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The insane world of extremists...or just an insane world?
on 3 April 2011
I read Jon Ronson's book in an abridged Swedish edition. I expected the book to be comic relief, and it's certainly marketed that way. Instead, I found the book to be disturbing, tragic and (at best) tragicomic. Sometimes, it made me sympathize with the extremists!
The Muslim fundamentalist Omar Bakri may have been a clown, but his antics are less entertaining today, after the London metro bombings (something Ronson also acknowledges in a foreword to the Swedish edition). The attacks on David Icke in Canada raise the question who is more insane: Icke or the people harassing him? As for Randy and Vicki Weaver, they were obviously the victims of a set up, to put it mildly. The paranoid crypto-Nazis who chase the Bilderbergers are disturbing, but so are the Bilderbergers themselves. One of the Bilderbergers, Dennis Healy, doesn't understand what on earth the fuzz is all about when interviewed by Ronson: "Sure we have secret meetings. So what? That's how it works. That's how thing are done".
So that makes it alright, then?
The high point of "Them" is Ronson's successful infiltration of the Bohemian Grove, where he manages to watch the secret ritual and mock sacrifice to the owl god. The "ritual" turns out to be a ridiculous, pseudo-Masonic college fraternity stunt. The thing looks more pathetic than menacing. Indeed, somebody suggests to Ronson that the Bilderbergers might actually *like* all the conspiracy theories about them. It boosts their egos. Today, nobody controls anything anymore.
Perhaps the full-length original version of "Them" is more entertaining. Or perhaps the Swedish translation is to blame?
I don't know, but I walked away from this book more convinced than before that the extremism of the conspiracy theorists is fuelled by the insanity of the real world...