Conspiracy Types Lecture Regular Folks at Ground Zero
Hundreds of 9-11 conspiracists paraded across the street from ground zero Monday with their brazen signs—"9-11 WAS A U.S. BLACK OP"—during the solemn reading of the names of the 2,749 who perished in the twin towers. A surprising many people stopped to listen and seriously consider the "proof" offered by members of the so-called 9-11 truth movement, who spent the day lecturing people about how the towers were felled by explosives. (See the photo slideshow here.)
"Well, I do have questions," remarked one woman who came by on her lunch hour. "Like how were these hijackers who could barely fly a Cessna supposed to have piloted big planes into these buildings?"
A manic guy with bleach-blond hair seized on that to launch a rant about the maximum flame temperature of jet fuel and the physics of molten steel, dismissing recent efforts by the U.S. State Department and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to counter such rampant, freeform "expertise" as yet more "propaganda."
"Idiots!" shrieked a man overhearing him. "You guys probably believe Elvis is still alive."
But if people have doubts about what happened, it shouldn’t be surprising considering the lengths the Bush administration has gone to manipulate 9-11 and distort pre-war intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. And when people needed clear information about the air quality downtown, the feds instead gave them false assurances.
If truth is the first casualty of war, the Bush administration committed a massacre. A startling 36 percent of Americans now believe the Bush administration either perpetrated the attacks or failed to stop them because it wanted to go to war in the Middle East.
Forty-two percent of Americans believe the U.S. government and 9-11 commission are in some way covering up the truth of 9-11, according to a Zogby poll in May.
Particularly egregious is that the Republican co-chair of the 9-11 Commission, Thomas Kean, agreed to be a paid advisor to ABC’s myth-making docudrama "The Path to 9-11," which was scripted by conservatives, and which aired last night amid frequent references to its containing "composite" characters and incidents, and "time compression . . . used for dramatic purposes."
If the person charged with investigating the "truth" of 9-11 lends his name to a partisan, fictionalized version, what are people supposed to believe?
Now the conspiracy crowd is using the missing WMDS and numerous other omissions and distortions pushed by the Bush administration to justify all sorts of crackpot theories.
"Go and research it, find out the truth, 9-11 was an inside job!" syndicated radio host Alex Jones bellowed from a bullhorn during a 2 p.m. rally across the street from ground zero that drew more than 300 people.
With his folksy baritone and evident love of the spotlight, Jones is the conspiracy left's version of Rush Limbaugh. "The U.S. is being looted by the globalists," he shouted from inside the protest pen, as police commanders grimaced. "They needed the terrorist attacks to get the people behind their agenda. I wish it wasn’t true, that it was just a conspiracy theory. Because it's scary as hell, but it’s the truth. This country is too great to be taken over by a bunch of murderous thugs."
After about an hour, Jones led the crowd on a march to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office to lambaste him for supposedly refusing to investigate why the rubble and remains of the World Trade Center were so hastily carted away.
"The sleeping giant has arisen—we won’t be silenced," declared Jones. He went on to explain to the media how the decision to stage a new Pearl Harbor on 9-11 was made not by Dick Cheney and the neocons, but was dictated from on high by David Rockefeller, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Elizabeth of England, and the other financiers of the secretive Bilderberg Group that controls world resources from behind the scenes.
Back at ground zero, the mood had shifted from a solemn ritual to something more akin to a street fair. Evangelicals preaching Armageddon competed with a string quartet, a Japanese Kabuki dancer, and a rally for the "forgotten" undocumented workers who died during the WTC attacks or were sickened cleaning contaminated office buildings. There was even a group lobbying to "free Pakistan."
It was all too much for Craig Laitta, a contractor from the Upper East Side who balked at a born-again Christian woman bearing a sign proclaiming her support for President Bush.
"I have a personal memory here, at this spot, and you just destroyed it," said Laitta, who lost a friend on 9-11 and helped clear rubble from the pile. "You don’t go to a funeral and make political statements."
Later, a guy in an FDNY cap nearly punched an anti-war activist parading though the crowds of mourners and onlookers with a neon green sign that shrieked "LIARS!"
But overall, there seemed more willingness from grieving New Yorkers to tolerate dissent, either because people have grown more used to it, or because the "truth" of 9-11 has never seemed more muddied.
"Everyone is coming out with their own investigations, their own documentaries. At this point, I don’t know what to believe," sighed Claudette, a Jamaican woman from the Bronx who declined to give her last name.
"It took me five years to come here and stand here. That’s how hurt I am," added Claudette, an insurance claims adjuster who works less than a block away, and who said she lost friends in the collapse.
Claudette wasn't troubled by the political sniping around her as she stared up at the twin columns of light projected into the night sky during Monday's closing ceremony. "I worked down here for 18 years. This is where I used to shop. Here will always be my towers. I’m still imagining my towers," she said, her eyes glistening.