Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11

Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11

Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11

Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11

Synopsis

Many Americans believe that their own government is guilty of shocking crimes. Although the paranoid style has been a feature of the American scene since the birth of the Republic, this book shows that it is only in the 20th century that strange and unlikely conspiracy theories have become central to American politics.

Excerpt

If you search for “9/11 conspiracies” on the Google Video Web site, you can learn some shocking things. You can learn that there were no commercial airplanes involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks— just drones and cruise missiles. You can link to Web sites that claim that the World Trade Center towers fell because bombs were secretly placed in their air ducts, not because planes, commercial or military, manned or not, crashed into them. You can watch documentary films that allege that 9/11 was an “inside job” perpetrated by the George W. Bush administration to justify its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. If you look at the information on the most popular of these documentaries, called Loose Change, you will see that at least ten million people have already viewed it, and thirty-five thousand of them have written reviews, giving it an average rating of four and a half out of five stars.

These opinions may seem to belong on the fringe, but in fact millions of Americans hold them. Polls show that 36 percent of Americans think the Bush administration either planned the 9/11 attacks or knew that they were coming and did nothing to stop them. A majority of Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine believe these theories.

In many ways, the popularity of 9/11 conspiracy theories is a mystery. What can explain this profound distrust of the U.S. government? Why, in . . .

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