America’s True Believers and the Great Muslim Scare

In the year 1951 the American working class intellectual Eric Hoffer described those he called the True Believers.These are people who are alienated from their present conditions and suffer feelings of insecurity and uncertainty about the way their lives and communities are heading. To set things straight they seek out movements, either of the right or the left, that claim to have assured answers to problems while offering comfort and solidarity in a fellowship of like believers. The leaders of such movements often can be demagogues who expect their followers to be, well, true believers. The one and the many are made for each other in this regard. The solution to problems almost always entails conspiracy theories and the confronting of enemies, both internal and external. In generally uncertain and fearful times, more and more of the citizenry can be pulled into such movements, attracted by leaders who are assertive in a mesmerizing way. All societies have such true believers in them and today’s America is no exception.

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