The Decline of the 9/11 Truth Movement

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by Philip Giraldi, The Unz Review:

We are now at the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks that ushered in our current century and unleashed a series of wars, killing or displacing many millions. The highest-profile terrorist attacks in human history had tremendous importance both for the world and our own country, but a couple of decades later their memory has now dimmed, especially after the worldwide Covid epidemic and Russia’s Ukraine war, two much more recent events of even greater global magnitude.

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These days the 9/11 Attacks are only occasionally mentioned, and even those individuals intensely focused upon conspiratorial matters have mostly shifted their attention elsewhere. Kevin Barrett was very actively involved in the 9/11 Truth movement from its inception, and last week he published one of his rare recent pieces on the topic. His short article noted the approaching anniversary and usefully summarized much of the information accumulated in two decades of research, but his overall verdict was hardly an optimistic one.

Two years ago the twentieth anniversary had passed with little public attention. Soon afterward, Dr. Alan Sabrosky, an important 9/11 Truth figure, published an even more despairing appraisal in which he described the total failure of the effort that had absorbed so many years of his life.

It gives me no pleasure at all to write these words. I personally came to the movement late in 2009, then met many excellent people and worked with many fine editors at a time when overt censorship was still minimal. The best of the “Truthers” shared one thing in common: they were right that the US Government explanation of the 9/11 attacks was singularly flawed, in whole and in all its major parts. But they – and I include myself here – were never able to convey that message in a politically significant way to enough of the American public to matter.

The net effect is that despite innumerable articles, speeches, seminars, videos, protests and the like by tens of thousands of activists, the 20th anniversary of 9/11 came and went with barely a whimper. It was preceded by the collapse of the 9/11 lawyers effort in New York City on which so many had staked their hopes, and the dismissal of Richard Gage – the founder of the seminal “Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth” – from his own organization by his own board. It is tragic enough when evil triumphs, which is what the real planners and perpetrators of 9/11 did. It is even worse when the collapse of the efforts to expose them and to bring them to justice ends in farce.

As he mentioned, Richard Gage, founder and CEO of the foremost 9/11 Truth organization, had just recently been fired by his board when his controversial remarks on Covid vaccines were used by the media to torpedo a long-awaited prime-time broadcast of their 9/11 theories hosted by director Spike Lee.

I myself came very late to the 9/11 Truth issue, largely accepting the official narrative for nearly the first decade after the attacks. But when I published my own twenty year recapitulation in September 2021, the Covid epidemic was at its height and my article was one of the very few that appeared to mark that important milestone.

 

Although the 9/11 Truth movement has lost much of its energy and visibility, each year’s anniversary does still occasionally prompt the publication of new articles, including on our own website. These pieces sometimes attract considerable readership and heated commentary, but the authors often seem compelled to avoid merely repeating familiar arguments, so they instead promote novel and implausible theories that are far less solidly grounded in evidence. I suspect that these may do much more harm than good, obfuscating the basic facts while driving away any curious newcomers.

Some of these activists now claim that the World Trade Center was destroyed by nuclear explosions or mysterious energy weapons or that no planes were actually involved in the attacks. Although only a small minority of 9/11 Truthers take such positions, these individuals are often loud and energetic advocates, and thereby may serve to taint and discredit the more sober positions of the vast majority. Furthermore, with so many of the more mainstream 9/11 Truthers having gradually abandoned the issue, supporters of these fringe theories now probably constitute a growing fraction of the diehard Truthers. I suspect that the result has been to undermine the credibility of whatever remains of the 9/11 Truth movement.

This unfortunate situation is hardly surprising. Movements such as 9/11 Truth sharply oppose powerful official narratives so they naturally tend to attract persons with strongly contrarian and conspiratorial tendencies, individuals who are willing and eager to challenge all orthodoxies, including those of their own allies. Such activists may enthusiastically embrace wild ideas that capture their imagination, failing to comprehend that for responsible researchers, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Furthermore, establishment forces may easily take advantage of such psychological weaknesses. As I discussed in an article last year, the late Michael Collins Piper, a leading conspiracy-researcher, strongly suspected that many of the implausible conspiratorial theories he considered so damaging to his cause may have been seeded and promoted by pro-establishment operatives engaging in Cass Sunstein-type deceptions, protecting official lies by manipulating excitable activists into discrediting their entire community.

Conspiracy theorists have a notable tendency towards paranoia, but as a wit once observed “Even paranoids have enemies.” Once it became known that a high-ranking Obama Administration official had previously suggested that the government employ online operatives to infiltrate and disrupt the conspiracy community, the story spread like wildfire, with rival individuals and factions sometimes accusing each other of serving as such “cognitive infiltrators”…

During that period, I was paying little attention to the 9/11 issue and was barely aware of the existence of a 9/11 Truth movement. But individuals who were very actively involved at the time have told me that they believe much of their movement’s momentum was lost when certain prominent figures were diverted into various bizarre theories of what had happened.

Some began to argue that no actual planes had hit the towers in New York City, and the images seen were merely holograms. Others claimed that nuclear explosions or mysterious energy-weapons had inflicted the destruction. And naturally enough, the more exciting and shocking the theory, the more it tended to capture the imagination and enthusiasm of the rank-and-file activists. Moreover, many of these different factions bitterly opposed each other, and the resulting infighting together with the sometimes outlandish nature of the claims soon cost the 9/11 Truth movement much of the little support it had gained in media circles and among the public…

Transgressive individuals who adhere to some heterodox beliefs are also usually willing to accept many others as well, and are often quite eager to do so, sometimes exhibiting the troubling lack of logical thinking and careful analytical judgment that may taint their entire community. This leaves them open to eagerly nibbling the poisoned bait of fraudulent but attractive theories, whether these are advanced by well-meaning advocates, self-serving charlatans, or covert agents of the establishment engaged in “cognitive infiltration.”

 

This situation has played out on our own website. Last September we published a long 9/11 article by Laurent Guyénot, who has produced a series of useful and important works on that topic over the last decade. However, his latest piece drew upon very thin evidence to argue that the simultaneous attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had actually been organized by entirely different groups of conspirators for entirely different reasons. I was even more dismayed to see him suggest that no actual planes had been hijacked nor had hit the World Trade Center, claims that I regarded with extreme skepticism. Unfortunately, this No Planes Hypothesis dominated much of the resulting discussion in the comments, which easily exceeded a half-million words.

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