Politics

Mohammad Atta van der Lubbe?

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The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports from Congressman Keith Ellison's visit to a meeting of Minnesota atheists:

As he was introduced to the eclectic gathering, which included one man wearing a black T-shirt that read "Investigate 9/11," Ellison was told that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Muslims had joined atheists at the bottom of popular opinion polls.

"You'll always find this Muslim standing up for your right to be atheists all you want," Ellison, the first Muslim to serve in Congress, said in a speech to more than 100 atheists at the Southdale Library in Edina. As Minnesota's first black member of the U.S. House ends his first six months in office, Ellison did not disappoint a crowd that seemed energized the more pointed he made his opinions.

It is true that, compared to American opinions of Catholics, Jews and Protestants, Muslims consistently rank lower in "popular opinion polls." But according to a December 2001 Pew survey, Muslim-Americans were "more accepted" by Americans after the attacks of September 11 than before. (The suggestion that Muslims "joined atheists" suggests that "acceptance" numbers had fallen.) According to the report, "the [American] public has a better opinion of Muslim-Americans than it did before the attacks. Favorable views of Muslim-Americans have risen from 45% in March to 59% today, even though 40% of the public think the terrorists were motivated at least in part by religion when they carried out the Sept. 11 attacks." Those numbers appear to have held steady since 2001, with a declining number of respondents agreeing that "Islam encourages violence."

Ellison argued for the impeachment of Dick Cheney, saying that the Vice President's refusal to "answer any questions from the citizens of the United States" was the "very definition of totalitarianism, authoritarianism and dictatorship."

But don't forget fascism! On the September 11 attacks, Ellison had this to say:

"It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is that I'm not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that because, you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box—dismiss you."

So wait, Keith Ellison blanches at being called a "9-11 truther" not because the conspiracy theories are nutty, but because he doesn't want to be called nutty? And while I'm willing to give Ellison the benefit of the doubt and assume that the Reichstag comparison was clumsily phrased, one wonders why he extends the analogy from the Nazi Enabling Laws ("he could basically have authority to do whatever he wants") to the "blaming" of the innocent Communists?

As those who have waded through the "Truther" fever swamp will know, the Reichstag comparison is a fairly common.

reason on Ellison and the loathesome Virgil Goode.

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  1. So wait, Keith Ellison blanches at being called a “9-11 truther” not because the conspiracy theories are nutty, but because he doesn’t want to be called nutty?

    Well, yeah. I don’t know anybody who wants to be known by a label that is generally derisive.

  2. “You’ll always find this Muslim standing up for your right to be atheists all you want,”

    This has not been my experience.

  3. He said “this” Muslim, not all Muslims or Islam in general.

  4. Ahh, gotcha

  5. A lot of dem pols need to build a stronger constituency, and would like to appeal to the ‘wingnut’ vote, but need to avoid…well, agreeing with them directly. So you hear a lot of these vague… “well, im not 100% there yet, but I think there are lot of questions to be asked…” It’s boring as hell. These ‘truther’ people should be laughed into submission.

    one thing i hear from them that is *almost* compelling is the “why havent we captured osama yet?” line of inquiry. Their (stupid) answer is often “he is really working for us! he’s a straw man created by the fascists to justify their world conquest! look, the CIA funded the mujahideen in afghanistan in the 80s…” The real answer is actually “we fucked it up”, but I do like asking that question as often as possible, because i’m pissed we dont have his head in a jar on display in downtown manhattan. Now THAT would revitalize tourism, for real.

  6. Remember, the government cannot be trusted.

    Exception: the 9/11 Commission report. Only nuts would question that!

  7. No, barris.

    The government is entire inept, inane, and incompetent.

    Case in point: the 9/11 Commission report.

  8. barris, you DO realize that in terms of rational thought, NEVER believing anything the government says is functionally the same as ALWAYS believing anything the government says?

    I’ll put it more simply (seems appropriate): “not trusting” the government means examining its claims to determine their truth value (admittedly, usually low), NOT automatically assuming the opposite of what they say is true. The latter course leaves you open to manipulation and will only by accident ever lead to an understanding of any issue.

    The ‘9/11 truthers’ are merely falling for the admittedly attractive lure of being part of an enlightened minority. Not that libertarians would know anything about that. 😉

  9. as i was reading this, something told me it wasn’t a weigel piece.

  10. one wonders why he extends the analogy from the Nazi Enabling Laws (“he could basically have authority to do whatever he wants”) to the “blaming” of the innocent Communists?

    Gee, Mike, maybe if you’d included a link to the entirety of Ellison’s speech, or reports about it, we’d be able to look at what he was talking about and solve this abiding mystery.

    Since you didn’t, I’m going to guess that Ellison was talking about the continual campaign of denouncing Democrats and liberals as traitors that the White House, Congressional Republicans, and the conservative media carried out from September 12 until last year.

  11. edna,

    What told you it wasn’t a Weigel piece?
    Was it Michael C. Moynihan’s name at the top of the page?

  12. Arguing that 9/11 did not have a profound negative effect on American public opinion regarding Muslims?!?! Now that is nutty. If you hopped into some nougat with those opinion polls then you could make a Snickers bar.

  13. barris, you DO realize that in terms of rational thought, NEVER believing anything the government says is functionally the same as ALWAYS believing anything the government says?

    I’ll put it more simply (seems appropriate): “not trusting” the government means examining its claims to determine their truth value (admittedly, usually low), NOT automatically assuming the opposite of what they say is true. The latter course leaves you open to manipulation and will only by accident ever lead to an understanding of any issue.

    That’s fine, but assigning the title of “nut” to anybody who suspects that we’re not getting the full story about 9/11 seems unfair.

    If nothing else, we should at least be open to the idea that there are questions that have not quite been answered.

  14. Who the hell is Michael Moynihan and why is he posting stupid, boring, uninformative crap?

  15. And while I’m willing to give Ellison the benefit of the doubt and assume that the Reichstag comparison was clumsily phrased, one wonders why he extends the analogy from the Nazi Enabling Laws (“he could basically have authority to do whatever he wants”) to the “blaming” of the innocent Communists?

    Here is a comparison (which may or may not have been the one Ellison intended):

    Reichstag fire ~ 9/11

    Blame Communist party ~ blame Islam

    outlaw Communist party ~ take over Afghanistan and Iraq (and I think they were hoping for Syria and Iran as well)

    here is a difference:

    IIRC, some high ranking officials of the Communist Party were tried and acquitted despite the best efforts of the Nazis. OTOH, the US was not interested in catching Osama, and not interested in giving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a public trial.

  16. “Since you didn’t, I’m going to guess that Ellison was talking about the continual campaign of denouncing Democrats and liberals as traitors that the White House, Congressional Republicans, and the conservative media carried out from September 12 until last year.”

    i think you guys take the whole traitor thing too seriously. isn’t that like, sinking to their level or something. ooh ooh they called me a name. boo friggin’ hoo dude. they’re a bunch of baby murdering shitfuckers; their words are as dust on the wind or something poetic like that.

  17. barris –
    In your stay at Reason, you will learn a lot about libertarians. It may be difficult at first, but soon you will come to realize that we don’t all agree on all issues, and thereby don’t agree on a single definition as to what it means to be a “small ‘l'” libertarian.

    Generally we’re wary of those who strive for power. It doesn’t matter if they have good intentions or not, the general libertarian attitude on government is:
    1. They’re corrupt
    2. If they’re not corrupt, they’re inept
    3. If they’re neither corrupt nor inept, it still violates our principles.

    It’ll get clearer over time.

  18. “Who the hell is Michael Moynihan and why is he posting stupid, boring, uninformative crap?”

    Yup.

  19. dhex,

    Sticks and stones and the end of habeas corpus and military tribunals and the invasion of Iraq and domestic wiretapping and law enforcement using their intel apparatus against peace protestors and the use of the federal prosecutorial system to help Republicans’ campaigns may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.

    Do I think these thugs are low enough to turn the sharp end of the stick against their domestic political opponents? Oh, fuck yeah I do!

  20. joe

    then why dont they?

    whats worse today? the rampant repression of dissent, or the the fact that dissenters are such intolerable retards 90% of the time?

    reference: Eric Hoffer, “The True Believer”

  21. Also, Moynihan notes, “Favorable views of Muslim-Americans have risen from 45% in March to 59% today, even though 40% of the public think the terrorists were motivated at least in part by religion when they carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.’ Those numbers appear to have held steady since 2001, with a declining number of respondents agreeing that ‘Islam encourages violence.'”

    Okay. This might be true. But one thing that’s not measured by the polls Moynihan cites is the intensity of feeling of those who hold negative opinions of Muslims. It seems perfectly conceivable to me that while the Muslim world gets more media coverage there might be a general trend toward more positive views of Muslims conjoined with a sharper distrust among non-Muslims already predisposed to dislike Muslims. Visit the comment threads of Townhall.com if you’d like examples of what I’m talking about.

  22. Conspiracists are anti-libertarians. They believe and *want* big government. Let’s start with the simple case: tax deniers. Over and over, you hear prominent tax deniers say “if there is proof that there is a legal obligation for me to pay my income tax, then I will pay it cheerfully and gladly!

    Now let’s look at Truthers. Inherent in their arguments are the assumptions that government is both intelligent and competent in measures beyond that of mortal humans. In their worldview, government is far more than the sum of its human members. Their mythology accords government the role of superhuman evil entity. Without the “conspiracy” they would have a superhuman good entity instead, one worthy of worship.

    The only reason they are against big government, is because they think that big government is being run by evil superhuman conspirators. Take away the conspiracy and they’ll be perfectly happy with a non-super big goverhment. Without their conspiracism, they have no objection to the Patriot Act, to neverending occupation of Iraq, to the RealID, or to any other big government policy.

  23. “Without the ‘conspiracy’ they would have a superhuman good entity instead, one worthy of worship.”

    No. In their worldview, the conspiracy stems from the government’s tendency to have malevolent intentions. If you take away this one malevolent act, you still have that tendency.

  24. “Do I think these thugs are low enough to turn the sharp end of the stick against their domestic political opponents? Oh, fuck yeah I do!”

    oh give me a fucking break.

    when the next terrorist attack happens and some friendly fascism style dem turns on the juice, i will have a good laugh. (especially when some republicans say “hey wait this is not what we meant by a perfectly powerful presidency stamping on your face forever!” a la dems circa 2002-ish.)

    of course i will find it hard to laugh during the bar-coding process mind you but i will persevere.

  25. “Conspiracists are anti-libertarians. They believe and *want* big government.”

    this is a rather shallow analysis, actually. many of them seem to have a rather severe anti-government bent, which i can totally dig.

    the real answer is a fear of chaos.

  26. dhex,

    I think that expanding government powers in an attempt to provide greater security against terrorism would be a very bad thing.

    I think that using the government’s security apparatus, regardless of its size, to harrass the incumbent’s political opponents and other dissenters is even worse.

  27. of course i will find it hard to laugh during the bar-coding process mind you but i will persevere.

    And if there’s yet another terrorist attack after that, we’ll each get a second bar code, but this one will be on the interior of the rectum. They’ll check it during the routine cavity searches.

  28. the real answer is a fear of chaos.

    Hmmm, I will have to ponder that. I still think there’s some pro-big-state tendencies amongst them though. They spend inordinate amounts of time fighting mythical demons, but none at all fighting mundane big government.

  29. 40% of the public think the terrorists were motivated at least in part by religion when they carried out the Sept. 11 attacks

    Only 40%? WTF?

  30. …was introduced to the eclectic gathering, which included one man wearing a black T-shirt that read “Investigate 9/11,”

    Sigh… It’s bad enough we atheists are constantly being accused of atheism, but I will not stand for us being equated with the gorram Truthers. Go to the James Randi Educational Foundation forums, where a significant portion of the posters are non-theists, and claim that “9-11 was an inside job.” I promise in at least 1 hour, you’ll have several dozen “atheists” on your ass either demanding to see your evidence or telling you you’re full of shit.

    The same can be said or other woo-woo beliefs (vaccine causes autism, anti-gen mod foods, EM fields) that Pete Baggee (who I normally respect) wrongly attributes to “secular humanists” in a ham-handed attempt at equivocating them to the fucking fundies.

  31. Edit: It’s bad enough that we atheists are always accused of Communism…

    Sorry, It’s late.

  32. I’m trying to figure out why, in this context, the conspiracy theorists would want to draw comparisons to the Reichstag Fire.

    I mean, in the Reichstag Fire, a Communist actually set the blaze. Sure, it was exploited effectively by the Nazis to pass the Enabling Act and tar all Communists, but it wasvan der Lubbe who set the fire.

    By analogy, if the WTC was a Reichstag Fire, it was actually carried out by Muslim terrorists who hijacked a plane. It was then used to pass the USAPATRIOT Act.

    Of course, maybe they favor the fairly transparent nonsense, fabricated evidence, and conspiracy theory the Communists presented in the “Counter-trial”. That would be consistent with their standards of evidence regarding 9/11, too.

  33. By analogy, if the WTC was a Reichstag Fire, it was actually carried out by Muslim terrorists who hijacked a plane.

    Many, probably most, “conspiracy theorists” believe that actual Muslims did hijack an actual plane. Some believe that the US purposely stood down its air defenses so that the attack would result in maximum carnage. Others believe that some people in the government had advanced warning and purposely slowed down the response. Still others believe that government agents sent the anthrax letters in the wake of the Muslim hijackings. Still others believe that Flight 93 was shot down.

    There are plenty of “conspiracy theory” scenarios consistent with actual Muslims doing actual hijackings.

    I guess the question is: if the US did have advance warning and/or did stand down the air defenses, is that enough to consider 9/11 as an “inside job.” Me, I would say no, but I would still like to know the true facts.

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