The Hypocrisy Behind Calling Out Notre Dame 'Truthers'

After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers on September 11, there was a group of people — mostly those of the America-hating variety — who did not believe that Muslim terrorists were behind the attacks.  Rather, they thought President George W. Bush and the high members of the military-industrial complex, motivated by greed and power, perpetuated a narrative about Muslim terrorists to cover for the truth that it was really they who had directed the attacks.  These people became known as "truthers."

Writer and editor Cathy Young now assigns this term to people who have questions about the cause of the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in her article, "The Rise of Notre Dame Truthers."  She cites examples of conservative pundits ranging from Fox to Infowars — in her mind, they're all one and the same — either expressing doubts about the cause or suggesting that Muslim terrorists might have started the fire.  She also includes other conservatives who interpret this event as a metaphor for European Christianity's retreat in face of Islam.

For the sake of appearing objective and fair (but doing the opposite), Young calls out people on the Left who celebrated Notre Dame's burning and aired their hatred of the West, Christianity, and Ben Shapiro.  Somehow, these critics' vitriol puts them in the same camp as truthers who justifiably sense something suspect about the "fire was simply an accident" narrative.  Apparently, anyone who ponders the possibilities of deliberation along with raving activists dancing on the ashes of an old church is a truther, among the number of conspiracy kooks looking to stir up dissent and disregard all evidence.

In the case of liberals feeling triggered by any eulogies for Notre Dame, it is simply wrong to call them truthers.  Rather, they are liberals spouting the same nonsense and showing the same outrage they always do.  They have every right to troll and rage on Twitter, and conservatives like Shapiro have every right to respond and call out their stupidity.

In the case of conservatives asking questions about Notre Dame, "truthers" is a vile epithet meant to silence and marginalize them.  Looking at the evidence available, nearly all of it points to an act of arson, not some random accident, as Frank Hawkins explains at American Thinker.  Renovation workers took special care not expose the flammable roof to anything that could short-circuit and create a spark, and none of them were even there to make that kind of blunder.  Additionally, these kinds of attacks on Church buildings happened all across France — an arsonist tried to burn down St. Sulpice Church a few blocks down the road just the week before.

To make matters even more suspicious, Hawkins points out how investigators proclaimed this an accident before they could even investigate.  Reporters and spokespeople dismissed questions about the cause while providing no evidence for their story.  Hardly a day later, President Macron secured millions from wealthy donors to rebuild the cathedral bigger and better than before. If nothing else, the speedy, forceful response implies a cover-up.

Otherwise, why not look for evidence?  Why not consider possible motives?  Is it because renovation workers have every reason not to set fire to the most important building in Paris, and radical Muslim thugs or a corrupt government looking for free donations to help pay for its tourist site have every reason start a fire?  People actually paying attention have already come to this conclusion and have accepted that French leadership is compromised and immigration has only brought harm.  The only people the mainstream media and French elite have convinced are those who are apathetic and those who hate Gothic cathedrals because they somehow find them racist.

Ironically, invoking the truther label only perpetuates trutherism.  If a group of people perpetuate a bogus argument or false narrative, people with more knowledge can challenge this and provide proof.  Responsible intellectuals and transparent government officials confronted the original truther conspiracy theories with simple facts; they did not shut them down by calling their proponents names and dismissing them as kooks.  Because of this transparency, Americans were willing to pledge themselves to fighting the scourge of terrorism and be watchful of other such attacks.

By contrast, normal French people don't know whom to believe.  Their politicians lie to them, supposedly to protect the Muslim population from hate crimes — but mostly to virtue-signal and find the easiest short-term solution available.  The media support those politicians and smother inquiry with a deluge of repeated lies and narratives.  And radical Muslims express their delight at Notre Dame burning down and take to the streets and vandalize more churches, since no one will stop them.  When a country's elites make this the norm, no one should be surprised that the same people protest every weekend and vote for anti-immigration nationalists.

As most writers note, the burning of Notre Dame is only the tip of the iceberg.  France has many problems, as does every other country.  Covering up for these problems only makes the situation worse and makes the people angrier, and not just the French, but Americans as well.  While French politicians and media try to cover up for their immigration crisis and government corruption, American media and political elites do the same, covering up for immigration woes at the southern border and blatant corruption of intelligence agencies and Democrat politicians.

Instead of calling out truthers, Young and the many pundits like her should call out their own hypocrisy.  Only transparency will help a culture in decline reverse its course, and the internet and social media, which provide a platform for alternative (mainly conservative) media, can help bring this about.  Simple life experience will show that a person can handle truth much better than he can handle falsehood.  Falsehood closes off a person, makes him paranoid, and multiplies mistakes, whereas truth, even ugly truth, really does set one free to grow, to learn, and to connect with others.  So it is with society.  Everyone deserves to know the truth about Notre Dame, and no one should rest until it comes out.

Auguste Meyrat is an English teacher in the Dallas area.  He is the editor of The Everyman and has also written essays for The Federalist and The American Conservative.  Follow him on Twitter.