Thursday, June 07, 2007

Reporter Nibbles At the Apple

I sent him some information after reading the piece and he responded in a friendly fashion, so it's yet to be seen whether he's going to take a big bite.

I recognized Holmes' name when he said it; he was one of the handful of people who'd e-mailed me recently trying to get me to look into what really happened on Sept. 11, 2001. I'd pretty much ignored them, figuring that I lacked the time, government security clearance and advanced physics degree necessary to investigate their claims. But Holmes is nothing if not persistent. In his hand was a book he'd purchased for me, Debunking 9/11 Debunking, the fourth tome written about 9/11 by David Ray Griffin, a theologian and self-described latecomer to the "9/11 Truth" movement.

Holmes, a leader of San Diego's version of the movement and friendly fellow, told me he's long been reading my editorials critical of the Bush administration and considered me "fertile ground" for skepticism of the government's official story about Osama bin Laden, 19 box-cutter-wielding Muslim extremists and jet fuel burning so hot it melts steel. He no doubt was complimenting my willingness to question authority, but, of course, I took it to mean I possessed great potential for someday pounding out manifestos on an old Underwood typewriter by candlelight in a cabin in Idaho with bugs and bits of crackers in my beard.

Well, at least he knows what he's getting into. I'm somewhat amused at Griffin's description of himself as a latecomer to the 9-11 "Truth" Movement. I suppose he means late compared to Eric Hufschmid, or Christopher Bollyn.

Skimming the intro couldn't cause too much pain, I figured, so on Sunday afternoon, I took a beach chair, towel and my new book to my favorite spot on the grass in Balboa Park. And there, amid the volleyball playing, lawn bowling and Frisbee tossing, I sat down and read the intro, wondering what the nearby frolickers would think of me if they knew I was reading the kind of stuff that causes fits for guys like Bill O'Reilly and Joe Scarborough.

I think he's missing the point. Bill O'Reilly and Joe Scarborough don't highlight 9-11 Denial because it asks tough questions about the Bush Administration. They highlight it because it makes opponents of the administration look like fruitcakes and weirdos. It's an outrage du jour that they can use to whip people up into a frenzy.

It was when Griffin noted one of the reasons liberals like me dismiss the movement—that it's a distraction from what we perceive to be more immediate concerns about the present administration—that I was prompted to admit to myself that one of the obstacles keeping me from diving into this particular rabbit hole is that I want to maintain at least a shred of credibility among more moderate readers. The introduction to the 9/11 Truth movement might be as far as I'm willing to go. I don't know—we'll see.

Yes, we shall indeed. Meanwhile Holmes, first name not Sherlock, celebrates a little over at 9-11 Blogger:

We are thrilled beyond belief with the article. You represented our movement fairly and managed to make me look heroic in the process. Granted, to a certain demographic my dramatic portrayal of Flight 77 will merely confirm their suspicions about my tenuous relationship with reality. But that's what it's all about, and I accept that challenge. In fact, our movement is quite fond of Gandhi's quotation on the subject: ""First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." It's never easy to be ridiculed, but Gandhi's context really takes the edge off it. In the end of the column you leave yourself at a crossroads, and I respect that. Maintaining your credibility is of the essence. But of course my response would be that the essence of credibility comes down to truly discerning fact from fiction, as opposed to merely appeasing a certain percentage of the population. So hopefully you won't put down the book.

Peter Holmes of course only looked heroic to the kooks in his local Deniers club. And my take on the Gandhi quote is that it should be amended to read, "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you lose because you didn't get your house in order while you were being ignored." As we have discussed quite often, the mainstream of 9-11 Denial has managed to distance themselves from the fruitier theories like no-planes at the WTC (while embracing the equally nutty no-757 at the Pentagon), but they've done a terrible job of getting rid of the crackpots and Holocaust Deniers. Of course, as others have pointed out, if they did that they wouldn't be able to get together a quorum.

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