Monday, Sep 15, 2003
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By Timeri N. Murari
WHERE WERE you on November 22, December 8 and September 11? Some tragic events forever are a bookmark in our lives. Not every death changes the course of history, with a few exceptions. On June 28, 1914, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand kick-started World War I. While on August 6, 1945, the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima ended the war in the Pacific.
All unnatural deaths, whether a common murder or political assassination, arise out of conspiracies. Gavrilo Princip was merely the hitman of a Serbian conspiracy. The atom bomb was a conspiracy by the Americans to test a terrifying weapon on a civilian population. Thankfully, I was not around at that time.
When John Kennedy was assassinated, I was standing on the steps of my college about to enter a class. I forget which subject now. That death was one of the first big tragic events to be covered live by television. Since then, television has perfected the craft and we are all drawn into the unfolding tragedies around the world. By now, we know that there are hundreds of conspiracy theories on the assassination of JFK in Dallas, Texas. I have read some of them and I am not sure which one to believe. Certainly, I do not believe that Oswald was the lone gunman. Who was behind him? Fidel Castro? The Mob? An oil cartel? Mickey Mouse? Too many shadowy figures always swirl, just beyond vision, around powerful political leaders. And because of the doubts on how many gunmen were involved, JFK's death planted the conspiracy seed in all our minds.
We all watched September 11 live. Two big passenger jets slammed into the World Trade Center towers and we watched and watched as they crumpled to the ground. We remained watching long after. I was at my desk, working, when the first plane hit. The cameras were not in place when other planes crashed into the Pentagon and an open field. We only saw the ruins.
It looked, at the time, a horrifying act of terrorism, brilliantly planned and executed. Unfortunately, as television seems to open up the world for us, the world grows more opaque. Embedded journalists give us war and death as entertainment. In India, our politicians call it `transparency' but we know there is nothing transparent about anything our Government does. We live in a more cynical age today, and the conspiracy theories about September 11 are beginning to come out of the woodwork.
The French were the first out of the starting block. A journalist, Thierry Meysson, wrote a bestseller called `9/11: The Big Lie.' His conspiracy theory suggests that the attack on the Pentagon was an attempted coup d'etat by U.S. military officials to justify future wars. In Germany, a former Minister, Andreas Von Buelow, wrote his bestseller, `CIA and September 11,' claiming that the planes which hit the WTC were remote-controlled and that there were no Islamic terrorists on board.
It may look as if the Europeans have the monopoly on these conspiracies. But the Americans are not too far behind. On March 25, during a Pacifica radio interview, Representative Cynthia McKinney, a Georgia Democrat, said, "We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11... What did this administration know, and when did it know it about the events of September 11? Who else knew and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered?"
Ms. McKinney was not questioning if there had been an intelligence failure. She was stating that, in her view, the U.S. Government had known about the WTC attacks and, that it either did not do enough to prevent them or, much worse, allowed them to happen for its own devious reasons. Senator Zell Miller, a conservative Democrat from her State, called her comments "loony." Recently, a British politician also made the same suggestion when he claimed that the U.S. Government was warned by a dozen intelligence agencies from around the world that an attack was being planned. Yet it did nothing.
The woodwork is crammed with conspiracists now. The American organisation, Prophet Ramification, claimed that 9/11 was foretold by the biblical prophet and is a prelude to World War III. The Patriot Saints believe that the Islamic terrorists are merely a part of a sinister plot hatched by high up U.S. officials to establish a global police state. While the U.S. broadcaster, Pat Buchanan, suggests that 9/11 was a punishment for allowing porn on the Net and rampant secularism on television. This sounds as if he would be quite at home with some of our own fundamentalists. They should meet.
A 9/11, like a Hiroshima, had never happened before and it is hard to comprehend such man-made horror. And because the events are so complex, we try to simplify them and to fit conspiracies into the reality. We are trying to make sense of it, and taking the easy way out through self-delusion. Admittedly, few of us trust our governments. And, though I distrust George W. Bush's motives in Iraq, I doubt whether the U.S. Government would commit such a terrible act against its own people. However, to quote The X-Files, Fox Mulder, "the truth is out there." That may be true in television land but not in real life.
I know where I was when a man I admired was killed by a lone gunman. I was just a couple of blocks away when John Lennon died on December 8 and saw where he fell. I do not believe there is a conspiracy behind his death. I could be wrong.
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