“Have you heard about the Jews?
Four thousand of them called in
sick the morning of 9/11. Did you
hear about the blasts inside the towers?
Planes didn’t destroy the Towers;
the CIA stuck explosives inside and detonated
them. A janitor heard bombs go off.
Did you ever wonder why we didn’t see plane
wreckage at the Pentagon? There was no
plane. An ex-military guy said a missile hit
it. C’mon, do you really think a bunch of Arabs
with box cutters could’ve pulled all that off?”

Haven’t you heard the whispers? In the
background, hands cup a tunnel between ear
and mouth. A secret map is told to the listener,
one that explains the chaos of this
world, one that connects random signs into a
grand narrative. Yet the secret of conspiracy
theories, especially on the left, is that they do
not challenge the order of things but plead
for its return, thus exposing the latent
racism of the left.

Why is this so? Repeating rumors on conspiracy
web-sites reinforces a flawed notion
of the infallibility of power. When the
planes went astray, why didn’t Air Force
radars pick them up? When the planes were
hijacked, why didn’t they land by automatic
pilot? If the towers were so strong, how
could a fire cause their collapse? The questions
are less questions than the repeated
hope that power can rescue us from random
chance and human error.

Contrast this with the image of power in
the movie Airplane. In it, the heroic couple of
a pilotless jet save everyone by inflating a
blow-up doll who lands the plane, while protagonist
and girlfriend make out in the cockpit. The doll is the perfect
symbol of the dumb blindness of the law, behind
whose back the couple enjoy each other. Is this not
how we live? On the job or in our love lives, we search
for secret times to dawdle and day-dream and
cheat. We can because the law
is an empty place that can never
completely control us. A secret
place exists inside us that we keep
from others and from ourselves.

So although saying that 9/11 was an
inside job sounds like a radical challenge to
state power, it actually is a form of reverse
patriotism. The accusation calls out of hiding
a puppetmaster whose strings are the web we
live in. He is seen everywhere because he
can’t be found anywhere, and his presence
must be manufactured to hold off the deeper
terror of life’s absurdity.

An example of this is the scene in Fahrenheit 9/11
of President Bush receiving the news
of planes hitting the Twin Towers.
Often it is read as a member of the
Illuminati hearing a well thoughtout-
plan unfolding. I oppose Bush
utterly, but to me he remains a flawed
human being, and in those recorded moments I
don’t see the Illuminati but a
stunned and scared man rocking
in disbelief.

What kind of patriots are conspiracy
theorists? If they want the
comfort of knowing someone is in control
we should examine the images of that
secret control. Often it shows a racist thread,
in that whether the conspirators are the Elders
of Zion or the CIA or the Freemasons, what is
silently assumed is the inability of people of
color to be historical agents. Only the superior,
if shadowy intelligence of the West can be the
cause of change.

Conspiracy theorists forget the lesson at
the end of every Scooby-Doo episode – that
the villain is never a monster but a tired, vindictive,
slightly pedophilic-looking man.
Once the mask is taken off we see an all-toohuman
figure. The same was obvious in The
Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy pulled back the
curtains and found a befuddled man moving
gears and amplifying his voice.

I remember a friend folding a twenty-dollar
bill. “See,” he said, “On one side the Pentagon
burns and the other,” he flipped it, “are the
Twin Towers.” I wanted to tell him that the
only conspiracy here is the conspiracy of the
hope that money and power are more real than
our freedom to create the world anew.