9/11 10th Anniversary: Professor Sut Jhally on 9/11 Conspiracies

Uploaded by MidweekPolitics on 09.09.2011

Sut Jhally: Remember, for a long time, the system didn't require terrorism. For a long
time, the system required an enemy. For a long time, that was the Soviet Union.
David: The Cold War.
Jhally: The Cold War, right. And then Communist was the word for terror.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, OK, what was going to then take the place of the enemy
to justify 50 cents of every federal tax dollar going to the military-industrial complex?
People just don't realize how much of their tax dollars go towards the military-- goes
towards the military-industrial complex.
David: Sure, and our friends at the National Priorities Project do a very good job of actually
breaking that down.
We're speaking with Sut Jhally, Executive Director of the Media Education Foundation
and University of Massachusetts professor.
Over the last few years, we've seen the movement or the voices that want to offer critiques
of 9/11 associated with the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, those who have claims... a variety
of claims, including that thermite paint was being used inside of the World Trade Center
for years to make it more flammable so that then the buildings would come down, Building
7, which we often hear about, that it's the Jews, that it's Bush and Cheney personally
who allowed 9/11 to happen. Has this put your movie "Hijacking Catastrophe" in a negative
light in some cases? Has it been difficult for you to unlink your critique and these
conspiracy theories that abound?
Jhally: It has been difficult, you know, and people have put them together. Like "The New
Yorker" did a series, or did a piece on these movies, and included "Hijacking Catastrophe"
as one of these conspiracy films.
I mean, for me, the most frustrating thing is that, I mean, over the past decade, the
amount of energy, the amount of political energy that has been sucked into that movement
and been sucked into, you know, into these... trying to answer these unanswerable questions.
You know, I mean, there are questions about 9/11, there is no doubt. And they... and we
need to figure out a way to, you know, to ask them, and to figure out how to answer
them. And what the... what the, you know, the so-called conspiracy movement, or the
so-called "truthers", I hate the term truthers, because it implies the rest of us aren't interested
in the truth.
David: Right.
Jhally: See, I'm... I consider myself a 9/11 truther, but my... what I want to see is,
what I want to look at is, OK, how was 9/11 used since it happened to then justify this
incredible expansion of the military, this incredible retraction in our civil liberties?
That's... I think that should be the real truth movement.
David: Which is a very separate question from was Building 7 a controlled demolition.
Jhally: It's a very separate question. If I was... if I was, you know, Bush and if I
was the neoconservatives or whatever, that's the question I'd want people to focus on.
It's a non-answerable question.
And these people must probably... you know, it's like the Kennedy assassination people,
you know, 50 years later, they're still trying to figure out who assassinated Kennedy. It's
a total waste of energy and total waste of people's resources that could be...
David: So what do you say to those who would point out to you well, hold on a second, there
is evidence that does bring up what appear to be legitimate questions about Building
7? Your question is good, your critique is good, but why are we just ignoring all of
those things, because not all the questions are answered? Why is it really a waste of
time if we are to believe that there is something to find out?
Jhally: Well, if... as long as that... as long as that question is asked within a whole
framework of a whole bunch of other questions as well, which is it's not just about that
one day.
And I know the... I know the temptation. When I first... I'm not too sure if you took my
class at that time, but in fact, when I... I remember I read almost the first book, the
first American book on this, because it was, you know, David Ray Griffin's book "The New
Pearl Harbor".
And it's compelling, because it tells a very... it tells a story, here are these unanswered
questions. Why did this happen? Why was... you know, why weren't the planes shot down?
You know, why did Building 7 collapse? What happened to this deal that, you know, that
there was... that there was left over? Why was it moved out so quickly? You know.
And I remember, actually, I first, you know when I first got it, when I first looked at
this, it made total sense. In fact, I did a lecture on it, where a lot of people were,
you know, very upset, actually, that I was asking these kinds of questions.
And then, actually, I heard a debate between David Ray Griffin and a guy called Chip Berlet
on Democracy Now!. And the moment-- and the moment you start to get into a debate, the
moment you start to kind of open up some of these assumptions, you realize it's like a
house of cards. And so the moment this debate started happening, I realized, oh, wow, you
know, I essentially bought this story too quickly.
And I think for many people, they bought the story, and they've never changed. Once you've
bought the story... it's like...
David: The initial questions are compelling enough that then people... yeah.
Jhally: And it's like faith, because, you know, you kind of just, like once you've bought
it, then... because there are no answers to it.
David: Sure.
Jhally: That's the thing, there are no... because-- and that's the... that's the beauty
of it, is that the questions are important, you have to answer the questions, but there
are no answers to it.
David: We've been speaking with Sut Jhally, Executive Director of the Media Education
Foundation. The screenings are on September 11th at Smith College in Northampton's Wright
Hall. 2:00 pm, "Hijacking Catastrophe", 4:00 pm, "War Made Easy". You will be there with
Vijay Prashad answering questions.
Jhally: Yes.
David: Thanks so much for coming in.
Jhally: Sure, my pleasure.
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