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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Illuminati won't get their day in court

Or rather, an expert on conspiracy theories involving the Illuminati won't be called to testify.

Prosecutors had hoped to call Professor Michael Barkun of Syracuse University, an expert on the conspiracy theories retailed by right wing militia groups in a trial in Detroit for members of the Hutaree, a purported right wing Christian militia group.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts granted a defense motion to nix Barzun’s testimony. “This is not a case about the New World Order, the Illuminati, stigmatized knowledge or any other conspiracy theory or concept,” Roberts wrote, in her 15-page opinion, reported on the “Volokh Conspiracy” blog.


michael said...

Barkun's book A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America is not a bad read on the topic, but he doesn't even mention RAW or Shea. My feeling reading that book was that Barkun dismissed Illuminatus! out of hand, as for ironists and intellectual hippies. He's concerned with the dangerous uses of the Illuminati by fringe-y paranoids, and in section of history going from Weishaupt through the usual suspects: Barruel, Webster, Robison, The Protocols, Larry Abraham, Ezra Pound's old antisemitic friend Eustace Mullins, he says under a section "Contemporary Illuminati Literature" that Pat Robertson's book has had the biggest influence:

"No work on the Illuminati published in recent decades - whether secular or religious- has matched the influence of Pat Robertson's _The New World Order_, which first appeared in 1991." (p.53)

I wished Barkun could've lightened up a bit. If you've read of heard Chip Berlet, Barkun's right there with him. Any "meta" use of the Illuminati is not serious business, and probably ought to be bracketed...

If anyone wants some PhD's take on the Illuminati today, including RAW, see Mark Fenster's _Conspiracy Theories_. Fenster is a lawyer with lots of reading in literature and sociology.

Robertson's book is one of the kookiest books I've ever read, which doesn't surprise me, given the crap the idiot says in the electronic media.

Barkun's books are solid, scholarly sources on right wing groups, the paranoia of immanent disaster, etc.

I wonder if Victoria Roberts decided the case wasn't about "all that" because the testimony of Barkun was sound, cogent, etc, but didn't fit the case, or if she can't take those ideas seriously? I run into plenty of highly educated people who think almost all of the Illuminati stuff is "made up" and "for morons."

Which, while arguably having a kernel or two right, seems to miss the point entirely. If imagined maligned groups are widely believed to exist and are the source of paranoia and fear and hence ACTIONS to avert that persecution: it's "real." All-too-real.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

The Fenster book sounds interesting, and of course I also look forward to Jesse Walker's "The United States of Paranoia," which he discussed in my interview with him.