The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Monday, May 16, 2011 at 11pm
Booknotes, Sunday, March 24, 2002
Jon Ronson discusses Them: Adventures with Extremists.
Islamic fundamentalists, Ku Klux Klansmen, Christian separatists, and certain members of British Parliament would seem to have very little in common, but they do in fact share one crucial belief: that the world is secretly controlled by an elite group -- in a word, Them. This shadowy elite starts the wars, elects heads of state, sets the price of oil and the flow of capital, conducts bizarre secret rituals, and controls the media. This group is incredibly powerful and will destroy any investigator who gets too close to the truth. Does this shadowy elite really exist? Jon Ronson wondered. As a journalist and a Jew, Ronson was often considered one of "Them," but he had no idea if their meetings actually took place and, if so, where. Was he the only one not invited? Ronson decided to settle the matter himself, seeking out the supposed secret rulers of the world by way of those who seem to know most about them: the extremists. The result is a riveting journey around the globe. Along the way Ronson meets Omar Bakri Mohammed, once considered to be the most dangerous man in Great Britain. This powerful Muslim fundamentalist -- who tricks Jon into chauffeuring him around town because he doesn't have a car -- seems harmless enough until he takes Jon to Jihad training camp where Ronson is unmasked as a Jew. Jon shoots guns with Ruby Ridge survivor Rachel Weaver and learns about black helicopters and the New World Order. While trying to monitor a meeting of the famous Bilderberg Group in Portugal, he is chased by men in dark glasses. With a group of other true believers, he breaks into the fabled Bohemian Grove in California and witnesses CEOs and politicians engaged in a bizarre pagan ritual. When he attends a KKK rally to interview a PR-conscious Grand Wizard who forbids use of the "N-word," Jon watches as Klan members confront a perpetual cross-burning problem: Do you raise it and then soak it or soak it and then raise it? But the more Ronson tries to expose the emptiness of these conspiracies, the less and less he's certain that the extremists are crazy. In the end, Them is an eye-opening narrative of the looking-glass world of "us" and "them." Funny, chilling, and seamlessly told, it is an unforgettable glimpse into lives on the fringe. from the publisher's website (timspalding)
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