The perils of paranoia

A recent column by Laurie Oakes provided some fascinating – perhaps terrifying – insights into American political consciousness. Oakes quoted a new poll which revealed a disturbing naivety and paranoia gripping large segments of the US population.

One-third of Yanks are fearful that President Barack Obama might have pretensions of conferring US sovereignty to a one-world government. The level of mistrust of Obama pales by comparison with the notion that some 100 million Americans believe there is or could be a one-world government.

Mind you, the mistrust of Obama is, frankly, frightening given that some 14 per cent think their president could be the anti-Christ. That is seriously weird. Almost as concerning is that one-third of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim and 40 per cent think he’s a socialist.

It’s tempting to dismiss these insights as peculiar aberrations that belong in some kind of “What a Wacky World” file. Yet that ignores the gut-wrenching corollary that these people comprise a significant proportion of the population of our planet’s most powerful nation and the one that masquerades as the leader of the free world.

Ignorant, superstitious and prejudiced are surely not the characteristics we want to define fully one-third of the people we have spent decades rejoicing as our closest allies. Is this still the nation we want to class as ‘our best mate’ in global politics? And perish the thought that there has hardly been a war they have gotten involved in over the past century that we have not leapt into the trenches beside them.

It is doubtful that the mindsets revealed in this latest polling were characteristic of such large segments of the American population when we first cultivated our alliance. But maybe we were mistaken.

I, for one, feel very uncomfortable in having my nationality perceived across the globe as being hand-in-glove with such a dangerous bunch of loonies. It begs the question of reviewing our alliance to see if it still meets the full spectrum of our national needs.

Even more pertinent is to consider just how such ignorance took root and flourished in a nation that supposedly offers more freedom than anywhere else, that provides a supposedly higher standard of education than most other places and that sees itself as having the most desirable guiding philosophy of any nation. The scariest aspect of all, though, is the avowed American belief that they should cultivate this philosophy in any and every other nation. That’s when I start thinking about the anti-Christ.