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 V.15 No.39 | September 28 - October 4, 2006 

Thin Line

Propaganda Wars--Five years ago, America experienced a disquieting amount of nationalistic fervor. There were flags on everything. People threw around patriotic rhetoric with abandon. Many were nauseated, but to most the propaganda was comforting.

These days there aren’t so many flags, and some unlikely characters are gingerly beginning to question America’s war-muddled reality. In the meantime, some of those who were nauseated from the get-go have created their own counter propaganda. Sites like ifilm.com, youtube.com and video.google.com are teeming with films that question what happened on 9/11. Admittedly, most of these films are cheaply made and unprofessional, rife with cheesy metaphors and rhetorical questions, looking more like college films than the slick documentaries we’re accustomed to, but some of the points they make are intriguing nonetheless.

One common theme in many of these films is the theory that all three of the World Trade Center towers, One, Two and Seven, fell that day as a result of demolition, not fires. The official theory is that fires ignited by the jet fuel burned so hot that the steel on the buildings bent and melted. Once a few floors gave way, a pancake effect caused steel reinforcements on each floor below it to give way as well.

The films cite many reasons why this is physically impossible, which they back up with the testimonies of a few engineers and physicists. The most intriguing explanations, included in a film entitled 9/11 Mysteries, are that jet fuel doesn’t burn hot enough to melt steel, the buildings fell too fast (under 10 seconds) and neatly to have simply collapsed, and, finally, never in the history of steel buildings has one collapsed from fire. The film’s narrator also reminds us that one steel building in Madrid blazed for 20 hours, and that a B-52 Mitchell Bomber hit the Empire State Building in 1945, calamities that left both buildings standing.

The films also commonly cite other curious phenomena, such as repeated reports of explosions throughout the buildings before and after the planes hit, explosive flashes of light recorded as the buildings fell, and reported lava flow-like areas of molten steel underneath the buildings’ wreckage for days. The flows are all but attributed to chemicals that burn at over 2,000 degrees, hot enough to melt steel. And finally, they point to the collapse of WTC 7, which was not hit by planes but by debris, and only a portion of which was actually on fire.

It’s a classic conspiracy theory, but it’s recently become a pretty successful meme. Sure, it’s probably just crazy speculation on the part of a few wackjobs--both Scientific American and Popular Mechanics have published detailed articles disputing these and other 9/11 conspiracy theories--but the demolition theory, and the fact that so many blasphemous videos exist on mainstream websites, is still quite fascinating.

 
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