- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Celebrity September 11 Conspiracy Club. It’s an exclusive group that’s free to join, but membership comes with some baggage.

Doesn’t it?

Maybe not, judging from the entertainment world’s passive response to celebrities who claim the September 11 attacks were an inside job.

First, the club’s charter members: Rosie O’Donnell, Willie Nelson and Charlie Sheen.

Director Richard Linklater (“Slacker,” “The School of Rock”) isn’t officially on board, but he was intrigued enough to send Washington Times reporter Kelly Jane Torrance some conspiracy videos.

Miss O’Donnell claims the collapse of the World Trade Center towers was “the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel — it is physically impossible.”

Popular Mechanics quickly refuted her expert account, saying the steel was weakened by the fire enough to hasten the collapse.

Mr. Nelson compared the falling Twin Towers to an implosion he witnessed in Las Vegas and said, “There’s too much similarities between the two.”

The latest member of the club is newly minted Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”). She told a television interviewer last year that the September 11 attacks were orchestrated to bring down two buildings that were too expensive to renovate. For good measure, she also questioned whether U.S. astronauts really walked on the moon in the 1960s.

Miss Cotillard, apparently, doesn’t think this membership has its privileges. She and her press team issued a statement this week saying she was taken out of context. However, she also refused to apologize for her comments.

Yet in a liberal Hollywood where to express skepticism about man-made global warming is to be labeled — with all its obvious connotations — a “denier,” Miss Cotillard’s insinuation that the U.S. government was complicit — by its silence, if nothing else — in the destruction of the Twin Towers and the murder of 3,000 people has elicited nary a peep in condemnation.

Where, one is compelled to ask, is the outrage on the left?

The question is especially pertinent with the recent passing of the late William F. Buckley, Jr. having provided a reminder of the exemplary lesson he provided in keeping one’s own ideological grounds tidy by excommunicating anti-Semitic John Birchers and other extremists from the conservative movement.

Ron Radosh, an adjunct fellow with the Hudson Institute and former liberal, says that liberal actors may feel that members of the Celebrity September 11 Conspiracy Club ultimately have their hearts in the right place, however misguided their specific beliefs about September 11.

“At least she’s anti-Bush and anti-the United States. We can see how someone can think that,” Mr. Radosh says, paraphrasing the reasoning of the sympathizers. ”

He argues it’s a small step from embracing linguist and radical polemicist Noam Chomsky’s belief that U.S. foreign policy all but invited the terrorist attacks to concluding that “we did it to find an excuse to go to war.”

Robin Bronk, executive director of the Creative Coalition, says celebrities “have a responsibility to be well-informed and educated before they start speaking out on an issue.” Most celebrities do their homework before rallying behind a cause, she contends.

Miss Bronk, whose group counsels celebrities on the proper way to get involved in issues dear to their hearts, calls comments by Miss Cotillard “a blip on the screen.”

The failure on the left to repudiate September 11 conspiracy-mongering is all too familiar to conservative author-activist David Horowitz. The ex-radical theorist says he abandoned the left because it “couldn’t look at its own idiotism and crimes and deal with them.”

The notion that the September 11 attacks were the ultimate dirty trick represents “a basic denial of an enemy as terrible as the one we’re facing,” Mr. Horowitz says. “This is one way of denying it, [to say] ‘Bush and Cheney did it.’ ”

Miss Bronk says an actor espousing conspiracy theories may still attract the wrong kind of attention to his work. Their comments could set themselves up for ridicule just like someone in any other profession who says something outside the mainstream.

“It’s the price a celebrity has to pay. Everything they say and do is magnified,” she says.

Unless, that is, it’s swept under the carpet by more pragmatic allies.

“If you’re a liberal and you hate the war and you hate Bush, you might be embarrassed by this kind of lunacy, but you don’t want to draw attention to it,” says Mr. Horowitz in explanation of the deafening silence on the left.

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