I blame Lonely Planet. The nearest town to the border of Iraq according to my guide book is a place called Sirnak, the real closest town is called Silopi. If I had known this in advance, I could have got off my bus in Silopi instead of foolishly staying on it until Sirnak. This meant I had to backtrack somewhat.
Yesterday when I asked for a ticket to Sirnak, a Turkish man said to me “why do you want to go there? It’s very dangerous… [gestures firing a machine gun] Best you go to Cappadocia.” Cappadocia’s fairy-chimney charms aside, this remark annoyed me more than scared me – it’s no secret that the Turks aren’t particularly enamoured with the Kurdish people that live in the border regions of Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Irritating buggers who have their own fancy language and customs – how dare they? Given the recent history of the Middle East, I think it’s fair to say that these guys ain’t too big on multi-culturalism. Which is a shame because if they would stop acting like brain-dead morons for just five minutes, they might discover that they have more in common with each other than they might think.
But while people are so obsessed with building up walls to keep other humans out (stuff like this always reminds me of Jonathan Swift and his big- and little-enders) we’re going to have what we call, er, a breakdown of communication, Doc. But being an outsider I’m happy to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I have to say that the Kurds did not let themselves down. Polite, courteous, helpful, generous… a friendlier bunch I couldn’t hope to meet. For instance, I get off the bus in Sirnak and I ask to go to the border with Iraq. A guy smiles and tells me in Kurdish to come with him and he gives me a lift to where the local minibuses stop. I get to the minibus stop and am invited into a nearby office to drink tea with the people there. It’s freezing cold, I’m up in the mountains and a glass of hot, hot tea with far too much sugar is exactly what I need. I offer to pay but they refuse to take a penny, instead they help me with my bags and soon I’m on a minibus heading back the way I came, it slowly dawning on me that I could have simply got off my coach two hours earlier and been in the same place.
Oh well, it only cost me a couple of quid to go back and at least I got a cup of tea into the bargain. When I finally got (back) to Silopi, I waited with a Kurdish lady who was also going to the border, before getting into a taxi and running the gauntlet.
Brace yourselves people… I was about to invade Iraq.
As things turned out, it couldn’t be easier… apart from the fact the border closed for lunch as soon as we got there. But once it was open, I didn’t have to queue – I got stamped out of Turkey in double-quick time and before I could say what-what, I was on the Iraqi side of the frontier. This was tremendously exciting. When I was planning The Odyssey, getting into Iraq was a bit of a grey science. My Middle East Lonely Planet pretty much said that all the borders were closed to tourists and under the ‘Solo Travellers’ heading it simply stated ‘You’d have to be mad’. But my LP is a little out of date now and anyway, I wasn’t going to Iraq proper – I was going to Kurdistan.
The Kurdish region of northern Iraq was a UN protectorate for years, even before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, but that’s not to suggest that they weren’t jumping for joy when Saddam was finally toppled. The Kurds were Saddam’s favourite whipping boys and suffered a ton of abuse at his command. Yesterday, ‘Chemical Ali’, the mastermind of the gassing of the Kurds in the town of Halabja, was hanged. To say the Kurds were quite pleased about this is an understatement – they were congratulating each other in the streets.
I don’t personally believe that people should be sentenced to death (it makes lawyers far too rich) but I could never imagine what it must be like to lose all your friends and all your family because some psychopathic nutter in power wants the world to know how much of a psychopathic nutter he really is, and gasses a entire town. I mean, how messed up do you have to be??
From the moment I crossed the border, the Kurds went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I was herded to the front of the queue and invited into the office for a cup of tea with the border guards. When they asked me who I was and what I was doing, for the first time in this entire ridiculous journey, I wasn’t made to feel like I was intruding. I felt like they were actually interested – not just for their own gratification, but for my safety.
The chief explained that I was not to go to Mosul or Kirkuk, but anywhere north of there was fine. I nodded. “They will kill you, understand?” I understood. “Good. Welcome to Kurdistan!” and with that they stamped me in – NO VISA, NO FEE, NO PAYMENT, NO BACKHANDER… in I went.
If you want to butter me up (and who wouldn’t?) make sure I don’t need a visa to pop into your country for a visit, or if I do, make it free. Take a bow South Africa, Rwanda and Madagascar, you rock my world.
I had a quick mooch around the town of Z???, I could have turned around and headed back to Turkey, got my head down for the night and taken the 0800 bus towards Cyprus in the morning, but I was intrigued – here I was in the most dangerous country in the world and it was amazingly pleasant. Zarko was neat and tidy, good roads, trees, fountains, pavements… Londa, a friend of the irrepressible Kendra (Cairo), had offered me her couch to surf – but it was in Suleymania, on the other side of the region.
With no news about my visas for the continuation of The Odyssey after this, I figured what the hell. I texted Londa and said I was on my way.
There’s no public transport from Zarko to Erbil, the administrative capital of Kurdistan, so I had to share a taxi with three other people, but it only cost me $10, so I thought what the hell. On the way, we went uncomfortably close to Mosul – I could feel my buttocks clench as the milestones counted down. But then we swung a left and headed away and I breathed a sigh of relief. I doubt I would have got through the roadblocks anyway… my entry stamp is only valid for the Kurdish region.
I have to say though, there were a lot fewer roadblocks than I was expecting.. this is not West Africa by any means. Also, the roadblocks here actually made me feel safer, rather than made me feel like an escaped prisoner of war. And the guys manning the roadblocks seemed to be there for a reason… like our protection, rather than a protection racket – again, unlike West Africa. I can’t put this bluntly enough: the police in over half the states of Africa are just there to line their own pockets while stopping any intra-national or international trade going on, because the most effective way to keep a country on its knees is to keep everybody poor and everything wretched.
Although I have to say, when a guy came out of his little office sporting an AK-47 and wearing a balaclava, I did my best to stay calm… I had just heard about an attack in Afghanistan carried out by insurgents posing as soldiers, but I needn’t have worried, he looked at my passport, flashed me a smile and said “welcome”. It was bitterly cold, so the balaclava was necessary, but it still freaked me out.
When I got to Erbil, I had missed the last bus onwards, so it was another service taxi for the rest of the journey to Suleymania. I arrived at Londa’s around 11pm. She lived in a big new apartment complex, one of those where the block letter is written in neon light on the top (like the cover of The Killer’s Hot Fuss album) in a place called (somewhat bizarrely) German Village. In the distance, the snow-covered hills surrounded me like sentinels.
My word – I was in Iraq. At 11 o’clock at night, walking through a city I had never been to before that isn’t even mentioned in my Lonely Planet.
I was in IRAQ.
My name is Graham Hughes and THIS is The Odyssey.
Londa hails from a place called Colorado in a little out-of-the-way country called America not far from Comoros, Sao Tome and Djibouti. She’s been living in Iraq now for more than six months and seems to quite like the place. I guess it makes a change from fast food, big fat fatty fat fats and weird ball games that nobody else in the world plays. She’s working in the school here in German Village, as (seemingly) are most of the people who live in these apartments.
Funnily enough, I’m not Londa’s only CouchSurfer; she’s also hosting a lovely girl from Amsterdam named Felia, who is interviewing ethnic Kurds for a ‘Uni’ project. Today, I went out for a walk around the town, got my beard trimmed and stuffed my face with kebab (the only food seemingly available round these parts).
If I can just make one teeny-tiny complaint about Iraq? Kebabs need SAUCE! Oi! Egypt – pay attention!! A few lukewarm shreds of lamb in a bit of pitta does not a kebab make! Mayo! Chilli Sauce! Yoghurt! Ketchup! Something! Anything! Come on, you’re killing me over here. Suleymania is a neat little city, very orderly, surrounded by hills peppered with snow. It was tremendously cold, but that wasn’t going to stop me.
I promised I wouldn’t go on about how friendly everybody is any more than I have to, but er, well… you know when you go into a nightclub that you don’t feel comfortable in? One in which the glamour girls pout and the Brylcreem crowd discuss rpms and bpms and you don’t feel you belong? You know when you feel about as welcome as a sausage in a synagogue? Well, Kurdistan is the opposite of that. These guys, shut off from the rest of the world for so long, go out of their way to make you feel appreciated, wanted… and safe.
The snarling what-the-hell-are-you-doing-here? of other countries that it would be remiss of me to mention, was swept away, and here I was in a land in which the poor man, who has slogged his guts out over land and sea just to visit, to see you, to hear what you have to say, is welcomed with open arms as opposed to cool indifference or outright hostility. Thank you, Kurdistan, thank you Iraq… you have made me want to continue this quest to its bitter end. You’ve reminded me of the common humanity we all share, the journey we took to be where we are today and the future so delicate in our hands…
When I was in Cape Verde I got messages off people who seemed to think that I deserved to spend six days sharing a tiny, unlit jail cell with ten other people because “I turned up uninvited” (a fax from the UK representative of Cape Verde was apparently not enough notice). This upset me at the time, but now it just infuriates me – what is going through these moron’s heads? Do they not see that we’re all in this together and that the hapless wayfarer they invite in might one day turn out to be themselves? Or is that not the way it works anymore?
I may as well put my cards on the table right now – I don’t believe in many things, and I certainly don’t believe in karma (sorry, Earl) – too many villains have died a peaceful death in their beds (Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Pinochet, Stalin…) for me to buy it. But there is a balance sheet in life (the only people who raise statues to despots are despots themselves) and that balance sheet should be in the black – the positive things you’ve done in your life, the times you’ve been there for your friends and family, the times you’ve welcomed a stranger, the times you’ve spread happiness instead of spitting in the face of another… it should be in the black. That’s all I’m saying, and if the good folks of northern Iraq have the right attitude, then so should you.
Anyways, later Londa returned to the flat and we headed out to the market together with Felia. Downtown Suleymania! We popped into a tea shop… man, these guys take their tea SERIOUSLY! It was more like a fast food joint; over a hundred happy tea-drinking customers – the teamaker-in-chief filling the little hourglass glasses like a man possessed. We were invited to take a seat. Londa tried to get me to drink my tea out of a saucer, but as I explained to her, I’m an Englishman, not a cat.
After drinkies, we rose to leave and attempted to pay our hosts… did they overcharge? Did they hell. They didn’t even want paying. Thank you for coming, the tea is on the house.
My word, this is what makes it all worthwhile. You might scoff at this and wonder what they hell I’m on about, it’s only a cup of tea – but it’s more than that, it’s what that cup of tea represents. In my country (I love it, but it does spin me out on occasion), they think it’s acceptable for you to pay £60 for a two-and-a-half hour trip on the train to London. That’s a little under two days wages if you’re on minimum wage. Upon this train, not only are they happy to charge you £5 an hour to use their Wi-Fi (in Turkey, it’s free), they will also blithely charge you £2.10 for a cup of tea.
This situation disgusts me, not just in terms of morality, but also in terms of business – what possible good can come of pricing 95% of the population out of using your product? Unless you happen to be Rolls Royce, of course.
Where’s the service? Where’s the brand loyalty? Where’s the love? Do you think if Virgin Trains went bankrupt tomorrow anyone would be crying in the streets? Not a chance. They might even do a little dance. Such is the ‘public’ transport in the UK, to paraphrase Jim Bob; the public get the transport that no public would deserve… but how much would we love those trains, how quintessentially English would they be if they gave out free cups of tea. I can see it in the Lonely Planet now… “the trains in England are a bit of a rip, but the free cups of tea make up for it”.
Am I the only one thinking this? Am I the only one left who can give you twelve reasons why the customer matters?
Well, given the current state of British Cinema and the cattle-herding culture of our supermarkets, magazines, television and nightclubs, I think I’m alone on this one. What a difference a cup of tea could make. It could change the world.
After tea, I got chatting with a Kurdish guy who had been living in London for the past few years, but had now returned to his homeland (as we all will do one day). Had things got better since the invasion? His, and many other Kurds, answer was an unequivocal YES, something that should give Tony Blair a bit of an umph when he comes to give testimony to the Iraq Inquiry on Friday.
At the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I debated the issue with my mate Glenn – he was, like all right-thinking individuals, against it. So was I – up to a point. What was the point? Well, simply this: I don’t think that any criminal in the world should be allowed to get away with it. There is a strange but quintessentially British concept that people should be given a sporting chance to not have to account for their crimes, but that doesn’t hold much water with me, I’m sorry.
Of course, invading a country to take down one mad dictator is akin to cracking a walnut with a sledgehammer, and that’s where mine and Tony Blair’s views differ – I would have been much more sneaky, but the result would have been the same – the downfall of a tyrant. If you want to destroy my sweater, pull this thread while I walk away…
Although with my plan there would have been no Guantanemo, no Abu Grabe, no ‘crusade’, no open invitation to every coked-up and horny teenager in the region to blow themselves up in a vain effort to get laid.
But there is no place for my James Bond Supervillain scheming in this adventure, I’ve just got to get on with the job in hand. But if you want the opinion of the guys up here in Kurdistan, it’s thanks Tony and the British Army, you did the right thing.
After our mooch, we were invited around to Londa’s neighbour’s flat for a bit of a shindig. Sam and Jenny, my word, what a pair of superstars. Sam is half Spanish, half Lebanese (with a handle-bar moustache that almost puts Stan’s to shame) and Jenny is from the Philippines. Actually, looking around the room, it was like the UN had dropped by for some booze and delicious food… although as I looked around the room I found it beginning to spin…
I had already drank a bottle of whisky when Sam suggested we pop out and get some more… something you should know about Iraq: the booze is remarkably cheap. By 11pm, I was sitting in Sam’s flat wearing a crash helmet and sporting a (real) AK-47 explaining why England Expects Every Man To Do His Duty.
To cut a long story short, I got gloriously (and dementedly) wasted and did a few things that I would totally regret could I remember doing them. Luckily for me, Sam and Londa were on hand to look after me, so I didn’t end up face down in the snow believing I was in a wonderful world made of icing sugar.
One thing I do remember though: me and Sam arm-in-arm doing our best Satchmo impressions on a kick-ass rendition of Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. Unfortunately, I’ve already used that for a tune of the day.
I woke up in the morning wearing all my clothes, with hardly any recollection of the night before and Mike Tyson's pet tiger in the room with me.
After returning the tiger to Mr. Tyson, I tried to find out from Felia what the hell happened last night. I won't go into details, but I'm quite astounded that my new friends didn't stuff me in a taxi to Mosul wearing a sandwich board that read “I'm American & Mohammed Sucks”. Sam popped around later and Londa came home for a bit of sheesha for lunch. It was nice to know that everyone feeling just as seedy as me. I didn't think I should head off just yet, my body would have protested too much, and what's an extra day in the grand scheme of things?
Londa's landlord would be coming around for an inspection later, so I had to decamp to Sam's gaff (CouchSurfing being frowned upon by the powers that be). There I sat and watched Big on the movie channel and wistfully reminisced about the good ol' days before Sam slapped me out of my reverie and I found myself invited for a meal at the local Italian restaurant. Mmm... something other than kebab! I jumped at the chance... variety truly is the spice of life.
I loaded myself up with Lasagne (yeah, and Garfield got me drinking coffee too) and totally bonded with Sam – a fellow wayfarer in this big old world, he's travelled to many of the places that I've been over the last thirteen months and his life has been one adventure after another. Like me, he doesn't give a damn about money, security or what tomorrow will bring – life's too short. Why did he take this job in Iraq? Because he hadn't been here before. That's what I like to hear.
The comfort and the joy of feelin' Lost.
That night, we called back around at Londa's to watch Egypt kick Algeria's ass 4-0 to gain a place in the final of the African Cup of Nations. Go Egypt!! They face Ghana in the final, and as much as I like Ghana, I want Egypt to win... but how any African can afford to stay in Angola (the most expensive nation on Earth) for more than five minutes is beyond me. That's possibly why all the stadia are empty. Who's organising this event? Virgin Trains?
You know what though – all these dangerous places I’ve been to, I haven’t seen one gang of horrible teenage lads hanging around on a street corner with their hoods up threatening passers-by for no better reason than they’re too stupid to think of anything else to do. (Plus nobody stops them.) When I lived in Orrell Park in Liverpool, I wouldn’t let them interfere with my wish to go to the shops at night, but even I had to admit that their presence made me much more anxious (in terms of fearing of injury or death) than my time in Lagos, Kinshasa, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Iraq put together.
So next time somebody tells you not to go to such-and-such dangerous place, might I suggest you take them by the arm and go for a stroll to your go see your friendly neighbourhood scallies hanging around outside Blockbuster on a Friday night. Then tell them there ain’t no chavs in Sierra Leone, baby… happy days.
Today, I (reluctantly) left Sam and Jenny’s flat and plomped myself on a bus back towards Turkey. Sam reckons he’ll see me in Melbourne for Christmas, and you know what, I believe him. The bus took me as far as Erbil (or Arbil or Irbil, whatever) and as soon as I was off it, I was stuffed into a shared taxi to Zarko. The guy in the passenger seat spoke English and we discussed many things, including the fact that Tony Blair was being interviewed by the Iraq Inquiry today – it’s bizarre when your silly little life and important international events converge. What did he think of it all? He didn’t understand why there was an inquiry in the first place. I guess that says everything as far as the Kurds are concerned. I’m sure that other people in this country (and ours) have very differing options, but I’m offering this as a non-professional piece of journalistic intrigue.
Once we arrived in Zarko, it was cold. REALLY cold, and the last thing that I wanted was to be held at the border for five hours. But that’s exactly what happened. It would appear that getting into Iraq is a lot easier than getting out. I knew it was a hopeless cause once I was told that I needed the signatures of not one, not two but THREE different military-types in order to not have my camcorder tapes impounded. The whole process took over an hour, and that was just one step on our arduous journey covering the half-mile that constituted the border. It was one in the morning before long, I was in the town of Silopi on the other side.
Something I found hilarious, though – the lengths my service taxi-driver went through to hide the duty-free ciggies he and the other passengers had bought. You’ve seen that bit in The French Connection? It was a bit like that. I haven’t seen so many hidden compartments since I last played Wolfenstein. Roll with it, people… roll with it.
I just spent the last three days in Iraq… what did you do this week?
I was a kid in the eighties. I grew up with the possibility that at any moment the Russians might take a dislike to the latest Madness single or something and destroy the entire world. Films like Red Dawn and When The Wind Blows didn’t help. My brother Alex and I would waste entire summers digging fallout shelters (which invariably ended up as two foot deep puddles of mud) and learning to fend for ourselves in the field across the road, seeing if we could live off ‘rations’ of sugar and ketchup sachets stolen from Little Chef, you know: just in case.
And then one night, suddenly and unexpectedly, the Berlin Wall collapsed. All that fear, all the paranoia, the sword of Damocles that had dangled menacingly above my head throughout my formative years was gone. Whoosh, kaput.
Soon afterwards I turned 11 years old. The nineties had begun. From then until the age of 22 I lived life free of that horrible feeling, the feeling that everything and everyone I know and love might be taken away at any time with the push of a button. The feeling that somebody who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, might well murder me and my family for no other reason than madness, utter madness.
All I needed to be is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Life rarely gives many certainties, except death and taxes, but as the IRA dwindled away, the possibility of me being senselessly blown to Smithereens by a faceless menace seemed to diminish as the years went on.
From November 1989 to September 2001, things got better and better. The more I learned about history and politics the more I became convinced that, in the words of Bill and Ted, the best place to be is here… and the best time to be is now.
Compared with the adolescence of anyone born before 1900 (why are all 14 of my siblings dead?), anyone during WWI (why are all my friends dead?), anyone during WWII (why are all my people dead?), any one of the Baby Boomers (why is every living thing on the planet dead?) or any of the Generation X-ers (imagine being a teenager in the eighties – ack! The humanity!).
Compared to that lot, my (MTV) generation had it made: great music, great films, great video games, satellite TV, the INTERNET… we were still some distance from World Peace Day, but for me, getting drunk and annoying girls in Liverpool, everything was peachy.
And then 19 psychos, armed only with airline tickets and box cutters, changed the world.
Like millions of others, I had stood on the roof of the World Trade Centre before it was destroyed. But unlike millions of others, I was in Ahmedabad just days before the 2002 massacre. When I visited Bali later that same year, I spent every night in the Sari Club. A few months later it was gone. As was the Casa de España in Casablanca, a place that me and my friend Dan frequented on our trip to that city.
I had been to the wrong places, just not at the wrong time.
I travel a lot, it’s statistically highly likely that stuff like this is going to happen, but what really bothered me was that same creeping dread I experienced as a child – the faceless horror that could take everything from me – was returning… and then the bombings in Madrid and London brought it home that, like in the 1980s, nowhere was safe.
Anybody who has been following my progress over the last couple of years can imagine my response to that feeling. I, like the good people of NY who swept the streets after 9/11 and the noble Londoners who continued taking the tube to work after 7/7, refuse to be terrorised. I refuse to retreat back into childhood, start jumping at shadows or freaking out every time I see an Arab with a backpack. In a battle of wills between me and Osama Bin Laden, you know what? I won. He and his group of murderous idiots and psychopathic zealots didn’t stop me travelling the world. They didn’t even stop me visiting Afghanistan.
But there are people out there who are suitably terrorised and freaked out. For the last ten years they’ve been fighting a losing battle against the forces of reason, attempting to push a square peg into a round hole, getting the hammer out because the pieces of the jigsaw don’t fit. Like the mother watching her son in the parade and wondering why everybody else is marching out of step with her Johnny, they suffer from tunnel vision, only see what they want to see and ignore all the evidence to the contrary.
They are the 9/11 conspiracy theorists.
I find them an annoyance, but not a particularly dangerous one: unlike climate change conspiracy theorists who are doing real-world damage to my only planet. So I’ve not really talked about the 9/11 ‘truthers’ or their crazy notions on my blog. I didn’t really want to give their lunatic views a public airing, not least because they’ve got the entire internet to write up their crackpot theories (mysterious how nobody stops them eh?) and I can’t be bothered vetting all the abusive comments I would (not doubt) receive.
But sometimes people bring the fight to you, and you know I’m more than happy to defend my corner.
So, grab your popcorn and adjust your reading specs, here we go…
On the 25th August 2011, “Joe” wrote:
For the most part you’re spot on, but how do you deny the 9/11 truthers? Buildings don’t pancake unless they are demolished with explosives, building 7 didn’t get hit but it dropped perfectly into it’s own footprint. There was NO plane in the pentagon or on the ground in the Virginia field. You do understand the first law of thermodynamics right? Planes don’t vanish on impact. America went to Afghanistan within a month, no trial, no discussion, nothing. Since when does anyone KNOW who committed a crime with no ACTUAL evidence. The invasion of Iraq was completely based on lies, and no one denies it. We have been fighting a boogie man for over 10 years now, for what?? Do you really believe this al-queda (which is a known CIA asset, as well as bin Laden) outfit is so powerful that EVERY rich and powerful nation on earth can’t stop them in a DECADE! It only took four years to stop Hitler! We find bin laden, the very REASON we have blown trillions of dollars and ended hundreds of thousands of lives, and we KILL him without questioning him!!? Then show NO proof and within a day throw him into the FUCKING ocean!! What kind of protocol is that!? I think you are a very smart and experienced person, so how could you possibly believe any of this? You admit that the powers that be lie all the time in your blogs, so why would you believe any of this crap when it’s so blatantly obvious?
To which I replied:
I “deny” the 9/11 truthers for the same reason I “deny” mother goose: because it’s absolute hogwash!!
The world is run by inept, ignorant and barely-qualified politicians… NOT moustache-twiddling James Bond-villain-esque criminal masterminds. Then again, I don’t know which proposition is scarier…!
Which stirred up the hornet’s nest. Joe wrote:
So you think a ballsy gang of ubermuslims are the real supervillians? outwitting the world, always a step ahead of the intelligence agencies, able to run a commercial airliner into the pentagon (the most heavily fortified building on earth with the capability of shooting rockets out of the sky) and make it vanish upon impact. These James Bomb esque baddies are so well organized they don’t even need banks or money (the CIA is capable of freezing anyone on earth’s assets, something they have done to many a dictator and despot) , they must communicate telepathically as well (considering the coalition of the willing basically has a monopoly on transmitted communication and has been intercepting com since pre WW2) and i guess they have a clone army of super soldiers considering they have withstood the 200,000+ man strong force of America Inc and her lapdogs and mercenaries (the most expensive, powerful, and technologically advanced fighting force in the history of mankind) for over 10 years.
that makes more sense to you than some VERY powerful men who control the oil industry, the banks, the military industrial complex, and world business wanting to grab more power?
Oh bugger it, methinks, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. He might yet be sane… So I replied:
- Since I don’t live in the Marvel comic universe, I don’t believe in supervillians. The very concept is as laughable as Dr. Evil’s sharks “with frikkin laser beams on their heads!”.
- ‘Always’ one step ahead? Once was enough my friend, once. 9/11 was a pretty low-fi operation.
- The Pentagon can shoot rockets out of the sky? Really?! I thought they retried the Star Wars project. But still, rockets and planes are two rather different things (rockets, being packed with explosives, tend to blow up when you hit them, planes don’t).
- Magic! The plane vanished did it? Where you there? Did you sift through the debris? Are you an air-crash investigator? And where, pray tell, are the people who were on board? Would you mind explaining to me (or even better – their families) where they are? I’m sure they’d like to know…!
- The CIA can freeze anybody’s assets can they? That’s news to the bankers in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Nigeria. I better tell them.
- If the Americans have the monopoly on communication, why on Earth did they invent the internet? Shot themselves in the foot there, methinks. You better watch what you say on this site, ‘they’ might come and get ya! Like ‘they’ came for the makers of ‘Loose Change’. Oh, hang on… no, no ‘they’ didn’t. Silly ‘they’. Missed a trick there, like not being able to assassinate Castro… when he was in a coma(!).
- Not sure what you’re getting at with the ‘clone army’ malarkey, but if you’re talking about Al Qaeda, well, they’re not exactly Darth Sidious are they? Last time they tried to blow up something in the UK, they ended up getting their car bomb towed and setting themselves on fire. As for the Afghans, they’ve been kicking the arse of empires since 1841. They evenchopped off Sean Connery’s head, which is more than Blofeld ever did.
- Yes, there ARE some very powerful men out there. The remarkable thing is that they are ALL utterly rubbish at keeping all the horrible things they do a secret… but they are incredibly good at getting away with it. Why? Well, I don’t know, Joe… maybe it’s because people are too busy wasting their time pursuing mad conspiracies that make no sense. We have NO EVIDENCE that 9/11 was an inside job other than hearsay and conjecture… don’t forget: we’d only need ONE piece of concrete evidence to bring a court case against Bush and his cronies, one whistleblower, one disgruntled employee, one payslip, one receipt, one unambiguous photo, one little piece of CCTV footage…
One little thing to bring down the entire Republican party, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin… and oh what a joy that would be. Sadly, that one little thing doesn’t exist. There’s nothing, even after 10 years. Not a dicky bird. This is the same government that couldn’t even get away with stealing a few bits of paper from the Watergate hotel. And while people’s attention is focussed on this garbage, the REAL conspirators get away with in BROAD DAYLIGHT!!
Honestly: you can look their activities up on Wikipedia and everything!
Some homework for ya:
- Union Carbide. Bhopal. Investigate.
- Find out where the $60,000,000,000+ worth of Iraqi ‘rebuilding’ contracts went. The Iraqis would love to know.
- Coca-Cola. Colombia. Murders. Nasty. Get them to pay compensation to the widows.
- Find out why on Earth some ex-Nazi rocket engineers were paid by tobacco companies in the 70s to manufacture doubt in the popular imagination that smoking leads to lung cancer (Hint: they did such a good job, their arguments are STILL being used to cast doubt on the otherwise irrefutable science of climate change).
- BHP Biliton, War in Zaire (DR Congo), copper prices. TELL PEOPLE!
- Find out Who Killed The Electric Car. Hate them forever.
- What links Agent Orange with the American farming industry?
- So when did Donald Rumsfeld exactly leave the board of Halliburton, it being a blatant conflict of interest, of course…
- Which American politician (and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, bizarrely enough) flew out of Jakarta mere days before Indonesia invaded East Timor?
- Talking of East Timor, what was it that Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer said when people were being massacred on the streets and Jose Ramos-Horta pleaded for help?
- Find out how ONE MAN reduced the value of the British pound by 25% IN A DAY.
- Give me a rough estimate of how much money the Nigerian government has stolen (by its own admission) from its own people since 1967.
- Find out who gave Ethiopia the bombers to destroy Massawa in Eritrea… and why.
- Tell me some of the high-jinks the Portuguese got up to before leaving Mozambique.
- Exactly how much of Italy’s media is owned by its Prime Minister?
That’ll do for a start. I have more.
I thought that would be the end of it, but then I haven’t been frequenting too many conspiracy forums recently… I kinda forgot that you can’t reason people out of a position they haven’t reasoned themselves into. Joe wrote:
- You must believe in supervillians if you think a rag tag gang of afghans with a budget of about 1/100000th that of the US and her allies is capable of holding the whole damn world hostage
- Not once, 5 times that day (supposedly) and then for 10 straight years. Do you really believe a few arabs with box cutters could really subdue 5 airplanes? the 100s of people on those planes sat aside and just let that happen? Come on, you can’t even get into a cockpit on a commercial plane, never would’ve happened
- I didn’t say from space, but of course america and especially the pentagon itself has anti missile defense systems. A plane is much larger and moves much slower than a missile, therefore they shouldn’t have had any problem whatsoever taking that plane down well before it maneuvered (while flying over Washington, DC) to street level and crashed into a relatively short building. a basically impossible feat
- Do yourself a favor by looking at a photo of the perfectly round hole in the pentagon and the “wreckage” that was in the field. Then type “plane crash” into google photo to see what an actual plane crash looks like. I don’t have to be an aircrash investigator, the only qualification you need is sight to know that there ISN’T a plane in the pentagon or on that field. As for the families, they were probably killed, just like the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis.
- Yes, the CIA def can freeze assets. They recently froze syrian president Assads’, Gaddafi’s, gbagbo’s (ivory coast), mubaraks, Saddams, the list goes on. They do it whenever they want to. There is no telling what their real agenda is or what kinds of backroom deals they make with various world leaders but there is no doubt that if they deem it necessary they can and will
- I know you’ve been to Egypt, Turkey, and China, three places (among many) that have restricted the internet (in Egypt’s case completely shut it down, which fueled the revolution). The internet isn’t exactly the free speech untouchable force it’s played up as. Governments shut down websites all the time.
- I mentioned the clone army because only an infinite clone army would have the manpower to force a 10+ year war with the entire G20. We aren’t fighting Afghanistan by the way, they are actually our “ally” in this endeavor, our “enemy” is some faceless ghost army of terrorists that can be everywhere at once and have endless supply lines the world over
- There is an absolute MOUNTAIN of evidence. 1000s of structural engineers, physicists, first responders, eyewitnesses, military insiders, computer simulations, the entire history of steel buildings (never has a steel building fallen because of fire, NEVER), common sense (why did building 7 fall? why no planes? why would the building fall perfectly into it’s footprint? (something ONLY possible with a controlled demolition) who had the most to gain? (Dick Cheney (as you must know) was the CEO of Halliburton the day before he swore into office. Of course i don’t have to tell you Halliburtons role in all this is. You’ve seen loose change, you know about the pipelines across afganistans and how the taliban didn’t want to play ball, i know you understand the abhorrent greed of mankind and the insatiable drive for more, more power, more money, more oil, more control. Why wouldn’t these top tier assholes want to consolidate all the power they could?
I think you have a bit of a fairy tale idea of real world justice. The 9/11 commission posted it’s results within a month, accepted no independent investigations, and closed the folder forever. Why wasn’t anyone at BP charged with a crime after the gulf of mexico spill that killed 11 people and still ravages the south coast of America? Why wasn’t bin laden brought to the Hague or DC and put on trial for his crimes? why wasn’t a single banker indicted after the 2008 economic collapse after it became common knowledge that they were engaged in a plethora of illegal business practices (in fact they were rewarded to the tune of trillions of dollars of no interest loans)? Why? because the system is rigged to favor the elite, by the elite. If you don’t believe the elite are looking out for themselves then you must be delusional. Would you help you’re family out if they were in trouble? Do you take care of your friends if you can?
Your list of atrocities only proves my point, those in power will ALWAYS take advantage of that power and do whatever they can to keep it. Morals be damned. Just look at the entire history of mankind, its a running theme. To say that the corporate/banking elite are all just a bunch of idiots, bumbling around with theie combined trillions of dollars, tripping over their own feet, is patently ridiculous. Politicians? Yea, for the most part they probably are pretty dumb, but those guys aren’t making real decisions, they are lackeys, henchmen, PR spokemen, actors (Ronald Reagan was literally an actor before he became president).
Every year the top echelon of elites meets as a group called the Bilderbergs, (as you may know), behind closed doors, with no media coverage. What do you think they are talking about? How they can make the world a better place? If so, they are doing a pretty shit job at it
Well, I really couldn’t be bothered refuting each point separately, so I thought I’d just target the most nonsensical part of the whole silly conspiracy theory: the idea that not a single person who was involved in this cover-up would say anything to anyone, even after ten years. So I wrote:
STOP STOP STOP. PLEASE. THINK about it. Just THINK.
If 9/11 was an inside job… how many people would have to be in one it? Give me a rough figure. 1,000? 10,000? 100,000? These people would have to ALL be utterly amoral psychopaths whose motive was what… power? The iron law of oligarchy states that powerful people don’t share power… so then money? Okay… let’s say money. There’s a lot of them, but lets say they just escaped en masse from Arkham Asylum.
Now if ONE of these people talks the whole thing is shot to shit, and everybody goes to jail… for the rest of their lives. We’re not talking corrupt bankers here, or Bono cooking the books so he pays no income tax, we’re talking the wilful murder of 2,000 AMERICAN CIVILIANS. This is death penalty level crime we’re talking about.
Now work out how much it would cost to keep every single one of those people quiet for 10 years. How much would it cost to keep YOU quiet about the biggest conspiracy the world has ever seen? $1,000,000? Damn you’re cheap! There are businessmen and politicians involved in this who earn that amount A DAY. So how much do you pay them? $1,000,000,000? Sound fair? Let’s say they demand a cool billion every year. Let’s say there are 1,000 of them in on it (a modest figure, I’m sure you’ll agree, given the scale of this thing)… that’s a TRILLION DOLLARS A YEAR for TEN YEARS just to keep people quiet… because any one of them could AT ANY TIME grow a conscience (or need more money) and blow the whistle.
TEN TRILLION DOLLARS… for WHAT? So they could invade IRAQ? Even though Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11? Even though the combined worth of Iraq comes to… wait for it… $117 BILLION a year… hang on, what about Afghanistan?? Well (being one of the poorest countries in the world AND HAVING NO OIL) it’s worth a good $14 BILLION a year, so shall we call it $130 BILLION all up…
…and we’re spending $1,000 BILLION a year on BRIBES??
That’s the conservative figure… how much does it cost to keep Wikileaks quiet? I’d love to know.
IT. MAKES. NO. SENSE. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You can’t grasp how ridiculous the ‘truthers’ proposition sounds to somebody who has a degree in Poltics and Modern History and has travelled as extensively as I have. You might as well be arguing that the world is flat or that an eclipse is a dragon eating the sun. IF there is ANY truth in what the ‘truthers’ claim, why doesn’t one of the more wealthy ‘truthers’ make a civil case against the US government? Anyone with a bit of wonga can do it. But they don’t, do they? Why is that Joe?
Maybe because it would require REAL EVIDENCE and a ACTUAL MOTIVE for the US govt to be behind it… and, as yet, NOBODY has provided me (or any of the millions like yourself who obsess over 9/11) with either.
It may make you sleep easier at night to believe that you live in a universe in which everything happens for a logical reason, but that doesn’t make it the case. The 9/11 hijackers had the motive, the opportunity and the ruthlessness to go through with one of the most spectacular terrorist attacks the world has ever seen – and hopefully will ever see. All they needed was a few flying lessons, nineteen plane tickets and some box cutters. Scary eh? Tough. That’s the way the world is: shit happens… it doesn’t necessarily follow that the shit was put there by the Men In Black to enslave humanity and feed us to the space lizards.
As I tried to get across in my last reply, there are REAL messed-up things that politicians, governments, corporations and businessmen have done and are still getting away with. As I travel, I meet people who want to talk about how every major event or every famous person’s death is a conspiracy (JFK! Diana! Elvis! Evolution! The Moon Landings! Climate Change!), but very few who want to talk about what the Sudanese government has done in Darfur in the full view of an indifferent and apathetic world.
Hell, maybe you and the 9/11 ‘truthers’ are part of a conspiracy to distract people from talking about what’s REALLY going on…
Go on, it’s the space lizards, isn’t it?
I KNEW IT!!!!!!!
To which Joe wrote:
Well Graham, I guess there’s just no convincing you. Usually i dont bother trying to convince anyone because i figure if you believe the “official” story then your just a believe what your told kind of person. I think your stuck on the disbelief that people would be evil or careless enough to do it, but just look at your list of “real” atrocities. Every single day people in power take horrible advantage of people, genocides are very real, slavery is very real, the oil industry really has decimated the Nigerian Delta, the Fed Reserve really did give (print out of thin air) over 1 trillion dollars to the same banks that wrecked the worlds economy. These aren’t even denied and no one does anything. How much convincing do you think it takes to get a soldier to fire bullets into a crowd of protesters in Syria? Mindless people do what they are told, against their own beliefs and morals, every single day, every day of history even. They don’t have to be “paid off” they just want to maintain their status quo, get their paycheck, not ruffle any feathers. As an independent person (remember that i also took a 2+ year epic journey around the globe) you dont get it, but most people want to be part of a “gang”, be told what to do and do whatever it takes to fit into it. Also i think your stuck on “it’s the government”. The real powers that be are the international bankers and corporations, that are above any one countries jurisdiction. If you think those assholes have ANY morals whatsoever then your just lying to yourself.
If you think killing 2000 Americans is some major line that had to be crossed, consider the fact that over 6000 have died in the wars so far. 3 times more have died than the original attack. How about the 100,000s of Iraqis and Afghanis (innocent bystanders many of them) that have died. Nothing is “better” in either country in 10 years. What the hell are we doing there? Obviously nothing good. (Even you admit 60 billion dollars of the “rebuilding” money vanished) It’s all a farce. But i will just stop, because if you can’t see the nose on your face then who am i to show you a mirror. No offence.
So i’ll just leave it be at this point. I highly recommend you do some more research, all of the answers are out there, very easy to find if you want to
There’s a point at which your eyes are rolling so far to the back of your head there’s a good chance you might detach your retinas. I was rapidly approaching this point. With the ad hominem attack of me being a “believe what you’re told” type of person ringing in my ears, it was no more Mr. Nice Badger…
At the end of the day, I’m asking you to provide me with solid evidence and you’re asking me – in true conspiracy theorist-style – to take your word for it based on no evidence whatsoever other than opinion, conjecture and idle speculation.
And then you sign off with ‘the answers are out there’ like its an episode of the X-Files, yeah…. so’s Russell’s Celestial Teapot, but I’m not going to waste my life looking for it.
Sorry my friend, but as Christopher Hitchens quite rightly points out, claims that can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
And that’s where this conversation (which, quite frankly, I tire of having) ends.
But Joe didn’t want to leave it at that. Funnily enough, he found it hard (maybe impossible?) to explain the exact mechanisms for keeping all those people quiet, and herded me instead to watch a bunch of 37 second YouTube clips: essentially adverts for the 9/11 truther’s “product”. Which seems to be… bullshit. Joe wrote:
I assumed that you were capable of doing your own research (and would trust what you found more wholly) but if you want some actual evidence then I can provide you that.
The top 40 reasons http://911truth.org/article.php?story=20041221155307646
Here is a recently released video with the backing of 1500 architects and engineers about WTC7 that proves it was a controlled demolition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z6LMGXDZnI
more thermite evidence http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezIU6ZxYU3A
The planes had no windows
and apparently weren’t in the air
Senior Officials, Government employees, People who were on the 9/11 commission don’t believe it
It seems like you made up your mind a long time ago about this issue, maybe there are some new bits of information that you are unaware of.
The reality is the history of mankind reads as one endless power struggle between the elites. Ghengis Kahn rode across the Central Asian steppe slashing and burning his way to Europe? Alexander the Great convinced his country to march into Turkey and lay siege to its cities on the way to Egypt and India. The Caesars murdered everyday during their reign, as did the Goths, the Ottamans, the Moors, the Franks, the Germans (did Hitler have to pay off all of the Germans to be convinced the extermination of the Jews was ok?) the Brits, all of Western Europe raped, murdered, and stole their way through the Americas, and today corporations and governments economically pillage the world (I’m sure you’ve heard about all of the help the IMF and the World Bank has brought to the developing world). Why? Because its the very nature of mankind, it’s how it’s always been, and most likely always will be.
That’s got to be the non sequitur to end all non sequiturs. I couldn’t resist. I wrote:
Jesus Christ: The planes had no windows! They weren’t even in the air!
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, gimme a break!
As you keep re-iterating time and time and time and time again, your argument boils down to this:
a) governments did bad things in the past (go on about ancient Rome)
b) governments continue to do bad things today (go on about American foreign policy)
Therefore… (drum roll please)
c) the US govt masterminded the 9/11 attacks
What? Eh? Hang on… erm? WHAT? You even sign off with “its the very nature of mankind” as if that’s going to convince me that it’s why no journalist IN THE WORLD fancies winning themselves the Pulitzer Prize by exposing the BIGGEST CONSPIRACY THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN!! Wooowowowowoooo!
You might as well say:
a) pirates did bad things in the past (go on about Blackbeard etc)
b) pirates continue to do bad things today (go on about Somalia)
Therefore… (drum roll please)
c) pirates cause global warming!!!
You’re so immersed in this fantastical world that makes Battlefield Earth seem logical and you just can’t see how utterly bonkers it all sounds.
And you send me links (WordPress don’t likey too many linkys – maybe they’re in on it toooooooo!) to websites stacked full of (again) biased opinion, conjecture (it COULDN’T have happened that way… I don’t think!), hearsay (this guy, right, he’s an engineer and even HE SAID IT – explain THAT, Poindexter!) and a really annoying habit of ignoring any evidence that doesn’t fit the conspiracy theorist narrative.
The ‘forty reasons’ link is hilarious! Thanks for that! Here’s an example of how utterly invalid the points are…
6) Did cell phones work at 30,000 feet in 2001? Erm, yes, yes they did.
The longstanding relationship between US intelligence networks and radical Islamists, including the network surrounding Osama Bin Ladin. Oh look, they’re talking about the CIA assistance to the Muhajideen in the 1980s. Hey, Stalin was our ALLY in WWII, and then the Cold War happens… ha ha, look at the stoopid sheeple believing in the Cold War!! Tsk! It was all smoke and mirrors!
In short, IT IS NOT EVIDENCE – none of it is. It would NEVER STAND UP IN A COURT OF LAW, it wouldNEVER BE PUBLISHED IN A PEER-REVIEWED SCIENTIFIC PAPER.
The best you can hope for is the National Inquirer and a few paranoid, tinfoil-hat wearing fruit-loops on the internet who BY GOD I never want on my jury… unless I’m guilty of cause
Again you’ve failed to adequately explain a motive (they’re just EVIL! They don’t need a motive!), where all the money went, why there’s no paper trail, why they didn’t just “make” AT LEAST ONE of the hijackers Iraqi or how on earth the US govt keeps this under wraps when you and I both know that two people can only keep a secret when one of them is dead.
Not ONE of the intercepted 9/11 pager messages published on Wikileaks said “Phase One Complete. Plan for invasion of landlocked resource-poor Central Asian basketcase on schedule!” Maybe the governmentals use that telepathy what they learnt from them Aliens in Roswell, eh?!!
The arguments you use are exactly the same as climate change deniers and the young Earth creationists. I can sit a climate change denier down with a Nobel-prize winning scientist who can show them all the evidence in the world that climate change is real, man made, happening right now and something we should be damn worried about – and it STILL won’t change their mind. I can take a young-Earth creationist to the Natural History Museum and show them fossils from millions of years ago and they’ll STILL think the world is 6,000 years old.
Like them, NOTHING I or ANYBODY can say or do will persuade you otherwise.
However, you could persuade me: all I’m asking for… is evidence.
Why can’t I persuade these people? Because that’s what you and they WANT to believe. Climate Change is scary. Evolution is demeaning. Better to just stick your fingers in your ears and go lalalalalalalalalalalalalala.
9/11 truthers like yourself are exactly the same mindset. You WANT to live in a dystopian world in which rich Western governments oversee the wholesale slaughter of 3,000 civilians LIVE ON TELEVISION and get away with it. So long as you get to feel like you’ve got the magic powers, the vision, the intellectual vigour to know what’s really going on, and you can badger people online and in the pub with the old “everything you know is wrong!” fallacy. And WHY do you find the “9/11 was the govt” theory so appealing? Well, according to psychologists, because it’s what you would do.
Yep, conspiracy theorists seem to score higher on Machiavellian mindset tests than people like me. But it’s not like I don’t have any Machiavellian thoughts (we all do), it’s that I’m humble enough to know there would be absolutely NO WAY I could get away with it. The sad thing is, conspiracy theorists are the ones who think they could get away with it, an arrogant inflation of their own (and by extention, others) abilities to pull off the most horrifying acts of violence and walk away scot-free.
From your own comments on this site, you appear not to think much of humanity: you talk about human nature being essentially evil and you say (perhaps sarcastically, who knows?) that 2000 Americans “is a drop in the bucket”. (I’ll assume you mean ocean… it could be a small bucket).
These are the opinions of a psychopath. And while you subconsciously project your murderous desires onto a terrorist attack like 9/11: the REALLY scary thing is you consciously believe that you could get away with it, therefore it follows (in your mind) that the government could.
That’s worrisome. You should really get some help with that.
You started this discussion by asking me how I can ‘deny’ the 9/11 conspiracy nuts. Maybe I should explain.
I don’t have a religious/spiritual/faith bone in my body. I really don’t. That’s not to say I am a nihilist, I most definitely am not. I just find it incredibly difficult (more like impossible) to believe anything I’m told unless it passes a quick and easy mental test:
1) Does it sound plausible?
2) Is there any solid, unbiased evidence to support the proposition?
Needless to say, for me, the 9/11 truthers fall at the first hurdle. It sounds as plausible as Elvis working in a KFC on the moon. As for the second extremely reasonable question, the evidence is painfully flimsy, all based on bad science and conjecture… and almost comically biased.
But I think everybody runs through that same mental test, and you know what? For some people it must sound plausible, for some people the evidence presented on hysterical websites is all the evidence they need: hell, it fits their bleak, paranoid world-view that we’re all cogs in a vast machine – a vast machine that wants to sell us Coca-Cola or something.
But my brain will never be wired that way… I dunno… possibly because I’m not a psychopath?
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The 9/11 wingnuts don’t even have ordinaryevidence, even after a decade of obsessing over every last element of that dreadful day in September. All they got is a one-way ticket to Palookaville.
You’ve had your say and I’ve allowed you to post your utterly bonkers links which users of this site may click on if they wish. Unless you have something new to add to this conversation – (and I’m talking something that could win you a Pulitzer), I won’t be approving your next reply.
You see, I have the power to approve people’s replies on this site, since I pay for it and maintain it myself. I can also edit people’s replies. And then Joe surprised everybody by writing:
You know, after reading your solid rebuttal I do admit it DOES all sound a bit silly. Maybe I’m just a little naive, you know, and the habit of stuff like ‘Loose Change’ to ignore the inconvenient facts, cherry-pick evidence that suits its (for-profit) agenda and take quotes out of context is really starting to make me question my entire opinion on the matter.
The ‘Machiavellian mindset’ thing you posted was very interesting, and I have to admit I do have a tenancy to think the worst of people and that everyone has a price. I guess I am a little paranoid and yeah, you’re right, I kinda wanted the government to have masterminded 9/11 – I don’t know why, possibly because it would confirm all the bad things I think about everybody who isn’t me.
I’m also concerned by something I noticed while surfing conspiracist websites… a definite anti-Semitic tone, one that has a tenancy to deny the holocaust (or say it ‘was no big deal’) and claim that a shadowy cabal of Jews are responsible for all of the world’s ills. It’s very similar to the rumours that led to the Pogroms in Russia and then the Holocaust itself, and that worries me, especially as my great-grandfather died fighting the Nazis and I’d hate to belittle his sacrifice by supporting the beliefs of right-wing fascists and racists – the very people he gave his life fighting against.
I found this brilliant article on the cracked.com website: http://www.cracked.com/article_15740_was-911-inside-job.html Cracked is pretty funny, but it really helped me to see things as they really are, rather than how I would want them to be.
Anyway, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for setting me straight, I’ll try in future to have a little bit more trust in the inherent goodness of humanity (after all – we’ve made it this far haven’t we?) and a little less time badgering people to believe in stuff that is — I admit — pretty far-fetched. I’ve been reading up on some of those issues you mentioned in a previous reply and I honestly believe that my time would be better spent spreading the word about stuff we SHOULD be getting angry about, and — more importantly — bad things that are happening right this moment that together we CAN do something about.
Take care and safe travels,
PS. I did warn ya!
Oh, okay then… I wrote that last one myself. Joe’s real last reply was (predictably) more links to YouTube videos and websites that gnash their teeth and holler about global conspiracies, with (as always) nothing but conjecture, cherry-picked evidence and the conceit of the paranoid mind to back them up.
But before I go, I just want to ask you something.
Q: What links Nazis, holocaust deniers, Soviet apparatchiks, climate change deniers, corrupt policeman, tin-pot dictatorships and 9/11 ‘truthers’?
A: A determined and concerted effort to take things out of context to fit their twisted world-view.
Winston’s job in 1984 was an editor of history: he would physically black out facts in books and newspapers that were in contradiction to Big Brother’s narrative (one that, in the context of the novel, changed with political expediency).
It’s easy to do: I’m a professional video editor, I know what you mischief you can make with a clever snip here and there… you can change the true meaning or intent of just about anything. Imagine Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal taken in isolation from all of his other clearly satirical works: it would be the ravings of a madman – a homicidal, cannibalistic madman.
If the only song you knew by John Lennon was Happiness is a Warm Gun you would probably never guess that he was an avowed peace activist and that the song is either clearly ironic or a sexual (and possibly narcotic) metaphor. As far as I’m aware people shooting real stuff with real guns didn’t make John Lennon happy – in fact it made him dead.
If all you knew of Nelson Mandela was that he was sent to jail for attempting to blow up a train, and the context of apartheid South Africa was missing from your narrative, you’d possibly be wondering why he was ever let out of his cell. You’d crap your pants when you found out he was made President.
If the only clip of Star Wars Episode I you had seen was Darth Maul pulling out his double-ended lightsaber, you might be fooled into thinking Episode I was actually a good film. It wasn’t. Watch this re-edit of The Shining that makes the scariest movie of all time look like a heart-warming comedy. Clue: it’s not that difficult.
In short, context is everything. But for your local conspiracy-theorist (and the list of their fellow nasty badgers above), context is something to be suppressed, an irritation to be edited away – and there seem to be enough willing Winstons in the world happy to go along with it. Maybe the government attached a rat to their faces once.
Conspiracy-theorists want you to ignore all the evidence to the contrary and fixate on a select line that fits their pre-conceived narrative – and so we find ourselves at the mercy of the tyranny of soundbites. If you look at what the Nazis did with Nietzsche’s works, you’ll see how pernicious this practice is. Watch out for it.
In any conspiracy rebuttal piece or video, you will notice a very different tactic: they invariably show you the full video, the full interview, the full set of photographs – making it impossible to take the material out of context. For every one photograph that the conspiracy nuts hold up as some sort of talisman of all truth and logic, the rebuttalists are more than happy to upload twenty that show what actually happened from all different angles.
This is important – it shows the conspiracy theorists for the deluded hypocrites they most certainly are. They accuse the government (or whoever) of ‘covering up the truth’ and then proceed to use the exact same tactics that a ministry of propaganda would use in order to get its nefarious message across.
We all need to draw a line in our minds between what is true and what we wish were true. Otherwise that line can become blurred; hence the number of people who go on X-Factor firmly believing that they can sing when even the deaf can see they cannot. In order to draw another person into your wish-fulfilling delusions, they need to share the same desire for it to be the case: so you’re probably not going to get very far with me.
I hold a fairly strong belief (backed by evidence, of course) that conspiracy theorists are all of a particular mindset. One that is generally paranoid, border-line psychopathic and Machiavellian to a greater extent than the general population. If nothing else travelling to over 180 countries around the world has re-affirmed that not everybody is out to get me – most people are inherently good, law-abiding citizens who will go out of their way to help a straggly wayfarer in distress.
And until some Earth-shattering revelation is made by Wikileaks, the BBC, the Independent newspaper or two renegade journalists working for the Washington Post, I will never seriously entertain the mere possibility that those people brutally murdered on September 11 2001 were killed for any other reason than nineteen paranoid, psychopathic and Machiavellian bastards bought their golden tickets to the lie that is the Elysian Fields with the blood of 2,977 innocent lives.
The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts. He ascribes all his failure to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity and damfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street, or some other such den of infamy.
- H. L. Mencken, 1936