September 11 – 5 years on

There are retrospectives and introspectives all over the internet and the mainstream media marking the fifth anniversary of the attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre. The Open Democracy site has a good series of pieces asking a range of people the simple question – “what have we learned”?

Whilst there have been greater numbers of people killed in a range of other incidents and events, this one clearly struck a greater psychological chord with many in the West for a whole lot of different reasons. It is certainly one of those ‘what were you doing when you heard about …..?’ moments. I was watching television in bed when the newsflash came on – just at the end of an episode of West Wing. If the Twin Tower attacks had been part of a West Wing storyline, it would have seemed ridiculous, yet there was this literally unbelieveable event unfolding in front of my eyes.

The first thing I instinctively think of whenever I hear the term ‘September 11’ (and even more so when I hear ‘9/11’) is an echo of my father grumbling about how the date should be pronounced ‘11 September’.

The second, and rather more serious, thing I think of is how badly the opportunities coming out of this tragedy have been squandered. Tragedy brings people together and it also brings opportunity to build on those bonds. Unfortunately the main thing 9/11 seems to have been used for by people in many parts of the world is an opportunity to make war and grab power. The rhetorical device of proclaiming a ‘war on terror’ has made us all less safe. Nothing makes war more likely than determinedly insisting that we’re already in one.

One thing I find amazing is how strongly conspiracy theories about the attacks prevail, so much so that it is the cover story of this week’s Time Magazine. A survey last month found that

36% of Americans consider it “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that government officials either allowed the attacks to be carried out or carried out the attacks themselves. Thirty-six percent adds up to a lot of people. This is not a fringe phenomenon. It is a mainstream political reality.

If it was that many people in Pakistan thinking the US government had a hand in the attacks, it might be understandable, but for that many people in the USA to think so is rather disconcerting, even given the many examples of how low a value the current administration puts on truth, the law and human life.

I’ve had so many people give me or send me material about allegations of US government involvement in these attacks that I’ve felt obliged to look at some of it. However, regardless of any views about how bad or otherwise the current US administration might be, I just cannot believe a conspiracy that enormous could ever be covered up. Even given the fact that people lie to pollsters, so the figure is probably overstated, I still find it disturbing that such a sizeable minority could think that about their own government without there being a revolution around the corner (which I don’t think there is, I hasten to add).

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18 Comments

  1. Andrew, it’s no surprise that disinformation is common about the 9/11 attacks; the Bush Administration have spread plenty of it.

    Bushit is now coming to Australia, tonight at 8:00pm AEST on Seven. Seven claims The Path to 9/11 is “the story of exactly how it happened,” despite the program making claims like ‘the US went to war with Iraq over Saddam’s WMD’ and drawing a connection between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks.

    ABC (America) is scrambling to edit out some of the false or misleading material, but it is likely that the program will air in Australia, NZ & UK without those last minute edits.

    That Seven can air this program and call it responsible broadcasting beggars belief.

  2. Davo, mind your generalisations. The problem isn’t ‘America’ nor necessarily ‘Americans,’ it’s King George Bush and his cronies.

  3. The world did not change on 11/9/2001. The world changed in 2000 when George W. Bush became the president. When he’s gone the world will probably revert back to something vaguely normal if too much damage hasn’t been done.

    It’s unfortunate but true – killing thousands of innocent people rarely changes the world. If it did the world would change every few days because of the various regimes around the world!

  4. Yeah, but when you’ve had governments lie so repeatedly and blatantly about Iraq, is it any wonder that nutty conspiracy theories about September 11 gain credence?

    It’s not helpful for clear-eyed analysis to just blindly attribute every stain on the body politic to Bush globally and Howard locally. In this case, however, I just don’t see any other plausible explanation other than people seeing a pattern of mendacity and overgeneralizing that pattern.

  5. No doubt in 50 years time – year 12 history student will be adderssing the question – much the same as we were asked to discuss the murder of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo back in 1914 in the broasder context of World War 1.

  6. Something had to happen after 9/11, it’s just a bugger that Bush was around to decide what that something would be.

    If America is as fond of democracy as is claimed then the whole world should be allowed to take part in American elections, since we all have to live with the outcomes.

  7. “what have we learned”

    The main lesson we’ve learned since September 11 is sadly that the western left are on side with our enemies.

    The reaction of the left to the 9/11 and Bali attacks is why so many of us are here and blogging right now.

  8. I for one consider myself on the left, and there’s certainly nothing I like about an Islamist government; one that probably wouldn’t allow free blogs or many other freedoms.

    I may have issues with some of the things that Americans (goverbment, businesses and individuals) have done and continue to do, but I’d prefer George Bush to Mullah Omar anyday.

  9. The posts from many left-wingers in this thread show where the support for wacky conspiracy theories comes from — a blind hatred that seeks to blame George Bush for everything from terrorist attacks to hurricanes.

    Shocked by the collapse of Communism and the success of the Right in politics, the Left has lost its collective mind, and will now believe anything that avoids the central issue of its own failure.

  10. eSkeptics online magazine had no difficulty in making short-shift of every single consipiracy theory. And why would it be difficult? A primary school child can see how stupid are the “theories”.

    As for the question: what have we learnt?

    That if you tell the public that the real threat in the world is hair gel, lipstick, and toothpaste, they WILL be DUMB enough to believe you, and they will give up everything in the entirely deluded belief that they are defending themselves and their neighbours from terrorists.

    There have been on terrorist attacks in the US in the five years since 2001. There were no terrorist attacks in the five years prior to 2001 either. Yet, look at all the illogical, dumb things that people now believe and go along with.

    What have we learned? To be a whole lot dumber than we used to be.

  11. There have been plenty of attempted terrorist attacks in the US since 2001. Fortunately, so far these have been stopped by increased alertness.

    And there have been successful attacks in the UK, against Australians in Indonesia (twice), and in many other places around the world.

    It’s rather silly to deny the reality of the threat.

  12. What is being overlooked is the power of the press to put across almost anything they choose, and also to leave some things out.

    We only know what we are told by the government and the media. The actual truth could be quite different.

    The media could also be doing nearly anything to manipulate the television footage we see.

    The experience could be somewhat like a trip to the movies to see a work of fiction.

  13. One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying “We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]”. Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I’ve ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four “pilots” among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake “pilot” of the bunch. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports. These “hijackers” somehow managed to board all four airliners with their tickets, yet not even ONE got his name on any of the flight manifests. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn’t work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn’t work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won’t let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you “aren’t supposed to think about”. Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name, more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn’t respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn’t happen, not even close. Somehow these “hijackers” must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn’t have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were “supposed to see”. Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these “hijackers” wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn’t even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying “We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down” attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers’ magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be “Muslim hijackers” the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don’t laugh) one of their passports was “found” a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously “surviving” the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also “survived” the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be “indestructable” like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn’t bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastical far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the “nineteen hijackers” is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.

  14. Enlightenment, do you really expect anyone to read all that – without even so much as a paragraph break?

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