Thursday, October 25, 2007

9-11 And
The Post-Modern

From the Augean Stables:
9-11 Conspiracy constitutes the most powerful conspiracy theory in the brief history of the internet age. Within hours of the attacks, accusations that the Israeli Mossad had planned and executed the attacks while "4000 Jews stayed at home," appeared, particularly in the Arab world, a textbook case of internet conspiracy mongering .

In the Muslim world these theories became the dominant public voice. There, traditional conspiracy operated: We are innocent, our enemies are guilty. In 2002 a Gallup poll found a majority of Muslims interviewed did not believe Bin Laden or any Muslim did 9-11. A 2006 Pew poll found this attitude widespread even among Muslims in the US — 28% — believe that Muslims did not do 9-11 (and 32% unsure, leaving only 40% of US Muslims polled agreeing that Bin Laden carried out 9-11.

Such claims, and their eager acceptance among fringe elements of Western conspiracy thinkers, especially those who already believed in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, should not astonish observers. Like so many other such conspiracies, they combine "cui bono?" [who benefits?] – Israel, Fascists in the US government – with a semiotic arousal that moves from perceived anomaly — isn't this strange! — to "obvious" conclusion — what else could explain this? — in the blink of an eye. Among the plethora of Muslim conspiracies that blossomed in the wake of 9-11, perhaps the most scholarly and consequential came from the "progressive" Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, The War on Freedom which came out within months of the event in February 2002 and blamed not Israel, but the US Government.

But the story was only beginning. Over the next months, a vast array of hypotheses, laid out in detail at a host of websites, accused George Bush and his administration either allowed the 9-11 attack to occur (Pearl Harbor version), or actively carried it out (Reichstag Fire version). The logic behind all of these theories focused on the perceived anomalies – the size of the hole in the Pentagon (too small), the collapse of the Twin Towers (too neat), of Building 7 (too far away), even the overall success of the plan (too great) – and rapidly moved to explaining them in terms of a government plot, primarily aimed at turning the US government into a police state. Cui bono? – the proto-fascists in the Bush administration.