I recently got done reading “Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts” edited by David Dunbar and Brad Reagan. To my dismay, there is a foreword by Senator John McCain. The contents of the book, aside from the foreword, are good. I got it more for the second part of the title, the Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts as a case study on how to deconstruct denialism, more than the refuting of particular 9/11 myths.
The book is flawed in certain ways. One is that they tend to cherry-pick claims to refute. I understand the difficulty of proving that certain claims are representative of the community. However, there seems to be no clear criteria that they use for which claims they choose to refute besides finding them on one of many 9/11 conspiracy websites. To make matters worse, they often bring in irrelevant information to the claims. For example, certain conspiracy sites talk about a “New World Order.” While I understand the intention may have been to give an indication of the type of far out beliefs the sites hold, it is also prejudicial. The specific claims about events are either supported by the evidence or not. Whether or not one believes there is a plan for a “New World Order” is irrelevant. On the plus side, the book does a good job of destroying the conspiracy theorists claims. From the media I’ve encountered from the 9/11 truth movement, the claims Popular Mechanics debunks are reasonably representative. The only real question is if they ignored some popular 9/11 myths, which is why I wish they were clearer on their methodology for deciding which claims to refute.
This brings us to the worst part of the book: the foreword. For a book whose purpose is to debunk 9/11 myths, the editors of Popular Mechanics let by far the largest, most pervasive 9/11 myth through. It is the big lie that has been more damaging, destructive and offensive than all the other conspiracy theories combined. The one that isn’t aimed at the U.S. government, but rather those who perpetrated the attack.
But as 19 men showed the world their worst, we Americans displayed what makes our country great: courage and heroism, compassion and generosity, unity and resolve. We were united, first in sorrow and anger, then in recognition that we were attacked not for a wrong we had done, but for who we are – a people united in a kinship of ideals, committed to the notion that the people are sovereign, and that people everywhere, no matter what their race or country or religion, possess certain universal and inalienable rights. (pg. xi)
No, we were not attacked because of who we are, we were attacked for what the government has done at the behest of elite interests. As the book explores, the attackers targeted very specific targets: the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and presumably the Capitol building. If they hated us for our freedoms, they would have hit the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, etc. Instead, they struck at centers of the United States hegemony, the nexus of funding, planning and implementation of U.S. foreign control and domination.
Yes, Osama Bin Laden believes in a theocratic Islamic state. However, you don’t see him going out of his way to attack Sweden or Norway. It wasn’t freedom any more than our health-care system. In fact, it wasn’t even because of the first Gulf War against Saddam. It was our continued military presence in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia. He saw us as setting up shop and brutally reacted against it. 15 of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were from that one country.
Iraq to the U.S. is exactly what Afghanistan was to the Soviet Union. In fact, we happen to be in a little bit worse shape because on top of Iraq, the U.S. is also fighting in Afghanistan. Bin Laden planned on beating the United States the same way he defeated the Soviets, draw them into a quagmire. As the Power of Nightmares explores, the Islamic extremists believed they were the cause of the Soviet collapse as much as some conservative segments of the United States believed they were the cause. In truth, Mikhail Gorbachev’s assessment is likely the most accurate, it was corrupt internal forces that caused the collapse of the Soviet system. Gorbachev tried to reform too much, too quickly and the system collapsed.
This is why McCain should not be let anywhere near the presidency of the United States. He doesn’t understand the Middle East as this gaffe shows.
His policy in Iraq is that we keep fighting until there are no more U.S. causalities, then we stay.
He has talked about more wars, and joked about bombing Iran. Starting a war with Iran is clearly on the forefront of his mind.
Acknowledging the reason we were attacked is not the same as endorsing those reasons. And for those who would defend McCain by saying that he never actually said we were attacked for our freedoms, he said that we were united because we recognized we were attacked for our freedoms. If it were the case, as it is, that we were not attacked for our freedoms, it is the duty of a public official to set the record straight. Instead, McCain peddles in myths. He is a member of the party that helped propagate those myths, and benefits directly from them.
In the final analysis, “Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts” is flawed not from the myths they examine, but rather those they leave unexamined and tacitly endorse. Furthermore, McCain proves he is one of the last persons, we, the American people should trust to be president.