Once upon a time, the only thing significant about September 11 was that it was Ethiopian New Year’s Day; somehow the Ethiopian calendar ended up seven years and about 250 days behind the Gregorian calendar (the one most of us use). Therefore in Ethiopia, today (September 11, 2011) is the first day of 2004.
From a standpoint of how our lives changed, the twenty-first century did not begin on January 1 in 2000 or 2001. It began on September 11, 2001. I’m sure everyone knows what happened on that date. I am writing this on the tenth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in history. Like John F. Kennedy's assassination, this is an event where everyone can remember what they were doing when they heard about it. Myself, I was working a temporary job with Gateway Computers, scheduling appointments for their north Florida sales reps. When the first airplane hit the World Trade Center, I was calling--of all places--the Piper Aircraft factory in Vero Beach, FL. With communications becoming all messed up, it took me an hour to find out that a terrorist attack had taken place, and two hours to find out how bad it was. After that, the long-distance phone lines went down completely, and Internet service slowed to a crawl; classes were cancelled at the college where I was also teaching, leaving me twiddling my thumbs for the rest of the day. Of course, the appointments I scheduled for that day were cancelled, with one notable exception--the one I arranged between Tupperware and Gateway’s south Orlando store. That one resulted in a $1 million sale, probably my biggest success during the seven and a half months I was with Gateway.
It never fails to astonish me how many people refuse to believe the Arabs were responsible for 9-11, even though at the time they danced in the streets and passed out candy to celebrate. Yaakov Kirschen, author of the Israeli comic strip "Dry Bones," feels the same way, as you can see from the cartoon he posted for September 11, 2007:
In the years that followed, people accused then-president Bush of having a hand in what happened on 9-11, or that he knew about it in advance. A lot of those folks were suffering from the mental disorder called BDS, or "Bush Derangement Syndrome," like Cynthia McKinney and Howard Dean. I know that because the so-called "9/11 Truther" movement collapsed in the US after Barack Obama succeeded Bush. During the Obama administration we have heard more from the "Birthers" who want to see convincing evidence of where Obama was born, and "Deathers" who do not believe Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in May 2011. However, the "9/11 Truthers" never went away completely; one of them, Van Jones, became Obama's "Green Jobs Czar." We haven't yet reached the point where our graduating high school students are too young to remember 9/11, but with the way time flies, that point isn't too far off in the future. Those young people will be susceptible to the 9/11 Truthers, just as those who are too young to remember the Apollo moon landings are more inclined to believe those were faked events. This webpage is for them, most of all.
Anyway, for those who think 9-11 was an inside job, here are some questions I’d like them to answer:
What about TWA Flight 800? When it crashed shortly after takeoff in 1996, we were told to believe the reports that people saw something fly up from the ground and hit that airliner. Then on September 11 we saw the airplanes fly into the World Trade Center, and we’re told not to believe our own eyes in this case. I guess it’s too much to ask for consistency from conspiracy theorists?
Do you believe that 9-11 was the first time in history that fire melted steel, as Rosie O’Donnell screamed more than once? If so, how has steel been made over the ages, from the days of medieval blacksmiths to the steel plow invented by John Deere in 1837? Magic? Pixie dust? Some combination of sulfur, saltpeter and charcoal?
Why wasn’t Rummy warned? Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (one of the most famous "Neo-Cons," right after Bush and Cheney), was in the Pentagon when it got hit, but luckily was on the other side of the building. Was that part of the plan, too?
Why isn’t anybody leaking? Any conspiracy to do as much damage as was inflicted on that fateful day would require lots of helping hands. Why haven’t any of them written books, or been interviewed by the press, to tell how they did it? With the mainstream media as hostile to the Bush administration as they were, you know that organizations like The New York Times and the news networks would have loved to be the first with such a scoop; that would get them a Pulitzer prize for sure! And heck, if anybody in Congress knows for sure that Arab fanatics weren’t responsible, they’re being awfully quiet. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, for example, has such a hard time keeping secrets that he has been called "Leaky Leahy," or "Senator Depends." What does he know about this?
Along that line, what does Obama know, now that he has been president? We have seen him blame all the failings of his administration on Bush, so we know he would love to blame 9-11 on Bush as well, but so far he has acted like he knows no more about the tragedy than the rest of us. He may even know less, judging from the incident where he took Michelle on a joyride in Air Force One, flying too close to the buildings of Manhattan, and throwing a scare into New Yorkers.
A lot of 9-11 conspiracy theorists are college professors; if we’re really becoming a dictatorship, why are the feds letting them get away with it? So far very few educators have suffered for expressing their crackpot ideas. The most famous one who did was Ward Churchill, and he had other factors working against him (e.g., charges that he’s a fake Indian and a plagiarist).
Why can't the Truthers keep their theories up to date? For a while they were claiming that a missile, not a jet airliner, hit the Pentagon, until it was pointed out that all the debris pulled from the wreckage matched that of an airliner; coroners even recovered enough DNA to identify the remains of the airline passengers. Nevertheless, you can find the missile story on the Internet, with certain kooks sticking to it.
What about those members of Al Qaeda who claim they did it? Osama bin Laden took credit for 9-11 in two videotapes that came out in December 2001, as well as on the not-so-authentic tapes that have popped up since then. Did somebody in the CIA produce or edit them, before Al Jazeera showed them? And what about Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the highest ranking prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, who confessed to being the mastermind behind the whole thing?
(Update: I'm writing this separately, because it happened after the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never let a conspiracy theory go to waste. Remember, the Iranians are not Arabs, so they don't have to believe that Arabs are responsible for 9/11. Like other 9/11 Truthers, Ahmadinejad claimed that Bush pulled off 9/11 to get the US economy out of a recession, to help the Israelis, and so on. Then at a United Nations speech, he added the idea that the Americans killed Osama bin Laden to keep him from revealing the real perpetrators of the attack. This was too much for Al Qaeda. An editorial in Al Qaeda's magazine, "Inspire," accused Iran of jealousy, for merely talking about attacking the "Great Satan," while Al Qaeda was the organization that inflicted real harm on the Americans. In a nutshell, Al Qaeda told the Iranians to shoot up or shut up. The Middle East is a land full of conspiracy theories, especially regarding Israel; the medieval accusations of Jews poisoning wells, and using the blood of children to make holiday foods, can still find an audience here. Therefore it is refreshing to hear about a conspiracy theory that most folks in the Middle East don't want anything to do with.)
Just some food for thought. Now let’s roll again.
"Be nice to Americans, or they will introduce democracy to you."--seen on a bumper sticker in Sweden.