September 11th, 2001, I remember waking up to the sobering fact that two planes had just crashed into the twin towers. To be honest, I cannot recall if I was actually hung over, although it is not out of the realm of possibility. You see, at the time of the attacks I was living in a small college town, in a house full of guys and school was still out for the summer.
When I shoved open the double doors from my kitchen-converted bedroom, my roommate Walker was sitting on the living room floor, staring at the television. He immediately informed me that planes had crashed into the world trade center and without speaking much more than a few sentences we spent the next hour or so, flipping through the channels in attempts to figure out what was going on. As the fateful morning played out live on our TV screen we would not only be witness to greater tragedy, but we would also begin to speak to each other.
Once the rumors of terrorist involvement began to swirl, I remember insinuating that this horrible event was the perfect thing for Bush and his illegitimate presidency. Walker, who was an All-American rugby player, a championed drinker and a gentlemen of few words, countered with the argument that I was basically a crazy conspiracy nut! Of course, in the coming months I did begin to question if 9/11 was indeed an inside job, however at the time I simply meant that it was a great opportunity for the United States government to do whatever they wanted with foreign and domestic policy.
Maybe, it was my disposition as a history major to immediately view the government in a devious light, or the fact that I had recently read extensively the writings of muck-racking journalist Greg Palast, who covered the fraudulent 2000 US presidential election, or maybe it was simply the fact that ever since anyone can remember I’ve always been in constant question of authority? No matter what the reason, my quick synopsis of the situation was clearly viewed as ludicrous by my roommate.
For several months after the 11th of September, I began to scour the internet and almost simultaneously remained glued to free-speech radio stations in search of information regarding what our government knew about 9/11 before the attacks and what its ultimate intentions would be in the aftermath. With my bullsh*t filter on high alert I found that I was even watching cable channels and the evening news! It seems that CNN, MSNBC, and FOX had replaced my addiction to ESPN as phrases like “Axis of Evil” and “Homicide Bomber” haunted me in my sleep!
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During this time I embarked on somewhat of a bombing campaign of my own, as I bombarded friends, family and of course roommates with my ideas and theories but was more than often met with skepticism, fear and indifference. The funny thing is, many of these people who initially thought my 9/11 politics to be annoying or insane, as time went on began to develop their own interest in the subject. Sure enough, I soon found that I was engaging in political conversation with people who had previously expressed no desire to do so. Whether it was arguing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Jewish friends or discussing the ominous ties between Haliburton and Dick Cheney, or George Bush and Enron, a new dialogue had been created amongst my friends. These young people who’s typical conversations usually varied little between the opposite sex and their favorite television show, had branched out into areas of reality that they had previously not thought to question. In many cases, certain conversations or revelations, may have only been momentary but they occurred non the less.
There was my neighbor Samantha, whom had always assumed that Palestinian people voluntarily left there land in order to make room for Israel. Of course, was this her fault? The only information she had ever received on the subject had been passed down from her Jewish grandmother to her mother and then to her. Between the matriarchal filtering and the Zionist lobby which articulates much of the news in America, she had every right to believe such assertions to be true. One day, Samantha and I began to discuss the plight of Palestinians and the conflict in the West Bank after our conversation about 9/11 and American foreign policy spilled over into the holy land.
At first she was resistant to any ideas that disproved Israel’s right to the land and always resorted back to the terrorism defense. Very similar to a general in the IDF or a member of the United States congress. However, when I began to explain to her the death tolls, the road blocks, the bulldozing, and the American funding involved I could tell that she had never been privileged to such insights. Sam, whom is a very compassionate person began to riffle questions at me concerning the Palestinians in hopes that my answers would not reaffirm her fears. Once she began to realize that everything she had thought to be true wasn’t necessarily so, she became visibly shaken and teary eyed. I reassured her that it was a positive thing she new the truth as most people did not and that supporting Israel’s occupation of Palestine had nothing to do with being faithful to Judaism. She agreed, but it was obvious that her world and been shaken to the point that she wasn’t exactly sure what to believe.
Then there was the day that my roommate Walker whom to my knowledge at the time, was an apolitical patriot, came to me and pointed out that Bush was basically full of it! If I can recall correctly, I believe he had been watching a presidential speech on TV and must have decided that the language George was using was not believable. Indeed when I returned home from school that day, Walker, for the first time engaged me in a conversation on the subject and let me know basically what the president had said. He did so in a manner that not only confirmed his disbelief in our nations leader but simultaneously let me know that he and I had reached some sort of common ground. Although Walker was not quite ready to march in protest or stencil ‘BUSH’ on stop signs, he was beginning to pay attention and the dividends were obvious to us both. This soft spoken, beast of a man, had decided to end his silence and speak his mind!
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Since the vietnam era, a collaborative campaign has been waged to pacify the minds of our nation’s youth. Whether, it be the fact that the corporate controlled media does not allow the horrors of globalization and war to be broadcast on television, or that the baby-boomer generation has allowed there children to be lulled asleep by the likes of Viacom and Clear Channel, the masses of young people have remained virtually disengaged from intellectual thought for the past 20 years. The events of 9/11 and the subsequent actions by our government has began to change all that.
While it is true that many young people continue to parade around without much concern as to what their tax dollars are paying for (as do older folks), a large portion of ‘kids’ who were once indifferent or perhaps even blindly patriotic, are now getting involved politically. Between grass-roots movements on the local level, in the streets and on college campuses, to large scale promotions such as Sean “Puffy” Combs’ ‘Vote or Die’ campaign, young people are at the very least more aware than they have been in years. The ironic thing is that the Bush administration continues to be the number one force behind this mobilization.
From the giant lies that spiraled from the 9/11 tragedies, ranging from false reasons for war in Iraq to dubious assaults on civil rights, and more recently with the events of Hurricane Katrina that clearly revealed it’s ineptitude and indifference, the Bush administration has been largely exposed to be nothing more than a fraud. With disapproval ratings at an all time high, the common agreement among many young people is that George Bush doesn’t care about anybody but his rich friends, let alone black people!
Although thousands of innocent lives were lost on 9/11 and sadly multiple thousands more have been killed since then, it is this tragic event which should be validated as the greatest catalyst for positive social and political change thus far into the 21st century. The climate which allowed Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and their ominous cohorts to manipulate public opinion and make a case for not only a pseudo ‘war on terror’ but furthermore a war on our civil rights, is the same atmosphere that has created the greatest number of dissidents in America since women burned their bra’s and Muhammad Ali refused to kill the Vietcong!
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To brood over the tragedies of 9/11 and to continue to sell the idea that each and every innocent death be somehow avenged seven-fold, is as irresponsible as it is pointless. If, these nearly 3,000 innocent lives are to live on through our memory in a respectful and productive manner, then they must not be allowed to die in vain. That is, the reason we were attacked on 9/11 has little to do with religious fanaticism and terrorists ‘hating our freedom’ and much more to do with the United States of America’s deeply flawed foreign policy in the middle east and abroad over the past quarter century.
Indeed, conspiracy was not necessary to create the events of 9/11, as the reckless governmental policies that existed prior to ‘September 12th America’ created quite simply the perfect environment for such attacks to occur. The CIA, the Oil companies, and the military industrial complex had been involved in underhanded proceedings in the middle east long before George W. Bush ever took office. Whether supporting Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land or having tea with the House of Saud, America has been in bed with evil in the middle east for decades. Don’t forget that the US supported Saddam’s regime during the 80’s, many years before they found him in a hole!
Thus in the wake of the memory of September 11th, 2001, progressive minds must continue to remind themselves and others that political dissidence is not only an important aspect to our freedom as Americans but furthermore it is the essential element that validates the democratic process. The lives lost in 9/11 should never be allowed to bolster the political careers of power-hungry politicians nor fatten the wallets of corporate conglomerates. Indeed, the lives lost in 9/11 belong to not only the family members they left behind, but the millions of Americans and human beings around the world who deserve to live in peace.
This simple yet tremendous fact is why 9/11 will ultimately prove to be good for America. As historically, it has been proven that things must get worse before the people united decide to make them better. And we’re not out of the woods yet.