Obama's 9/11 conspiracy theory

Conspiracy theories about 9/11 still flit across the blogosphere like fruit bats after dusk.  For the truthers, it was an inside job.  The CIA detonated explosives planted in the buildings earlier in the year, with a little help from Dick Cheney and Louis Freeh.  Many in the Arab world, along with American neo-Nazis, are convinced that the Israelis were responsible.  Several hundred Jews didn’t show up for work that morning, doncha know, because they’d been warned by Mossad. 

For Barack Obama, it’s the Russians who are to blame – specifically, Nicolai Chernyshevsky.  He was the founder of Nihilism, and the nineteen terrorists were all nihilists, according to the president in his 2004 introduction to Dreams From My Father, written years before he was considered a presidential contender.

In one of the more accurate statements in the book, the narrator writes of September 11, “It’s beyond my skill as a writer to capture that day.”  He then goes on to say, “Nor do I pretend to understand the stark nihilism that drove the terrorists that day and drives their brethren still.”

Russian intellectuals in the 19th century, responding, admittedly, to a vicious tsarist police state, had the bad habit of importing some of the worst ideas of inventive German philosophers, weaponizing them, and re-exporting them.  There are shelves of books on Chernyshevsky and on Mikhail Bakunin, another influential figure.  But what’s important to remember is that the nihilists were revolutionary socialists who differed from Marxists only on methods and on how utopia would be organized after the revolution.

The 9/11 nihilists were socialists, too, according to Obama.  He does not use the term simply as a synonym for “cynic.”  The decision to fly planes into buildings was a result of “the desperation and disorder of the powerless:  how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago’s South Side.”  He sympathizes with the terrorists: “how narrow the path is for them between humiliation and untrammeled fury, how easily they slip into violence and despair.”

The West, of course, is to blame. 

I know that the response of the powerful to this disorder -- alternating as it does between a dull complacency and, when the disorder spills out of its proscribed confines, a steady, unthinking application of force, of longer prison sentences and more sophisticated military hardware....

Never mind that annual foreign aid from the U.S. and Europe to Africa alone totals over 135 billion, and America spends over 450 billion per year on welfare programs.

What happened on 9/11, Obama concludes, is that “history returned with a vengeance,” or, as his mentor Jeremiah Wright put it, “the chickens have come home to roost.”  The attacks, in sum, were the result of “an underlying struggle between worlds of plenty and worlds of want.”  We had it coming.

Mohammad Atta and the other hijackers, Obama concedes, did not “embrace … diversity.”  Otherwise they would have chosen another way to protest the injustice of the West. 

But in this respect, the terrorists were only like others “who would seek, under whatever flag or slogan or sacred text, a certainty and simplification that justifies cruelty toward those not like us.”  That includes the “overzealous Republican operatives” who made his name “a target of mocking websites.”  Obama, too, was a victim of 9/11.  Whatever happens anywhere, it’s always about him.

What it was not about, apparently, was Islam.

Conspiracy theories about 9/11 still flit across the blogosphere like fruit bats after dusk.  For the truthers, it was an inside job.  The CIA detonated explosives planted in the buildings earlier in the year, with a little help from Dick Cheney and Louis Freeh.  Many in the Arab world, along with American neo-Nazis, are convinced that the Israelis were responsible.  Several hundred Jews didn’t show up for work that morning, doncha know, because they’d been warned by Mossad. 

For Barack Obama, it’s the Russians who are to blame – specifically, Nicolai Chernyshevsky.  He was the founder of Nihilism, and the nineteen terrorists were all nihilists, according to the president in his 2004 introduction to Dreams From My Father, written years before he was considered a presidential contender.

In one of the more accurate statements in the book, the narrator writes of September 11, “It’s beyond my skill as a writer to capture that day.”  He then goes on to say, “Nor do I pretend to understand the stark nihilism that drove the terrorists that day and drives their brethren still.”

Russian intellectuals in the 19th century, responding, admittedly, to a vicious tsarist police state, had the bad habit of importing some of the worst ideas of inventive German philosophers, weaponizing them, and re-exporting them.  There are shelves of books on Chernyshevsky and on Mikhail Bakunin, another influential figure.  But what’s important to remember is that the nihilists were revolutionary socialists who differed from Marxists only on methods and on how utopia would be organized after the revolution.

The 9/11 nihilists were socialists, too, according to Obama.  He does not use the term simply as a synonym for “cynic.”  The decision to fly planes into buildings was a result of “the desperation and disorder of the powerless:  how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago’s South Side.”  He sympathizes with the terrorists: “how narrow the path is for them between humiliation and untrammeled fury, how easily they slip into violence and despair.”

The West, of course, is to blame. 

I know that the response of the powerful to this disorder -- alternating as it does between a dull complacency and, when the disorder spills out of its proscribed confines, a steady, unthinking application of force, of longer prison sentences and more sophisticated military hardware....

Never mind that annual foreign aid from the U.S. and Europe to Africa alone totals over 135 billion, and America spends over 450 billion per year on welfare programs.

What happened on 9/11, Obama concludes, is that “history returned with a vengeance,” or, as his mentor Jeremiah Wright put it, “the chickens have come home to roost.”  The attacks, in sum, were the result of “an underlying struggle between worlds of plenty and worlds of want.”  We had it coming.

Mohammad Atta and the other hijackers, Obama concedes, did not “embrace … diversity.”  Otherwise they would have chosen another way to protest the injustice of the West. 

But in this respect, the terrorists were only like others “who would seek, under whatever flag or slogan or sacred text, a certainty and simplification that justifies cruelty toward those not like us.”  That includes the “overzealous Republican operatives” who made his name “a target of mocking websites.”  Obama, too, was a victim of 9/11.  Whatever happens anywhere, it’s always about him.

What it was not about, apparently, was Islam.