So as the mushroom clouds were exploding on the horizon last night, I was on deadline for an American Spectator column about Glenn Beck:
Time writer David Von Drehle begins his attack thus: "On Sept. 12, a large crowd gathered in Washington to protest ... what?… If you get your information from liberal sources, the crowd numbered about 70,000, many of them greedy racists. If you get your information from conservative sources, the crowd was hundreds of thousands strong, perhaps as many as a million, and the tenor was peaceful and patriotic."Please read the whole thing. And remember: Just because you're not paranoid, that doesn't mean there aren't actually people out to get you.
So you see that Drehle can go either way here: He can use the crowd to discredit Beck, or use Beck to discredit the crowd. Either way, the point is to prepare the reader of Time magazine (who clearly does not get information from conservative sources) to be fearful of both Beck and the crowd at the Capitol, whatever their numbers might have been.
After a few more paragraphs, Von Drehle plays his trump card: "The old American mind-set that Richard Hofstadter famously called 'the paranoid style' -- the sense that Masons or the railroads or the Pope or the guys in black helicopters are in league to destroy the country -- is aflame again…"
Von Drehle's invocation of "the paranoid style," a trope that Hofstadter derived from Theodor Adorno's "authoritarian personality," is intended to clearly signal the reader that Beck is a kook, a conspiracy theorist, a demagogue pandering to the dangerous emotions of the ignorant mob.
You know. Nudge, nudge. Like Barry Goldwater. . . .