Columnist Babiak Needs Some Information and Education
["....Among the rock and theatre posters on every public board and pole in the city, there are handbills and mock-ups of American banknotes advertising "Edmonton 911 Truth," one of three organizations here that suggest the events of Sept. 11 were not as the mainstream media have presented them. Similar organizations, run by committed volunteers, thrive in cities all over North America...."]
Sept. 11 conspiracy theories provide cheap entertainment
'Truthers' avoid the difficult problem of making the world more secure
Todd Babiak, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Thursday, June 26
The Wire, a complex and critically acclaimed HBO television series about the ways in which human systems are doomed to fail, never found a huge audience. By contrast, the Law & Order and CSI franchises, in which a simple conspiracy is at the base of every crime, are multibillion-dollar entertainment properties. The Da Vinci Code outsold every novel ever written about the problem of faith. In recent years, the controversy around who shot John F. Kennedy has overshadowed anything he said or accomplished during his presidency.
We have evolved into beings who prefer intelligent designs to the horror of chaos.
The latest and most powerful intelligent design, or conspiracy theory, to jump from the margin to the mainstream concerns the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Among the rock and theatre posters on every public board and pole in the city, there are handbills and mock-ups of American banknotes advertising "Edmonton 911 Truth," one of three organizations here that suggest the events of Sept. 11 were not as the mainstream media have presented them. Similar organizations, run by committed volunteers, thrive in cities all over North America.
There are a number of books and documentary films, and an endless collection of YouTube videos. Each presents a full or partial version of an alternate narrative: The World Trade Centre buildings collapsed because of bombs, not the airplanes; Flight 93 did not crash in a field in Shanksville, Pa.; the whole scene at the Pentagon was staged. It was all planned and executed by someone in order to invade Iraq and Afghanistan and gain control of Middle Eastern oil and gas.
"Where I am right now is I don't point fingers," said Doug Brinkman, an activist who works at night and spends his days at places like the legislature and the Old Strathcona Farmers Market, distributing DVDs and answering questions. On the day we met for a coffee, he wore a giant red T-shirt that said The Surreality Show. "I want a new investigation, a made-in-Canada investigation. The 9/11 Commission left too many questions unanswered. If we're in Afghanistan because of Sept. 11, I want to know our soldiers are dying for the right reason."
This is where the 9/11 truth movement, as it's called, differs from other grand designs. Sept. 11 wasn't so long ago, and people are still dying as a consequence of it. Digital technology has allowed for cheap productions and instant communication, making a documentary filmmaker out of anyone with access to a computer. Some in the 9/11 truth movement raise legitimate and troubling questions and devote themselves to scientific veracity.
Yet it also attracts cranks and anti-Semites; it's linked to other conspiracies involving spooky airplane "chem trails" in the sky, secret mind-control weapons, the Illuminati and contemporary versions of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Like all conspiracy theories, it's cheap entertainment for people avoiding the desperately difficult human project of making the world a more secure, less miserable place.
Some people resent Brinkman and his fellow truthers, both for diverting the argument and for dishonouring the dead. He respects his critics, and respectfully dismisses them. "I hate doing this stuff, to be honest," he said. "My father thinks I'm a war criminal for doing this. We're just trying to be the media, because the media failed. They aren't interested in the truth."
The truthers claim several celebrities as their own, including Charlie Sheen, Woody Harrelson, Sharon Stone, Eminem, Rosie O'Donnell and Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Unfortunately for the truthers, the most trusted voice among American critics, Noam Chomsky, doesn't subscribe to the listserve.
In a panel discussion, he called the possibility of an inside job extremely unlikely. "They'd have to be insane to do anything like that," Chomsky said, adding that leaks would have been inevitable, along with firing squads and the destruction of the Republican Party forever.
Chomsky would prefer that people focus on what has happened after Sept. 11, which was predictable: authoritarian regimes had a reason to become more authoritarian.
Even more devastating is a YouTube video by the Onion News Network (ONN), part of the fake news juggernaut. In a pretend debate, organized like a CNN item, a book author accusing the American government of engineering the Sept. 11 attacks argues with a senior leader of al-Qaida.
"How would you like it," says the angry al-Qaida leader, Omar Al Farouq, "if you spent, you know, two months in mountain caves, sleeping on rocks, planning something really special, only to have someone take the credit from you?"
At a time when reality programs and karaoke contests are thriving, when fewer and fewer North Americans read magazines, newspapers or books of any sort, you can't blame Brinkman and his peers for seeing a conspiracy, or a mystery novel, where there may only be gross incompetence. The media are in the midst of a transition, and so is truth.
© The Edmonton Journal 2008