9/11 = 911?
September 22, 2013
I am presently reading a book entitled, Conspiracy Theory in America, by Lance deHaven-Smith, which argues that the concept of “conspiracy theory” was created with the help of the CIA in order to deflect attention away from what deHaven calls “State Crimes Against Democracy” or “SCADS”. And, as he points out, those who embrace “conspiracy theories” are thought of as delusional or even insane. And this despite the facts that we know some conspiracies have taken place, such as Watergate and Iran-Contra, and that these conspiracies were meant to undermine or sidestep our “democracy.”
There is much in this book I find less than persuasive. For example, deHaven seems to accept the characterization of John F. Kennedy as a “dove,” which he must in order to argue that his assassination could have been – he does not assert that it was – the result of a conspiracy undertaken by “hawks” who were fearful that Kennedy would undermine the military-industrial complex. This reading of Kennedy strikes me as just bizarre.
And yet there are other parts of the book that make more sense to me. For example, deHaven raises the question of why the attacks on the World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon, and potentially the White House or the Capitol are referred to as “9/11.” At first, I was skeptical that this question had any importance but as deHaven points out, we don’t refer to the attack on Pearl Harbor as “12/7.” Moreover, except for the fourth of July, we really don’t refer to other important political events by their dates. We don’t refer to the assassination of JFK as “11/22,” for example, or the assassination of Lincoln by its date. So, why should we refer to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by its date?
DeHaven argues that this is to set off those events as world-changing events, the date when “everything changed” and a “permanent emergency” was created. Hence, the connection deHaven draws between 9/11 and the emergency phone number 9-1-1. Why do this? Well, if we are facing not only an emergency but a permanent emergency, then the government will be justified in taking all measures it thinks necessary to meet this emergency insofar as emergencies justify the use of all or any measures thought necessary to meet them.
I grant that this is speculative on deHaven’s part. But consider this: After the bombing at the Boston Marathon, the following shorthand appeared: “Boston – 617 – Strong,” where “617” is the area code for Boston! I wondered when I saw this shorthand why use the telephone area code and not the date. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me. But now it makes more sense as 9/11 must be thought of as unique, unlike almost any other event or events.