Donald Trump says the media are hiding the proof of his 9/11 fantasies. Also, fundamentalists threw a Twitter fit over Google’s evolution doodle, and Western University took a firm stand against hate speech. (More)
“False report. Never happened.”
In fairness – not that he deserves it – Donald Trump didn’t invent his ugly tale of U.S. Muslims dancing on rooftops on 9/11. The New York Times’ Jim Dwyer reports that rumor began to swirl on the day of the attacks:
How alarmed were New Jersey officials by reports of Muslims dancing in the streets of Jersey City and Paterson on Sept. 11, 2001, to celebrate the destruction of the World Trade Center?
They feared riots would break out and were ready to send in the National Guard and the State Police to preserve order.
But John J. Farmer Jr., then the New Jersey attorney general and the state’s chief law enforcement officer, said on Tuesday that he ordered an investigation that very day and found the reports to be bogus, more wild stories born in the stricken hours after the attacks.
With communications swamped or disabled, Farmer and other New York and New Jersey officials had to use runners to exchange information.
In the vacuum, rumors were flying, he said. Bombers with suicide vests were in Times Square. Saboteurs were lurking around power plants. New York City’s mayor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, was missing.
And then there was the wisp of a story that Mr. Farmer said was most disturbing of all: “That Muslims were dancing on the rooftops and in the streets of Jersey City and Paterson.”
Indeed, pockets of radical Islamists had set up in Jersey City in the past. The 1993 World Trade Center bombers rented a van and stored chemicals and fertilizers in that city.
Open jubilation at the mass death, Mr. Farmer said, might quickly be followed by rioting and more deaths. “If true, we would have had to mobilize the State Police and National Guard and locked the place down,” he said.
“We followed up on that report instantly because of its implications,” he added. “The word came back quickly from Jersey City, later from Paterson. False report. Never happened.”
“They don’t want to go and talk about it”
But rumors take on lives of their own, and Trump revived that one last week. Fact-checkers quickly debunked it, but yesterday Trump went full tin foil hat:
In an interview today with Breitbart News, Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski defended his candidate’s bogus claim that he saw on TV “thousands and thousands” of Muslim Americans in New Jersey holding celebrations on 9/11 to applaud the attacks.
Lewandowski said that reports of the (nonexistent) celebration do in fact exist and that the Trump campaign provided that material to media outlets which, according to Lewandowski, have refused to air it as part of a massive anti-Trump conspiracy.
For the mainstream media to go out and say that this didn’t happen is just factually inaccurate. We know it happened. They should go back and check the FBI records. Mr. Trump has provided them local media outlets that have covered this coverage that they don’t want to go and talk about. He’s provided many opportunities for them to go and see it but they have their own agenda, the media has their own agenda. They want to try and discredit as many people as possible so they can have an establishment candidate come in and think that everything is going to be the same because they are all controlled by the special interests and they are all controlled by the media and it is what the American people are just so tired of.
Trump didn’t invent that either. Claims of hidden evidence are standard conspiracy theory fare, and Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald found that claiming the media are hiding The Real Evidence is conspiracy theorists’ rote response to debunking:
So it goes with the endless loop of conspiracy theories. They can’t be corrected, they can’t be killed. Anyone who attempts to disprove some feverish thought must be involved in the plot. Indeed, most of the experts interviewed for this article agreed on one fact: Once it was published, Newsweek would be accused of being part of the conspiracy.
Trump didn’t invent his 9/11 fantasy, or his media conspiracy rebuttal. He claims he’s the smartest person the world, but he’s not even an imaginative crank.
“Some sort of assault on their faith”
Yesterday was the 41st anniversary of the discovery of Lucy, one of the earliest hominid fossils. So Google marked the occasion with a homepage doodle, and of course fundamentalists had a Twitter snit:
Google's main page is ridiculous. We can showcase something as ridiculous as evolution, but not Christianity. Great🙄 pic.twitter.com/F7uLDgcOxA
— Denise Lopez (@D_Lo122) November 24, 2015
Oh. Hrmm. But on this page that image is 222 pixels deep, and 222 times three is … 666. So there!
“A threat to any one of us is an attack on all of us”
And lest you wonder how campus authorities should react to racist threats posted on social media:
Yesterday, we observed social media being used for hate speech targeted at Western students of color. I need to be VERY clear here: we are not talking the merely insulting, rude, offensive commentary that trolls and various other lowlifes seem free to spew, willy nilly, although there has been plenty of that, too. No, this was hate speech.
These are likely crimes in my view (and in the view of those in the criminal justice system we immediately involved). I cannot go into the details of an ongoing law enforcement investigation. Other than to assure you that this investigation is the highest priority of our campus law enforcement colleagues.
We do not know if the perpetrators are Western students. If not, they face the criminal justice system. If so, they also face the criminal justice system. And, when it comes to being associated with Western, I promise you it will not be for long.
Law enforcement has advised me of their assessment that, as the situation is currently understood, there is no threat to general campus safety. However, and I trust you stand with me on this: a threat to any one of us is an attack on all of us.
Western University President Bruce Shepard’s statement is worth reading in full. He concludes:
Have no doubt: this is not a capitulation to those I described as trolls and lowlifes. We are going after them. Rather, the pause is necessary so that we may learn more as we advance the law enforcement investigation and, together, plan responses that will make us stronger. In a phrase I often hear you use, it is because “Western Cares.”
I should send him a whole box of macadamias.
Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill (AP)
Good day and good nuts