- A Democratic underground blogger attempted to back up a popular conspiracy theory with a d.i.y. backyard experiment
There is currently a posting at Democratic Underground — a key blogging hub of the "I Hate Bush" internet empire — that purports to prove that the U.S. military, and not two commercial airplanes, destroyed the World Trade Center. It does so through the magic of ... chicken wire.
Entitled "Can a jet fuel/hydrocarbon fire collapse a steel structure? An experiment," this C- science fair project is carefully presented in a series of photos taken in the blogger's (or his mom's) backyard. There's the replica "tower" made of wire. A hole is cut in one "wall" to replicate the impact of an airliner. Then a cup of kerosene is meticulously poured over the wire fencing and, just to assuage the doubters, the blogger places a "heavy cement block" on top. The kerosene is ignited. The world waits.
The "tower" does not fall. The truth is out there. George W. Bush is a murderer.
What the kids over at Democratic Underground lack in basic science, they more than make up for in sincerity. I found the experiment — and the hundreds of conspiratorial postings it inspired — rather charming in their cluelessness.
Until I received this e-mail from an angry listener:
"Dear Bush brown-noser," it began, "why don't you do some research before you open your ignorant mouth. There's no way a commercial airplane took down the towers, but you're such a George W. suck-up you'll never see the truth."
This e-mail contained links to several websites, among them a certain science fair project at Democratic Underground.
There were other links, too, to sites like indymedia.org and oilempire.us, as well as speculation about sexual contact between President Bush, Dick Cheney, and myself that, nimble though I may be, is not biologically possible. I went to Google and typed in a few of the lefty kooks' favorite keywords ("Pentagon," "missile," "tin foil headgear") and got 1.2 million hits.
So I conducted my own experiment on my radio talk show. I mentioned a few of the kookier conspiracy theories on the air to see how listeners would respond. Immediately my lines were jammed with callers who had "real questions about what happened on 9/11," or wanted to know if I was "ready for the truth about the Pentagon?"
At the World Trade Center, the planes were too small. At the Pentagon, they were too big. There wasn't enough fuel, or the fire wasn't hot enough or a retired military officer knew a guy who knew the guy who shot down Flight 93 over Pennsylvania. My (for lack of a better word) favorite is the claim that Don Rumsfeld ordered a missile strike on the Pentagon to destroy the accounting department. Some money was allegedly missing and an investigation might embarrass him.
You know, more than the embarrassment of the SecDef being caught firing a missile at the Pentagon...
The folks I spoke to did not appear to be drunk, stoned, or French. They didn't sound like the kind of people I'd expect to find in the fever-swamp fringe of shortwave radio or the far-left blogosphere. Then a Zogby poll in May showed that 42 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. government is concealing "evidence that contradicts their official explanation of the September 11th attacks."
Suddenly the stupidity is starting to matter.
Slowly, rational people are starting to fight back. The Pentagon released photos showing American Flight 77 — and not Kim Jong-il's "Nodong" missile — hitting the building. Popular Mechanics dedicated a cover issue to debunking the most commonly-heard conspiracies. Though the in-depth article lacked any references to chicken wire or kerosene, PM did include eyewitness testimony and readily available photos of actual airplane parts strewn across the grounds of the Pentagon.
By any rational measure, the Bush/Cheney/Halliburton/Mossad/Wal-Mart/Dr. Evil conspiracies are idiotic and demonstrably untrue. Why do so many liberals believe them?
I think it's because they want to. They want to believe that somehow we Americans — or at least the Bush Administration — are the bad guys. If Al Qaeda really did kill 3,000 people in one morning and are still struggling doggedly to do so again, then the Islamists, and not the Republicans, are the villains of the story. NSA monitoring of international e-mails from terror-friendly countries becomes a necessity, rather than evidence of the approaching Bush dictatorship. Even military action — however misguided strategically — is both reasonable and justified if there's a real threat of another mass murder and $500 billion blow to the American economy.
The choice is either to hate President Bush or remain sane. The Left has chosen the former.
And the proof, my friends, is in the chicken wire.