ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘9/11

The Respect Chair, Carole Swords And Racism.

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The CST takes the Respect Chair, Carole Swords to task for her racist “slip”.

Seismic Shock reminded us that she previously promoted a pro-Crusader article from Stuart Littlewood.

Why she would have wanted to associate with an obsessive racist like Littlewood I can’t say, but she could have at least looked him up on Google and taken the hint.

Littlewood writes for Veterans Today, a nasty conspiratorial and antisemitic on-line rag run by the crank and friend of the Far Right, Gordon Duff.

Who can forget Duff’s kind words about Ernst Zundel:

“The best known scholoar of holocaust theories is Dr. Thomas Dalton, author of
Debating the Holocaust; A New Look at Both Sides. Dalton discusses the history of
the “denialist” movement and efforts made to criminalize, not only politically
motivated efforts to change majority perceptions of the holocaust but also stifle
legitimate research into, not only the holocaust but a more accurate history of Europe
in the mid 20th Century. Most recently, Ernst Zundel, a German born researcher
who has questioned issues related to the holocaust was extradited from Canada and
imprisoned for years in Germany for “crimes” that, in America would be considered
not just “freedom of speech” but relatively modest historical enquiry. Zundel
questioned the number “six million” and, in doing so, was arrested and convicted of
an obscure law that creates a special class of truth when Jewish perception is
involved.

Zundel, and significant numbers of historians of varying credibility believe the
number of Jewish dead is being vastly over stated along with the methods of killing.
It is their contention that since there is no scientific evidence that gassing or
cremation facilities existed designed for masskilling, a major area of their research,
that numbers of dead should be reassessed. They insist that since camps such as
Auschwitz and Dachau are no longer considered “death camps” and that many other
camps listed disappeared “without any trace” according to their research, that the
number dead should be lowered by up to 80%. “

Is it merely coincidental that “anti-Zionists”, like Carole Swords, end up espousing racist ideas?

I suspect it is more a case of lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas!

The Political Benefits Of Conspiracy Theories.

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There is a good article in Budapest Times by Péter Krekó, Jobbik needs Jews to run the world.

Krekó draws out themes which are not just confined to the Far Right in Hungary, but find resonance in Britain and elsewhere across the political spectrum:

Psychological & political ‘benefit’ of conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories enjoy immense popularity. Virtually all communities (in Western and Eastern societies alike) have their own well-established ones. In the United States, for example, 75-80 per cent of the population believes that the official version of the Kennedy murder, the “lone killer” theory, does not fit the truth. Sixty-two per cent of Americans believe that the Bush government had prior knowledge of the September 11 terrorist attacks but deliberately kept quiet about it. A third of Brits are convinced the accident that killed Princess Diana was in fact an assassination. Almost 80 per cent of the populations of certain Muslim countries think that the governments of Israel and the United States carried out the September 11 attacks rather than a group of Arabs.

Research here in Hungary also indicates the widespread popularity of conspiracy theories. According to a representative survey carried out together with Medián at the end of 2009 based on our questions, more than two-thirds of those canvassed agreed with the statement that “we never find out the truth from the media and the news, and everything important happens behind the scenes”, and half agreed that “during the crisis powerful financial circles joined forces to destroy Hungary’s economy in an effort to colonise the country”. Eighty-eight per cent of the respondents agreed with at least one of five conspiracy theories, while 23 per cent agreed with all. Some research suggests that conspiracy theories have a strong subconscious effect on our way of thinking: although they exert a powerful influence on us, we delude ourselves that we ourselves are immune.

Conspiracy theories comfort

What explains the extraordinary appeal of conspiracy theories? Their chief psychological benefit is that they provide psychologically comforting explanations for unexpected and shocking events that are otherwise difficult to explain. It is not coincidental that such theories thrive following crises, natural disasters and assassinations. Conspiracy theories are capable of explaining an incredibly broad sphere of phenomena based on very little and can be applied to many new events. Psychologically they are comforting because they help to distinguish between good and evil and project responsibility onto a named enemy, as well as providing an outlet for hostile feelings.

Conspiracy theories allow us to continue to believe that the world is essentially just. If people living in Arab countries take the view that the governments of Israel and the United States carried out the September 11 attacks, then they can avoid facing up to the problem of Islamic fundamentalism burdening their own communities. If a group of conspirators (MI6, Mosad etc.) was behind Diana’s death, then we can escape the upsetting thought that the death of a wonderful person can be caused by something as banal as a drunk driver.
The social psychological benefit of conspiracy theories extends even beyond that: they help to explain adverse social events, reconstruct the past and predict future events, call attention to threats to our own group, spur the members of our own group to collective defence, and provide ostensible moral justification for cruelty and violence towards external groups.

The Jews, of course!

The villains in modern world conspiracy theories typically realise their plots with the cool rationality of “homo economicus”, taking advantage of modern institutions and the latest technology. However, conspiracy stereotypes connected to Jews can be regarded partly as an archaic, collective legacy of the historic past. Conspiracy theories about Jews sprang up in the Middle Ages, in a different form to those of today and embedded in a different, magical-transcendent world view.

They were blamed, for example, for the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in 1009 and the Rome earthquake of 1020. Jews were also held responsible for the famine that struck Europe in the 14th century, leading to repeated pogroms on French soil. Some people even ascribed the plague that claimed the lives of almost a third of the population of Europe to a Jewish conspiracy designed to wipe out Christian communities despite the fact that the Jews were also among its victims.

Social fears and emotional unrest are fertile ground for the manufacturing of conspiracy theories, with Jews frequently becoming the targets of collective scapegoating.

I think that, in the 21st century, we tend to underestimate the extent and nature of scapegoating. How it has mutated and evolved, taken on new plots (for example, the supposed five dancing Israelis or the organ libel), yet the primary target for that scapegoating hasn’t changed much, it is Jews, and that is where Péter Krekó came in.

Hitchen’s And Chomsky.

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I couldn’t have done better:

“As far as I know, only leading British “Truther” David Shayler, a former intelligence agent who also announced his own divinity, has denied that the events of Sept. 11, 2001, took place at all. (It was apparently by means of a hologram that the widespread delusion was created on television.) In his recent article for Guernica magazine, however, professor Noam Chomsky decides to leave that central question open. We have no more reason to credit Osama Bin Laden’s claim of responsibility, he states, than we would have to believe Chomsky’s own claim to have won the Boston Marathon.

I can’t immediately decide whether or not this is an improvement on what Chomsky wrote at the time. Ten years ago, apparently sharing the consensus that 9/11 was indeed the work of al-Qaida, he wrote that it was no worse an atrocity than President Clinton’s earlier use of cruise missiles against Sudan in retaliation for the bomb attacks on the centers of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. (I haven’t been back to check on whether he conceded that those embassy bombings were also al-Qaida’s work to begin with.) He is still arguing loudly for moral equivalence, maintaining that the Abbottabad, Pakistan, strike would justify a contingency whereby “Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.” (Indeed, equivalence might be a weak word here, since he maintains that, “uncontroversially, [Bush's] crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s.”) So the main new element is the one of intriguing mystery. The Twin Towers came down, but it’s still anyone’s guess who did it. Since “April 2002, [when] the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it ‘believed’ that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan,” no evidence has been adduced. “Nothing serious,” as Chomsky puts it, “has been provided since.”

Chomsky still enjoys some reputation both as a scholar and a public intellectual. And in the face of bombardments of official propaganda, he prides himself in a signature phrase on his stern insistence on “turning to the facts.” So is one to assume that he has pored through the completed findings of the 9/11 Commission? Viewed any of the videos in which the 9/11 hijackers are seen in the company of Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri? Read the transcripts of the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker”? Followed the journalistic investigations of Lawrence Wright, Peter Bergen, or John Burns, to name only some of the more salient? Acquainted himself with the proceedings of associated and ancillary investigations into the bombing of the USS Cole or indeed the first attempt to bring down the Twin Towers in the 1990s? ” [My emphasis.]

(H/T: John-Paul Pagano)

Written by modernityblog

10/05/2011 at 00:40

Noam Chomsky, 9/11 And Wiggle Room?

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Pundits and commentators throughout the world are giving their opinions on the demise of Osama bin Laden.

Now one of the world’s leading intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, has seen fit to do the same.

Noam Chomsky: My Reaction to Osama bin Laden’s Death:

“It’s increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law. There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 80 commandos facing virtually no opposition—except, they claim, from his wife, who lunged towards them. In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress “suspects.” In April 2002, the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it “believed” that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan, though implemented in the UAE and Germany. What they only believed in April 2002, they obviously didn’t know 8 months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know, because they were instantly dismissed) to extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence—which, as we soon learned, Washington didn’t have. Thus Obama was simply lying when he said, in his White House statement, that “we quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda.”

Nothing serious has been provided since. There is much talk of bin Laden’s “confession,” but that is rather like my confession that I won the Boston Marathon. He boasted of what he regarded as a great achievement.”

I feely admit that I find Chomsky’s writings less than clear. His use of compounded clauses in sentences is annoying and for a linguist he doesn’t communicate terribly well, often you are left trying to work out what he was actually getting at.

A cynic would suggest that Chomsky leaves himself wiggle room, lest he completely puts his foot in mouth.

Reading the above you are left wondering if Chomsky thinks that Al Qaeda committed 9/11? Or perhaps something else, when he says:

Thus Obama was simply lying when he said, in his White House statement, that “we quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda.” “

Does anyone really know what Chomsky is on about concerning 9/11?

Who knows? Frankly, who cares? We know from what he said that Chomsky is not a fan of Obama.

I suspect Chomsky’s tortured prose will end up in the dustbin of history, along with the remnants of his more peculiar views.

Written by modernityblog

07/05/2011 at 15:31

Osama Bin Laden, An Antifascist’s Approach.

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I had previously wrote a longer draft on the similarities between Osama bin Laden and other rich sociopaths that indulge their hatreds, but on reflection I am not so sure that is the best description for him.

For all I know bin Laden might just have been a misanthrope with a love for AK-47s?

Still, with his views and participation in the death of others he strikes me, at the very least, as a quasi-fascist, someone who revels in the use of violence and mass murder as a means to an end.

Directly or indirectly, he murdered hundreds of civilians in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

So in the same way I didn’t mourn over the deaths of António Salazar, Francisco Franco or Augusto Pinochet I don’t worry about bin Laden’s demise either.

Neither should anyone else, particularly those who consider themselves to be anti-fascists.

Update 1: Norm look at this way:

“As a subordinate matter here, those of us who recognize the above difference can’t help but notice the contrasting reaction of others ‘not mourning’ Bin Laden but seemingly capable only of biliousness in speaking about his death. Poor lost socialist, liberal and democratic souls (for that is what they mostly are). In the demise of a reactionary murdering theocrat they are unable to see and plainly articulate the sense of anything good. That, in its way, also gives grounds for satisfaction: many people bothered who ought to be.”

Written by modernityblog

05/05/2011 at 23:58

A Grumpy Stop the War Coalition And Bin Laden.

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StWC Tweets

StWC Tweets on bin Laden

I am not the only one to notice that the Stop the War Coalition were not too happy at bin Laden’s death.

StWC’s latest tweet suggests they are decidedly grumpy on this issue.

Carl Packman, at Though Cowards Flinch, ably analyses the problem with the StWC’s approach:

“However many of us are quietly pleased that Bin Laden is history.

That is, of course, with the exception of the Stop the War Coalition, who today put out a statement which had the following to say (authored by Lindsey German):

The US and Britain should remind themselves of the grievances which bin Laden claimed in 2001: the presence of US troops in the Middle East; the treatment of the Palestinians; and the continued sanctions against Iraq. All of these grievances have worsened in the last ten years. There are now western troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, US bases all over the region, and an intervention including troops and airstrikes in Libya. The Palestinians suffer even more, and have been subject to aerial attack by Israel. Iraq suffers full scale occupation as a result of the war in 2003.

Why have they chosen to dignify the grievances of Bin Laden? Granted these include worthy grievances, but to put Bin Laden’s name next them, on this day of all days, comes dangerously close to saying “Bin Laden was right” – in the same way the National Front would say Enoch Powell was right.

The way they’ve juxtaposed the name of an evil terrorist with legitimate concerns is tasteless – and should be retracted, and reworded. “

Read more.

Update 1: Ken Livinstone doesn’t seem too pleased at bin Laden’s demise either:

““I just looked at [the scenes of jubilation in the US] and realised that it would increase the likelihood of a terror attack on London… That’s very much the American style but I don’t think I’ve ever felt pleased at the death of anybody.

“The real problem for London is that after America we’re a big target so it’s a very dangerous time at the moment…

“We should have captured him and put him on trial. It’s a simple point – are we gangsters or a Western democracy based on the rule of law? This undermines any commitment to democracy and trial by jury and makes Obama look like some sort of mobster.

Update 2: Eamonn Mcdonagh has a funny take on it.

Rounding Up The End of Bin Laden’s Death.

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Written by modernityblog

03/05/2011 at 14:53

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