As I’ve noted before, the 9/11 conspiracy-theory movement is alive and well in Europe, and one meets plenty of seemingly rational people over here who are much too sophisticated to be suckered in by the "official version" of 9/11. (Not that they have any particularly convincing "unofficial" version to counter it with, see below).
The headquarters of the movement is in the USA, but Germany boasts its fair share of these folks, whether they’re the LIHOP or MIHOP variety. Matt Taibbi met one of the most colorful of them, Nico Haupt, recently:
Over a month after I first wrote a column slamming the 9/11 Truth movement, I continue to get hate mail in massive quantities. A group of Truthers even picketed my office, and I’m still picking food particles out of my scarf after an incident in which the movement’s house lunatic, a wild-eyed German blogger named Nico Haupt, tried to goad me into slugging him in a West Side diner.
"Go ahead, heet me, then I haf beeg story!" he roared, scream-spitting half-digested detritus in my face.
Of course I didn’t hit him — nothing in the world is more ridiculous than two writers fighting in a restaurant. If you’re surprised that I would call someone who spit food on my lap a fellow writer, don’t be. As I subsequently found out, Haupt is a literary juggernaut, one of the most voluble bloggers on the planet earth. His internet entries read like a MySpace mixture of MTV’s Real World meets Che’s Congo Diaries, only on meth and in a German accent.
His 9/11 conspiracy rants are full of little tidbits from the peripatetic revolutionary’s hardscrabble life neatly gift-wrapped for his future biographers, ranging from the personal ("My girlfriend denied to marry me… I’m constantly broke.") to the heroic ("Maybe I’m scared that the Homeland Security will arrest me as a ‘terrorist’? Not at all."). Haupt also makes sure to include regular doses of that other staple of pseudo-revolutionary diaries, i.e. the defiant salutation to the secret agents who of course have him under constant surveillance. "A personal note to the NSA, who’s a regular log-in guest on my sites," he writes. "You’re still bastards for me… Shame on you and go to hell!"
[hat-tip: Sparklplug of the Actual Innocents]
A note to readers, 9/11 conspiracy-Nico Haupt should not be confused with magician Nico Haupt from Leipzig, who promises one and all "Table and Salon Magic" (!).
And now we come to another German 9/11 conspiracy-monger: Andreas von Bülow, a former Social Democratic Party official who has made a career of being a virulent critic of America. Von Bülow has published a book that basically alleges that the CIA and Mossad teamed up to carry out 9/11. The World Trade Center was blown up from inside, the planes that hit it were remote-controlled(!), and the 19 hijackers were alive after the explosion. Von Bülow is also a critic of all other things American, as can be seen by an article criticizing the U.S. justice system which von Bülow translated into German.
I’m not gonna get into the weeds here, because debating conspiracy theorists is a proverbial waste of time and energy, especially when they’re this confused. To understand how, take a look (here, about two pages down) at Matt Taibbi’s incredible behind-the-scenes look at how Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld cooked up the plot. There are some conspiracy theorists who are in touch with reality, have done original research and have interesting things to say about world events, but they generally don’t touch 9/11, because it’s impossible to construct any remotely plausible counter-theory to explain it. That doesn’t stop von Bülow, though. Most of the falsifiable claims he makes about September 11th have been disproven here.
You might also be interested to know that von Bülow also believes the U.S. government knew (G) about Pearl Harbor attack in advance, almost certainly drawing his arguments from this book by Robert Stinnett which, of course, was immediately translated into German (G). The translation was commissioned by the glorious, unique-in-the-world German high-end bargain-bookstore and CD chain zweitausendeins (G). Zweitausendeins is one of my favorite places to shop, but it’s choices of books to translate into English leaves plenty to be desired.
As Taibbi points out, the 9/11 conspiracy theorists are just as likely to emerge from the right-wing fever swamps as from left-wing ones. People like von Bülow encourage opponents of U.S. foreign policy to waste their time constructing ever more elaborate conspiratorial halls of mirrors, rather than engaging in any sort uf useful political action (Not that there’s much they can do anyway, and not that the sort of people who are suckered in by these theories are such a big loss to the movement).
In advising everyone to ignore the 9/11 truth movement, I and Taibbi are not alone. Another man of the left, Alexander Cockburn, writes in Le Monde Diplomatique (German version here): "[T]he conspiracism stems from despair and political infantilism. There’s no worthwhile energy to transfer from such kookery…. I am therefore sure that the Bush gang, and all the real conspirators of Washington, are delighted at the obsessions of the 9/11 conspiracists."
To use a phrase I just read in English in a German essay about P.G. Wodehouse (got that?), that about sums it up.