Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Diana And 9/11

It was a Sunday morning in August 1997. I had woken up early, and turned on the TV and went straight to ITV (or ITV1 as it is now) and went to Teletext (remember that?). That week there had been its poll about who had had the best year since their divorce - the Prince of Wales or Diana, Princess of Wales.

That morning the poll had been removed. Maybe because the headline was "Diana, Dodi Killed In Car Crash".

And 16 years later the conspiracy theorists keep on. Watergate has a lot to answer for - the smugness of the conspiracy theorists as they giggle at the "sheeple" who are "gullible" enough to believe the official report. The constant Daily Express headlines.

The way the Daily Mail does its "forensic study" - hey, let's ignore the testimony from the witnesses at the hotel or the hospital. Who needs that when you have an unsigned page torn from an exercise book? Or the classic "my mate overheard a bloke down the pub who said he knew that..."?

If Diana was "clearly pregnant" just 4 weeks after meeting Dodi Fayed, then either she was not pregnant by him (I guess conspiracy theorists never had sex education lessons at school) or else babies developed in her womb very quickly.

And of course, the conclusion is that the security forces killed Diana because she was pregnant with a child who would be the half-sibling of the future "Head of the Church of England" and she was the mother of "the future King of England."

Sorry, but firstly, Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church of England, and secondly the last King of England was William III.

One of the most overworked phrases in the media is the shock-horror "constitutional crisis". No, a Scotsman becoming "Prime Minister of England" (a post that has never existed) is not a "constitutional crisis". Two Presidential candidates gaining 269 electoral college votes might be a political crisis, but is not a "constitutional crisis" (the American constitution is clear what happens then). And the mother of a future monarch having a child by a Muslim man is a constitutional crisis how, exactly?

One day in September 2001 I was based at Southampton University - I had submitted my PhD thesis for St Andrews University, had had my viva and was then back at my parents' to live while I jobhunted. But I had to make amendments to my thesis, and the agreement was that I would have a desk and computer at Southampton to do this. And that day I received an invitation for a two-day assessment (in Bournemouth) for a job in Andover. I had popped out to buy a street map for North Hampshire, and when I got back someone mentioned that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

I went back to my desk, assuming that this was one of these hobby pilots in a small plane who had lost control and hit the Center. Sad for the pilot, pessengers and their families, but nothing major.

Early afternoon I took a break and noticed that people were crowding round a TV. Then I realised that what I thought had happened was wrong.

And of course, you get the conspiracy theorists with 9/11 - in the fog of news, some details wlll be got wrong, and these get corrected by news media as they got them wrong, not because of pressure from the White House or Pentagon to back an "official" version.

There is one thing that I have thought about. Consider the susceptible-to-radicalisation young Muslim man. From late 1997 he is hearing - and having Western conspiracy theorists "confirm" - that security forces from the United Kingdom and the USA bumped off a British princess for the "crime" of falling in love with a Muslim. What view will he develop of the West from those sort of conspiracy theories? How will they radicalise him?

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