chapter  1
22 Pages

The Belief in Brandenburg Gate

Conspiracy theories, like anti-Americanism more generally, is anchored to and nourished by factors largely and even entirely beyond the control of U.S. government officials. The fact that these officials have faith in the potential effectiveness of their efforts does not diminish this hard truth. In every predominantly Muslim country included in a 2006 survey by World Public Opinion, huge majorities agreed that the United States had as one of its goals to weaken and divide Islam. In thinking about the image of America abroad and the factors that contribute to that image, it surely is the case that many Hollywood films have helped nurture conspiracy theories about American actions and aims. Indeed, it is precisely when conspiracy theories are believed by most people that their power to distort reality and block the acceptance of images, ideas, and evidence that do not square with such theories is greatest. Conspiracy theories about America are by no means limited to Muslim world.