Deniers of 9/11 and of the Holocaust are two of a kind. It is a given that television networks put profits above pride, but ABC has reached a new low in its sponsorship of Rosie O'Donnell. The daytime talk show host recently joined the world of "truthers" --people who believe that 9/11 was an attack staged by this country's own government.
On ABC's popular The View, O'Donnell lent her expert opinion that it is impossible for the World Trade Center's building 7 "to fall the way it fell without explosives being involved." To say otherwise, she added, "is beyond ignorant." (When she isn't offering instruction on the fine points of structural engineering, O'Donnell entertains by hanging upside-down from a rope.)
If this all sounds like the howling of a rabid dog, O'Donnell isn't alone in the kennel. A recent poll from the Scripps Research Center found that more than a third of Americans believe that 9/11 was an "inside job." Those who actively promote the idea, though, are more than mere laughable loons. They bear resemblance to another particularly virulent conspiracy nut -- the Holocaust denier.
It may be coincidence that O'Donnell's 9/11 denial has manifested itself in such close proximity to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "Holocaust conference" of last December, but she sounds a lot like many of its participants.
Both profess interest in the pursuit of truth.
Mahammad Ali Ramini, advisor to Ahmadinejad, announced that he would chair a committee to find "the truth on the genocide of Jews."
O'Donnell says that she is merely "trying, as always, for a rigorous truth."
And both profess total objectivity in that pursuit.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki made an offer to British Prime Minister Tony Blair to send "independent investigators" to visit former Nazi death camps -- people "who are not sympathetic" to the Nazis nor "to the Zionist regime."
"I have begun doing exactly what this country, at its best, allows for me to do," wrote O'Donnell on her blog. "Inquire. Investigate."
Yet for both, "truth" precedes "investigation."
The Holocaust, Ahmadinejad said at the start of the "conference," is a "myth."
The terrorist attack of 9/11, said O'Donnell at the mere outset of her "inquiry," "is impossible."
Both make shameless use of fabricated math and science.
"The number of victims at the Auschwitz concentration camp," said Australian Holocaust denier Frederick Toben, "could be about 2,007. The railroad to the camp did not have enough capacity to transfer large numbers of Jews."
"I do believe that it's the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel," said O'Donnell. "It is physically impossible."
And both cite "studies" or "experts" without actually citing any studies or experts.
"All the studies and research carried out so far have proven that there is no reason to believe that the Holocaust ever occurred," said former Iranian interior minister and Hezbollah cofounder Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour.
"Look at the films, get a physics expert in here from Yale, from Harvard, pick the school," said O'Donnell.
The worlds of deniers O'Donnell and Ahmadinejad intersected more overtly when the former defended the latter's hostage taking of 15 British sailors and Royal Marines who, O'Donnell ruled by fiat, "went into Iranian waters and they were seized by the Iranians." O'Donnell added her expression of sympathy for mass murderers the world over: "Don't fear the terrorists. They're mothers and fathers."
Only one with the most sinister sentiments toward the country that gave her so much for so little could express such warm regard for its most determined enemies. And therein lies the real similarity between Holocaust deniers and 9/11 deniers. The "theories" of both, which could otherwise only be explained as serious psychopathology, are but expressions of venom and bile. The former hate Jews (and, often, the United States). The latter hate the United States (and, often, Jews).
White House press secretary Tony Snow's description of Ahmadinejad's conference as "a platform of hatred," then, applies as well to the current incarnation of The View:
Which leads to this question: If ratings were strong, would ABC allow, say, David Duke to host a show on which he preached his doubts about the Holocaust and his fondness for Nazis? Stay tuned and the answer will soon be revealed -- by whether and how fast the network pulls the plug on O'Donnell.