Tent Trutherism: Was the Takedown of AFP's Tent an Inside Job?

Shortly after union protesters in Lansing, MI tore down a tent belonging to Americans for Prosperity on Tuesday, progressives began circulating a claim that the collapse was an inside job.

On the right, yesterday's news was dominated by flashes of violence in Lansing, MI, where over 10,000 showed up at the state's capitol to protest a new right-to-work law. Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian activist group, had set up a large tent outside in order to hand out literature and argue for the merits of the law. This didn't go over well with the union crowd, some of whom got out of hand and pulled the tent down with people still inside.

There were numerous video clips showing the tent collapse. The first was shot and uploaded by my colleague Lee Stranahan. A little while later, Fox News' Steven Crowder posted a clip showing both a physical assault by a union member and the tent going down. The Mackinac Center posted a third version from further back in the crowd. There is even a clip shot by someone inside the tent showing union members knocking over a snack table and warning people to leave just before the tent came down.

Looking at the clips, it's pretty clear what happened. Union members got angry and pulled the tent down. You can literally see them doing it in this clip. If that one isn't clear enough, try this one.

But the impulse that led 61 percent of Democrats to suspect President Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance was on display again yesterday.

Progress Michigan, a pro-union organization, released an interview in which an individual claims the tent collapse was, literally, an inside job. Tom Duckworth, who is identified as a Michigan worker and union member, says he had a polite conversation with a man in an NRA cap whom he later saw kicking in the tent stakes while people were still inside.

I was coming up to the tent on the way to a shortcut to get to the Capitol steps and I noticed that same gentleman with the NRA cap loosening the straps on sidewall tent poles. And he'd loosen the straps and he'd kick them in. And subsequently the whole tent collapsed...The stakes came down from the inside. You could tell that they were collapsing them from inside.

The video was picked up by progressive bloggers who labeled the tent incident a "false flag." Meanwhile, Tom Duckworth also gave a separate interview telling the same tale to Ned Resnikoff who runs a blog for MSNBC's The Ed Show. After initially claiming he'd seen no evidence to the contrary, Resnikoff later placed a small update at the end of his post reading, "Breitbart.com has posted additional video which appears to show a protester in an orange cap undoing one of the ropes holding up the tent."

Is this the end of Tent Trutherism? Perhaps, but the incident reveals a strain of progressive politics that we've seen before and will likely see again.


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