9/11 hero William Rodriguez and Charles Lindbergh
Lucky Lindy, a true American hero, who was full of the brown stuff when it came to the brownshirts.
Mark Roberts(left), the Obi-wan Kenobi of debunkers, takes on 9/11 hero and troofer William Rodriguez (right).
Is it possible to be both a hero and full of crap? Absolutely. Take the examples of William Rodriguez, the 9/11 hero who saved several lives on that tragic day, and ace aviator Charles Lindbergh, "The Lone Eagle," who made the first nonstop, solo flight across the Atlantic ocean, from Long Island to Paris in 1927. Both men exhibited remarkable physical and psychological courage. Both garnered international acclaim for their actions (still ongoing in the case of Rodriguez). Both have been honored with numerous awards from the U.S. and other countries. And both have made statements and taken stances worthy of withering criticism.
They are of course dissimilar in many, many ways, the apparently garrulous WTC janitor from Puerto Rico and the aloof Michigan-born aviator. But what made me think of Lucky Lindy in regards to Rodriguez and 9/11 is this insightful, well-researched and somewhat disturbing article by Mark Roberts, the Obi Wan of debunkers, titled "William Rodriguez, Escape Artist", which was suggested to me by poster "maccy." In it, Roberts hails Rodriguez as a hero, while taking him to task for making various contradictory statements on what he experienced during 9/11, the number of people he helped save, and so on. Roberts is also highly critical of trips Rodriguez has made abroad and some of the company he's kept, which has included (sigh) Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites.
Roberts does not accuse Rodriguez of anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial. But he does question treks Rodriguez made to Malaysia and Venezuela in the company of Shoah-shirkers and Jew-haters. And he chides Rodriguez for attending a conference hosted by the American Free Press and The Barnes Review, an anti-Semitic rag and one that's devoted to denying the Holocaust, respectively. He does give Rodriguez points, however, for finally ending his truck with these unsavory elements and for turning down a highly-publicized offer to speak in Iran.
Roberts writes: I don’t want to suggest that William Rodriguez is anti-Semitic or a Holocaust denier. Comments like Bollyn's above, claiming that Rodriguez has inside information about Israeli Mossad involvement in 9/11, should be taken with a whole box of salt. I do submit that Rodriguez's desire to make extreme, unsubstantiated claims about the U.S. government will continue to put him in the company of other irrational extremists. Any positive message he has to offer will be tainted if he associates with such miserable, hate-filled characters. The invitation to speak in Iran, which recently held a government-sponsored conference to question the Holocaust, featuring a “roll call of the world's most infamous Holocaust deniers,” should be a harsh wakeup call for Rodriguez.
There is a parallel to Lindbergh here. Though a hero, Lindbergh did espouse anti-Semitic views and embrace certain tenets of eugenics, which of course were common at the time. He wanted to keep the country out of WWII, and threw his hat in with the isolationist America First Committee. FDR regarded Lindbergh as pro-Nazi. Prior to the war, Lindbergh accepted a medal from Hermann Goering, and later refused to relinquish it when criticized. Historians still debate this stuff. My point is that though Lindbergh was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for daring and bravery, and though he encountered personal tragedy in his life in the kidnapping and murder of his child, very few would argue that he was correct about America's involvement in WWII.
So why should Rodriguez's statements, motivations, associations get a pass? They don't get one from me, nor from Mark Roberts.
In his report on Rodriguez, Roberts dings the guy for apparently flip-flopping on significant details of 9/11. Did Rodriguez save 15 lives or "hundreds"? More like the former, though that in no way imperils Rodriguez's status as a hero. In the same breath sometimes, Rodriguez has alleged a conspiracy theory and said that he does not buy conspiracy theories. Rodriguez has claimed he heard an explosion in the North Tower before it was hit by American Airlines Flight 11, but Roberts points out that Rodriguez's NIST testimony was much less, er, incendiary: Rodriguez's main complaint is that his account has been ignored by official investigative bodies. Yet when he had the chance to go on the public record at a 2004 meeting held by chief investigators from NIST, he spoke about problems with keeping the stairwells clean, about some preexisting damage in the stairwells, and about the elevators not working properly after the attack. At a public meeting, to the people charged with finding out why the towers collapsed, Rodriguez said nothing about his major claim: that he knows there were explosives in the north tower basement.
However, Rodriguez did say this to NIST:
"The fire, the ball of fire, for example, I was in the basement when the first plane hit the building. And at that moment, I thought it was an electrical generator that blew up at that moment. A person comes running into the office saying 'explosion, explosion, explosion.' When I look at this guy; has all his skin pulled off of his body. Hanging from the top of his fingertips like it was a glove. And I said, what happened? He said the elevators. What happened was the ball of fire went down with such a force down the elevator shaft on the 58th (50A) – freight elevator, the biggest freight elevator that we have in the North Tower, it went out with such a force that it broke the cables. It went down, I think seven flights. The person survived because he was pulled from the B3 level. But this person, being in front of the doors waiting for the elevator, practically got his skin vaporized." Read his entire statement here.
That wasn't a slip. On September 11, 2002, Rodriguez was interviewed by CNN:
“And at that terrible day when I took people out of the office, one of them totally burned because he was standing in front of the freight elevator and the ball of fire came down the duct of the elevator itself, I put him on the ambulance.” Source
In October, 2004, Rodriguez filed a 237-page lawsuit (since dismissed) against the United States of America, the Bush family, and many others, alleging a massive conspiracy to commit and cover up the crimes of 9/11. The suit covered the gamut of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and for good measure threw in accusations of election fraud, drug running, and other crimes. It even suggested that United flight 93 may have been shot down with a “high-powered microwave weapon.”
Yet the lawsuit made no mention of what today is Rodriguez’s most important “evidence”: the basement explosion. Rodriguez had to throw that claim into the stew pot in an affidavit in 2006.
People are entitled to change their minds and to form new hypotheses. But Rodriguez’s current argument is based solely on incredulity: he says he (now) doesn’t believe that things could have happened as the official version states. Therefore the official version must be wrong. End of debate. Tell the world about the big lie. That fallacy is the basis for most 9/11 conspiracy theories.
Charles Lindbergh, of course, was a national and international icon, and people will be writing biographies of him, likely, for as long as we have books. Rodriguez is not quite an icon on that level. But he deserves close scrutiny because he's lent his name to a 9/11 "truth" movement hell-bent on promulgating paranoid fantasies and outright lies about what happened on 9/11. Troofers regularly respond to my criticism of their leaders all being nutjobs with. "Oh yeah, what about Willie Rodriguez?" But if they cared to look, they'd notice that even Rodriguez has feet of clay.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.