“Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.” Donald Trump, GOP candidate for President of the United States (if you can believe that).
While there’s been an outcry from the press to substantiate his claims, The Donald® has steadfastly maintained that it did happen, regardless of denials by nearly everyone. He’s even suggested that the “liberal media” is engaging in a massive cover-up to keep the videotape recordings from coming out.
I guess it could happen … and monkeys could fly out of my butt.
The simple truth is that no such video exists for a very simple reason: for many hours on 9/11, well after the towers fell, no one really knew what was happening.
When the first plane hit, there was speculation that it might have been a horrible accident — a plane on auto-pilot, pilot asphyxia, or instrument lock-up. When the second plane hit, it was pretty clear that an attack was underway, but no one really knew who the perpetrators were. Some speculated foreign terrorists. Others speculated domestic terrorists and that speculation was widespread. Timothy McVeigh had been executed by lethal injection exactly three months earlier, on June 11, 2001, for the Oklahoma City bombing. The news then came out that the Pentagon had been hit and that a third plane had been hi-jacked and crashed in Pennsylvania, but again no one knew who to blame, how many more attacks there might be, or how widespread. All the commercial planes were grounded. President Bush was sent airborne in Air Force One, escorted by fighter jets. Vice-President Cheney and the White House staff went underground. NORAD went on high alert. News reports were confusing and contradictory.
It wasn’t certain that Al Qaeda had attacked us until several days later. Some terrorism experts at the time believed Al Qaeda incapable of such a sophisticated, orchestrated attack. Even after Al Qaeda claimed responsibility, the Bush Administration cautioned that it would be several days before we could be certain. One of the findings of the 9/11 Commission was that there was a systemic failure among different agencies to share intelligence, resulting in a failure to “connect the dots.” Americans were largely in the dark for quite a while.
In order for “thousands and thousands of people” to gather and cheer as the towers fell, as The Donald® claims, would have required advanced knowledge that the attack was going to take place and that the attackers were known, admired, and supported by those “thousands and thousands of people.”
No one knew anything of the kind and if such general knowledge among “thousands and thousands of people” had been the case, it would have taken an Act of God to prevent word from getting out. No need to connect the dots. Thousands and thousands of people are not going to keep a secret, I don’t care if they’re all quadriplegic blind-deaf-mutes. You can barely get clandestine security agencies to keep secrets. Everybody leaks … they leak small, they leak big, but they leak. That’s why crucial national security information is limited to a ‘need-to-know.’
Trump’s assertion then is that “thousands and thousands of people” — we can assume he means American Muslims, but he doesn’t have the balls to actually say so — had prior knowledge of the attack, knew that the perpetrators would be radical Islamic Jihadists, and supported the attack on their country because they are Muslims. Further, that those “thousands and thousands of people” all kept the impending attack — which Al Qaeda expected to result in the loss of tens of thousands of American lives — a secret from the authorities.
In others words, Trump is saying that “thousands and thousands” of American Muslims were engaged in a widespread conspiracy to commit an act of treason.
Which is not only a shameless lie, it’s also a very dangerous lie. It’s the kind of lie that causes morons with guns who fancy themselves ‘patriots’ to inflict horrible carnage on fellow citizens. If such a tragedy happens in the wake of Trump’s falsehoods, and the motivation for that tragedy can be attributed to his lies, I think he should be indicted and tried for fostering hate crimes against the American people.
So, no, there were no groups of “thousands of people” in this country cheering as the towers fell. American Muslims were just as shocked and clueless as everybody else. Only shock, confusion, anger and grief were in the hearts of all Americans that day, regardless of their beliefs. Those emotions later turned into resolve — but it was a resolve to punish those who attacked us, not a resolve to blame Muslims, as Trump is now doing.
There is little doubt that Donald Trump is a liar. Everyone, including presidents, tells lies. But not everyone is a pathological liar. The question now is whether Trump fits that mold. If so, it would make him not only unfit to be President of the United States, but unfit to be president of the of the local Jaycees.
From Eric Ferguson: This is the thing about debunking that is either fun or a source of despair, that there are multiple ways to debunk, any one of which would be enough to a rational person. This is the internal logic problem, where even absent direst evidence, the claim makes no sense. Good catch that the media has been covering only the utter absence of supporting evidence. The despair comes in knowing that Trump’s supporters won’t be moved by either lack of evidence for an outrageous claim, or the internal logic problems. I remain torn about Trump, because he would be so terribly dangerous if he actually won, but Republicans are right in their concern he would blow a winnable general election for them. Then again, I can’t point to Republican candidates who don’t hold crazy beliefs and authoritarian tendencies. They all seem dangerous. So maybe we want Republicans to pick one of their worst candidates, even with the risk he might win.
From Invenium Viam: Agreed, entirely. I’ve tried to hold back on Trump because he’s such an easy target, he’d be a terrible candidate in the general election, and it makes little sense to preach to the progressive choir who read this blog.
But this lie in particular is dangerous for the reasons I’ve cited, which is why I felt I had to speak up and hope that my concern might get picked up by mainstream opinion leaders and filter out into the zeitgeist consciousness.