Saturday, 10 September 2011

10 years after 9/11

It’s the ten year anniversary of 9/11. We all remember exactly where we were when it happened, don’t we? It’s like John Lennon or JFK or the Berlin Wall was. 

I was in PE. It was 2 days before a musical event that me and some mates were putting on, in an old church. We’d spent three months working on it: making film projections (with actual old 16mm film, clips from 1950s Austrian newsreels my mate Graham had found on an Ostrich farm in Malmesbury), organising bands, building a stage-set on the alter using bits of the old Swartkops Power Station as props. Man… you had to be there: PE’s best-ever band, Strange Little Man, fronted by Kendall Beadon, brother of Fletcher from African Dope in Cape Town, and a host of other musicians. Pete Badenhorst flew in from Cape Town for it. Hagen Engler was there. Yeah… it was a hell of a thing. And for one night only! Haha! What the fuck were we thinking?

And then 9/11 happened. Man, it threw us for a wobbly. Grant Bain (the lead act, a genius guitarist but unstable at the best of times) in particular went totally mental. And Anthony Panniotti… mad Greek drummer, burned the US flag on stage. Hell of a thing…

But I’ll never forget me and Grant Bain driving that night the towers fell, to Donald Woodhead’s house to fetch something, I forget what. A sheet to use as a screen or something. Man, there was NOBODY! The streets were dead. Never before or since in all the years I’ve lived in PE have I seen anything like it. Not a soul on the streets. Everyone at home in front of the TV: Armageddon. Finally it was here.

But we couldn’t stop. The show must go on… It was a Helluva thing. I’ll never forget.

But now it’s ten years down the line. I’m older now. More clinical, more rational. Head no longer up my own arse. No more belief in magic and fairytales. Just cold hard facts. And if you can’t deal with them and want to make up fairy tales then don’t be surprised when they get shot down.

Facebook is already overflowing with comments, and links to sites peddling dubious conspiracy theories. What seems to be lacking in all this is a sense of understanding of the real working world of journalism. If I as a journalist uncover evidence that Americans themselves engineered the attack, why are my findings only viewable on dodgy websites and videos that are passed from person to person on the net, self-published books and the like? There are more than enough newspapers in countries outside America that are not controlled by American multinationals and that would pay me very handsomely if I presented them with irrefutable proof that there was nobody on those planes, that the whole thing was engineered so as to have an excuse to invade Arab countries with oil. (That it was later used as one is beside the point.)

The truth is, there is no such proof. The cold hard facts are as follows: There were real live people on that plane that went down in Pennnsylvania. Just ask the director of United 92. He spoke to their loved ones. They told him exactly what their wives and husbands had said in phone calls minutes before they died. There were funerals. Photographs. Cold hard facts. Yes, history is a construct. But certain things are irrefutable: The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour and not Porto’Spain. Americans dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not Nairobi and Hellsinki. Simple, documented fact. It was a plane that hit the Pentagon, not a rocket. Those people on that plane all died. Their families know that. Unless… what? The US government rounded these people up, took them off into the desert in Nevada and disposed of them, and then sent the planes off to their fiery doom? Without anyone spilling the beans? Despite any informer knowing that spilling the beans would make them a multi-millionaire?

When I learn that a third of Americans are running around believing this nonsense, I am not that surprised. Creeping into Hollywood films of various genres in the last 20 years has been a deep mistrust of the state, especially the FBI and the CIA. A deep paranoia seems to have gripped many in America that the state is undermining their freedoms and wants to take their guns away. Government is increasingly viewed as a meddling Big Brother, ready to pounce and close down churches, strip people of their freedom of speech and remodel the country into some kind of politically correct, multicultural gulag.

  The conspiracy theories in response towards 9/11 that this mindset has encouraged would all be laughable were they not so deeply narcissistic.  There has been absolutely no credible evidence whatsoever to suggest that the Pentagon was hit by a missile and then bits of a plane placed on the scene. Thousands of people, from rescue workers to witnesses, would have to have been involved in a cover-up so vast it boggles the mind. Not to mention the logistics of taking those bits of dead passengers still strapped to their airplane seats and placing them strategically amongst the rubble (after first killing and mutilating them in Nevada, remember?). All without anyone seeing or spilling the beans. Not one person involved in this had the slightest inkling of guilt in slaughtering his fellow-Americans? Right…

What makes this narcissistic (and deeply offensive to many of us non-Americans) is the fact that the US government (and specifically the CIA) has been involved in a litany of dirty deeds across the globe - specifically in little South American states conducting harmless little experiments in socialism - since the start of the Cold War. These have all been documented extensively, and hundreds of thousands if not millions have been left dead their wake. Everybody here in South Africa knows the CIA assisted the SANDF in our little escapades in Angola.

But none of this matters really, because we in the Third World are expendable. No real live Americans were harmed or injured in any way in the making of those little films.

It would be nice if those Americans who so mistrust their government started looking seriously at the discord and dirty deeds that government has been sowing and perpetrating outside of its own borders for the last 50 years before they start cooking up laughable narcissistic theories about 9/11. But to do that they have to first take their heads out of their own arses, and realise that we’re just like them: when our loved ones die we also grieve, and we also want answers. Some even want retribution.