Bret Stephens In The WSJ: "The Plot Against America"—Against Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thinking, Or An Example Of It?
October 22, 2016, 03:13 PM
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From WSJ.com:
Bret Stephens

Deputy editor, editorial page, The Wall Street Journal.

Bret Stephens writes “Global View,” the Wall Street Journal’s foreign-affairs column, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2013. He is the paper’s deputy editorial page editor, responsible for the international opinion pages of the Journal, and a member of the paper’s editorial board. He is also a regular panelist on the Journal Editorial Report, a weekly political talk show broadcast on Fox News Channel.

Mr. Stephens joined the Journal in 1998 as an op-ed editor and moved to Brussels the following year, where he wrote editorials and edited a column on the European Union. He left the paper in January 2002 to become editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, a position he assumed at age 28. At the Post he was responsible for the paper’s news, editorial, international and digital editions. He also wrote a weekly column.

Mr. Stephens returned to the Journal in late 2004 and has reported stories from around the globe. His other awards include a South Asian Journalists Association prize for his coverage of the Kashmir earthquake (2006), the Breindel Prize for excellence in opinion journalism (2008), the Bastiat Prize for his columns on economic subjects (2010) and the University of Chicago’s Professional Achievement Award (2014). In 2005 he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2016 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Niagara University.

Mr. Stephens is author of “America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder,” published by Sentinel Books in 2014.

Mr. Stephens was born in the U.S. and raised in Mexico City. He has an undergraduate degree, with honors, from the University of Chicago, and a Master’s from the London School of Economics. …

Mr. Stephens seems to have had a pretty kick-ass career, but he’s very, very worried:
OPINION COLUMNISTS GLOBAL VIEW

The Plot Against America

Donald Trump alights on the Compleat Conspiracy. Anti-Semites are thrilled.

By BRET STEPHENS

Oct. 17, 2016 7:11 p.m. ET

They meet in secret. Men of immense wealth; a woman of limitless ambition. Their passports are American but their loyalties are not. Through their control of international banks and the media they manipulate public opinion and finance political deceit. Their aim is nothing less than the annihilation of America’s political independence, and they will stop at nothing—including rigging a presidential election—to achieve it.

Call it for what it is: “A conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man.”

Astute readers will note the quotation of a speech delivered in the U.S. Senate in June 1951 by the then-junior senator from Wisconsin. We’re in historically familiar territory. Joe McCarthy inveighed against Communists in control of the State Department. For Charles Lindbergh it was “war agitators,” notably those of “the Jewish race.”

And now we have Donald Trump versus what Laura Ingraham calls “the globalist cabal”—the latest enemy from without, within. In a speech Thursday in West Palm Beach the GOP presidential nominee painted a picture of a “global power structure” centered around Hillary Clinton that aims to “plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty” while stepping on the necks of American workers with open borders and ruinous trade deals.

“There is nothing the political establishment will not do,” Mr. Trump thundered. “No lie they won’t tell, to hold their prestige and power at your expense, and that’s what’s been happening.”

Here, then, was the real Donald, fresh off his self-declared unshackling from the rest of the GOP. No longer will the nominee content himself with pursuing petty mysteries such as President Obama’s birth certificate or Alicia Machado’s alleged sex tape.

Now he’s after the Compleat Conspiracy, the one that explains it all: the rigged election, migrant Mexican rapists, the lying New York Times, thieving hedge funds, Obama-created ISIS, political correctness, women insufficiently attractive to grope, Chinese manufacturers, the Clinton Foundation. If it isn’t voting for Donald Trump and has recently crossed an international border, it’s a problem.

It did not escape notice that Mr. Trump’s remarks smacked of darker antipathies. A reporter for the New York Times suggested that the speech “echoed anti-Semitic themes.” The Daily Stormer, which bills itself as the premier publication of the alt-right, was less delicate, praising the speech for exposing the mass media as “the lying Jewish mouthpiece of international finance and plutocracy.”

But one needn’t accuse Mr. Trump of personal animus toward Jews (there’s no evidence of it) to point out that his candidacy is manna to every Jew-hater. Anti-Semitism isn’t just an ethnic or religious prejudice. It’s a way of thinking. If you incline to believe that the world is controlled by nefarious unseen forces, you might alight on any number of suspects: Freemasons, central bankers, the British foreign office. Somehow, the ultimate culprits usually wind up being Jews.

That’s why it’s utterly unwise for politically conservative Jews to make common cause with Mr. Trump, on the theory that he’d be a tougher customer in the Middle East than Mrs. Clinton. Leave aside the fact that Mrs. Clinton called privately for bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities in one of her leaked Goldman Sachs speeches, while Mr. Trump has found public occasion to praise both Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad.

More dangerous is that a Trump administration would give respectability and power to the gutter voices of American politics. Pat Buchanan would be its intellectual godfather, Ann Coulter and Ms. Ingraham its high priestesses, Breitbart and the rest of the alt-right web its public trumpets. American Jews shouldn’t have to re-live the 1930s in order to figure out that the “globalist cabal” might mean them.

Nor should Jews ignore the rekindling of right-wing anti-Semitism simply because its next-of-kin—left-wing anti-Zionism—remains so potent on college campuses and in progressive political circles. The GOP’s conversion to being a powerfully pro-Israel and philo-Semitic party is a relatively recent development. No law dictates that it is destined to be a lasting one.

***

The title for this column is taken from the 2004 Philip Roth novel that imagines what might have been for America if Lindbergh had defeated Franklin Roosevelt for the presidency in 1940, signed neutrality pacts with Germany and Japan and initiated a re-education campaign for recalcitrant American Jews. …

Life imitates art, and vice versa. This time the plot against America is a work of non-fiction, its outcome is still undetermined, and its perpetrators are the very people alleging the conspiracy.

It’s a good thing Bret Stephens isn’t attracted to paranoid, hate-filled conspiracy theory thinking, unlike that hateful Donald Trump.

[Comment at Unz.com]