Thursday, January 18, 2007

Snowball & Napoleon Assume Command

In George Orwell’s famous novel, Animal Farm, the pigs controlling the revolution amend their makeshift constitution to read, “All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.” A similar kind of chicanery is taking place at some supposedly liberal blogs, where the motto seems to be, “All censorship is evil, but some forms of censorship are more evil than others,” ironically mimicking Orwell’s penetrating assessment of human nature.

I am speaking, of course, of the practice adopted by some otherwise admirable bloggers— Daily Kos and Crooks & Liars, to name a couple—to immediately delete any comment that mentions an alternative to the official account of the September 11th attacks. I’m not sure what the policy is at FireDogLake or Blue Gal or OneGoodMove, but this practice of stifling open debate seems antithetical to everything the blogosphere professes to stand for.

I understand that there are valid reasons for steering clear of the topic. Three thousand or so families lost someone that day, and they may not be ready to entertain the possibility of anything but the official version, and maybe some bloggers are trying to be sensitive to that fact. Or maybe they’re simply trying to prevent heated arguments in an otherwise peaceable (for the most part) atmosphere. Or perhaps they are worried about losing control of the blog, that every comment thread will be consumed by the topic.

Valid concerns, all.

But I suspect the real reason is that they’re afraid. They’re afraid that any open discussion on the topic will invite accusations of tinfoil hat-ism, thereby casting a dismissive pall over the rest of the blog. Perhaps they’re even afraid of unwanted attention from the perpetrators of 9/11. But most of all, they’re afraid of losing wanted attention from advertisers and prominent Democrats. Look how quickly Markos rolled over when he was criticized for his accurate observation that the Blackwater employees killed in Falluja were nothing but war profiteers. “I feel nothing over the death of mercenaries,” he wrote. “Screw them.” And he was right. Screw them. But screw Markos, too, for placing advertising dollars and mainstream acceptance above the truth.

The fact of the matter is that people trust C&L and Daily Kos; they feel they can get some straight dope that isn’t available on many of the sites that do cover alternative 9/11 theories. James Fetzer, Alex Jones and others in the 9/11-conspiracy camp have too many axes to grind, go off on too many tangents, employ too much sensationalism. It’s difficult for most rational people to cite them as credible sources. People therefore turn to C&L, et al. for confirmation. “Have you heard about this?” they wonder. “What’s your take?” Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Wind whistles, crickets chirp. But the deafening silence speaks volumes.

In the 1981 punk documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization, one mohawked participant explains the emergence of New Wave by saying, “If you call yourself ‘punk’ they won’t let you into the party and you won’t get any more coke.” Could that be what some lefty bloggers fear too?