Five Cherished Pieces of American Culture (That Are Fronts for Crazy People)

frontsAmericans tend to come in two flavors: Crazy people and assholes. The main difference between them is that assholes don’t think they’re assholes. Crazy people, on the other hand, often know that they are crazy, which is why bizarro cults create seemingly normal fake organizations for recruitment.

Like a pretty face on an insane lady, here are five well-known institutions that are actually window dressing for sinister forces…

1. What the Bleep Do We Know?


What Is It?

Thought-provoking film about how to utilize one’s inner smarts, focus  and build one’s own reality. Pretty much the cinematic equivalent of toking a giant doob and talking for hours about tube travel technology.

Who’s Actually Responsible?

Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment…


As she tells it, RSE founder J.Z. Knight was chilling in 1977 when a 35,000-year-old disembodied person got sucked into her. Apparently, floating around for thousands of years is a great way to learn about the science of everything, as Knight suddenly found herself able to dialogue about ESP, the mind’s influence on subatomic particle behavior and pretty much everything you would associate with crazytime.

Knight began educating followers about the nature of perceptive reality. One goal was to teach people how to construct reality entirely from one’s own mind and phase in-and-out of existence. This is apparently so unbelievably awesome that followers are allowed to use alcohol to achieve the effect, which brings everything into focus.

Hoping to spread the word to more than their remote Washington state compound, three students of Knight made a film illustrating the connection between thoughts and reality. What the Bleep Do We Know became an arthouse hit, grossing over $10 million. The feel-good film showed exactly how everything in your life is wrong because you’re just such a downer.

What the Bleep Do We Know attempts to add scientific credibility to itself by having interviews with all kinds of well-educated people about all kinds of mysticism. But in the eyes of real science, “I interviewed academic guys and I also have some other anecdotal evidence” doesn’t fulfill enough of the scientific method to warrant any attention.

2. Your Black Muslim Bakery


What Is It?

Popular, ethnically-owned organic store chain in California.

Who’s Actually Responsible?

Murderous power brokers…


In the era following the Civil Rights Movement, African-American-owned businesses were finally allowed to spread roots. Often recognized as a pillar of self-efficiency, Your Black Muslim Bakery opened in 1968 and had 150 stores by 1974. They specialized in all-natural food products, a good thing to be into in California in the 1970s because aging hippies usually shop just based upon buzzwords.

But founder Yusuf Bey was a ruthless and crazy merchant who secretly and systematically undermined the politics of his local communities. Accused of cultism, it was revealed that he had done all sorts of atrocious things to preteen girls and used mafia-like intimidation tactics to secure his employees’ loyalty. Like Scarface.

scarface Primo flour

In 1994, an investigation into the torture of a local business owner led to a police assault on the Your Black Muslim Bakery compound (yes, they had a compound). Engaging in gunplay with 30 bakery employees, police finally realized that maybe these guys were up to more than just pastries.

After this incident, Yusuf was removed from the operation and the power shifted to other members of his family. Shockingly, they were even less moral than Yusuf, and a series of brutal murders followed. The wiki on Your Black Muslim Bakery has enough sick plots for a whole season’s worth of “Law & Order.”

In a perfect world, ethnic community institutions would never have a cesspool underside. Of course, for a perfect world to exist, at least one person in it has to not be crazy.

3. The Birth of a Nation


What Is It?

The highest-grossing silent film of all time

Who’s Actually Responsible?

The KKK…


To this day, the 1915 flick is revered as one of the most influential films in American history. However, since nobody likes to sit around reading old-timey silent films, people often forget that it tells the story of noble Klansmen beating back savage African-Americans.

Taking place during and after the Civil War, the film takes the tone of “Golly, we tried to integrate these colored folk, but they just won’t act right!” African-American politicians put their feet on the desks and shuck peanuts. Gangs of black militia roam around ransacking houses. It was a veritable Fox News feed.

Soon the heroes of this film, those oft-downtrodden boys in white, emerge. Hoping to scare superstitious colored people, the Klan dresses up in long sheets to look like ghosts. The last half of the film features the Klan riding around, nobly saving citizens from beastly colored folks. How beastly? Apparently, African-Americans couldn’t even be trusted to act in the film, as their race was often portrayed by white men in blackface. It’s a good idea, actual black people might screw up everything by acting civil.

A box office megahit, Birth of a Nation is known for pioneering many exciting modern film techniques and freezing in time a shameful moment in race perception. It’s a good thing the modern KKK has mostly disbanded into pockets of senile, ranting old people.

4. Transcendental Meditation Technique


What Is It?

Extremely popular form of meditation involving chanting.

Who Is Responsible?

The Transcendental Meditation Movement. We didn’t say it was a good front…


Transcendental Meditation Technique swept the world in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, it is estimated that 1% of the entire world has learned how to meditate while saying “aum” over and over again. Which wouldn’t really be all that bad if it were just a path to spiritual peace. But, instead, it’s inventor claims it is part of something called the Science of Creative Intelligence, and can lead to supernormal stuff.

Of course, if Transcendental Meditation didn’t cause all sorts of magic fairy dust to fly out of one’s third eye, the inventor would have a lot more trouble charging $1500 for lessons. Because it’s really just sitting and chanting until your body is relaxed from sitting and chanting.

The Transcendental Meditation Movement has indoctrinated thousands. This is partially due to many people being tricked by filmmaker David Lynch. I went to see Lynch speak in 2004: he took one question about his films and then rambled for hours about freaky supernormal mystic crap. The association between the meditation technique and the mysticism-obsessed movement allows the group to roll endorsements from less-obsessed celebrities into new recruits.

But in terms of insanity, we’ve only come to the outskirts of Crazytown. The founder made his own political party and claimed he could use his mysticism to create “invisible defense technology.” He would often boast that this technology created a peaceful seal of armor around the nation of Canada, which *NEWS FLASH* nobody’s ever going to attack, anyway. This is an extensively premeditated con one lunatic is pulling on his own kind, and that’s a target audience that never goes away.

5. Narconon


What Is It?

Outpatient drug addiction treatment program.

Who Is Responsible?



We chose Narconon for this one, because it’s shameful that an organization has chosen to look at the vulnerability of recovering addicts as a marketing point. However, we could have picked from Scientology’s numerous front groups. According to this video, Scientology operates under at least 26 different other names. That’s what happens when you’re a UFO religion whose own founder is a huckster sci-fi writer who doesn’t believe a word of his own doctrine.

The ex-head of Scientology’s P.R. Department gave a scathing interview about these front groups. In it, he claims that the policy is to create front groups with the specific purpose of recruiting new members, and not at all worrying about the service the front group claims to be performing. Unless, of course, they can provide a “service” that helps recruitment, like putting a strict regimen on recovering addicts so they’ll be easier to indoctrinate.

There is something totally psycho about knowing one’s organization has such a bad rep that it needs an alias, but still blaming all of this on everyone “on the outside.” This is why we’re all crazy, we can’t even buy a doughnut from a bakery without supporting an evil empire.

Evan Hoovler also writes for Blastr and Gamespy. He co-wrote the National Lampoon book, “Pimp It Yourself”, and wants to be your Facebook friend.