What is a "9/11 Truther?"

Jon Gold

To my knowledge, Nick Levis is the individual that coined the phrase "9/11 Truth." If I am wrong about that, I apologize to the individual responsible for its creation. I always considered that a great phrase because it's kind of hard to spin the word "Truth."

Years ago, back in late 2004, several people in the 9/11 Truth Movement were posting on Howard Stern's Bulletin Board (HSBB) because Howard posted a 9/11 movie on his site, and because there were over 300,000 members.

Former moderator of 911blogger.com, somebigguy, and I met on the HSBB. He followed my postings, and started to do his own. One time, he sent me a private message talking about how he was tired of being ridiculed by the people on the site. I tried to tell him something "inspirational." I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was something like, "you're a 9/11 Truther, don't let them get to you, you're doing the right thing." In the back of my mind, I thought of the term "Quaker." I do live in Pennsylvania after all. As far as I know, that was the first time the phrase "9/11 Truther" was ever used. I liked it, so it stuck. That is the reason the 9/11 Truth forum on my site is called the "9/11 Truther Forum."

So, what is a "9/11 Truther?" As I said, it's kind of hard to spin the word "Truth," but the "debunkers" and "media" have jumped on the word "truther." To me, that's an inaccurate phrase because the real term is 9/11 Truther.

In my mind, a "9/11 Truther" is someone who fights alongside the family members seeking truth and accountability for the 9/11 attacks. In my mind, a "9/11 Truther" is someone who fights for the sick and dying 9/11 First Responders who need health care desperately. In my mind, a "9/11 Truther" is someone who does not like how the day of 9/11 is being used to inflict pain and suffering around the world, and is trying to stop it. Stop it by using the truth. Something we have been denied by our Government regarding the 9/11 attacks.

I am sorry that people have used the phrase as they have. All I know is that the definition of "9/11 Truther", to me, does not equal what those who are against this cause say it does.

I am proud to be a "9/11 Truther."

Thank you, Jon,

Thank you for your years of leadership. I tried to write an article that would be an entry-point for people with that question. It's also a lesson plan that teachers can use. I posted it a few days ago: http://www.examiner.com/x-18425-LA-County-Nonpartisan-Examiner~y2009m9d1...

We hold these truths to be self-evident...

No problem.

Do these people deserve to know how and why their loved ones were murdered? Do we deserve to know how and why 9/11 happened?

I had no idea...

About this article.

From Simple Noun to Handy Partisan Put-Down

Source: nytimes.com

Published: November 18, 2009

Call it a vast linguistic conspiracy: proponents of the major conspiracy theo^ries of the day — the truthers, the birthers, the deathers — share a suffix that makes them all sound like whackdoodles. “It looks like conspiracy theorists might acquire a permanent suffix in -er, just like political scandals now have a permanent suffix in -gate,” Victor Steinbok, a frequent contributor to the American Dialect Society’s online discussion board, observed recently in that forum. But unlike -gate, which merely names a scandal, he later noted, -er “makes fun of the participant” as an obsessive, “almost foaming at the mouth” advocate of a fringe political belief.

What is it about the little appendage -er that can turn a simple noun into such a handy partisan put-down?

The recent spate of -ers began with the truthers, the vaguely leftish conspiracy theorists who hold that the Bush administration either itself perpetrated the 9/11 attacks or knowingly let them happen. The term truther appears to be self-chosen. Jon Gold, an activist in the 9/11 Truth movement, wrote on his blog recently that the term originated in late 2004 when he was bucking up a fellow activist who “was tired of being ridiculed,” telling him, “You’re a 9/11 truther, don’t let them get to you.” Gold added, “In the back of my mind, I thought of the term ‘Quaker.’ ”

So truther began as a positive term, meant to suggest a dissenter’s resolve. But the truthers quickly became known as obstreperous crazies who disrupted media events, most notably a taping of the HBO show “Real Time With Bill Maher,” in 2007. Maher has since taken every opportunity to heap scorn on the truthers, helping to solidify their reputation as current-day grassy-knollers — the Kennedy-assassination theorists who are possibly the conspiracy world’s ur-ers.

When I first heard of the birthers — those who insist despite all evidence to the contrary that Barack Obama doesn’t have a U.S. birth certificate and therefore cannot legally be president — I assumed that they, too, had labeled themselves and that birther had positive, perhaps even “pro-life” associations. But Orly Taitz, an attorney who is the most prominent face of the birther movement, has disavowed the word, writing in a legal motion that is part of a case challenging Obama’s authority as commander in chief that birther is “a pejorative appellation” that is “often coupled with even more colorful epithets.”

It’s certainly true for liberals that birther is a nifty slur. It sounds like Bircher (the term for a member of the John Birch Society, which was so obsessed with hidden Communists in government that it accused Dwight D. Eisenhower of conspiring with them); and it rhymes with flat-earther (the name for a person who refuses to accept that the world is round — and by extension anyone who won’t relinquish a discredited idea). But despite its usefulness for liberals, birther probably wasn’t birthed by them. Birther seems to have been coined about a year ago, separately, by the conservative bloggers Ed Morrissey and Steve Gilbert. Last December, in dismissing the birth-certificate argument as a “canard,” Gilbert wrote, “The ‘birthers’ are the new ‘truthers.’ ”

Soon, birther met its counterpart, deather — that is, someone who insists that health care reform will lead to “death panels” eager to pull the plug on “granny.” Where did deather come from? “It is possible I coined deather,” Rachel Maddow of MSNBC told me recently, citing her show’s coverage of “scare tactics used in the fight against health care reform.” Maddow said: “I thought I’d shorten it, because ‘people who believe health care reform is a secret plot to kill old people’ wouldn’t work. Deather seemed like an ironically self-referential term to ostentatiously bestow.”

Still, there’s no doubt that these -er words are belittling. Not only are they formed on the truther template, but they also raise comically exaggerated associations: is a deather, for instance, a fond advocate of death, a shorthand for a Death Eater from the Harry Potter series or, as Maddow suggests, “the person who’s demagoguing about death”? Though the connection with conspiracy theories appears to have begun with grassy-knoller (and, perhaps, mooner — the name for people who believe the moon landings were staged in Arizona), the derogatory force of -er has a long pedigree in common usage too, from mouth-breathers to knuckle-draggers. Such phrases may themselves even carry faint echoes of earlier English -er names for the unhinged like Jack the Ripper and the Mad Hatter.

Today’s -er groups are not -ists; their beliefs are not -isms or -ologies, theories of social organization like communism or fields of study like sociology. Nor are they -ites, devout followers of a domineering visionary figure, like Trotskyites, Benthamites or Thatcherites. The -ers, the caricature asserts, are not sophisticated enough for that. That is perhaps why -er words, long before truther, have been used to deride political opponents, as in tree hugger, bra burner and evildoer — not to mention the catch-alls for extremists, wingers and nutters (from wing nut).

Since the truther phenomenon, we’ve had other -ers, including the tenthers (those who believe the 10th Amendment gives states the right to nullify federal laws) and the teabaggers (followers of the conservative tea party movement). Sarah Palin’s defenders have even labeled as Trig truthers those who suspect subterfuge surrounding her last pregnancy.

Whether -er is attached to a noun or a verb, whether it takes aim at conspiracy theorists, political extremists or everyday fools, it’s meant to cast a foe as both single- and simple-minded, part of a larger monocultural group limited by its own tunnel vision. That is, to be -ered is to be hunted as a hedgehog — to use Isaiah Berlin’s terminology — not a fox.

Do these people deserve to know how and why their loved ones were murdered? The facts speak for themselves.