Friday, September 07, 2007

Here They Come Again: Another Go Round for Wacky 9/11 Conspiracy Theories
Earl Ofari Hutchinson

There isn’t much that the 9/11 conspiracy theorists say that can or should be believed. That even includes the windy claim that their celebration in New York of the sixth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks will be the biggest in history. The problem with that grandiose boast is that the same bunch claimed last year that their fifth anniversary event would be the biggest yet. In the fine print at the bottom of the website release, they add the “clarification” that many of the performance artists for their big 9/11 concert shebang are only tentatively scheduled to appear. Translated: The conspiracy theorists dumped any artist’s name they could find on the bill, and they’re keeping their fingers crossed that a few might actually show up.

None of this should surprise anyone who has the dimmest notion of what and how the 911 conspiracy theorists operate. We’re all by now well familiar with the way they’ve spun the 9/11 plot. The attacks were part of a sinister plan by President Bush, the GOP, the CIA, FBI and Justice Department to wipe out civil liberties protections, impose a national security state, create a pretext for the quagmire in Iraq, regiment the American people, and strengthen the hand of the pro Israeli lobby in U.S. politics. Some of the more shrill theorists with an anti-Semitic bent flat out say that the terror attack was part of a decades old web of intrigue woven by international Jewish groups to dominate global politics.

Conspiracy theorists allege that explosives were planted at the WTC, Jewish and Israeli Tower workers and occupants were warned the day before supposedly by Mossad (Israeli Intelligence) to stay away, a missile slammed into the Pentagon, the government hid the wreckage of the United Airlines plane that terrorists crashed in Pennsylvania. Every one of these theories has been subject to repeated and meticulous tests, studies, and examinations. And every one of them has been proven absolutely groundless.

But thousands of Americans still believe them. That’s easy to understand. The American woods swarm with groups that fervently believe that government, corporate, or international Zionist groups busily hatch secret plots, and concoct hidden plans to wreak havoc on their lives. The Manchurian Candidate syndrome popularized in books and countless movies and TV shows has firmly implanted the notion that shadowy, government groups routinely topple foreign governments, assassinate government leaders, and brainwash operatives to do dirty deeds.

9/11 conspiracy theories have so easily infected the popular imagination for two other not so zany reasons. Government agencies, such as the FBI, CIA, Army intelligence, with the connivance of presidents, have often played fast and loose with the law and even the rules of democracy. They have spied on, harassed, and jailed thousands of Americans from Communists to anti-war activists. The biggest, juiciest and most relentless target for government spymasters during the past decades has been African-American political groups from the moderate NAACP to the radical Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam. Just two weeks before this years 9/11 anniversary a fresh batch of publicly disclosed FBI documents show that the agency waged a kinder, gentler, but no less illegal, spy campaign against Coretta Scott King then the relentless, and lethal campaign the FBI waged against her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The other reason for the paranoid style about 9/11 is the fury that many Americans have toward President Bush. Many Americans are still convinced the GOP hijacked the White House by rigging the votes in Florida in 2000, and repeated the ploy in Ohio in 2004. That makes it easy to believe that the GOP and the administration will say and do anything to win and hold power. The Florida vote was a mix of registrar ineptitude, bureaucratic bungling, partisan political haggling, legal interpretation, and Democratic Party capitulation rather than a concerted conspiracy to seize the top office. The Ohio vote in 2004 was more of the same on a smaller scale. But Bush ultimately conned more voters in Ohio (including the black evangelicals) into believing that he would do a better job of defending family values and fighting the war on terrorism than Democrats. He and the GOP did not need to hatch a conspiracy to do that.

Bush, as other presidents that have got in hot water with the American people with their domestic and foreign policy fumbling, are hardly above beating the war drums and fanning national security jitters to boost their poll ratings, secure public allegiance, and increase their party’s political standing. Bush has done that at times. But his in the tank poll ratings, and the resistance of Congress, and the Democrats, and millions of Americans to the war and the further erosion of civil liberties protections, prove that if there was indeed a 9/11 conspiracy to seize power it didn’t work. But of course there wasn’t one. Yet, on the six anniversary the conspiracy theorists will again busily spin their shopworn 9/11 conspiracy fantasies. And that’s part of the fun of conspiracies; they don’t require any proof, just true belief.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book The Latino Challenge to Black America: Towards a Conversation between African-Americans and Hispanics (Middle Passage Press and Hispanic Economics New York) in English and Spanish will be out in October.