Dr. James H. Fetzer, Ph.D. spoke before an audience of about 80 at the main auditorium of the Columbus Metropolitan Library downtown on the afternoon of Saturday February 17, 2007. His presentation was directed at “exposing falsehoods and revealing truths” about the events of September 11, 2001 (911). Fetzer, a professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota in Deluth has a long list of credentials and professional accomplishments. These include the authorship of numerous academic publications in his field of expertise the Philosophy of Science.

Fetzer is more recently renowned as a writer of popular works on assassination and conspiracy. He has authored two books on the assassination of JFK, The Zapruder Hoax, and Murder in Dealey Plaza, and co-authored one book on the purported assassination of the popular senator from Minnesota, Paul Wellstone, American Assassination: The Strange Death Of Senator Paul Wellstone. His book on 911, The 9/11 Conspiracy is scheduled for release at the end of March.

Dr. Fetzer’s presentation on the events of 911 was brisk and engaging, visually detailed with video and video stills. His principal contention is that the twin towers could not have been destroyed by aircraft collision alone due to the speed at which the towers collapsed. Fetzer asserts that the towers did not come down as a result of steel beams weakening in the heat of burning jet fuel but were “pulverized” in a massively powerful explosion of a still to be determined source starting from the top of the towers. His principal argument, in addition to video evidence, for this contention is that the towers fell more rapidly than the force of gravity alone would allow.

Fetzer presents different evidence for the Pentagon attack and the crash of flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. He contends with the case of the Pentagon that the plane entered the building at too low an altitude on the first floor. The argument is that this would not be possible without the plane making some kind of ground contact before crashing into the building so low. There was no evidence of any such contact in a field right outside the building. Other supporting evidence that there was too little aircraft debris and that the smoke emanating from the site of destruction was from nearby dumpsters rather than the Pentagon itself.

With flight 93 in Pennsylvania Dr. Fetzer argues, as others have, that the impact area was too small to support the official version that the entire Boeing 757 struck the ground in one place. Supporting his rebuttal of the official explanation is the fact that aircraft debris was found over a large eight square mile area rather than the much narrower area likely if the entire plane had struck the ground in one piece. Fetzer contends that the most likely alternative is that flight 93, as the last known airborne craft in the control of the hijackers, was shot down in the air by the US Military to prevent an attack on suspected targets in Washington DC.

While Dr. Fetzer’s presentation was detailed and convincing it needs to be stated that his arguments have many critics both outside and inside the progressive community. One notable critic is Bill Weinberg writer of a recent article in the World War 4 Report entitled “How Wild 9/11 Conspiracies Undermine the Left.” In this article Weinberg cites a retired New York deputy fire chief and expert on the fire safety of high rise office buildings who regarded the WTC towers as poorly designed and a “disaster waiting to happen.” Weinberg cites several other technically knowledgeable sources that undermine Fetzer’s arguments.

Without addressing the veracity of the specifics of Fetzer’s conclusions it is useful to ponder beyond the facts of 911 what the popularity of Fetzer’s contentions may mean. Certainly the strong desire among many to believe in a wide ranging powerful conspiracy to fabricate the events of 911 finds a persuasive corollary in the alarming foreign and military policy debacles of the Bush administration especially in Iraq.

A larger question is does granting the ideas of Fetzer about 911 credibility and attention harm or help the growing dissatisfaction with the policies of the Bush administration? On one hand the drama and spectacle of Fetzer’s ideas will likely win popularity among a broader audience than is customarily actively engaged in promoting civic wellbeing. On the downside an overly enthusiastic embrace by the progressive community of Fetzer’s ideas will most likely serve to discredit very valid aspects of progressive thought among important elements of the thinking, but not entirely committed, electorate.

Finally, the conspiracy thrust of Fetzer’s ideas inadvertently undermines a deeper comprehension of strong anti-American sentiment worldwide. If it was conservative American elements who “fabricated” 911 as a “power grab” (and there indisputably was a power grab) where does that put the motivation of the hijackers who conducted the violence? Were there or were there not abuses by American National and Corporate interests overseas that inspired such acts? Perhaps attention is better placed with events and practices that most likely motivated the hijackers.