Tuesday, October 09, 2007

# Posted 6:39 PM by Patrick Porter  

THE APPETITE FOR CONSPIRACY: Strolling through a big commercial bookstore today, I was taking a quick browse through the 'Politics/Current Events' section.

There was the usual fare, but very quickly I couldn't help notice that there were at least five titles putting forward various versions of the theory that 9/11 was a deliberate act of the US government.

This is a bookstore that doesn't do much in the way of fringe/marginal titles. So, is 9/11 conspiracy now selling well, or even moving its way into the mainstream?

Similarly, the other night I sat through Mark Wahlberg's thriller, 'The Shooter.' Early on, Wahlberg's character is about to surf the web at home, and as the camera pans across his copy of the '9/11 Commission Report', he mutters something like 'What lies is the government telling us today?'

The notion that the Bush administration not only willingly permitted but actually orchestrated the 9/11 atrocities can be countered either by ignoring it or arguing back with reason or empirical evidence, etc.

But it seems that the chorus is getting louder and that the idea is becoming institutionalised. An understandable skepticism about many claims of government mutates into a fanciful idea that a government which would struggle to organise a drink in a brewery was capable of pulling off this profound conspiracy.

Its hard to disentangle why this idea might be becoming institutionalised. In part, perhaps, it is a broader reaction to the catastrophe(s) in Iraq, to the revelations about torture and constitutional abuses in government. But it must be more than that, because it is still a big leap from the banal realisation about government corruption and misbehaviour to actual full-blown 'the government did it' paranoia.

Could it be this: there has long been a strand of anti-government and anti-state suspicion in American history for various historical reasons, where the state is not only the main threat but also responsible for inventing, fabricating or directing all other threats. Is this view now becoming more a reaction to be found all over the world?

Its certainly strong in popular culture. The British TV series Spooks, for example, where the culprit or hidden hand behind terrorism is almost always the British government, the American government, or at one point, Israel.

There are a lot of disturbing things about the apparent resurgence of 9/11 conspiracy theory, but this is the one that strikes yours truly, the naive view that because the state is a powerful political force and potential threat, it is the only one, that we live in a world without other self-directed predators.

What was that line from the Usual Suspects, that the smartest thing the devil ever did was persuade the world that he didn't exist?

I've clearly been watching too many films lately.

NB not to mention the classic, widespread element in many conspiracy theories and at the core of the most toxic ones, anti-semitism. but if this is part of the resurgence of 9/11 conspiracy theory today, the resurgence of anti-semitism also needs to be explained.
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''...Similarly, the other night I sat through Mark Wahlberg's thriller, 'The Shooter.' ...The notion that the Bush administration not only willingly permitted but actually orchestrated the 9/11 atrocities can be countered either by ignoring it or arguing back with reason or empirical evidence, etc.''

The notion that Hollywood not only willingly permitted by actually orchestrated 'Shooter' cannot be countered either by ignoring it or arguing back with reason or empirical evidence.
Hey Porter. Get back on message. Today we're debunking a different conspiracy theory.

And congratulations on the house!
"But it seems that the chorus is getting louder and that the idea is becoming institutionalised."

Evidence, please? What institutions have endorsed this theory or anything like it?

is Holywood an institution? :)

Seriously though, by 'institutionalised', I didn't mean that institutions themselves are promoting it.

I meant that the idea may be becoming an enduring and prominent pattern of thought that is continually repeated in its different variations in the media, in 'mainstream' publications, in popular culture.

I'm not trying to be dogmatic on this point, though: it could be that I'm overstating the case. It just seems that lately it has got a bit louder and bit more widely accepted than previously. But I'd be interested to see coutervailing evidence.
Hollywood is not an institution, it's an industry.

Besides, the shot in SHOOTER is quite ambivalent --- Marky Mark is browsing the computer for news when he mumbles about government lies, not reading the 9/11 report.

Countervailing what? That 9/11 conspiracism is an increasingly popular phenomenon? I don't have sales figures for any 9/11 conspiracy books. Do they do as good a business as JFK conspiracism, or Area 51 conspiracism? Perhaps they're being sold to the same audience as the latter two?

There are far worse, more harmful myths floating around. A third of Americans still believes that Saddam was in on 9/11, for instance. This number was 70% in 2003. These idiots also publish books and get to write in magazines that some people on this blog find respectable.

Which conspiracy theory has gotten more people killed in the past four years?

Marky in the film mutters about government lies precisely when the camera is panning over the 9/11 Commission report. Fact. Not to mention the film's overriding stress on how the entirety of GWOT is built on lies.

And to answer your question, one of the most murderous conspiracy theories is that the Jews and their puppets in Washington are waging an assault on the world's Muslims for money and power. The folk who most vociferously believe this conspiracy are the ones who most often kill their fellow Muslims.
I would agree that it does seem like the conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11 are becoming more mainstream. For that I blame this current administration/government. It just seems like they never want to get to the bottom of anything. Does anyone remember the stonewalling they put up over even having a 9/11 commission in the first place? You have to ask yourself why. In order to learn from you mistakes you have to see what mistakes were made in the first place. They can claim that they are afraid of partisan politics all day long, but that has gone both ways for years. After a while they secrecy with which this current administration coupled with the fact that our government (maybe no government) never really wants to clean it's own dirty laundry creates an environment ripe for conspiracy theories.
Jonathan:"For that I blame this current administration/government."

Am I the only one who sees the 800# gorilla in the corner? This mainstreaming of 9/11 conspiracy theory is a direct function of the rabid Left's takeover of the Dem party, and their determination to use "whatever means necessary" to win elections. BDS itself (see above) is so "mainstream" that the extension of it to ludicrous 9/11 plots is a short step, and this is due to the constant drumbeat generated by their "take no prisoners" community. DU and Firedoglake have come to dominate the Dem media machine.
I hold the position that the Republicans will do what ever necessary to win an election just like the Democrats. You have to ask yourself why the Ohio voting irregularities were never investigated after 2004. I will grant you that left wing hatred of Bush has prevented some people from thinking rationally, but this same logic happened during Clinton's term. I remember plenty of right wingers talking about how Clinton was going to declare martial law and stay in office past 2000.
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