Earl Ofari Hutchinson
You can bet on it. The “it” is that on the twenty-first anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks the conspiracy theorists will again come out of the woodwork with the many commemorations and memorial tributes scheduled. The mountain of uncontestable facts about who the 9/11 perpetrators were and why they did it still means nothing to millions of Americans.
They persist in their belief that the 9/11 terror attacks were part of a well-conceived, well-planned, diabolical, staged act. Various polls since that hideous day, have consistently shown that anywhere from one-third to one-half of Americans think the attack was staged, that the government knew about it beforehand, or that it was part of a plot to impose martial law on the country. Those are just the more commonplace conspiracy theories. Some are far more bizarre.
Many Americans don’t spout the 9/11 conspiracy stuff in a vacuum. There’s a far greater pattern to the conspiracy game. A 2021 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute and Interfaith Youth Core examined far-right QAnon conspiracy theories. The poll found that fifteen to twenty percent of Americans and about one-third of Republicans believe every wacko conspiracy theory about the government. The main one is that it’s a controlled cabal of demonic elite Democrats who seek to robotize Americans behind a liberal, socialist, world government-dominated agenda. The popular term is that this is a Machiavellian “deep state” operation that is hard at work to attain the goal of total domination.
Much of the blame for this is dumped on the QAnon loons with an ample dose of nourishment from Trump and his boosters who fan their conspiracy theories about a presidential election supposedly stolen. However, long before this bunch ever was hatched, there has always been a loud and pesky pack of professional conspiracy theorists who perennially see a sinister government hand behind any and every assassination, terror attack, and even a natural disaster.
As evidenced by polls through the years, the American woods have swarmed with groups that fervently believe that government, corporate, or international Zionist groups busily hatch secret plots and concoct hidden plans to wreak havoc on their lives. The Manchurian Candidate idea, popularized in books and countless movies and TV shows, has firmly implanted the notion that shadowy government groups routinely topple foreign governments, assassinate government leaders, and brainwash operatives to do dirty deeds.
There are two other undeniable reasons that 9/11 conspiracy theories have so easily infected the popular imagination. Government agencies, such as the FBI, the CIA, and INSCOM (Army intelligence), with the connivance of presidents, have often played fast and loose with the law and the rules of democracy. They have spied on, harassed, and jailed thousands of Americans, from Communists to anti-war activists.
The biggest, juiciest, and most relentless target for government spymasters during the past decades has been African American political groups, from the moderate NAACP to the radical Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam. In 2007 a fresh batch of publicly disclosed FBI documents showed that the agency waged a kinder, gentler, but no less illegal spy campaign against Coretta Scott King. The sordid and relentless campaign the FBI waged against her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is well documented.
The widespread disbelief that a lone assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, acted alone in the murder of JFK has not dissipated one iota since that fateful day in Dallas in 1963. The literature disputing the lone nut finding on the assassination could fill up a small library.
Conspiracy paranoia got what undoubtedly is its biggest boost with Trump’s White House election in 2016 and subsequent defeat in 2020. He stoked the conspiracy flames on everything from Obama’s alleged foreign birth to the Russians allegedly helping Hillary Clinton in 2016. His persistent jewel in the crown conspiracy rant is that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him by a vast conspiracy stage-managed by the Democrats and the media to oust him. He repeats the lie every time a mic is stuck in his face or at a rally of his still massive packs of true believers
The voluminous iron-clad proof that there was no conspiracy to defeat Trump has not meant a thing to the millions who still say the election was riddled with fraud and Trump won. Much of this conspiracy paranoia was on horrific display in the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Polls show that many Republicans and many others buy the Trump conspiracy ballyhoo.
On the twenty-first anniversary of 9/11, the conspiracy theorists again busily spin their well-worn 9/11 conspiracy myths. They continue to fall on fertile ground in some quarters because of government officials’ long and at times penchant for covering up and flat-out lying to the public about their misdeeds, conduct, and spying. Is it any wonder then that the 9/11 conspiracy pap remains alive and well?
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of The Midterms Why They Are So Important and So Ignored (Middle Passage Press) He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network. His weekly political commentaries can be found at thehutchinsonreport.net