Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 Conspiracy Theories

Last week my I stayed with my sister when I played in a chess tournament over the weekend. While I was there, my nephew was on the computer playing certain "documentary" videos. The videos and web pages he was visiting discussed and postulated that the real reason why the twin towers came down was due to explosive charges being pre-planted in the buildings -- discounting the idea that fuel from the planes could have burned enough to cause the "pancake effect" to bring down the towers.

Let me just say that as a lawyer, the general rule is that "the absence of evidence is not evidence of its absence." If you want to search for the debunking explanation, just Google "9/11 conspiracy theory debunked" or something like that.

Interestingly enough, in much of the Muslim world, conspiracy theories rule the streets. Some pollsters theorize that a lot of Arab Muslims, where they have polled, actually accept the idea that Arab Muslims committed the acts on 9/11, but are not willing to admit it publicly.

This is what I don't understand about the Muslim world -- especially the non-Arab Muslim world: why do they hate the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East (or anywhere)?

Let me preface it to say that I know that there are good Muslims out there; the oncologist who treated my father for cancer seemed to be a genuinely devout and compassionate Pakistani Muslim. I would like to attribute it to his education, but there seem to be so many high-profile well-educated Muslim extremists that belie that explanation. Many of the 9/11 hijackers were very-well educated themselves.

In the Christian context, it is a fundamental teaching that there is a "brotherhood of mankind." And I am mindful that the saying goes that Osama Bin Laden is to Islam as the Ku Klux Klan is to Christianity. However, I am curious if there is a identical teaching in Islam as there is in Christianity that there is a brotherhood of mankind. Not a brotherhood of Muslims, but a brotherhood of all peoples -- regardless of whether they believe in Islam or not. If such an idea exists (or existed) I would think that it would be a lot harder for Muslim extremists to justify hatred of Israel based on sacred texts and appeal to faith. I would like to be able to say that Bin Laden's teachings are a perversion of Islam, rather than a "revival" of traditional Islamic faith, but for me, that remains to be demonstrated.

Anyway, if the Arab Muslim street polls are any example, appeal to logic and reason does not seem like a likely way to change Arab and Muslim minds. The question is then: how do we make inroads to change Muslim minds and win the "battle of ideas?"


Claire said...

It must be part of the DNA of the people who are muslims that causes some of them to be freaks who want to kill anyone not like them. These people can never be changed, they must be eliminated in order to preserve any chance of peace. Sorry to say... but they cannot be changed or talked to to or negotiated with. The truth sometimes hurts.

OkieLawyer said...


I have to say that I don't agree with your assessment. Chalk it up to my American optimism, but I definitely don't think it is as immutable as DNA. Any change, however, would have to be cultural. Changing entire cultures takes a long time. The question is: how to do it?