Written by Muertos
Tomorrow is September 11, 2010, the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania. On this occasion, we should stop and remember those who died on that terrible day and their families, and especially the heroic first responders--firefighters, police, EMTs and others--who gave their lives to save others. Never in the history of America will this anniversary ever pass without a solemn remembrance of who and what we lost.
There are those, however, who will not be granting respect to the victims of 9/11, to our firefighters, police officers, military and civilian officials, and ordinary citizens who did heroic things on that day. The group who will not be doing so is a small, and thankfully dwindling, population of hard-core conspiracy theorists who refuse to believe the facts of what happened on September 11, instead using the event to push an agenda of paranoia, fear, and often of anti-Semitism and intolerance. If you're at Ground Zero tomorrow, you may see a few of them--a very few--chanting through bullhorns, passing out flyers and wearing "Investigate 9/11" T-shirts.
These are the people who will tell you that, despite Osama bin Laden's confession to 9/11 and those of his cohorts who planned and executed this terrible act, "a bunch of guys with box cutters couldn't have done this." As if people from Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan are too stupid and backwards to do anything right. Yes, this racist view is common among 9/11 deniers.
These are the people who will tell you that it had to be a "controlled demolition" because "jet fuel doesn't burn hot enough to melt steel." Never mind that there was a lot more burning than jet fuel, that the steel was weakened (not melted), and that independent scientific analysis has proven exactly how the World Trade Center towers collapsed--9/11 deniers breeze past all of this in their zeal to pin the crime on an enemy they dislike, which is usually the U.S. or Israeli governments or an imaginary group called "the Illuminati" or "the New World Order."
These are the people who will tell you that "the people" (meaning the victims of the planes hijacked on 9/11) "are secondary," meaning, they don't believe they really died, or, if they did, they don't care. "The people are really secondary" is a direct quote from conspiracy theorist Dylan Avery, who created the 2005 documentary Loose Change and who believes the passengers may have been in on it.
These are the people who will look at a photo of a woman standing in the burning maw of the World Trade Center where the plane struck and will remark that "her clothes aren't even singed." This is a direct quote, again from Dylan Avery, regarding Edna Cintron, who died in the World Trade Center disaster.
These are the people who will tell you that Barbara Olson, who called her husband from Flight 93 to say goodbye, wasn't really on that plane, and that her voice was "morphed" through some super-secret technology. Barbara Olson was a real woman who really died on September 11. Conspiracy theorists don't care about her.
These are the people who will tell you that Todd Beamer, a genuine American hero who led the passenger revolt that prevented Flight 93 from crashing into the Capitol or the White House, was a government plant and that his "Let's roll!" statement was a jingoistic slogan trumped up to have emotional effect. Conspiracy theorists aren't impressed by what Todd Beamer did. They don't care about the people whose lives he helped save.
These are the people who will tell you that New York City firefighters are under some sort of "gag order" to prevent them from telling the world what they supposedly know about "controlled demolition." This despite the fact that many of the firefighters' friends and co-workers died on 9/11. Conspiracy theorists don't care about the firefighters. They slander them instead.
These are the people who will tell you that Osama bin Laden, who confessed in an authenticated video message in October 2004 to personally masterminding the 9/11 attacks, is innocent. Yes, conspiracy theorists think this man, who has the blood of thousands of innocent people on his hands, was "funded by the CIA" and was totally blameless--despite the fact that he confessed. Conspiracy theorists don't care about justice for Osama bin Laden. They celebrate him instead.
These are the people who will tell you that there were no bodies at the Pentagon--ignoring the horrific carnage there that is well documented, such as this
[WARNING: graphic image].Conspiracy theorists don't care who this person was or the horrific manner in which they died.
These are the people who will tell you that the "alleged" hijackers are still alive--despite all evidence to the contrary. Yet, ask a conspiracy theorist why no one has tried to contact one of them, all you'll get is excuses. Conspiracy theorists don't care about these supposedly innocent people.
These are the people who will tell you there were no planes at all and that what flew into the World Trade Center towers were holographic projections because the towers were blown up with beam weapons. Yes, there are many 9/11 deniers who really believe that.
These are the people who will tell you that Larry Silverstein, a totally innocent man, is not only guilty of blowing up World Trade Center 7, but that he "admitted" it on a scripted PBS documentary made a year later. Conspiracy theorists don't care about smearing the reputations of innocent people.
These are the people who will tell you that the confession of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was one of the operational planners of the attacks, is invalid because it was tortured out of him, despite the fact that Mohammed detailed his role voluntarily for an Al-Jazeera documentary that was made before he was even captured by U.S. forces. Conspiracy theorists don't care that he's guilty. They won't even mount a campaign for his legal defense in his upcoming trial. Why? They don't care.
These are the people who will tell you that because George W. Bush read a storybook to children in a classroom right after being told about 9/11, that must prove that he did it. Conspiracy theorists don't care about logic or reason. They care about fingering Bush for 9/11 despite all evidence to the contrary.
These are the people who will tell you that 9/11 was part of a Jewish world conspiracy--the same conspiracy, some of them claim, that involved the faking or deliberate exaggeration of the Holocaust. Yes, many 9/11 Truthers are Holocaust deniers. Conspiracy theorists don't care how hateful, hurtful or toxic this sort of thing is, and how it offends every rational thinking person.
It's astonishing that, nine years after the disaster, these asinine beliefs are still out there and still command adherents. But they do. 9/11 denial will probably never die away totally. Conspiracy thinking is notoriously difficult to stamp out, and it's corrosive to logic and reason everywhere it appears. I've been battling 9/11 deniers for years. No matter how many times you show them the NIST report, or photos of bodies at the Pentagon, or try to get them to care about the real people with real families who died in this tragedy, they persist in droning on about melting points and free-fall speeds, about how the Project for a New American Century supposedly predicted a "new Pearl Harbor," or how Bush and Cheney are war criminals and Obama is no better. These people won't listen to reason. No amount of evidence will convince them. They're allergic to evidence. It will never convince them.
I am contemptuous of 9/11 deniers, that's undeniable. But at the same time I pity them. What must it be like to live in a world so ruled by fear and paranoia that you see conspiracies everywhere you turn, where public service is synonymous with corruption and evil, and where evidence means nothing? What is it that drives these people to reject so totally the dictates of logic and critical thinking--and ignore the human cost of a tragedy as vast as 9/11? I couldn't live in the conspiracy theorists' world. I wouldn't want to.
But, as sad and pathetic as 9/11 deniers are, let us never forget that human cost. Every person who died on 9/11 had a family, had friends. Many of the innocent victims had young children whose parent will never come back. Many of the survivors have trauma and scars that last to this day. The shadow of the tragedy of 9/11 will be cast over American society for many decades to come. Despite the shrill calls of the deniers who refuse to accept what really happened, our focus on this anniversary should be to remember the dead, the sacrifices of the heroes, and try to move forward in a way that validates and makes sense of what has happened.
My heart goes out to everyone who lost a loved one or a friend on September 11, 2001. Let us never forget or never lose sight of the truth of that day.