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15 April 2007

The Left, Conspiracy Theory & 9/11

“The Left, Conspiracy Theory & 9/11”
John Sigler, April 14, 2007

In conventional wisdom it is usually the political Right that is associated with conspiracy theories and in some cases such notions serve as a fundamental pillar of their ideology. These begin with the “traditional” conspiracy theories, such as: the “Elders of Zion” Jewish conspiracy, the “Papist/Vatican/Jesuit” Catholic conspiracy, the “Masonic/Illuminati” anti-Christian conspiracy, and so on. These constructs have evolved over time and are still in circulation various modern guises: the “War on Christianity, ” the “New World Order,” “One World Government,” the “Gay Agenda,” and everyone’s favorite, the “Islamo-Fascist” and/or “Anti-Globalist Left /Radical Islamic” conspiracy.

Nevertheless, conspiracy theory is not the exclusive domain of the Right-wing; the political Left has its fair share too. These would include the conspiracy theories involving the assassination of President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King and of course Sen. Clinton’s aptly named “vast right-wing conspiracy.” Interestingly, from the left leaning “conspiracy theorists” that argued that Capt. Alfred Dreyfus had been framed to those that argued that the Gulf of Tonkin incident had been grossly misrepresented to the U.S. to those that argued that Detroit had developed and then suppressed a fully viable electric car in many cases alleged “conspiracy theories” held by the Left later turned out to be fully validated and vindicated.

Today, after years of the Bush administration and the Neo-Conservative (Neo-Con) agenda, critics and opponents from both the Left and Right have entered into an uneasy alliance apparently based upon the notion that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Thus you can find people of the Left reproducing the works of stalwart Rightists like Pat Buchanan and offering impassioned defenses for radical Rightist leaders like President Ahmadinejad of Iran. Similarly you see Right-wing libertarians and traditional Conservatives reproducing Left-wing articles and analysis and defending the views of Leftist dissidents like Noam Chomsky or William Blum. This ad hoc alliance of interests has also had the effect of reinvigorating the conspiracy theory tendency in the political Left: enter the 9/11 Truth Movement.

It is completely beyond the scope of this little article to explore or discuss the various polemics used by the 9/11 Truth Movement because realistically it makes no difference whatsoever. As noted in the now infamous “Rebuilding America's Defenses” (September 2000) by the Project for a New American Century think tank, the Neo-Cons needed “a new Pearl Harbor” to advance their agenda and 9/11 served this function, the damage is now done. As was the case with the Gulf of Tonkin incident, once the excuse was effectively utilized, the incident itself became little more than a historical footnote. Once the extreme misrepresentation of the Tonkin incident had been exposed, the exposure was utterly inconsequential. Quite simply, those inclined to believe that our government was either complicit or at least misrepresenting the incident believed this long before solid evidence was provided; those that flatly rejected that the U.S. could be responsible continued to hold these beliefs long after solid evidence to the contrary was provided; and the vast majority in between looked at the incident with the exact same cynical indifference both before and after evidence was presented showing that the U.S. had grossly misrepresented the incident to radically escalate our role in Vietnam. The 9/11 attacks and its “truth” is exactly the same and – evidence notwithstanding – has elicited the exact same response.

Despite the fact that any possible result of all this conspiracy theory research will result in the same outcome, the exercise is not completely benign. In an excellent recent article by Paul Street* it is clearly documented that the firm contracted to release classified government documents has a deliberate policy of releasing “good faith distraction” material with the clearly stated goal of diverting attention away from substantive issues in favor of utterly meaningless conspiracy theory. Documents related to the Kennedy assassination are specifically cited as a prime example of this “good faith distraction” under the description “diversion.” To quote the author: “It's hard not to think that the same sort of reflection has already occurred to U.S. intelligence managers in relation to the 9/11 conspiracy industry. Every minute spent trying to fruitlessly connect the scattered and deceptive dots of fantastic 9/11 conspiracies is not spent looking into monumentally more relevant issues.”

Without creating yet another conspiracy theory by suggesting that that 9/11 Truth Movement is a construct of the Neo-Cons to divert the time and energies of many decent well-meaning people, it really cannot be denied that the movement has been quite useful – much more so than Anna Nicole Smith or Don Imus – in diverting activists of the political Left into completely wasting their time. Whether or not the 9/11 attacks were an “inside job”, the product of government complicity or merely incompetence, it really makes no difference at all because the excuse has already been successfully utilized and the situation today is much worse. People will continue to believe what they will – as was the case with the Tonkin incident – with or without evidence, so ultimately no new revelations are going to make any meaningful change. In the meantime many good people are wasting time and energy that could be used much more productively by addressing current issues that their activism can actually affect. People are dying around the world because we have failed to rein in our government and wasting time and energy on historical footnotes like the 9/11 attacks only encourages more of the same. There are more important things to be doing.

* Paul Street, "'Diversion' and 'Good Faith Distraction': On the Use Value of Conspiracy Data for the Power Elite," ZNet Daily Commentary, 28 March 2007, http://www.zmag.org/Sustainers/Content/2007-03/28street.cfm


John Sigler is a writer and activist based in Denver, Colorado. A couple of his current projects include the Online One State Bibliography Project – http://www.onestate.org – and the Jewish Friends of Palestine website: http://www.jewishfriendspalestine.org

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