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A Culture of ConspiracyApocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America$
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Michael Barkun

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520238053

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520238053.001.0001

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September 11

September 11

The Aftermath

(p.158) Chapter 10 September 11
A Culture of Conspiracy

Michael Barkun

University of California Press

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it was said that nothing would be the same again. They were aided by the ambiguity of the initial media reports, which facilitated the rise of a host of urban legends. The sheer scope of the attacks and the dramatic, real-time television coverage created potent apocalyptic imagery. Millennialists began issuing their end-time analyses. The key issue for millenarians was what the attacks meant in terms of history's final trajectory. Conspiracists quickly responded to the attacks, rejecting the conventional explanation that Al Qaeda was responsible. Unintended consequences involve conspiracists and fall into two categories: those that result directly from the attacks themselves, and those which derive from the government's response to the attacks. It remains to be seen whether that volatile conjunction of perception, belief, and action will emerge out of the post-September 11 environment.

Keywords:   World Trade Center, attacks, Millennialists, apocalyptic imagery, government's response

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