Holocaust, shmolocaust: My wrapup of Sunday with the 9/11 deniers
As promised, here's a rundown of the last stand at Waco, aka, my Sunday afternoon and eve with the 9/11 deniers. I have to say my second dip into this paranoid pool was slightly more congenial, though just as wack in other ways as at the Friday "press conference." (You know, the pep rally I was briefly thrown out of.) I really wanted to chat with online radio loon Meria Heller, because I'd seen her keynote address on Google video, and I was eager to ask her about her Froot Loopy assertion that fluoride is a mind-control agent. I mean, the last time I heard that one was during a screening of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove where Sterling Hayden's character Col. Jack Ripper explains that fluoridation of water is a Commie plot to rob Western man of his precious bodily fluids. I also wanted to inquire about her quoting Shoah-shirker Eric Williams (Williams' site features a Heller logo-banner), and her back-patting claim to have read "1500 books in the last seven years." I was envisioning saying something smart-ass like, "Boy, you sure must be real smart to have read all them there books, Mizz Heller. Were any of 'em comic books?"
But, alas, I couldn't find Heller anywhere. She's just the sort of self-important prig I love to fuck with, and I thought her keynote address was asinine. Comparing the Holocaust of the Jews during WWII to the rapid development of the Arizona desert? Riiiiight. Instead, I almost immediately ran into Sander Hicks of the Brooklyn coffee house/publisher Vox Pop, whom I initially thought of as a friendly face. I'd spoken to him before and he seemed relatively rational for a troofer, but little did I know the guy was p.o.'d at me. He got all up in my grill about the photo I'd posted of Williams and he about to shake hands at the Friday rally -- er, sorry, I mean press conference. He told me he considered the photo to be defamation of character and he demanded that I take it down or crop him out. I replied that I meant no ill will, just that it was the only pic I had of Williams at the media event and he just happened to be in it. The post didn't mention him otherwise, so what's the big deal? Shaking someone's hand doesn't mean you're dating. Plus it's not like I put a gun to his head and forced him to get close to the guy.
Anyway, Sander got all red-faced, threatened to sue me, and soon there was a crowd around us. We got off into debating various specific items of concern for deniers, such as Hicks' contention -- one I don't buy at all, BTW -- that Mohammad Atta was an agent or patsy of the US Government and/or the Pakistani ISI (their intelligence service). Hicks kept getting angrier and angrier that I would not accept his evidence, a Wall Street Journal article that talks about Atta receiving money from overseas; i.e., wire transfers from a UAE exchange house. The Journal article doesn't state these wire transfers came from the ISI. Rather the implication of the article seems to be that the money was coming from an associate of Osama bin Laden. Hicks told me that he felt the WSJ piece corroborated a Times of India piece, which claims Atta received a wire transfer of funds from the ISI. The Times of India article cites unnamed "top sources" for the tale, and I told Hicks he had to do better than that. The conclusion he draws from these two articles is a leap of faith, based not on evidence, but hope. (Ultimately, I'm not certain that an ISI connection would prove a U.S. Gov. connection, but whatever.)
The debate continued, with several others joining in on Sander's side, literally encircling me as I stood there. All the same, I find this kind of give and take enjoyable, even when I'm woefully outnumbered. Sander eventually bailed while others took up the cudgel. After a while, I went out into the courtyard with one fellow whose name I can't recall who said he was agnostic on the 9/11 conspiracy stuff and wasn't sure what to believe. After he left, I wandered into another room of booths, chatted amicably with Philly legal beagle Phil Berg, the dood who got me back into the "press conference" after I was kicked out on Friday. Berg admitted that if I'd not been readmitted, it would've been a black eye for the conference. He also told me that anyone who doesn't believe the Holocaust happened "should have his head examined." Speak of the daffy devil -- nearby was Eric Williams in his vendor booth. As I wrote in my Sunday post, I ambled over and talked to him, so I won't rehash that here.
Nearby was the intentionally mysterious videographer "Sofia," who was headed out of the room, so I followed her in hopes of asking her why she uses anti-Semite Eric Hufschmid to such length in her home made flick 9/11 Mysteries, currently one of the most popular videos amongst the troofer set. A slight, tan woman with dark brown hair, Sofia admonished me for being a bad journalist and refused to answer any questions as she hustled off. Next to her, unbeknownst to me at first, was Prof. Kevin Barrett, who kept acting like he wanted to get physical with me. He grabbed my tape recorder a couple of times, but I wouldn't let go. And he kept bumping into me on purpose as I walked next to him. Basically he called me a piece of crap, worse even than Sean Hannity! (Sniff.) He seemed to get even more ticked as laughed at his insult. By that point we were in the lobby of the hotel, with plenty of witnesses around, and I would've loved for Barrett to take a swing at me, because then I'd be able to defend myself without worrying about him lying about it after the fact. Though he's tall, he's also soft and nerdy. Any physical confrontation begun by him wouldn't have lasted long. And it certainly wouldn't have concluded in his favor.
Following the Barrett encounter, I bumped into a couple of major players in the conference who were not happy with Kent Knudson and the whole Williams debacle. They asked not to be quoted by name. Later on, Pete Creelman would make some critical comments that I've already reported. I also conversed for a long while with one fella who agreed with many of my swipes at the confab. I was glad to hear it. I must admit that not all conference-goers were total nutbars. Um, just the majority.
As mentioned in my Sunday post, Boston 9/11 conspiracy activist Mark McKertich bought me a couple of brews in the hotel bar, and boy did my throat need the beer bath after all that arguing. Whew! McKertich's a cool guy with a sense of humor, and I enjoyed his company almost as much as I dug those suds. As I walked back to the main vendor area, I thought about Sander and his complaint. The more I considered it, the more I felt it was unnecessary to remove or doctor that photo of he and Williams. Sander doesn't like it, I know, but he was there at a public event to which the media was invited. He sat on the panel that Friday, and afterwards, he and Williams spoke. Hicks isn't a Holocaust-denier, nor do I mean to suggest that. But Sander was a part of the conference, and the conference had some major problems, as he knows. Why didn't he just walk out of the confab if he was so offended by Williams' presence? (Hicks'd been flown out and put up by the conference, according to him, so walking on it wouldn't have been a major financial hit.) Lie down with dogs, and you get fleas, buddy. And maybe a tick named Williams to boot.
Some of the older gals in the hizzy took me under their wings and tried to convert me to the religion of 9/11-denial. One crusty bird grabbed me by the sleeve and led me to a chair with my name on it so I'd listen to this cat Col. Bob Bowman bloviate. OK, I admit Bowman gave a good speech. And to be honest, the 80% of it having to do with how the Bush admin. sucks, I could get with. But the 9/11 conspiracy stuff is where you get into The X Files territory. A lot of loony liberals buy this mess 'cause they hate Dubya so freakin' much they'll believe anything, even if it's off the deep end. This only goes to show that libs can be as crackpot as their wing-nut polar opposites.
Final observations: Jim Fetzer is a stark-raving mutton-chopped moonhowler; and Don Harkins, editor of the Idaho Observer seems to be a rather nice guy even though his paper's defense of David Duke is outright obscene, in my opinion. More to come later on a book Hick's Vox Pop is pushing that alleges Barry Goldwater helped off JFK! Nutty. Very nutty.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.