The theories go like this: the US government plotted to bring down the twin towers on 9/11. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not an Islamic terrorist but actually an asset of the U.S. military trained at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq. Ted Cruz's father really was with Oswald before the JFK assassination. And there definitely were shooters on that grass knoll.
These were just some of the plots and schemes aired out in an academic setting on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 as a few hundred "truthers" gathered at New York City's Cooper Union at the annual Justice In Focus event. The disparate movement—born and bred on the internet in the years following 9/11—is united in its belief that the official story outlined in the government's 9/11 Commission Report is false and that the truth, as they say, is out there.
Despite 15 years of derision and dismissal from politicians, the media, and most of the American public, the eclectic following soldiers on. Mockery is just further evidence of a conspiracy.
NYU media professor Mark Crispin Miller, who served as master of ceremonies for this weekend's "Justice in Focus" symposium, told the audience that the media's attitude toward 9/11 Truth is a form of neo-McCarthyism.
In an interview with VICE News afterward, Miller explained that he is "sick" of liberals regularly mocking conservatives for believing junk science on global warming and the age of the earth but then accepting the government's explanations for the Kennedy assassination and 9/11. "Those claims are just as unscientific as the ones that everybody feels comfortable ridiculing," he said.
Although attendees barely filled half the seats, those present expressed determination. "We are still way ahead of the JFK assassination in our progress," said Kevin Barrett, the editor of the conspiracy-oriented Veterans Today who believes 9/11 was a coup d'état. It wasn't a coup d'état of leadership, he explained, but of government policy.
The group's persistence has made them a modern mainstay of American politics. Outside the US Capitol and at political rallies, there is invariably a protester with a sign about the true story behind 9/11. The group has retained enough relevancy that some politicians even pander to them.
On Friday, Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein called for a new 9/11 inquiry to discover "the truth" because the 9/11 Commission Report, she said contained "many omissions and distortions." Truthers aren't going anywhere.