President Obama's words in Cairo about 9/11
I haven't been carefully following President Obama's trip to the Middle East, but I am interested in what he said to the Muslim world in the major speech that he presented in Cairo. I've not yet read his words closely, for the end of the semester is upon us here in Korea, and grading starts today, but I did find this interesting passage by skimming the printed text:
I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with. (Available on Johanna Neuman's blog entry at LA Times Blogs)I'm glad that President Obama emphasized this point because so many conspiracy theories constantly distract people from the fact that Al Qaeda has repeatedly taken credit for the attack. I've had students here in Korea who have asked if they can write their essays defending some conspiratorial point -- such as the rumor that no Jews showed up for work in the World Trade Center on 9/11, that the collapse of the WTC's two towers was due to controlled explosions, or that the US Government, the Mossad, or perhaps the Illuminati planned and carried out the attacks. I discourage students from writing such essays because they'll be defending something about which I am profoundly skeptical, rendering their task of persuasion more difficult than ordinary, and I tell them pointblank that they're likely to receive a poor grade unless they can write a very detailed, in-depth, fact-based persuasive essay that can adequately address questions and competently quell doubts. So far, they've all chosen to write on something else.
I don't expect President Obama's remarks to persuade those who believe in conspiracies other than the single correct conspiracy theory -- namely, that Al Qaeda conspired to carry out the 9/11 attacks -- but he at least addressed the issue directly in a place where false conspiracy theories are widely believed.
Enough on that, for my day must begin.