When I was in college and first became active in politics and public policy, I periodically would meet people who warned about sinister conspiracies that had to be exposed and overcome.
The most common villain, reviled by conspiracy theorists on the left and right, was something called the Trilateral Commission, though the Council of Foreign Relations often was mentioned in the same breath (I also remember a lefty friend warning about the Bilderbergers and Illuminati, though I never quite understood who or what they were supposed to be).
It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anybody mention any of the above groups, but this doesn’t mean conspiracy theories have faded into the sunset. There are thriving communities of people who think:
a) Obama is a Kenyan and/or Muslim (the birthers).
b) The U.S. government and/or George W. Bush were complicit in the 9-11 attacks (the truthers).
c) The Federal…
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