July 29, 2003

The Poisoned Fruit of Anti-Americanism

No more do I want to hear that Europeans are more sophisticated than Americans.

Here's the latest.

BERLIN, July 23 (Reuters) - Almost one in three Germans below the age of 30 believes the U.S. government may have sponsored the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

In Europe the lunatic fringe is going mainstream.

Maddening as this is, I really do worry for them. I'm beginning to think something terrible might happen over there.

I have an American friend who lives in Belgium, and he recently came by for a visit. I asked him why he thinks Europe is becoming such a dark place all of a sudden, and I must admit I wasn't prepared for his answer.

He said Europe has always been a dark place and it hasn't changed at all.

UPDATE: A couple of readers emailed and accused me of hyperbole. Fair enough. This German conspiracy theory isn't the mainstream.

Even so, I don't think it's right to compare German gullibility to American gullibility by pointing out, for example, that lots of Americans falsely believe Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11 attacks.

There is a qualitative difference between believing Saddam was behind an attack on America and believing that the American government was behind an attack on America.

It is at least plausible that Saddam had something to do with it, even though he didn't. The idea that the US government committed that deed is insane.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2003 12:40 AM

Let me defend my countrymen.

First, I agree with you that the statement “SH was involved in 9/11” isn’t a good example if you want to show that American’s are equally gullible. But there are better examples, namely:

“There were Iraqi nationals among the 9/11 hijackers”
“Iraq used chemical weapons against US troops in the war”
“WMD have been found in Iraq”

If I remember correctly there is fairly reliable polling data showing that these statements are believed to be true by somewhere between 10 and 30 percent of Americans.

As for the German poll, the important word in the Reuters excerpt is may. The poll, reported in


asked (summarized, not translated)

1. Do you believe that you have learned the full truth about 9/11 in the media ?
2. Do you believe that the US government could have been behind 9/11

“could have been”, not “was”. My guess is that this accounts for much of the 30 percent. It’s still embarrassing, but less so than the Reuters article at first suggests.

Posted by: Andreas Tiemeyer at July 29, 2003 05:42 AM

"It’s still embarrassing, but less so than the Reuters article at first suggests"

Not by much. It's a thin escape clause - razor thin.
Do I think Schroeder and Chirac could have been behind the 9/11 attacks? -- well uhhh yeah, ...like you know...it's not impossible, Dude.

Don't insult us. Call it the stain on Germany that it is.

BTW, nice lookin' new blog Michael. Good luck.

Posted by: BF at July 29, 2003 01:25 PM


"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere

Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com

News Feeds


Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button


Tip Jar


Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn