Tom Purcell, 9/19/2006 [Archive]

Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy Theory

By Tom Purcell

'I think Howard Dean did it.'

'Pardon me?'

'Howard Dean was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks -- he and Teddy Kennedy.'

'Have you lost your mind? Nineteen religious fanatics attacked us on 9/11. They did so under the direction of Osama Bin Laden, who hopes a Taliban-style government will rule the world. That's all there is to it.'

'Then why, according to a Scripps-Howard poll, do 36 percent of Americans think our government either allowed 9/11 to happen or did it themselves?'

'Do you really believe our government would massacre more than 3,000 innocent people -- AND be able to conceal it from the world?'

'Absolutely! Time magazine outlines some common conspiracy scenarios. The first is that the World Trade Center towers weren't brought down by a couple of planes, but by strategically placed bombs.'


'The Pentagon wasn't really hit by a commercial jet but by a cruise missile.'


'And United Flight 93 didn't crash because allegedly brave passengers kicked in the cockpit door. It was shot down by a U.S. Air Force fighter.'

'And people in our government committed these heinous acts for what reason?'

'For money! Bush needed an excuse to go to war in the Middle East. He wanted to get his mitts on Iraqi oil. And he wanted to enrich his pals at Halliburton.'

'I see you've got it all worked out. But did you know that Popular Mechanics has investigated numerous conspiracy theories and found every one of them to be false?'

'Popular Mechanics is a CIA front!'

'Then explain this: Bush's poll numbers have been in the tank for months BECAUSE of Iraq. If he was the mastermind of 9/11, as you absurdly allege, and he wanted to invade Iraq to expand his power, his plan certainly is backfiring.'

'That's because Bush isn't really the mastermind behind the conspiracy. Howard Dean is.'

'This has got to be good. Go on.'

'Dean was the only one who could have done it. See, Dean knew Bush would use 9/11 to invade the Middle East, and that the resulting anti-war sentiment could propel him through the Democratic primaries to the White House in 2002 -- it would have worked, too, had he not made that odd scream.'

'Sir, what worries me is not that a handful of kooks are embracing such nutty theories, but that one-third of Americans are doing so -- and that many of these easily-swayed people vote!'

'But one of the more prominent conspiracy-theory groups believes there was no way two planes could have brought the towers down. That group, Scholars for 9/11 Truth, includes 75 highly educated academics!'

'That's even more worrisome -- goodness knows what other absurd mistruths our 'highly-educated' academics are selling us. Nonetheless, the Time article makes a good observation about why academics and others are suckers for a good conspiracy.'

'Which is?'

'That humans have a basic need 'to have the magnitude of any given effect be balanced by the magnitude of the cause behind it.' In other words, it's hard for some people to accept that 19 terrorists could inflict so much damage with so little effort.'

'I don't follow.'

'Too many people have trouble accepting that evil exists, that some are advancing it under the guise of their religion, that it seeks to kill innocent people to advance its agenda, and that we have no choice but to face it and defeat it.'

'I still don't follow.'

'It's easier for some to use the Internet to get all lathered up in nutty conspiracy theories than to embrace what we're really up against -- that the terrorists will succeed again, possibly soon. And if they ever get their hands on nukes, we can kiss New York and Washington, D.C. goodbye.'

'Republicans are just saying that to scare people into voting for them!'

'How I wish that were true. By the way, if Howard Dean was the mastermind behind 9/11, as your kooky theory alleges, what role would Teddy Kennedy possibly play?'

'That's easy. Who in our government knows more about getting bombed than Teddy Kennedy?'

Tom Purcell's weekly political humor column runs in newspapers and Web sites across America. Contact him at Distributed by Cagle Cartoons syndicate, call Sales at (805) 969-2829 for reprint info.

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