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A Conspiracy Theorist in the Family: My Problems with the 9/11 Truth Movement

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Amy Fried, Ph.D.       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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A member of my family - someone I'm very close with, one of the most intelligent people I know - is a 9/11 Truther. This, of course, is the movement that believes that the attacks on September 11, 2001, were planned and executed by the Bush Administration and their allies.
After years of arguing with this person, I've come to the conclusion that I need to speak out about my experience with the 9/11 Truth, through their eyes. As such, I won't be linking to the writings of 9/11 Truth leaders (such as Alex Jones), but will rely on what I've heard from this relative. No doubt, many opednews readers will point to some of these links, in trying to prove me wrong.
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When I first heard of the movement through my relative, I thought it was an interesting hypothesis, though I didn't really buy it. Another acquaintence actually introduced me to "Loose Change," the film that presents evidence of the proposed plot. While I had an open mind, I took the position that Thom Hartmann does: that the evidence that the Bush Administration ignored mounting evidence of an attack is damning enough. I suppose you could even take the view that the administration willfully ignored the evidence, which would dovetail with the "Loose Change" argument that they were looking for an excuse to invade Iraq. But actually orchestrating the attack? I couldn't go that far. The shear flat-footedness of Bush's response on the morning of 9/11, is enough to convince me otherwise.
But my problems with the movement have little to do with the actual 9/11 facts, but rather with how it has gradually become infused with many of the classic right-wing arguments and causes of the last few decades. A common 9/11 truther argument is that the distinctions between the Right and Left are a mirage, created to distract us from the true agenda of the powers that be. In other words, liberals that believe in traditional progressive causes are just being manipulated.
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However, I've come to the conclusion that it is the 9/11 truthers that are being manipulated, as I hear my cousin rattle off more and more right wing talking points that go way beyond the facts of 9/11.
Take global warming, for instance. My relative has now incorporated opposition to "man-made" global warming into this conspiracy worldview. Why? Because those who warn about global warming have the hidden agenda of imposing a carbon tax, and taxes are just another way the government is trying to control us. Taxes are used to support organizations such as the Federal Reserve, which is part of the unaccountable forces controlling our fate. (My relative has not actually seen An Inconvenient Truth, other than clips from rebuttal pieces.)
My argument has been that I can see that there are problems with institutions like the Federal Reserve. But rather than approach it with an anti-tax stance, I would work to change the way taxes are spent. A general anti-tax stance works against the poor and disenfranchised in this country, so I don't understand why the movement would take that on.
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In principle, I can see some merit to the argument that an overly rigid conception of "Left" and "Right" can obscure points of agreement, and common enemies. In particular, I have long felt that the extremes on either side can find themselves coming out on the opposite side of the fence. But my question to my relative and other 9/11 truthers is: why is it that your arguments always seem to wind up as classic right-wing canards? On the issue of taxes in particular, I worry that those in the movement are being persuaded to take positions against their own self interest, as illustrated in Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? I understand how the rich and well-connected have little use for income taxes and the social structures they support. How many 9/11 truthers are members of that exclusive group?
In short, I'm less concerned with the mechanics of 9/11 itself, and more concerned with the way that the 9/11 Truth movement is turning anti-Bush liberals into rabid right-wingers.


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Amy Fried applies her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior to writing and activism on church-state separation, feminism, reproductive rights, corruption, media and veganism.

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