I have a somewhat romantic view of architects. They seem to be generally smart and well educated, and ply their trade at the intersection of art and craft. In movies they are always well-groomed, sashaying around their tastefully designed studios, making insightful observations.
So imagine my surprise to learn about the “architect truthers,” a tiny, vocal subset of the profession that insists the US government is hiding the truth about the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, and other 9/11 events. San Francisco-based architect Richard Gage is the founder of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth and will be speaking here next week at ABX, an annual trade show produced by the Boston Society of Architects.
Gage’s calling card is the 15-minute video “Architects and Engineers – Solving the Mystery of Building 7.” Narrated by actor/activist Ed Asner, the short film asserts that the 47-story World Trade Center Building 7, a partially occupied office tower that fell down hours after the Twin Towers’ collapse, was destroyed by “controlled demolition.” (Thankfully, no one died; the building was evacuated three hours before its collapse.) In the video, various experts converge on the conclusion that such a demolition “takes months, therefore this event must have been planned in advance.”
It’s hard to understand how Asner, an early 9/11 “truther” who has suggested that investors profited from 9/11, or the running gag line that is Geraldo Rivera, also featured in the video, add to the group’s credibility. “We’re not using Geraldo for our credibility,” Gage told me, “We’re using our appearance on mainstream media [Fox News] to gain credit for our cause.”
The late University of Massachusetts professor Lynn Margulis appears in the video, calling the official Trade Center investigations “the most unscientific thing you could think of.” She is correctly identified as a “scientist,” although we are not told that her field is evolutionary biology.
Gage has struggled to gain credibility within the architectural profession. The president of the American Institute of Architects, for instance, has called the three-year-long, government-financed National Institute of Standards and Technology investigation into the buildings’ collapse “valid and credible.” “That is the official version,” Gage responds. “The forensic evidence points otherwise.”
Gage won’t say who he thinks sabotaged the Trade Center buildings, but his adherents are not so shy. At an event he organized in 2012, one 9/11 “truther” said, “I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into believing that our government and the Israeli government, the Israeli Mossad, could be responsible for the Twin Towers demolition.” Another attendee reported, “At least three firefighters in New York at Ground Zero who came upon a large store of gold at the Twin Towers were executed by FBI.”
“We’ll let the chips fall where they may as to who perpetrated these acts,” Gage says. “We’re not journalists, who should be following the money in this massive crime – that’s for you as a journalist to follow up.”
I am not in the business of abridging Mr. Gage’s free speech rights. But it is important to understand the “truthers’” core message: Someone, they hint darkly, consciously demolished the World Trade Center, killing more than 3,000 of our fellow citizens in the process. That someone could be only our own government, or terrorists aided and abetted by our government.
Doubtless some Americans think the events of September 11, 2001, haven’t been fully explained. I don’t agree. We now know much more about the violent, anti-Western jihad that is slaughtering innocent victims everywhere than we did 14 years ago. But even if you think that “the truth is out there,” to cite the silly tag line from the old “X-Files” TV series — this isn’t it.
Alex Beam’s column appears regularly in the Globe. He can be reached at email@example.com.