Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Morning Constitutional X

Slashdot links to a study about myths - how they start, how they persist. The link to the study gives an example of such a myth:

lottameez recommends an article in the Washington Post about recent research into the persistence of myths. In short: once a myth has been put out there (e.g., "Saddam Hussein plotted the 9/11 attacks"), denying it can paradoxically reinforce its staying power. Ignoring it doesn't work either — a claim that is unchallenged gains the ring of truth. Over time, "negation tags" fall out of memory: "Saddam didn't plan 9/11" becomes "Saddam planned 9/11."

So, of course, when using that specific example, some commenters called out the political slant of that example (the article comes from the Washington Post, what do you expect?), and some commenters responded to that complaint.

With unintended irony.

"What I want to know is, who in the Administration EVER said that Saddam plotted 9/11? I never heard that said. I have heard people who oppose the Bush Administration say that the Bush Administration said it, but I have never heard a quote from the Bush Administration saying (or implying) it."

That's the point! They didn't have to say it. They only had to keep mentioning 9/11 and Saddam in the same sentence, or in close proximity, to make the association become real for many people. Shit like, "But come back to 9/11 again, and one of the real concerns about Saddam Hussein, as well, is his biological weapons capability; the fact that he may, at some point, try to use smallpox, anthrax, plague, some other kind of biological agent against other nations, possibly including even the United States." (Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, 9/8/2002), did the job just fine.

Or this one, same interview: "I'm not here today to make a specific allegation that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9/11. I can't say that. On the other hand, since we did that interview, new information has come to light. And we spent time looking at that relationship between Iraq, on the one hand, and the al-Qaeda organization on the other. And there has been reporting that suggests that there have been a number of contacts over the years. We've seen in connection with the hijackers, of course, Mohamed Atta, who was the lead hijacker, did apparently travel to Prague on a number of occasions. And on at least one occasion, we have reporting that places him in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attack on the World Trade Center. The debates about, you know, was he there or wasn't he there, again, it's the intelligence business."

Pretty cute, huh? "I'm not here to make a SPECIFIC allegation", just a general one.

So, yes. The Bush administration did set out to imply that Hussein was involved with 9/11, but more importantly, to create the illusion that we could seek justice/revenge for 9/11 by attacking Iraq.

[Emphasis mine.] So, in an article about how people will sometimes willfully negate what was said in order to perpetuate a myth that fits their mindset, this commenter inadvertently uses that exact technique to perpetuate his own myth - that Bush explicitly linked Sadaam Hussein to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. While attempting to show how that wasn't a myth.


No comments: