As the anniversary of the physical attack approaches, Bwog correspondent Alex Weinberg reels from the mental attack of 9-11 conspiracy theorists.
September 11th is fast approaching, and, like swallows returning to Capistrano, 9/11 conspiracy theorists are emerging from their basements and taking to the streets to let you all know how dumb you really are. For those who’ve never enjoyed their presence, just head outside for a stroll: you’ll see them marching everywhere from Church Street up to our very campus, happily forcing flyers and DVDs into the palms of unsuspecting tourists. Their predatory packs are hard to dodge and impossible to miss.
Rather than promoting a political or social cause, conspiracy theorists are here to sell their story that September 11th was a lie. To them, airplane collisions could not have toppled the Twin Towers, and something else must have led to the unprecedented destruction. Let me just say that I take deep offense at this idea. Conservative commentators often deride 9/11 conspiracy theorists for their lack of patriotism or compassion or whatever, but I think this is a far too easy way of thinking. Instead, I hate them for the much more substantiative sin of being stupid and loud. To me–a structural engineering student and longtime supporter of skyscrapers and skyscraper-related causes–they might as well be protesting against evolutionary theory or the abstract notion of time.
Here’s how it breaks down: A few conspiracy theorists believe the comparatively benign notion that the Bush administration knew about the 9/11 attacks and did nothing to prevent them. Most, however, maintain that the government actively planned and executed the attacks. These conspiracy theorists believe that airplanes were flown into the Twin Towers, which were then demolished using previously planted explosives. Some go further, claiming that the planes were remote-controlled into the towers, or that spherical mystery pods and bombs were dropping from the bellies of the 767’s, or that United 175 was actually a dolled-up Patriot missile, or even that tiny nuclear bombs were used to bring the towers down. I am not making any of this up–I wish I had that much creativity.
The main culprits are obviously Bush and Cheney, who supposedly staged the attacks as an excuse to start their wars. The list of suspects then radiates wildly outward to include everyone from Rudy Giuliani to the Port Authority of New York, Pakistan, OPEC, the NFL, other less fervent conspiracy theorists, NASA, McGraw Hill Publishing, and of course the conniving Jewbankers.
They get their work done through the Internet, mostly. Web firebrands like Alex Jones (UFO baron) and Dylan Avery (demonstrably ugly), have invested years of their lives into highly polished websites and videos to spread their belief that the September 11th attacks were a government plot. Their material is very convincing and very well made, and a lot of people fall for it. They employ neatly edited footage, quotes from actual firefighters, and analyses from (dubiously) credentialed scientists in a slick symphony of propaganda. In a society where your structural engineering experience doesn’t matter as much as your Myspace page, people will believe what you convince them to believe.
It’s all bunk, of course. Their science is terrible, the first hand accounts that support their story are few out of tens of thousands, and the professional scientists that agree with the controlled demolition hypothesis rarely, if ever, have experience in the building trades. Even their self-appointed name, the “9/11 Truth Movement,” is drenched in outright phoniness. First, by referring to themselves as a “Movement,” conspiracy theorists try to apply the same level of legitimacy and import as the Civil Rights or Suffrage Movement to a bunch of scattered but highly dedicated Internet trolls. By their logic, angry Bwog commenters form a veritable Revolution.
Moreover, they’re equating the word “truth” with whatever reality they deem to be the optimal one, regardless of bogus physics, sketchy logic, and paranoid thinking. They’re doing to the word “truth” what President Bush has done to the word “freedom.” At this pace, there are going to be no words left for future generations to bastardize.
But they’re off of the Internet now and onto the streets. That’s why, on September 8th, I went down to Ground Zero to meet the conspiracy theorists as they geared up for 4 days on nonstop screaming.
Alex Weinberg will return with Part 2 in the fairly near future.