2006-04-14 / Columnists

The Rockaway Irregular

Truth And The Search For Truth
by Stuart W. Mirsky


In September of 2003,roughlytwo years after the attacks visited on us on September 11, 2001,the New York Sun ran a story aboutthe Riverside Church in Morningside Heights. The church, a renowned uptown liberal bastion, washosting an "alternative symposium," a gatheringdescribed as being for those "who doubt al Qaeda's role in the attacks of two years ago."

Scheduled speakers included Cynthia McKinney, a former (and, as it turned out, future) Georgia Congresswoman whohad saidonCalifornia radiothat President Bush really knew about the attacks in advance and allowed them to happen.McKinney, of course, has recently gained new notoriety as the Congresswoman who struck a Capitol Hill police officer with her cell phone when he tried to get her to go through a metal detector before she entered a Congressional office building.McKinney feltshe should be exempt from such provisions, as a Congresswoman, even if the officer didn't recognize her and she wasn't wearing appropriate identification.

A "documentary filmmaker"who planned to participate in the church-sponsored event, was quoted in The Sun as expressing his doubts concerning who really was behindthe attacks of 9/11. Hequestioned the authenticity of the November 2001 video tape which showed Osama bin Laden at a dinner party in Taliban-run Afghanistangloating over theresults of the attacks and clearly speaking as though he had been involved in the planning. According to The Sun, the "filmmaker" claimed that the person on the video "doesn't look like bin Laden to me."

Church spokesman Tinoa Rodgerswas quoted as offering similar sentiments, saying "I don't know if anyone knows who is behind the attacks on September 11th. There are a lot of theories going around and everybody draws their own conclusions." He added:“I don't know what al Qaeda is, it's a name they throw around . . ."

This kind of thinking has persisted in various quarters to this day as people on the Left deridethe Bush administration's efforts to deal with the aftermath of 9/11. But suddenly we haveZacarias Moussaouitestifying recently in open court that he was both a member of al Qaeda, bin Laden's terrorist organization, and a participant inthe 9/11 plot, intending to pilot a fifth plane, along with convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid andunnamed others, into the White House. He was only prevented from following through on his plans because he was picked up by authorities while trying to enter this country.

So what happens to all the conspiracists and Bush haters on the Left now, who have made a career of deriding and denying the culpability of bin Laden and his henchmen? What dothose, who have gone into a myriad of verbal contortions "explaining" how the attacksof September 11th, 2001 were really engineered by Republicans in the White House or by Israeli operatives, have to say for themselves? How will they square their "theories"and the arguments these theories underpin withthe facts as presented by Moussaoui in his recent court testimony? Are we about to read of their public retractions in the New York Times? Is the media going to remind us of the past claims made by these folks and go back to interview them again to document their recantations? Don't hold your breath. 

Of course, anything can be "explained" away and I can already imagine the claims we'll soon be hearing, that Moussaoui was secretly tortured by American security forces to get him to make his statements, or that he was brainwashed, orjustoff his rocker. There's always awide range of possibilities one can invoke to explain away the obvious and the deniers of the events of September 11th can certainly be expected to come up with plenty of good stories (just as holocaust deniers routinely do), storiesthat will do the necessary job of squaring the circles of their pet conspiracy theories. But at some point rational people, and I'll grant not everyone is, have to stop and ask themselves what's really going on.

As longas there'sabsence of direct evidence, as there is in this case (because none of us actually saw bin Laden give the direct order or witnessed the hijackers as they salaamed in obeisance and moved into operational mode),there will always be room for doubt. But is itserious doubt? All sorts of yarns can, of course,be spun to fill in the holes that theabsence of direct evidence leaves. But, in the end, most of us willagree, particularly when death comes to us from collapsing buildings and other similarly dramatic interventions, that we live in a world where facts will out. And the facts in this case look mighty clear at this point thanks to Moussaoui's desire to ascend to an Islamic“martyr's" heaven.

So, shallwe wait for the inevitable recantation and acknowledgement by the deniers that yes, the terrorists from al Qaeda really did what they have always said they did? Not bloody likely.

Instead, expect the Left's apologists to continuespinning their gossamer-like web ofconspiracy theories, as they bang relentlessly away at the American response to the unprovoked attacks visitedon us by Osama bin Laden and his cronies in 2001.And the American media will continue not to hold them accountable, following a misguided ideal of equal time for all ideas, no matter how asinine. And, perhaps, indulging in their own by now oft-demonstrated preference for anyone butRepublican George W. Bushin the White House.

Meanwhile, "critics" of the president, like Cynthia McKinney, will continue to bash the truth with the same thoughtless abandonthey reserve for police officers trying to protect them. This seems to be allwe can expect in the world of political discourse these days.

But it does great harm to the notion of truth. And to the search for it. rockirreg@aol.com

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