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    Read it at AE911Truth.org
    Truth and Conspiracy in the Catskills Print E-mail
    Thursday, 02 September 2010 21:43

    Ed: This article by Stanley Fish was published in New York Times on August 23, 2010, in “Exclusive Online Commentary, ‘Opinionator.’”  Fish attended the 9/11 Truth event in the Catskills, although anonymously. His article characterized the “Truthers” he observed there by saying, “…in most other respects just like you and your friends.” He singled out Richard Gage as the star of the conference, “who laid out the basic thesis from which everything else grew.” Readers are encouraged to visit the NY Times webpage where more than 300 comments have been posted to the article.

    A small gathering of 50 or 60 people; roughly 95 percent white, 90 percent male, a few blond-haired kids, average age 45, all nodding in assent as a series of speakers explains that our government is conspiring against us and fabricating massive lies in order to hide its own crimes and frighten us into giving up our constitutional rights and liberties.

    The Tea Party? Minutemen? Birthers? No, “Truthers,” left-wing conspiracy theorists who believe (among other things) that 9/11 was an inside job, that no plane hit the Pentagon, that Ted Olson did not receive a call from his wife, Barbara, shortly before she perished in the crash of Flight 77, that the anthrax scare was also a government hoax (although the anthrax was real and deadly), and that hurricane Katrina was the result of weather manipulation by racists or profiteers or both.

    Like many others, I was aware of these theories and aware too that a significant percentage of Americans (about the same percentage that believes President Obama is a Muslim who was born in Kenya) was at least partly persuaded by them. But on Aug. 15 I got an up-close look at the phenomenon when I attended a meeting of Truthers that just happened to be held in Livingston Manor, a small Catskill town about 20 miles from my house.

    The thing about people who hold beliefs you find unbelievable (in two senses) is that they are in most other respects just like you and your friends. The parking lot of the facility housing the conference might have been a parking lot at any university: lots of Subarus and Priuses. The men and women were casually dressed, polite and friendly. I’m sure that on any other topic — the Yankees, the Stieg Larsson novels, the latest Julia Roberts movie — they would have been all over the place, but when the topic is 9/11 and the “official story” told by the government, they all speak and think with an impressive unanimity of opinion and with an equally impressive sincerity.

    I was the only insincere one in the room. I didn’t announce myself as a columnist looking for something to write about. I let them think I was one of them. When a speaker began his presentation by asking, “Is there anyone here who holds to the official story?”, I didn’t raise my hand. When he followed up by asking whether anyone was on the fence, I raised my hand weakly, along with one other person who, presumably, was telling the truth. Technically, I hadn’t done anything wrong, but I felt dishonest and I was certainly being duplicitous.

    I distanced myself from my discomfort by regarding the event as theater and inventorying the dramatis personae. They were straight out of central casting. Sander Hicks, the master of ceremonies, looked like an amalgam of Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and Matt Dillon; he kept things moving and implored “put your hands together” as each speaker came to the podium. Paul Zarembka played (and was) the left-leaning academic economist. He said, “The ruling class will do anything to keep in power.” The Rev. Ian Alterman preached gentleness, humility and respect. He said that those who have an investment in the official lies because that’s all they’ve ever heard cannot be approached in a confrontational manner.

    But confrontation was obviously the preferred mode of Barry Kissin, the resident rabble-rouser who harangued the audience with the sins of elites who deliberately killed 3,000 of their own citizens and bullied “beleaguered countries” like North Korea and Iran. Nick Bryant tied the same elites to a massive network of pedophiles including almost everyone you’ve ever heard of.

    The star turn was taken by architect Richard Gage, founding member of Architects & Engineers for Truth, a group, he said, of 1,200 experts in the area of the construction and destruction of tall buildings. It was Gage, the man of science and the scientific method (another stock character), who laid out the basic thesis from which everything else grew. The twin towers could not have been brought down by fire. A fire, however intense, would have left the steel girders standing, perhaps at an odd angle. The way the towers fell — in free fall, straight down, in only 7 seconds — shows clearly, Gage declared, that the cause was controlled demolition by explosives placed next to the support structures and detonated in a precisely timed sequence. In short, destruction from the inside by insiders and not by a rag-tag group of fanatics who were incapable of flying the planes they supposedly deployed with incredible skill.

    Once this scenario is established, you have only to ask, first, who could have had the expertise to bring this off and, second, who had the motive to bring it off. Bingo! The government, which certainly had both money and materials and needed a pretext for starting two real wars and a metaphorical “war on terror” that could justify tight governmental and military control, torture, rendition and the passage of the Patriot Act. On this rock the house of the Truthers is built. Everything that comes up in the way of an objection can be explained by extending the basic assumption, by asking the question, “How did the conspirators get away with this one and pull the wool over everyone’s eyes?” It is always answered.

    At the end of the afternoon and before the conference-ending dinner, I slipped away. I thought about identifying myself before leaving. I should have, but I didn’t. Instead I drove home to a small dinner party: my wife and I, another couple and a friend. I told them about what I had seen and heard. The man of the couple said that on Sept. 11, 2001, when he heard the news, “inside job” was the first thought he had, although he hadn’t bothered much with the thought since. Our other guest told us that her brother-in-law was even more a partisan of the “government-did-it” view than those I had listened to. I guess you never know.