Posted by Brad @ 5:07 am on October 29th 2007

What’s So Offensive About 9-11 Truthers?

Some more insomniac blogging.

Bill Clinton was giving a speech somewhere and ended up getting heckled by some Truthers (being involved in the Ron Paul movement, that’s what we call them).

As Liveleak puts it:

Clinton’s 50-minute speech, which started about an hour behind schedule, was derailed briefly by several hecklers in the audience who shouted that the 2001 terrorist attacks were a fraud. Rather than ignoring them, Clinton seemed to relish a direct confrontation.

“A fraud? No, it wasn’t a fraud,” Clinton said, as the crowd cheered him on. “I’ll be glad to talk to you if you shut up and let me talk.”

When another heckler shouted that the attacks were an “inside job,” Clinton took even greater umbrage.

“An inside job? How dare you. How dare you. It was not an inside job,” Clinton said. “You guys have got to be careful, you’re going to give Minnesota a bad reputation.”

A video clip of it:

In a sort of related story, Captain’s Quarters reported on the story that the Ron Paul campaign, in an early stage, paid Alex Jones—radio hose and 9/11 Truth leader who has frequently had Dr. Paul on his program—$1300 in “services”. My guess is for banner ads on Jones’ websites, or Jones doing something for their website, or somesuch, but I’ve no idea. And, nobody knows if it’s the same Alex Jones or some other Alex Jones, which seems a key thing for this “story”. Regardless, Morrissey says:

This goes much closer to the heart of Paul’s direction. While anyone can contribute to a political campaign, the choice of where the money goes is directly and completely relevant to an analysis of the candidate. If Paul chooses to help fund a 9/11 Truther, voters can reasonably conclude that Paul has sympathy for the paranoid conspiracy theorists.

His source, which he quoted, goes farther:

Either way, Iím mighty curious to know what special service might have been provided such that Paulís people couldnít have gone elsewhere and gotten the same deal from someone who isnít a degenerate conspiracy theorist.

My question: who cares?

Now, right off the bat, we know what Dr. Paul’s views on the “truth” or 9-11 are. He’s been asked repeatedly, and he brushes off accusations that he’s himself holds the conspiracy theory position. The farther he goes is saying that he’s not against another investigation, because a lot of the other ones have been more about covering up ineptitude than about transparency. Which seems perfectly reasonable. Asked directly about whether or not 9-11 was an “inside job”, his “I’d say there’s no evidence of that.”

Which is, by the way, my basic position too. I am not a 9-11 truther, I do believe there was an awful lot surrounding it that we don’t know and that was covered up, but most of it had to do with how badly the government handled things, how bungled our intelligence was, how grab-ass our contingency plans were, that sort of thing. So, garden variety government covering up, against garden variety terrorism, that managed to create a perfect storm for a very un-garden variety attack. But I think it’s pretty obvious that it wasn’t an inside job in either the “they knew it was coming and chose to not stop it” way, or the “they did it themselves” way, both of which I’ve seen not a shred of convincing evidence to even suggest, much less prove. That’s me though.

However, my question is: what’s so offensive about people who do believe those things? No Truther (that I know) discounts the victims involved in any way. Those innocent people are all just as dead under a Truther version as the regular one, making it just as much a tragedy (and no Truther I know denies it was a tragedy). They just have kooky ideas about the Machiavellian behind the scenes motives and actions. So, it’s not offensive to the victims, unless the victims get some sort of qualitative essence by being killed by Islamic terrorists that they wouldn’t have if, say, the building just fell for some other reason, but I don’t think anybody believes that (or I hope not anyway).

Is it offensive because it assumes our government and the people in are capable of doing such a horrible thing? Does it implicitly blur the line between America and Islamofascism, and that that’s offensive? But the American government already does all kinds of evil things that terrorists do (torturing largely innocent civilians in Saddam’s own torture prison, for instance) and the same people offended by the Truthers don’t seem to give two shits about that. I could see some of it as “intellectually offensive”, i.e. so far outside the line of evidence and reason as to be really, really dumb”, but that’s not quite the same thing. I don’t think an unhealthy and unhinged amount of cynicism is inherently “offensive” though, in a values sense anyway (which is what “shame on you” or “degenerate” would seem to indicate).

It IS offensive, I suppose, when the Truthers protest at Ground Zero, though even there, as a guy who grew up in a community where funerals where often picketed by a family full of little kids holding “Fags Burn in Hell” signs, and who still is an ardent free speech advocate, I’m not really one to get offended by protesters I don’t agree with being somewhere where people don’t like protesters to be. And of course, if Truthers are shouting at firefighters or victims or whatever, arguing with them, that is offensive, but that’s not 9-11 Truthism, that’s just being an asshole. I.e. the conspiracy theory isn’t doing that (being offensive), the jerk who believes the conspiracy is (being offensive), which is an important distinction.

So what is it about the Truthers that pisses people off so much? I can’t recall people going all crazy about Oswald conspiracy theorists. They treat them as more or less harmless kooks and go about the rest of their life not giving them much thought at all. That tends to be how I view the Truthers, and I work closely with dozens of them in the course of a week doing Ron Paul related work. But it never even would have occurred to me offended by the fact that they’re conspiracy theorists. So what? They’re nice guys, hard workers, very committed to the cause (not the Truth cause, or not just the Truth cause anyway), they just happen to hold opinions on 9-11 and related subjects that I consider…well, again, kooky. But that’s never made me want to punch one of them in the face.

Can anybody help me out with this? About what it is about 9-11 Truthers that I should be inherently offended about? Why their mere existence should offend me? Why I should be ashamed for rubbing shoulders with them? Or why a political candidate who doesn’t believe in the conspiracy theory and says so should nevertheless be in hot water for having paid one for services?

Because I just don’t get it.

3 Comments »

  1. I think the main problem a lot of people have with Truthers is that their starting assumptions seem to make dialogue impossible.

    9/11 conspiracy theorists have arguably eschewed the most obvious and apparent explanation of that in favor of one that justifies their hatred for the US government. This makes constructive interaction difficult, because the most fundamental starting assumption of the rest of the voting public–that the government is fundamentally interested in the protection of the American people–is absent. In the absence of such fundamental shared assumptions, it becomes close to impossible to work together towards any common purpose, so a lot of people throw up their hands and choose not to try.

    And then, of course, there’s the habit of a lot of (not all) Truthers to be aggressive, confrontational, and insulting as a way of getting their point across. Heckling other people’s speeches, for instance, demonstrates contept for the person speaking, so there’s no good reason why those people should expect respect in exchange. Typing “OPEN YOUR EYES” in all caps isn’t an attempt to engage the reader, it’s an attempt to insult the reader. In these respects, they share some of the same communication problems as the rest of us in the Paul movement.

    All that having been said: I do find it hard to accept criticism of Truthers from some of the common critics. For instance: it’s hard to say that Truthers are too irrational to work with if you’re then going to turn around and aggressively recruit the support of people who doubt that human beings share a common ancestor with apes. Nor is it possible to argue that they’re too aggressively hostile and contemptuous if you’re then going to proudly voice your support for Michael Savage or Sean Hannity, or for that matter Michael Moore.

    In the final analysis, I think the Truthers are flat damn wrong in their fundamental beliefs about 9/11, and I don’t care for their tactics a lot of the time, but I don’t see any problem with sharing a movement with them. They’re certainly no less rational than any number of elements which have been proudly included under the umbrellas of the conventional right and left.

    Comment by Rojas — 10/29/2007 @ 12:13 pm

  2. Not to mention that they are crazier than shit house rats.

    Comment by James — 10/29/2007 @ 12:49 pm

  3. I agree, but I don’t see too many people getting offended. Nobody I know cares what Alex Jones thinks. I think the only reason Truthers are an issue is because Ron Paul is running and it’s perceived by some as a way – maybe the only way – to discredit him.

    Comment by David M — 10/29/2007 @ 8:08 pm

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