like to test theories on kids rather than relate to them as people. You can kind of “smell” this; and I just can’t stomach this any more.

    Again, SNTP.net does appear to be written by a serious Scientologist; but does probably pose some valid questions and point to further research in “what happened?” to US Education.

  • RazerRay March 18, 2013

    Sorry guys. You should know that 9/11 In reality was a “Revenge-Side” job by rogue NATO mercenaries for the CIA’s double-dealing mujahideen fighters who STILL work for the CIA in Libya and Syria, and are STILL being double-dealed. The blowback happens faster now. It only took one year for them to kill our “Ambassador” to Libya, and even as the French invaded Mali, the mujahideen fighters there were already taking French hostages in-country.

    Further It fascinates me that the only “Truthers” I know are middle class people with a VESTED interest in rationalizing and denying the FACT that THEIR LIFESTYLE creates the “terrorists”. No Osamas or other charismatic figures needed.. After they watch their societies and cultures destroyed…friends and families die in sweatshops making your sweatshirts, in DroneWars for extractive resources and the routes of ‘extraction’ from the regional source (Syria… host to pipelines that WILL carry stolen Iranian oil), all you really have to do is buy them box cutters.,

  • RazerRay March 18, 2013

    Sorry guys. You should know that 9/11 In reality was a “Revenge-Side” job by rogue NATO mercenaries for the CIA’s double-dealing mujahideen fighters who STILL work for the CIA in Libya and Syria, and are STILL being double-dealed. The blowback happens faster now. It only took one year for them to kill our “Ambassador” to Libya, and even as the French invaded Mali, the mujahideen fighters there were already taking French hostages in-country.

    Further It fascinates me that the only “Truthers” I know are middle class people with a VESTED interest in rationalizing and denying the FACT that THEIR LIFESTYLE creates the “terrorists”. No Osamas or other charismatic figures needed.. After they watch their societies and cultures destroyed…friends and families die in sweatshops making your sweatshirts, in DroneWars for extractive resources and the routes of ‘extraction’ from the regional source (Syria… host to pipelines that WILL carry stolen Iranian oil), all you really have to do is buy them box cutters.,

  • RazerRay March 18, 2013

    Webster Tarpley is a Lyndon LaRouche associate… Hardly a qualification as a legitimate source of anything. No worries. A LOT of people are fooled by him and his RIGHT-WING THUG friends. Anyone involved in activism in the 60s remembers the US “Labor” Party. Do YOU?

  • RazerRay March 18, 2013

    Webster Tarpley is a Lyndon LaRouche associate… Hardly a qualification as a legitimate source of anything. No worries. A LOT of people are fooled by him and his RIGHT-WING THUG friends. Anyone involved in activism in the 60s remembers the US “Labor” Party. Do YOU?

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