This is probably one of the harder essays am gonna write here, and the reason ain't I lost anyone in New York, Washington D.C, or in Pennsylvania that day.
I didn't, so that's out of the way, and I can think of only one person whom I know who nearly did.
No, it's gonna be because some of the notions am gonna advance here ain't gonna be all that popular with some folks.
One of those notions is that the dead of 11th September, 2001, belong to all of us as a nation since we witnessed the collective horror, especially of the World Trade Center towers going down in New York City, on that day.
I respectfully and partially disagree. First and foremost, those dead belong, as they did in life, to their families and close friends, and always will. It is those latter who will always have to live with the shock, loss and burden of having had their loved ones killed on that day.
As for the rest of the nation, as shocking as the horrors in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania were to witness, we were only there by proxy or report, and I think we should remember that in whatever mourning we do on this day, now and in the future.
As for those politicians, pundits, think-tank intellectuals, and academics who seize on the dead and try to make some political, ideological and other sorts of hay while the sun shines off of these dead, all I can say is that they don't deserve to, and never, ever have.
That especially, but not exclusively, goes for this Administration and its supporters, who, ever since 11th September, 2001, have tried, and, especially early on after the attacks, mainly succeeded in those efforts. The fact, though, that their arguments about 11th September and its aftermath cut less and less ice with growing segments of the American public is due, at least in part, to their over-use of rhetoric of all sorts, half-truths and outright lies to sell the Iraq War, and revelations about the Administration's ineptitude in a number of areas, including "homeland" security as the years have passed.
If anything, there's now a growing movement for a new investigation into the events of 11th September, 2001 that's rooted in the idea that it might have been an inside job, perpetrated by the American government, and so on and so forth.
Knew a Trotskyist(who, incidentally, has been dead for about two years now)here(Yes, Virginia, there are, or at least were, Trotskyists in Vegas, and, No, you'll never read about that in the tourist guides), who felt that the attacks were the Bush Administration's equivalent of the Reichstag Fire of '34, an incident that was engineered and staged by the Nazis in order to get and consolidate emergency powers, which they then held onto.
Don't know about the first part of that notion, but the second part of it, so it seems to me, has been at least partially borne out as the years have gone by.
To be honest, I am extremely sceptical about the "inside job" theory, not because I don't believe that there aren't individuals inside our government who, if they felt that pulling off such a stunt was worth it, would do it. Rather, it's that the various explanations for this and related theories generally do tend to come from individuals and groups, whether Left or Right-wing, that have political and social agendas, some of which are pretty nasty, of their own. Also, much of the evidence they assert decisively proves their claims comes in the form of videotapes, and the like, and testimonies from former World Trade Center employees(The most recent one I heard about used the testimony of a former WTC custodian who was apparently in the building with FDNY firefighters on 11th September, 2001), among others.
Well, as I told the person I had the argument about this with a few weeks back, video tapes can be edited, new footage inserted, other footage dropped or pared back, if it doesn't bolster the videographer's or his or her client's arguments, and altered in a number of other ways(Actually, I just said the first option, but you get my drift, I think).
Eyewitness testimonies aren't always reliable, either, which is one of the main reasons why there had be at least some physical evidence tying a person or group to crime in a properly-run criminal trial, because any half-ways decent defence attorney will, if he or she can, find ways of causing the jury to either doubt the witness's testimony or discredit it altogether, because, and especially in an extremely large-scale event like 11th September, there are so many different angles from which these events were viewed by each and every person who saw them, whether up close and extremely personal, or from a great distance removed, that NO one eye-witness can really account for more than what he or she actually experienced that day, at least in court.
As for what he or she might have heard on that day or since, legally speaking, that's considered hearsay evidence, and isn't accepted in the American legal system, and for damned good reason.
Just 'cos you HEARD about someone doing something, saying something, etc, from someone else, who may or may not have been there, doesn't wash, especially if the person or people telling you this has an axe to grind of their own with the person they're talking about.
Might work somewhat out in the ordinary world, where Yours Truly, like everyone else, can often use that kind of "evidence" in making up their minds about a given person and his or her character.
But, the reason it doesn't hold up in court, at least, if the trial's being properly and fairly run, is because of the potential for very real harm to a person's reputation, health and life, if the District Attorney, jury and judge were all to accept someone's little bit of tittle-tattle as Gospel Truth.
People LIE, or at least tell half-truths, quarter-truths, buck-and-a-quarter-truths, or 99 cent truths, to get what they want out of someone, and this happens at all levels of society, and across all portions of the political spectrum.
Very often, these fictions, or half-fictions, will be dressed up in appealing packages, with slick campaigns designed to sell various ideas and notions as THE "truth", even if it ain't necessarily so.
Likewise, just because the source one gets one's notions from might be some Xeroxed pamphlet fresh from Kinko's, an audio tape one got at a seminar someplace, or a so-so designed web-site or blog run by someone whose political and social views might correspond to yours, doesn't necessarily make their "evidence" any more authentic, than if it comes from the "mainstream" media or the US government's media outlets.
That's why a certain amount of healthy scepticism is necessary in looking at any notion, and why one needs to be able to weigh the evidence presented in any given argument on its merits or lack of 'em.
Conspiracy theories are a kind of intellectual junk food or narcotic, in that they give the APPEARANCE of knowing about an issue, and especially an appearance of having "secret", inside knowledge about what's "really" going on in the world, and why, without having to do a lot of the intellectual heavy lifting of actually researching a given matter or set of matters by consulting primary sources, whether government documents, media, "mainstream" or otherwise, and personal accounts, and learning more about the various technical and other aspects of a given event for oneself, and then making one's conclusions from there.
Does that mean that every "conspiracy nut" out there's a complete lying whack-job, with not enough good sense to pour piss out of a boot, as my Dad likes to say???
Personally, I think allowances have to be for at least some aspects of any given conspiracy theory to be either true, or have elements of truth in them.
But, that also DOESN'T mean that every part of a given conspiracy theory, or any other theory, for that matter, is always 100% true, 100% of the time.
Each and every theory has to be judged on the evidence presented by its advocates, just like in scientific theoretical discussion and debate, and judged from there.
As for me, the reason I'm tend to be down on 11th September conspiracy theories is pretty much for the same reason I'm not generally keen on conspiracy theories of any sort-I have grown up hearing all manner of conspiracy theories, whether about UFOs, the Trilateral Commission, the Rockefellers, the Masons, or the Jews(The King Grand-Daddy of all conspiracy theories!!!! Hell, some of you out there may remember hearing about a 11th September conspiracy theory involving the Mossad and it telling every Jewish employee at the World Trade Center not to show for work on that day, that was popular in some parts of the Arab world in the immediate aftermath of those events, and was even believed by Mr. Amiri Baraka, who lost his post as New Jersey's State Poet as a result of that little bit of news being made public. Them Jews is shifty types, don'cha know. Just one more variation on the Jews are planning to take over the world theory that various people and groups have been pushing for a very, very long time now, and I wish they'd stop), and frankly, have generally been neither interested enough in them, and, especially as the years have gone by, and have realised just how much the world's public(and that includes you and me, Folks)needs reasonably accurate information, especially during war-time, from a variety of sources, to avoid being played for saps, whether by governments, guerrillas, partisans or pundits, am furious with those who purvey these theories because they further contribute to the climate of mis-information, dis-information and outright lies that, more than anything else, undermines what a functioning democracy's supposed to be about, and how it's supposed to work.
Now, a lot of the people who believe these theories, or even parts of them, are undoubtedly sincere in their beliefs and in wanting to do something to make a positive change in the way we do business in this country, at home and abroad.
Don't have a problem with those. But, I would also say to them to be wary of anyone, whether official, un-official, "mainstream" or not, who wants you to believe THEIR theories, and ONLY their theories, as Gospel Truth, and, oh, by the way, do ya think ya could cough up 50 bucks or so to keep our operations runnin'??? Thanks.
Whether ideological, political or just plain old fashioned monetary con-games, like Mother used to grift, if someone's promising you and yours something that's probably just too good, or too bad, to be true, it quite probably is.
Check out the notions, and the people, behind them, by all means, as some of them just might be the Real Deal.
But, don't be surprised to learn much of the time that they ain't, and please don't ever think that you CAN'T be conned, because that kind of arrogance only sets you up to be conned, just in a new and slightly different way, that's all.
Have been conned in the past, and there are no guarantees that I mightn't be conned at some time in the future again. All I can do, and all I can ask you to do, is to keep an open, but fairly sceptical mind, about the various notions that come down the pike. No guarantees that you won't be conned anyways at some point in time, but, it just might help you and yours from getting conned into losing money, or, far worse, your freedoms and lives.
As for guarantees, well, if you want one, please buy a toaster or some such object, as much of the rest of livin' just doesn't come with guarantees. Sorry, but, at least, that's how I see how much of the world works.
Anyway, final unpopular notion here, and that's that, whether true believer or disenchanted conspiracy believer, the idea that our foreign policies and actions in the Arab and Muslim worlds had absolutely nothing to do with the 11th September attacks is complete bunkum.
Like it or not, our various policies and actions, whether the often unconditional support our government, much of our media, and public have given to the Israeli government and its policies and actions over the decades, and especially since the Six Day War forty years ago this year, our attempts to manipulate political outcomes in Lebanon and Iran to our advantage, and especially for all that lovely oil and other goodies they got,our support for authoritarian regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other parts of the Arab and Muslim worlds, as well as our support for those lovely Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan(especially, with Pakistan's help, the most fundamentalist of the various groups), and our subsequent neglect of Afghanistan and its people, especially after the Soviet withdrawal from there in 1988, since the late '40's in those parts of the world have amounted to a pretty massive case of our asking for it, and how.
And, well, we got it on 11th September, and how, but good.
Does that mean that Ward Churchill, former history prof of the University of Colorado, Boulder, who wrote a couple of years back that the workers in the WTC were "little Eichmanns" was right????
No. That was Churchill being an asinine fool indulging himself, as so many people do, in grand-standing rhetoric.
But, that doesn't excuse the policy decisions and actions taken by politicians and officials, both civilian and military, in the US, Britain and other parts of the world regarding the Arab and Muslim worlds since at least the Second World War's end, nor should it.
These decisions, whether individually or collectively, have added up to a lot of dead, injured or displaced Arabs and Muslims over the years, and the parties I've already mentioned, and the publics in those countries that are parties to this that have free elections,have played their sad roles in this, because they voted those suckers into power, and, in some cases, kept them there.
This doesn't excuse the elites in the Arab and Muslim worlds, many of whom, like the Saudis and Pakistanis, have played cynical games using fundamentalist religion at home to keep their masses nice, stupid and quiet, while getting money, money, money and lotsa lovely technological toys from the West and other parts of the world for themselves, their families, friends and associates.
Then, there are the Islamic fundamentalists themselves, who like to present a particularly gruesomely cynical form of political theatre in which Western, Arab and Muslim soldiers, ordinary guerrillas, and civilians strut, caper and dance to the hellish music of an AK-47 or a suicide bomb chest pack, while bleating like a flock of demented sheep about the "Jews", "Crusaders", the "jihad" and the "Islamic Caliphate" that some of them hope to re-establish over much of Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Spain, and all the glorious martyrs who will have helped make it possible.
They may be true believers in their cause, but sincerity only goes so far, and certainly doesn't excuse the waste of time, talent, resources, and especially human lives in the service of a putrid cause, whose main figurehead is a Poor Little Yemeni Rich Boy from Saudi Arabia, whose real motto ought to be, "God Is Great, But I Am Greater!!!".
Yup, sure you are, Bin Laden, just like your direct opposite, the current occupant of the White House is.
A couple of Great, Big... Twats, that is.
More ego than brains or horse sense, and not a lot to choose between the two of you, as far as I'm concerned.
If there is a Devil, I hope he puts the both of you and your respective followers to work cleaning the filthiest, most heavily-clogged toilet facilities in Hell for all eternity and then some.
That would be a VERY small price for the both of you and your minions to pay for all the death and misery you and your lot have caused over the years.
All abuse aside, if there's one illusion that we Americans still hold onto, it's the idea that before 11th September, our government and governing and business classes were Innocent Lambie-Pies who weren't doing anything in the Arab and Muslim worlds to piss many of the folks there, good, bad or indifferent, off at us, and that these attacks, like the World Trade Center attack of '93, the attack on the USS Cole in '98 or the Embassy bombings in '99, weren't responses to their policies and actions in those parts of the world.
They were, and, if we truly want to honour the dead, injured and dis-placed of 11th September and afterwards, we'd best consistently take a good, hard look at the people, elected and unelected, who make our foreign policy decisions, and pressure them hard and consistently enough to ensure that their decisions don't end up killing a lot more people than have already died, whether American, other Western, Israeli, Arab or Muslim.
That way, maybe, just MAYBE, we and the other parties to this conflict can finally begin to actually start dealing with and healing from the various wounds we've inflicted on each other over the decades.
If not, get ready for more of the same and worse, and please don't say you weren't warned or didn't see it coming this time 'round.
Finally, I extend my sympathies and condolences to the families of those killed and injured on 11th September, 2001, and ask those of you out there to please, if the individuals or families of the victims want you to share in their grief and mourning, please respectfully do so, and, if not, please also respectfully give them their privacy to mourn their losses in peace.
Here Endeth The Lesson.
Be seeing you.