Saturday, September 09, 2006

9/11 Revisionists

The fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is coming up on Monday, as everyone knows, and I've been thinking about how to write about them. Apparently some people see the terrorist attacks as a way to further their own crazy conspiracy theories.

Last night as I was driving to a friend's house, I saw a young man on the side of the road holding a sign which read: "9/11 - An Inside Job?" Also on the sign was a reference to a website - Since I was on the way to a Shabbat dinner, I tried to forget about this outrageous sign and focus on more pleasant thoughts.

Tonight I looked up the Prison Planet website, and found this wonderful trove of anti-semitic documents: Prison Planet - 9/11 Prior Knowledge Archive. I wonder if the young man holding his sign knew about the anti-semitism of his favorite website?

This was not the only occurrence of the 9/11 conspiracy theories in Ithaca. Our local newspaper, the Ithaca Journal, published an article by a Paul V. Sheridan also pushing the argument that there's no proof Osama bin Laden was connected to the 9/11 attacks. The Journal is not one of the most sterling examples of journalism produced by the Gannett chain, but their publication of this op-ed piece was definitely one of the low points in the Journal's history.


  1. They are a dime a dozen in Berkeley, too.

  2. What I don't understand is why - why bother building up such an elaborate plot when the truth itself is so horrific? I don't know why they find it so hard to understand that terrorists committed these crimes. Is it that they support the terrorists, that they're pro-jihadist? I didn't get that impression from reading the Prison Planet site. I guess it's just that I don't have the conspiracist frame of mind.

  3. My next-door neighbor (the apartment next to mine, that is) is one of these nitwits, as was the guy in the next apartment over until he was evicted a couple of months ago.

    Although I've done my best to avoid engaging in conversation with them about it, he gave me that very URL more than a year ago, although I was already long familiar with it.

    In his case, it's a matter of being 50-ish, and lifelong uninterested in politics until the last few years, when the many lies of the Bush administration began to penetrate his consciousness. Lacking any background context, it was clearly easy enough for him to assume that anything they said was likely to be a lie, given that, indeed, most of what they say are lies.

    And it's not as if our government has lacked for a very long history of massive lying prior to that, after all, with Iran-Contra and Watergate and the secret bombing of Cambodia, and on and on, merely being some of the largest examples of a nearly infinitely large set.

    Then, too, such theories have always been common. JFK's assassination remains immensely prominent, but there were also folks ever since Pearl Harbor who believed that FDR knew about the attack in advance.

    It also serves people's egos to imagine that they're smart enough to see the "real story" more than other people do.

    But if one doesn't have sufficient knowledge to provide a contextual filter of what actually is plausible and actually isn't, well, one is adrift.

    And, after all, we live in a country where endless numbers of people believe in "Intelligent Design," creationism, astrology, telepathy, auras, numerology, alien abductions, and just endless amounts of nonsense. Most people have no idea what the scientific method is, and simply don't apply a lot of reason in everyday life because they don't have the mental tools to do so.

    You may have noticed that poll after poll reports that something like 43% of the U.S. population believe that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, and over 80% of our troops in Iraq have been reported as believing the same.

    But, then, I've been a cynic about popular opinion since about age 4.

    And it's important to remember that most people don't really read news or blogs. So when they latch onto a source of conspiracy theories (my neighbor was originally induced into it by an internet radio station that puts out that crap), they believe they've found Real Truth.

    It's all pretty depressing. But, then, so is the fact that people elected Bush and a Republican Congressional majority over and over again, too (not that the Democrats are particularly a bunch of geniuses, either, I admit; but there's a lot less malevolent domestic corruption, and triumphal wishful thinking in foreign policy, at least).

  4. I guess what I find depressing is that supposedly educated people in Ithaca believe this crap. Of course, there are plenty of people in this country who aren't particularly well educated and are very credulous about sources. But I expect better of my fellow Ithacans.