The letter feels like tidings from 10 years ago: handwritten, packed in bubble wrap, delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. But it arrived at WW a month ago from Paul S. Szymanski of Southwest Portland, enclosed with seven DVDs. "Watch even one of these discs," the letter reads, "and you will be convinced: 9/11 was an inside job. I understand that your paper is constrained from printing any of this except derisively."
I watched two. In fact, I had reviewed another 9/11 Truther film, a drama called The Reflecting Pool, back in 2008. Of course, there is no evidence of this review on wweek.com. You could take it on faith that the review is gone because our crappy website deleted it. But why, of all reviews, is that one missing?
That was derisive, I admit, but it's been a difficult three hours. It is staggering to fathom that people have been spiraling in this free fall of logic for so many years. This is the six-year anniversary of Loose Change, the Web video that now has elaborate if terrible CGI, and a rap song. By watching this Truther classic, and 9/11: Intercepted—apparently the most recent work—I hoped to sense what it might be like to know, for 10 years, that what you know disproves what millions of people believe they saw.
It is very boring.
Watching Loose Change is like arguing intensely with a person who lapses into autistic detail on a tangentially relevant subject—the history of fires in tall buildings, say, or Newton's third law of thermodynamics—and then suddenly changes the subject before reaching a conclusion, then refuses to bring that subject up ever again. Watching 9/11: Interception, made by the group Pilots for 9/11 Truth, is even worse: It is like watching an air-traffic controller re-create his favorite routes on a Sega Genesis.
Objection yields to stupefaction. Next comes a suspicion that the producers of these films feel free to make half-baked, bad-faith arguments because they are sure the authorities are arguing in even worse faith (to be sure, Dick Cheney was in power). Finally, the films suggest a jealous buddy presenting an annotated list of circumstantial evidence that his girlfriend is cheating on him: Her black bras are usually in the second sock drawer, but yesterday they were in the third sock drawer. What does that tell you?
But the worst thing about these movies is how numb they are to the magnitude of events. Endlessly rewinding video to look for secondary, controlled detonations as a jetliner explodes into the side of a skyscraper feels like examining mattress brands in a hardcore porno.
"Think of your future," the Truther letter concludes, and I tried. But as these hectoring, tedious films wore on, I found myself instead thinking about the Truthers' future. It would be a just fate for them to spend the next decade locked in a conference room with the Bush administration officials who, with different motives but similar rhetorical tools, likewise spun 9/11 for their own ends.