I was recently forced to break off an amicable correspondence of several years because of 9/11 conspiracy theories and this person’s acceptance of them. Our conversations became nothing but this person trying to convince me that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were an “inside job” and that for me to contend otherwise was to show my willingness to accept State lies and be a serf. This line of conversation and reasoning became tiring for me and all prior benefit of our correspondence was lost, so I broke off contact. I do not do this very often, mainly because I do not generally begin correspondences with the hopelessly irrational. But, unfortunately from time to time, it does happen that the previously rational become irrational for one reason or another. Before this instance it was because the correspondent lost someone close to them and turned, against my repeated pleas, to mysticism and altruism. So, as a way of expressing my disgust for conspiracy theories in general, and this one in particular, I write this article in dedication to all instances of broken correspondence I have personally gone through and heard about in similar cases from others over the years.
Cartoon by Cox and Forkum.
The conspiracy theory is the bastion of shadows and little or no evidence. It explains a famous or known event by appealing to the leftist dictum of “follow the money” or “look who benefits” as if actual evidence is irrelevant and personal ethics are just a farcical way for the rich and powerful to pull the wool over the eyes of everyone else. Whether it is the Kennedy assassination or the 9/11 attacks, conspiracy theories which pop up to counter the “official” tale of events share common characteristics.
As a historian, I come across conspiracy theories all the time. “Progressive” historians like Charles and Mary Beard made the conspiracy theory view of history a popular vogue for a while. They contended that the founders plotted the constitution as a way of aggrandizing their power and property at the expense of common folk, the evidence being that nearly all of the men at the convention were wealthy property owners and remained so afterwards, or became richer under the new system. Of course, this case is circumstantial at best and ignores the actual debates which occurred at the convention and afterwards on real political and philosophical issues.
Beard’s assertions inspired other historians to go into other historical episodes and see greedy conspiracies. The War of 1812 is a topic I study quite a bit and a topic with a historiography full of conspiracy theories, whether to steal
To accept a conspiracy theory that the government or certain of its officers killed President Kennedy or carried out the 9/11 attacks, without overwhelming evidence (as in a criminal conspiracy case), requires the acceptance of certain other implausible facts. For instance, one would have to accept that scores of people in the government are able, at will, to plan secretly large scale attacks or plots and maintain operational security against leaks. This makes a good movie plot, but a rather alarming fact of reality if one accepts it. To accept this idea though, one has to ignore clear evidence that other plots and schemes by government officials including the “most powerful man on earth,” the President, have not succeeded and have been uncovered. The list of these is a long list of scandals from efforts to have the CIA kill Castro (a noble effort if ill-conceived) to Watergate, Whitewater, Travel Gate, the Iran-Contra scandal,
Another point which the person who accepts these conspiracy theories much accept, at least implicitly, is that all people, particularly government officials, are evil incarnate. This may sound almost like common sense at first. How many of us don’t think the vast majority of officials and government employees are jerks at one point or another? But this belief is far more serious than frustration with the post office or genuine disgust with hated political foes. It means that you seriously believe that the vast majority of government officials are, on the whole, willing to kill anyone they have to in order to add to their own power or achieve certain goals, whether that means winning an election or, far more diabolical, toppling the republic to establish a despotism. As citizens we must always be wary and on guard against Catilines, men willing to scheme to overthrow the republic, but these men are rare (hence the name Catiline still rings down through history from ancient
People who believe 9/11 was an “inside job” say Bush wanted a rationale for war or a way to win the next election, etc. So aside from the first two points (the government is capable of keeping such a plot secret and government is run by men of pure evil) one must also accept that Bush is a diabolical genius. He had to formulate and execute a perfectly secure plan to attack his own country in nine months in order to gather a rationale to attack
I will end this essay by creating my own conspiracy theory, using the conspiracy theory methods. Unfortunately it is all too easy.
“George Washington, widely regarded as the father of his country and a great man, was in fact an evil genius bent on domination and tyranny. He callously egged on revolution and war with
and then purposely went out of his way to become commander of the continental army by shamelessly coming to the second continental congress in his uniform. When he relinquished his sword at the end of the war it was but a brilliant avaricious calculation for future power which worked perfectly as he chaired the constitutional convention and steered the proceedings to make the presidency powerful because he wanted to be the first one and knew the others would make him so. He also made sure England ‘s and the other delegates notes on the convention left his role of active manipulation out of the ‘official’ record. When he became President he found the job not as powerful as he liked and wanted to quit which he did after two terms. As he was about to make his comeback as the commanding general of a huge army to, on paper, fend of French invasion (but really he was going to use it to kill President Adams and declare himself dictator), he caught pneumonia and died. Lucky for his country too, because he would have destroyed it as his whole malign career says he would.” Madison
These are all horrible lies about