My Brief Interview With Susan Faludi, journalist and author of "The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post 9/11 America"

Last night, Susan Faludi was in Los Angles, speaking at the LA Central Library about her new book, "The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post 9/11 America." After an interesting discussion ranging from the stifling of women's voices immediately after 9-11 to the recapitulation of the "lone cowboy" version of hyper-masculinity, there was a question and answer period, during which I had hoped to ask a question about the nature of the mythic origin event itself. I had also hoped to weave in a glance at the philosophical heritage of the neo-cons that pointed to "creating reality" and some of the most nihilistic aspects of Nietszche's "superman" (ubermensch) concept. But my hand didn't get picked. So, I waited afterwards for everybody to get their book signed and then asked her for a brief interview, which she graciously accepted to do. Afterwards, I handed her a DVD (Zeitgeist is what I had in my bag at the time) and a pamphlet. Here is the transcript (I'm J (for Jeremy) and she's S (for Susan):

J: I first wanted to thank you for your analysis of the post 9-11 mythos, of your powerful critique of it really. And then I just wanted to quickly acknowledge that some of the fiercest skeptics and whistleblowers of this post-9-11 era are women, such as the Jersey Girls-we wouldn’t have even had an investigation without them- Colleen Rowley and Sibel Edmonds from the FBI…

S: Yeah, I know there are a whole series of women who…

-side chatter about signing books-

J: So then my question has to do with looking into the origin myth of the mythos, which is the 9-11 story itself, and then also the philosophical construct of the men who have decided how we are going to react to that, the neocons. Because they hearken back to the worst, the nihilist in Nietszche, the “Superman” concept. So I think that relates to what you are talking about. Rove, I think, said, “we are an empire now, when we act we create our own reality.” And then Zelikow, when approached by a professor who was bringing up all these facts from the people who don’t believe the government’s story behind 9-11, he said “well that’s an alternative universe, and we don’t think that alternative universe, or other reality exists.” So there’s a sort of sense that maybe these men are not actually the kind of men that wait for reality to happen. They create it. So I was wondering whether you have done any analysis of that origin event. And how finding out that 9-11 was not what they told us, that maybe it was a self-inflicted wound to wake the sleeping giant, how that might inform your analysis of the post-9-11 era?

S: … no…no. You know I am not a believer. I know that there are those that feel that there was some kind of government…

Man next to her: Conspiracy stuff.

S: …conspiracy, but you know, I just don’t have that much faith in the Bush administration [laughing] to get anything right, demonstrated in buckets by the reaction to Hurricane Katrina. But, you know, you don’t have to, you know, buy into the conspiracy idea to see that, surely Karl Rove is brilliant at spinning. Karl Rove, several weeks after 9-11, started paying visits, repeated visits, to movie moguls to conduct a campaign to create propaganda, or what do you call it, communicated, to present America in a certain way. If you don’t shut up in Hollywood [inaudible]… gave a Powerpoint presentation about, you know- use the word “eagle.” You know there’s a certain amount of conscious…

J: Manipulation?

S: Manipulation. But it also falls on fertile ground. And we live in a country that wants to believe this kind of instruction.

J: Well, I appreciate your response. And I would encourage you to go look at where some of these guys come from. They come from Leo Strauss, who pulled some of his stuff from the Nazis and the Big Lie. The bigger the lie the more people will believe it, you know. And yes, Bush clearly did not architect anything, but…

-At that point a woman from foundation that put on the event interrupted and said they needed to close up-

J: But there are parallel structures. So I just wanted to give you a DVD and then a little pamphlet too…

S: Great.

J: …so you could look into it.

S: Terrific.

J: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

S: No problem.

J: Ok, bye bye.

S: Good luck.

J: Thank you.

I am a firm believer in the

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts. - Abraham Lincoln

Great attempt, but no sale. She knows the truth, but will not accept it for whatever reason(s).

thanks for the heads up -

with a title like that I may have been tempted to buy that book at Borders. Sounds like it's a bunch of (post modernist) crap. Hope noone takes this stuff for actual scholarship. Real intellectuals seek TRUTH and use words and concepts as tools in the search. The response to your question may have saved a truther somewhere about $20.

thanks for the heads up -

with a title like that I may have been tempted to buy that book at Borders. Sounds like it's a bunch of (post modernist) crap. Hope noone takes this stuff for actual scholarship. Real intellectuals seek TRUTH and use words and concepts as tools in the search. The response to your question may have saved a truther somewhere about $20.

Well done

You didn't have much time, or a receptive audience, but you took your shot, and you did so politely and eloquently.

FTR: It was a senior White House aide who said "we are an empire now," not Rove.

The incompetence thesis is such bullshit, and I hate when these progressive types yank it out of their asses under duress. "Bush couldn't do this... blah blah blah." Who said Bush was in charge of anything?! That point you tried to make to her. Second, Who says the Bush regime has failed? They got away with mass murder, and they emptied the public purse into their own greedy hands to the tune of trillions.

Where is the failure? Iraq? Are liberals joking when they say this? Iraq was a success for the neocons. Think about this: They lied a country into war (no small feat), managed to illegally occupy two countries for four years and counting, turned war profiteering into a science, and established 14 permanent bases in Iraq as a premise for future military expansion in the region. They now control three of four of the largest oil deposits in the world (Canada, Iraq, Saudi Arabia), and Iran (the other) is on their list of things to do.

Failure? These guys are fucking magicians. They are doing exactly what they said they would do, and they've even changed the domestic laws to protect themselves from prosecution. AND they've bullied the Democrats into passive acceptance.

I dare any liberal to defend the incompetence theory.

This is precisely why I'm so

This is precisely why I'm so baffled by all the polls that say 2/3's of the American public don't buy into the official 9/11 conspiracy theory. Is it really the case that the 1/3 who DO believe it (to this day) comprise of mostly the "progressive" left in this country??? It certainly feels that way, doesn't it?

"Failure? These guys are fucking magicians. They are doing exactly what they said they would do, and they've even changed the domestic laws to protect themselves from prosecution. AND they've bullied the Democrats into passive acceptance. I dare any liberal to defend the incompetence theory."

This needs to be hammered home to the anti-war left...thus far it hasn't happened. I've seen meek attempts such as the one in the above posted article, but this needs to be the keystone toward awakening the sleeping left: the failure of the incompetence theory. Or rather the ILLIGITIMATE SUCCESS of the incompetence theory.

political correctness as tool for conformity

It's harder to get published if you are not politically correct! I simply believe Ms. Faludi kows which side her bread is buttered ! It's as simple as that.

...don't believe them!

right on

you put that so well, simuvac. it'd be great if you could expand those thoughts into a short polemical essay so we could give it to people who take that line with us.

dave's so right. post-modernist bullshit about sums it up. this from the time interview posted yesterday:

"Overall, including the Pentagon and the planes, the ratio of death was three to one male to female. So when you have a situation where the majority of victims were actually men, how do you make that fit into our cherished storyline of men galloping to the rescue of violated women on the prairie?"

say what??! with all the urgent and deeply pertinent things there are to be said about the mythology of 9/11, this is one of the points from her book that faludi thinks needs to be emphasized? it doesn't even make sense. in every war in history the ratio of male to female deaths has been far higher than three to one. and that's never had any effect on the notion of man as woman's protector. what a load of bollocks. as dave said, she's patently more interested in institutionalized adulation (apparently earned by churning out barely comprehensible idiocies that deflect attention away from the real issues) than in the truth. it makes you want to puke.

Postmodernist bullshit, indeed

Look at how the academic Left responded to 9/11. Within days of 9/11, they were printing deeply theoretical readings based on ineffectual ideas. The first big "bang" that I can recall was Jean Baudrillard's piece in Harper's, which basically argued that 9/11 happened because we wanted it to happen (written in more elevated terms, of course), and something about the symmetry of the towers. Don DeLillo chimed in. Judith Butler eventually wrote a book. Derrida talked about philosophy in a "time of terror."

Everything the pomo Left did smacked of at least two problematic features: one, they didn't seem to care whether the event were investigated; they just assumed they knew what happened; and two, by focusing on "trauma" and the "spectacle" of media coverage, they inadvertently reinforced the Bush regime's propaganda (which was meant to make the event sacred and beyond analysis).

We're just lucky the Jersey Girls exist, because the pomo professoriate wouldn't have marched on Washington.


i remember reading the essays by derrida and habermas a little while after discovering 9/11 truth in the form of griffin's wtc demolition article (still, for my money, the most powerful and convincing single piece of writing in the archive). i found it to be a deflating but at the same time quite liberating experience. coming from a philosophy background, i'd come to think of these guys as in some sense in touch with a higher ethereal plane of truth of which i could catch a glimpse only by struggling constantly with their dense texts. although i still have enormous admiration for their breadth of knowledge and their often scintillating syntheses of ideas, the experience made me realize that even such minds as these can be very significantly constrained by the forces of academic institutionalization. it reinforced my growing awareness that if, as habermas himself argues, truth emerges out of open dialogue, then the last place you should expect to find it is where power and prestige are concentrated. you have to listen instead along the margins, because its always from the margins that the truth irrupts into and upsets the rigid hierarchies of instituional power that work to exclude it. ironically, these are all derridean ideas, and if he were still alive it would be nice to ask him whether he's practicing what he preaches. perhaps we could ask butler instead. i started reading her book a few months ago, but only managed a few pages because it seemed to position itself in an utterly alien universe of discourse - namely that of the powerful she's always taken herself to be opposing. any account of the psychological effects of 9/11 that doesn't mention the truth movement thereby renders itself irrelevant.


Agree with all the thoughts here - i think the main thing for some of us to take from this whole business is perhaps a final disillusionment with academia. I've been around the university setting for many years and have harbored some respect and hope in honest academics. Well, there are always going to be exceptions, but for the most part it's another racket. I saw for example how the CIA or whomever, lined up the Woman' Studies, Black studies, various other departments behind the sheer fraud of "SERB AGGRESSION" in the early 90's. Hell, these "scholars" didn't know Jack about the situation there - other than what they got on the "evening news' and NYT - someone had just jerked their chain. Well, the comment about how their bread is buttered is to the point - these people are living the good life - they are not feeling the heat from this monster- regardless of rhetorical sympathy for the down-trodden ..

Yes and it is so obvious.

"Failure? These guys are fucking magicians. They are doing exactly what they said they would do, and they've even changed the domestic laws to protect themselves from prosecution. AND they've bullied the Democrats into passive acceptance."

Why aren't the left/liberals able to see it? Take the war/occupation of Iraq. The left/liberals are constantly harping on failure/incompetence.... and feel good about it. Damn it, the neocons has reached all their goals in Iraq. (Destroying the country, getting gigantic permanent bases, steal the oil and improve Israels strategic position.)

The only answer I suppose, is that the left are so naive/idealistic that they really believe in the propaganda that Bushco want to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people.

One possible reason

left/liberal types cling to the incompetence theory is because of what you might call groupthink. Not indoctrination, but simply the overwhelming fear of being out of step with the group. I say this as someone who exists within a left/liberal enclave. I know I would denounced if I publicly contradicted people who cling to the incompetence theory. I think the theory gives oppressed people a sense of superiority over their masters, even as their masters whip them into submission.

I hate to say it (because I enjoy the show), but part of the problem is The Daily Show and outlets like it. No, some TV show was never going to be the difference in all this; but shows like TDS provide viewers with a sense of superiority to fascist demagoguery, even while fascist creep pervades their lives. TDS viewers get to snicker at Bush The Idiot every night; meanwhile, that idiot is removing their civil liberties and robbing them blind.

Most of the left has only the incompetence theory to cling to, because admission of the alternative would all but acknowledge their cause is lost (and don't get me wrong: I empathize with their cause). The Truth hurts, I guess. I won't change my politics because of that, but I do wish people of my political leaning would change their tactics.

thanks for the correction

I work on trying to keep my facts straight, but sometimes when I'm freestyling a bit I miss. But I know someone in this movement will keep me honest.
I think we really need to go right at the incompetence theory. I like to call it the Incompetent Theories, because that's what they are. Yeah the combination of showing liberals that they're doing very well in Iraq even though America and Iraq are not doing well.
“Strange times are these in which we live when old and young are taught in falsehoods school. And the one man that dares to tell the truth is called at once a lunatic and fool.” –Plato

"We must speak the truth about terror." --George W. Bush

Talking points

Thanks for this post.

A good talking point for left intellectuals who are in denial is to list the known historical lies told for wars and ask them if they think those were "inside jobs," and if so, why it's so impossible to understand that 9/11 could be also.

When British MP George Galloway came to the Bay Area he went around giving radio interviews about Iraq and said that he thought the 9/11 conspiracy theorists were a bunch of "nuts".

So I went with a friend of mine to go see him speak in San Francisco and we were able to talk to him one-on-one outside the auditorium after the show, when he'd come out to smoke and wait for his car. My friend confronted him to ask why he doesn't think 9/11 was an inside job, and then carefully recited all the other lies used historically by countries to get into war. After that, Galloway said that, yes, when he put it in that context, he could see that it could be an inside job.

I tried to talk to him about the stand down, Building 7, etc., and he listened, but didn't say anything. I think he'd never really looked into it. But as a leftist, and with a reputation, the path of least resistance is to call us all nuts. Later he told my friend he didn't remember calling us nuts.

Wow, great job, Victronix

It sounds as if you certainly made Galloway uncomfortable when confronted with his remarks! PC-speak cannot hold up to truth--love your post!

...don't believe them!

Off topic but interesting . . .

Oct 08, 2007
by Daniel Hopsicker

Sloppy Tradecraft Exposed

Seventeen months after an American-registered DC9 airliner was busted with 5.5 tons of cocaine, a major international scandal is brewing over a second drug trafficking incident in Mexico's Yucatan involving an American-registered jet owned by a dummy front company of the kind usually associated with the CIA

I agree. I listened to her

I agree. I listened to her on the Kevin Barrett show on WTPRN and she is in denial. It is clear that she has a value system that transcends her philosophical ability. Her value system says that deep down the government wouldn’t kill its own people. I think the word she used was “preposterous”. This word is often used by these people to belittle our cause.

Our political system will not radically change for the better save some catalysing event, such as exposing 911 as an inside job