Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Chameleon Truth Movement

Sigh. One of the things that never fails to annoy me about the Troofers is the old standbye, "No true Scotsman argument." Point out that Eric Hufschmid is an anti-semite, and a segment of the "Truth" movement will tell you that Eric Hufschmid is not a real "Truther". Point out the ridiculous claim that no plane hit the Pentagon, and a segment will say that no real Troofers, etc.

And it's not entirely a dodge; we certainly know dyed-in-the-wool 9-11 Deniers who are not anti-semites and who accept that Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. But it does make it hard to accept this as a real movement. It's like the folks who like chocolate ice cream and the folks who hate chocolate ice cream getting together and saying they may disagree on flavors, but they're still the "ice cream" movement.

That's how I feel about this essay.

Chip Berlet is a leftist writer who opposes the 9/11 Truth movement. In my opinion, he raises valid objections to what he calls “conspiracism” (which he distinguishes from the kinds of conspiracies that are actually likely to exist). But he wrongly classifies, as full-blown “conspiracism,” the idea that 9/11 was an inside job. Thus he echoes what seems to be a key propaganda ploy on the part of those covering up major crimes by high-level people within the U.S. government, namely lumping the evidence for such crimes together with some truly wacky (and truly dangerous) ideas to create the stereotype of the nutty “conspiracy theorist.” Berlet also, apparently, either ignores or has not yet looked at some of the better evidence for government complicity in the attacks of 9/11. On the other hand, I also think that what Berlet calls “conspiracism” is a genuine and dangerous trap which too many people in both the 9/11 Truth movement and the anti-war movement have fallen into, and it would be wise to pay attention to critiques of same.

Elsewhere, e.g. in The New Pearl Harbor: A Debate On A New Book That Alleges The Bush Administration Was Behind The 9/11 Attacks, Berlet correctly refutes some of the weaker arguments made by people in the 9/11 Truth movement, such as the claim that the Pentagon was hit by something other than a 757. However, by no means does everyone in the 9/11 Truth movement endorse the latter claim. (See Pentagon no-757 theories: debunkings from within the 9/11 Truth movement.) Berlet falsely claims that such flimsy arguments are characteristic of the entire 9/11 Truth movement, ignoring mountains of better evidence for government complicity in the attacks of 9/11. (For a good summary of a lot of the better evidence, see 911proof.com.)

She goes on to point out that many "Truthers" do not believe in the Illuminati, or other secret societies; which would be a whole lot stronger section were it not for this:

That’s Bilderberg, not Bilderburg, and it’s not just a “banking group.” It’s a privately-organized, highly secretive off-the-record gathering of powerful people, both from the governments of many different countries and from large corporations of various kinds. (See Bilderberg: The ultimate conspiracy theory by Jonathan Duffy, Thursday, 3 June, 2004, on the BBC News site.) While it probably does not micromanage the world to the extent that many “conspiracists” believe, it certainly is a vehicle of multinational corporate influence on the governments of many different countries - and probably, in many cases, against the best interests of the general publics of those countries.

But again, just because she does not believe in the Illuminati, we're supposed to ignore that lots of other people in the movement do? And we should not lump the Bilderberg conspiracy nutbars with the Illuminati fruitcakes and the CFR wackos?

I'm trying to think of another group of people who disagree so vehemently on everything other than the name for their movement, and yet really constitute a movement. Is there significant fragmentation in the peace movement? They all just want an end to the war, right? There may be some variation in how long they're willing to maintain a US presence in Iraq, but basically they're all on the same page. The "Truth" movement isn't even in the same book.