Why Is the Middle East Still in Thrall to 9/11 Conspiracy Theories?
September 03, 2011
The 9/11 attacks catalyzed a tremendous shift in American foreign policy in the Middle East. Rather than prioritizing petrol, Washington targeted terrorist organizations, dethroned a dictator, and lobbied throughout the region for liberalization. Yet despite the billions of dollars spent policing Baghdad and protecting Benghazi, the unpopularity of the United States in the Arab world continues to be fueled by the belief that Islamist terrorists had nothing to do with 9/11, with many claiming the attacks were an American, Israeli, or joint American-Israeli conspiracy.
On September 24, 2001, Donna Glessner was boxing up donations at the fire station in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Two weeks before, United Flight 93 had crashed into a reclaimed strip mine about three miles away, killing its 40 passengers and crew members. The station in this town of 245 had become a supply depot, providing necessities to the hundreds of outsiders who had flooded the area: sweatshirts, bug spray, toothbrushes, and so much homemade food that a refrigerated trailer had to be brought in just to hold it.
The Best Responses to 9/11—and the Worst
August 24, 2011
I was in bed at a New York hotel when my stock trader called to say that one of the Twin Towers had been hit by an airplane. “A horrible accident,” he surmised, adding “unprecedented” to the presumption. He told me to turn on the “tube,” such nomenclature dating him as middle-aged. The phone rang again: “The second tower is on its way down. And, of course, this means it is no accident at all.” Which was my intuition as soon as I’d heard the first terrible tidings. Moreover, I knew instinctively who’d done the dreadful deed; and it wasn’t a new version of the Unabomber.
Of the 19 young Arabs who struck the United States on September 11, the Lebanese-born Ziad Jarrah, who is thought to have been at the controls of the plane forced down by its heroic passengers in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, has always been of greater interest to me than the others, and for strictly parochial reasons: We were both born in the same country, but two generations apart. For me, the contours of his life are easy to make out. He hailed from a privileged Sunni family from the Bekaa Valley and was raised in Beirut.
In the marquee scene from the 2010 documentary Gasland, nominated earlier this year for an Academy Award, a man is shown warily holding a lighter underneath his running kitchen faucet. The flame quickly ignites the tapwater, briefly producing a fireball in the sink. Something appears to have gone wrong—and the culprit, the film inveighs, is the sinister local shale gas industry. Gasland’s incredulous depiction of flammable drinking water is but one expression of the anti-shale gas sentiment that is increasingly permeating American popular consciousness.
June 23, 2011
In the fall of 2008, EnergySolutions Foundation, the charitable arm of one of the world’s largest nuclear-waste processors, began approaching nuclear utilities with an offer. Guided by a team of science teachers and industry p.r. staffers, the organization had developed a trove of materials on nuclear power for use in sixth-through-twelfth-grade classes.
Yup, Rick Santorum went there. The former Pennsylvania senator, known for his less-than-enlightened views on gay rights, has opted for the “Some of my best friends…” approach. Earlier this week, when CNN’s Don Lemon asked him if he had any gay friends, Santorum replied enthusiastically: “Yes! In fact, I was with a gay friend of mine just two days ago. So, yeah, I do. And they respect that I have differences of opinion on that. I talk about these things in front of them, and we have conversations about it.
Here’s another “movie” from Britain that without a touch of pomp or pretension seeks to ask us, “Well, why in hell do you think you know what a movie is, or has to be?” Since nearly anything could serve and function within the gloriously loose structure of The Trip, I found myself hoping that its two guys might find one of their conversations leading into a lugubrious consideration of what Terrence Malick thought The Tree of Life was really about.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: The Whole Thing
June 09, 2011
Stanley Kauffmann is on temporary leave. This review was written by David Thomson. The Tree of LifeFox Searchlight The Greatest virtue of Terrence Malick’s new film may be the controversy attending it. Whatever we think of The Tree of Life as a show or a work of art, there are going to be defenders and doubters driven to join a fierce debate that turns on these questions: “Very well, in 2011, with the movies on life support, what should an ambitious American motion picture look and feel like? What should it do to us? And what do we require of this strange medium?
The Forgotten Governors
June 02, 2011
In a normal world, Republicans would look at Mitt Romney, who is announcing his second run for their party’s presidential nomination today, as a sterling example of one of their party’s greatest success stories since the Reagan era. Unfortunately, it’s that very success that his party seems to have willfully forgotten—and the thing that’s most likely to doom Romney’s candidacy. The problem is much bigger than Romney’s health care reform in Massachusetts.