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Consensus: Trump not “lying” about 9/11 videos

Consensus: Trump not “lying” about 9/11 videos

NY Times: Trump probably thinking of videos of Palestinians cheering 9/11

There’s a big spat over Donald Trump’s comments that he remembers seeing video of Muslims in Jersey City or other towns near NYC cheering the attack on the World Trade Center.

The argument is over whether it happened, whether there is video and so on. Trump is sticking to his memory, and the media is swarming to prove him wrong. CNN in particular is going all out on the effort. There’s no purity of purpose there.

What’s most interesting to me is that there is an emerging consensus among those who are hammering Trump on this that Trump is not “lying,” but likely is thinking of celebrations elsewhere. Since the aspersions that Trump is a “racist” or “Islamophobic” are predicated on a bad intent, whether he is lying as opposed to honestly mistaken seems relevant.

The concept of false or suggested memory is something I’ve often explored both in private practice and in the course I teach. There just are some people who absolutely believe and will swear on a stack of Bibles to something that objectively did not happen — and they always seem to be on the other side of the case from me!

They are not liars, but they are wrong. Proving it is the challenge.

Robert Mackey of The New York Times argues that Trump probably is confusing videos of Palestinians cheering with some memory of it taking place in northern New Jersey, The Video of Celebrations That Was Broadcast on 9/11:

The exact origin of Donald J. Trump’s insistence that he saw live television images on Sept. 11, 2001, of “thousands and thousands” of Arabs in New Jersey “cheering” as “the World Trade Center came tumbling down” remains a mystery.

But while no such images were broadcast that day, and five men of Middle Eastern appearance who were arrested in New Jersey that day for “puzzling behavior,” mistakenly interpreted as joy, were later released without charge, there was actually a video of one small celebration broadcast on American television that day.

Here’s the video the Times posts as proof that Trump probably is mistaken is of Palestinians celebrating:

The article continues:

The recorded footage was broadcast later on an extended version of NBC’s “Today” show at 11:58 a.m., just after a live report from Lower Manhattan, where the second tower had collapsed 90 minutes earlier.

Tommy Christopher at Mediaite takes the same position, including even more video, This Is the Footage Donald Trump Thinks He Saw on 9/11.

The Washington Post argues that Trump also is confusing the two through a common problem of suggestive memory:

“I can’t say that he’s not lying,” said Deryn Strange, a psychologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “But my research, and the research of my colleagues, certainly supports a more charitable interpretation: that this is a false memory.”

There is a well-circulated video clip of Palestinians celebrating the attacks in the West Bank, as The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler has reported. Newspapers, including The Post, stated that police had detained some people in northern New Jersey who were allegedly partying on rooftops and watching the mayhem in New York. The Newark Star-Ledger later reported that “rumors of rooftop celebrations of the attack by Muslims here proved unfounded.”

Trump might have conflated the two in his mind. “I can easily conceive how he could have developed this memory,” Strange said. “All you need is a suggestion.”

Ben Carson says he had such a mistaken memory:

Hours after Ben Carson told reporters he remembers seeing American Muslims celebrating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, his campaign said the GOP presidential candidate was “thinking something differently” and does not remember such reaction in the U.S.

“Dr. Carson does not stand by the statements that were reported today. He was hearing and thinking something differently at the the time,” Carson communications director Doug Watts said in a statement on Monday. “He does, however, recall and had his mind focused on the celebrations in the Middle East. He is not suggesting that American Muslims were in New Jersey celebrating the fall of the twin towers.”

Trump is not backing down on his position. But assuming his memory is wrong, that doesn’t mean he’s “lying.”

To quote a great philosopher, it’s not a lie, if you believe it.


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I remember reports of Moslems in New Jersey celebrating as the Towers came down. But, I do not remember seeing any videos of it.

Did it really happen? Or, was it just poor news reporting that we are being chastised for believing now?

Read somewhere yesterday that a number of people confirmed celebrations in NJ, though it wasn’t thousands. Trump enjoys “shaking the bushes” on occasion, and I for one appreciate the hyperbole–as long as it’s not over the top. Most important, he is NOT a “pc” politician, which many people love about this man!

It’s kind of like when Joe Biden saw Roosevelt* address the nation on TV** during the stock market crash.

*when the stock market crashed in 1929, FDR wasn’t president; Herbert Hoover was
**people did not have TVs in their homes in 1929.

    Ragspierre in reply to Amy in FL. | November 25, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Or Bill Clinton’s memory of the black church burnings…that never happened.

    Frankly, I’m not a fan of the “If you believe it, it’s not a lie” theory.

    People who lie pathologically pretty much DO believe their own lies…or don’t care. You’re expected to believe them, too.

    See ScamWOW, President.

      clintack in reply to Ragspierre. | November 25, 2015 at 10:09 am

      I’m fine with the “it wasn’t a lie, it was an error” school of thought. But I’d like to see the politicians in question acknowledge their mistake. Like Ben Carson did.

      Think of it as a demonstration of how well they’ll take correction from their advisors — which is a huge part of the job.

      Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | November 25, 2015 at 10:21 am

      To me, different cubby-holes.

      Sure, you can have people who misremember things. This is one of the biggest reasons we have contracts. There is a thing called “the statute of frauds” in contracts that mandates that certain things be reduced to writing, including agreements that are going to take over a year to consummate.

      Human memory is greasy, and can slide all over the map. True of even the most honest of us.

      I’m not, BTW, accusing T-rump of “lying” in this instance UNLESS he continues the narrative that there were “thousands” out celebrating.

      T-rump lies a LOT, and nobody needs to tar him when he doesn’t deserve it. He’ll do that just fine on his own.

There probably were thousands in New Jersey, but Trump remembers the other video. There were thousands in Chicago too, where younger Barack Obama sat in church hearing “amen brother” to Rev. Wright shouting that America’s chickens had come home to roost. Academics claimed that little Eichmanns had died in the towers, America the guilty deserved it.

This incident with Trump has done much to revive the memory of “Islamists” cheering FOR 9/11. The Donald shows real tribal emotion in a love for America. The left uses tribal emotion to divide America. They stir up hate based in race, gender, nationality, and demand American white privilege yield to their tribe. But the masses already know Trump, so the normal tactics aren’t working.

America is a civilized tribe that allows diversity, but does not (should not) mandate it by quota, or demonize white Christians just for being a successful majority. Yet the raw tribalism used by the left’s “identity politics” appeals to bigotry and racism against the “privileged” peaceful majority. They Balkanize US and unite groups in opposition to “white privilege America”.

Trump points out we are civilized Americans first, and illegal aliens or 9/11 cheering Muslims are out of place, as they put their own tribe above the American “tribe”. The Statue of Liberty poem was just a 1911 donated plaque, and Ellis Island was all about making sure those immigrating would contribute and be loyal to America. (there were only 45 states at the time, near the end of the third great wave of immigration. The fourth wave began in 1965)

Pandering to factions is the wrong approach. Trump appeals to America that welcomes diversity but doesn’t demand it. His little mis-remembering has given him much free publicity on a point where he wins. Maybe it is just part of his marketing genius.

Paul In Sweden | November 25, 2015 at 9:42 am

My now deceased mother in NYC told me the day after the attack how the Muslims just blocks away from the house in Astoria were celebrating the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers out into the street and that as word spread the police had to come to protect the Muslims from the community. (I was up in my house in Vermont at the time)

What about the people who remember celebrations in Dearborn MI, is their memory somehow also less important they your theories?

    Valerie in reply to betty. | November 25, 2015 at 10:40 am

    The Dearborn, MI celebrations I remember were at the start of the invasion of Iraq, when the Muslim community turned out with big US flags on their cars.

“it’s not a lie, if you believe it.”

This metaphysical contortion may explain the rising tide popularity of Sanders Claus and also the Hopey Changey blather that Global Warming Will Get You Before The Terrorists Do.

Of course the media wouldn’t take on such due diligence to prove or disprove Hillary Clinton’s claim she was shot at by a sniper in Bosnia (or any one of her profusion of lies). It won’t matter, as most Americans know that 9/11 was a prideful moment for many Islamics, and that there were celebrations, and that they was video.

We’re on to a new one. Now Trump says he saw people jumping from the Towers from his penthouse in Manhattan.. and CNN is parsing the difficulty of seeing a person four miles away.

I think Trump is doing this on purpose.

He’s controlling the narrative — In the wake of the Paris attacks, America is now reliving 9/11 — the Islamists celebrating our attack, the people jumping out of the towers.

But perhaps I’m giving him too much credit.

    Radegunda in reply to clintack. | November 25, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Yes, you’re giving him too much credit in suggesting there’s a deep and noble purpose when Trump says he personally saw people from a distance of 4 miles. That’s hardly a way of “controlling the narrative,” because the story naturally turns into a question of Trump’s own credibility.

    Would you give the same benefit of the doubt to any other candidate?

    platypus in reply to clintack. | November 25, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    If Trump said that, what is the problem? Are you (or anyone) saying that with a decent refracting telescope four miles is too far?

    Trump is rich enough to have a telescope in every room in his penthouse and his office. It is far more reasonable that he had telescopes that to believe he did not since a lot of NYC offices and high rise apartments have them.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to clintack. | November 25, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Trump also “retweeted” some crime stats showing crime by race. O’Reilly had him on and said those numbers were way off. True, but the “right” numbers were not shown.

    Some think it is indeed a deliberate tactic .. I’m not so sure. But every time they call him out there is a big debate about the actual facts, which are generally still on the Trump side, as with those black on white crime stats.

    Most whites are killed by whites, but 84% of violent crimes involving black and white are committed by blacks. More importantly, around 93% of blacks are killed by (non-cop) blacks.

    So when they trash Trump for being “a liar”, they also have to bring up an uncomfortable (for them) subject.

    I’m still hoping Cruz will follow behind the Trump bulldozer, as seems to be happening in Iowa. I worry though about Cruz having enough backing, and whether he can overcome the establishment on both sides hating him.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to clintack. | November 25, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    That’s what I’ve been thinking, too. The LSM memory-holed 9/11, and so Obama thinks he’s freedom to bring in Muslims by the millions to islamicize the country because, as he said, America is not a Christian nation and he wants to make sure it is not. Now, thanks to Trump, the memories of Americans are awakened and people recall how Muslims waged war on the USA and rejoiced at it,

    Expel the ones who are here. Leave the ones who are not in the hellhole Islam has made of their countries.

Ehhh. I remember seeing video of the Palestinians celebrating, but I do not recognize what’s been unearthed so far. In particular, I do not remember a really small crowd surrounding a vehicle. Also, it was not on FOX. I was watching CNN at the time. I did not migrate from CNN until the Eason Jordan scandal (2005).

The Palestinians have reinforced that image, because they celebrated murder of the innocent, by people who claim to be the best Muslims, at every opportunity.

I remember reading something about rooftop parties in New Jersey, but I don’t think those reports surfaced at the time, and I do not recall video. It is possible that Donald Trump’s memory is accurate, but that the video did not surface immediately. If the NYT and the rest of our “professional” media is looking at a a 48-hour window of TV coverage only, that may be the source of their claim of error by Mr. Trump.

some commentators on hotair SPECIFICALLY remember seeing it not only video but from the area as they lived there.
so I dunno nor do I give a damn.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | November 25, 2015 at 11:26 am

I lived in Hoboken, NJ on 9/11. Hoboken is adjacent to Jersey City. I did not, personally, see any celebrations.

But the story that people in Jersey City and Paterson did celebrate the attacks circulated widely by word of mouth immediately following the attacks. I heard it from co-workers and friends I knew socially. I have absolutely no doubt that Trump heard stories similar to the ones that I heard. They were ubiquitous. Then I think he confused the stories he heard from people he spoke to with the TV images he saw of Palestinians celebrating in Gaza.

It is also true that the media set out to verify the stories of Americans celebrating and mostly came up short. So it is weird that Trump does not recall those media accounts.

My own view is that I think it is quite possible that some small number of American Muslims may have engaged in conduct perceived by others as celebratory after the attacks, before someone with common sense told them to knock it off for their own good. But Trump’s assertion about “thousands and thousands” seems to be an embellishment.

buckeyeminuteman | November 25, 2015 at 2:04 pm

It may not have happened. But the celebrations across the ME today certainly may invoke deja vu.

I was in Perth, Australia on 9/11. TV stations there were airing every bit of footage from any and all US TV stations; it was hard to tell who was responsible for what was being shown, but the coverage was intense.

There was an Australian talking head (sorry, don’t remember who it was) that did a compare-and-contrast story, showing Palestinian (or somewhere in the Middle East) celebrations and then showing celebrations in the USA. The chief difference that I remember was the buildings; all the celebrating people were Muslims with broad smiles, throwing candy in the air. I was amazed and disgusted that such people were in the USA, and wondered why they weren’t arrested; but the whole 9/11 affair was so unbelievable that this was just another insanity to wonder about.

If New Jersey was mentioned I don’t recall it; but it may have been the same thing Donald Trump is talking about. The size of the crowds was hard to tell, TV often shows angles that make small numbers look like a lot of people, or the converse- depending on their agenda for the story.

For me the real point that Donald Trump is making, is that Muslims are not assimilating; Islam is not a “religion of peace.” Muslims everywhere celebrated the fall of the towers, and will celebrate any failure of freedom, of capitalism, of democracy, of human rights- they’ve been doing just that for 1400 years; why would they change now?

Excellent reporting here: “Looks like Trump was exactly right about the location, wrong about the number (which is irrelevant in my book).” See also the links and comments.

Bill Bennett’s Morning in America had so many emails and calls on the subject that Bill said he would compile them and send them to Trump — at the same time noting that he isn’t a Trump supporter. One caller spoke of a NJ mosque with those hideous parasites cheering on 9/11.

Trump’s recall isn’t a lie because protests happened in NJ in substantial numbers. What needs to be asked is, why didn’t the media get footage from all the celebration sites in NJ? Oh, wait …

    JerryB in reply to JerryB. | November 25, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    More, from cBS affiliate (!) WKRG in Mobile, AL:

    Credible Source on 9-11 Muslim Celebrations: FBI

    … Many of those calls, said Burkett [FBI], came from concerned and angry Americans reporting Muslim’s celebrating over the destruction of the twin towers and damage to the Pentagon. The calls were logged, reports were made and there were “stacks and stacks” of them, he said.

    … But the retired agent says even though video of celebrations following 9-11 is hard to find, he says it means Trump’s claims are highly plausible.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to JerryB. | November 25, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    The LSM have video. They are refusing to show it, the same way they refuse to show graphic clips of 9/11.

I remember a clip of Islamic reacting around the world. One place was Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Another place was Jersey in sight of the WTC. The Muslims WERE REJOICING. I wish I had videotaped them. I know I saw it on tv. I also can distinguish between Muslims in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, and Muslims in NY and NJ. The ones in Bethlehem were passing out sweets—yes, indeed, the same pigs who take American taxpayer money as jizya were rejoicing at the death of some of those who support their miserable terroristic lives. The ones in Jersey were jumping up with their hands raised in the air. Muslims? I spit on them.

The LSM, including Fox, is lying to us. Next thing they will tell us is that there were no people jumping from the WTC. Well, I have a picture of the Falling Man on my computer. Before 9/11 was a month old, the LSM had formed a pact to stop showing graphic images of 9/11 to avoid inflaming Americans against Muslims. We should’ve expelled the bastards wholesale, American citizen or not.

I know what I saw that morning. I know Arafat had to tell the a-holes to stop the open celebrations so the money could keep flowing from the infidel American idiots.

That clip compilation sounds like what I saw. The LSM do have it. They just won’t show it, and they may have destroyed it.

Few things bother me more than people using the word “lie” wrong. Even in this thread we have people debating the “theory” of whether you have to think something you communicate is false in order for it to be a lie. This isn’t a “theory”, words have meaning. By definition, it is not a lie if you believed what you communicated was true at the time you communicated it. That’s why lying has such a negative connotation, because they’re not just giving you wrong information, they’re doing so willfully. Stop trying to degrade the English language.