If you are at all familiar with modern American conspiracy theories, you will know something about the Denver International Airport (DIA). The main terminal, designed by Fentress Bradburn Architects and completed in 1995, is striking, cutting a serrated line in the sky, a visual echo of the surrounding mountains on the horizon.
Somehow, the conspiratorial world has convinced itself that, to use Richard Dreyfus’s phrase as he sculpts his mashed potatoes into a replica of the Devil’s Tower, the Denver International Airport “means something.” What exactly it means is unclear, but conspiracy theorists know its meaning is sinister. Numerous hypotheses about the facility’s real purpose have been proposed, most of them rooted in the assertion that the truth is to be found underground in the bowels of the airport. This element of the conspiracy seems to stem from a misinterpretation of events surrounding DIA’s construction. First is the extensive excavation, construction, and inexplicable (to conspiracy theorists) reburial of tunnels on the site, which now house the airport’s rail system. Second, cost overruns on the order of $2 billion raised eyebrows and left conspiracy theorists wondering where all that extra money was going.
The explanations that conspiracy theorists have offered range from the absurd to the even more absurd: DIA is the home of the global shadow government of Illuminati/Masons/New World Order; DIA is the site of a future FEMA concentration camp; it sits atop an underground city that is in turn connected to a network of other underground cities populated by aliens. One idea that seems be on the ascendance is an assertion made by governor-wrestler Jesse Ventura that DIA will be a refuge for global elites during a world-wide catastrophe, not unlike the “arks” seen in the almost unwatchable movie 2012.
According to conspiracy theorists, the key to discerning the conspiracy and understanding the real purpose of the airport is the artwork found throughout the building. Two of the richest sources of clues are a pair of murals by Leo Tanguma, “The Children of World Dream of Peace” and “In Peace and Harmony with Nature,” both of which are found near the baggage claim area. These two pieces are diptychs, each consisting of a small panel and a much longer panel. While each smaller panel portrays a truly dystopian world of destruction and decay, the much larger panels display celebratory and vibrant symbolism suggestive of a utopian vision of the future.
On a recent long layover at DIA, I made a point of studying the Tanguma murals. I first came upon “The Children of the World Dream of Peace” and found it utterly enormous.
I stood back to see how people reacted to the mural. Most did not look up, but about one in 200 travelers would pause, shake his head, and move on. I approached one, a slim African American man who looked like he was in his late twenties. He agreed to an interview on the condition that I did not record his voice or give his real name. I will call him Jim.
“This is like a concentration camp,” he said, pointing to the smaller of the two panels in the diptych. And it’s true: the smaller panel looks a little like a poster for a Holocaust movie. A ghastly military figure in a gas mask dominates the scene, striking down a dove of peace with a vicious-looking scimitar. Behind him, a line of dispossessed people shuffles off endlessly into the distance. Jim pointed to the children lying on the ground near the feet of the faceless soldier. “I mean, who puts dead children in a painting? That’s sick.”
“I don’t think that they are dead, actually,” I said. “I think they are asleep.” I pointed out a little note painted into one corner of the mural, near the sleeping children. The note reads:
I was once a little child who longed for other worlds. But I am no more a child for I have known fear. I have learned to hate…. How tragic, then, is youth which lives with enemies, with gallows ropes. Yet, I still believe I only sleep today, that I’ll wake up, a child again, and start to laugh and play.
The quote is attributed to a fourteen-year old who died in December of 1943 at Auschwitz. “Look,” I began. “You see these sleeping kids? They are literally dreaming of a peaceful world.” All of the important themes of the piece, the contrast of war and peace and the dream motif, are introduced in the quote, serving as a key for interpreting the mural. “It’s all about yearning for peace,” I said.
Jim was doubtful. We drifted over to the other panel, and he pointed to all the children and noted that many carry weapons. “That makes them soldiers, right?”
“But they are taking the swords and beating them into plowshares. That’s a biblical reference. It’s not subtle!” I laughed.
Jim shook his head. “That’s what they want you to think.” He pointed to the smiling, happy children. “See that? That’s the antichrist. The antichrist is going to promise us a world of peace, but he is going to give us that,” he said, gesturing toward the gray panel.
“How do you know this?” I asked, and he gave me some quotes from Revelation. But he finished with a curious statement: “Also, nobody who works here, if you ask them, will talk about the conspiracy.”
Finally, something that we can put to the test, I thought. “Do you want to go ask someone?”
He stepped back and crossed his arms, as if it had never occurred to him that someone might actually go ask. In a moment he shook his head. “No. No.” His unease was clear, and I told him I wouldn’t delay him any longer. I went to talk to the people at the information booth.
When I reached the booth, I asked the woman behind the desk if she could tell me about the conspiracy theories, and I’ll be damned if she wouldn’t talk to me about it! Was Jim right?
Not exactly. They gave me the contact information for the media office. It was clear by the way she rolled her eyes when I mentioned the conspiracy theories that I was not the first person to ask about them.
I headed over to see the other mural, “In Peace and Harmony with Nature.”
There I met traveler Matt Brown, a new resident of Denver who was encountering the murals of DIA for the first time. I asked him why he was interested in the murals.
“I was just interested because my dad just sent me an e-mail about some of these different murals, and I said that I didn’t even notice. So on my way back I’m going check [them] out and see what the deal is.”
“So, what’s your first impression?” I asked.
“I don’t see anything wrong with this one. I mean, peace and harmony with nature. There [are a] whole bunch of different nationalities and creatures. I don’t know what that is in the middle,” he said, pointing to a psychedelic-looking plant that dominates the middle of the mural. ”But it looks like that they are all having a good time.
“This [panel] over here,” he went on, “[is] a little different. There are flames up here, there’s a dead cheetah, and then a bunch of dead people. And so I don’t really know what to make this one is trying to say, to tell you the truth, but it’s pretty harsh!” he said, laughing.
“Is there some sort of Egyptian god of death somewhere also?” Matt asked me.
“That’s what I was told.”
I shrugged. “I’ve been told all sorts of things.” It turns out that the figure of Anubis was actually not part of the art collection at DIA. The figure was only a temporary exterior marketing display promoting “The Treasures of the Pharaohs” exhibit, which was at the Denver Art Museum from July 2010 to January 2011. It was not evidence that ancient mystery cults associated with the Masons were unabashedly announcing their resurgence.
Matt asked about the other mural’s location, and I showed him where it was at the other end of the terminal. When we reached it, I introduced myself to a young couple, Lauren and Tom. I asked Lauren what she thought.
“I’ve heard about these [murals],” she said, “but … they have never caught my eye ’cause I was always on a mission to get to a plane. But today because we were here and just casually doing a pick-up without any time constraint, [so] I wanted to take notice. They’re very strange; they are kind of confusing. They’re…odd. Mass destruction and children and weapons…It makes no sense to me.”
“This statue guy over here,” Tom jumped in, “I mean, over here he’s in charge, and over here he’s dead.”
“I’ve seen little excerpts online about this thing,” Lauren said, “and it’s very strange and I’ve just never really been able to understand it. So this is really the first time I’ve looked at it in any kind of detail.”
“What do you think of the conspiracy theories that surround these?” I asked Lauren.
“I’ve heard a lot of different conspiracies, you know, preparing for mass destruction, that kind of thing, going underground. I’ve heard about those, especially about this airport.”
“So, what do you think about those?”
She paused. “Sure, why not? We’ve got NORAD not far from here. It makes sense that…”
Tom chimed in. “We’re at a high elevation here. So there is more room to dig, if you want. What better place to come to hide someone?”
“Wouldn’t NORAD’s presence make the area a potential target or at least a little more dangerous?” I asked.
“If you go down far enough, it doesn’t matter,” he replied. “Plus this is an airport, so if you have to fly Air Force One here for protection….”
“Well,” Lauren cut in, “I’m sure that there are plenty of locations which have underground cities and things in them.”
“Do you think of it as being a refuge for the President?” I asked.
Tom: “It could be. I mean, why not?”
Lauren: “I know they shut NORAD down a few years ago from having visitors, so….There’s probably places all over the world that have underground cities.
Tom: “If you can afford it, you can come up here and live. If you can’t, you’re screwed.”
I asked them why the conspirators had put so many hints around the airport if they wanted the secret city to remain secret.
“You just stand around here and look, and people don’t even stop and notice this,” Tom replied. “It’s blatant. It’s in your face. You walk right by it.”
Lauren nodded in grim agreement. “It’s denial, I guess.”
An apocalyptic horse with glowing red eyes welcoming visitors? Check.
Nightmarish murals? Check.
Strange words and symbols embedded in the floor? Check.
Gargoyles sitting in suitcases? Check.
Runways shaped like a Nazi swastika? Check.
OK, this place is evil.
But seriously, there are so many irregularities surrounding the DIA, that a voluminous book could be written on the subject. The facilities and the art displayed lead many observers to believe that the DIA is much more than an airport: it is literally a New-Age cathedral, full of occult symbolism and references to secret societies. The art at the DIA is NOT an aggregation of odd choices made by people with poor taste, like many people think. It is a cohesive collection of symbolic pieces that reflect the philosophy, the beliefs and the goals of the global elite. The DIA is the largest airport in America and it has cost over 4.8 billion dollars. Everything regarding this airport has been meticulously planned and everything is there for a reason.
Analysis of the data available makes me reach at least one conclusion: this gigantic structure will eventually become much more than a regular commercial airport. It has the capacity to handle a huge amount of people and vehicles, leading observers to think that the structure might be used as military base and others even add that it will be used as a civilian concentration camp in the near future. I will not advance on this subject because I do not have proof of those claims. I however would understand why such plans would be top secret.