Fahrenheit 9-11 Wakes Us Up
So you've probably seen Michael Moore's new movie, Fahrenheit 9-11. If not, you're planning to see it over the coming weeks. Good. During its opening weekend, I was invited to see it twice. I went both times.
Each time, I came out of the cinema
feeling both disturbed and bewildered by images of our cynical government, its deceptiveness, and its blood-thirsty war-mongering. Though sad, it's a great movie, and I hope that many, many folks will go see it, especially those who might still believe the current administration's rhetoric about good intentions and supporting freedom and democracy around the world.
I am writing today, though, to share my growing concern that the extent
of our government's capacity to make bad things happen may not be limited to
ignorance, stupidity, and incompetence. It's grown ever clearer to me that our government may be in the hands of those who have a
capacity for deliberate and premeditated actions to hurt its own citizens for economic and political gain.
I'm talking not just about the passage of countless acts to take away civil liberties and rights (e.g. PATRIOT Act), destabilize the world (e.g. withdrawal from the Anti Ballistic Missile treaty), or plunder the earth's resources (e.g. Healthy Forests initiative, withdrawal from the Kyoto treaty). No, I'm more specifically looking at the event that led the American people and Congress to give the administration an all-out blank check to do
whatever it pleases: The attacks of September 11th, 2001.
Too Much to Bear for One Human Soul
To be honest, I didn't think much about the specifics of that attack for
quite some time. The magnitude of the events and their sheer horror imprinted into my
subconscious an idea that someone larger and more important than my own
little self would surely figure out exactly what had happened and take care of
For example, when Osama Bin Laden's face came beaming from
the TV screen within hours of the attacks, it seemed to make perfect sense
that he had done it. Surely the people in our government and the good folks at
the TV networks knew so much more than I did, and their confidence and natural
ease in speaking a verdict without trial had to be founded in solid proof.
The fact that the North Tower of the World Trade Center, which had been hit
first, collapsed long after the South Tower did, seemed kind of strange, but
that thought was quickly replaced with the notion that my little artist
self, who can't even fix his own computer, shouldn't even think of inciting
the laws of physics.
It was all just too much to bear for one soft and caring human soul, and I
decided that the most effective and important thing I could do in the face
of so much violence and destruction was to put as many loving vibrations as
I possibly could out into the world. I knew that the government would
retaliate and that there was nothing I could physically do about it, so I
focused on being a better musician and a kinder human being. I envisioned bringing
more joy and warmth into the world, because it was needed then more than ever.
Before anyone was even ready to think about who and what really hit us,
George Bush was taking us on a wild ride through Afghanistan, and shortly thereafter, Iraq. I mean, really, who could find the time or mental capacity still to wonder why none of the planes that were wildly straying off course on
9-11 were intercepted by the world's most advanced air force when you're
busy being outraged about your government attacking other countries for no
9-11 had become yesterday's news.
9-11 had become yesterday's news. It was a tragedy imprinted in our collective
consciousness, not so much as a specific event with exact dates and times
and occurrences, but rather as an almost archetypal or mythical feeling.
9-11 became known as "the day everything changed," rather than as the day of a
specific crime that should be investigated and solved.
Waking Up, Becoming Harry Potter
For those of you who've read any of the Harry Potter books, I'd like to
invoke Lord Voldemort (He Who Must Not Be Named). Lord Voldemort is the character that is so
evil that just the thought of him will send shivers down your spine – so
best never to think of him or wonder why he is so evil. The whole world of
wizards is so paralyzed and terrified by his image that they begin to censor
themselves in order to keep themselves sheltered from a truth too painful even to
consider. But of course we all know that every story has a hero.
this case, it is all of us who are challenged to find the Harry Potter within
ourselves, the naturally curious and always questioning part of ourselves
that is not afraid of the truth regardless of the outcome.
To begin, there are a lot of unanswered questions in regard to what exactly happened
on September 11, 2001. For an idea of some of these questions, I
highly recommend a recently published book called The New Pearl Harbor -
Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9-11, by David Ray
Griffin (Olive Branch Press - www.interlinkbooks.com). It's a gripping and well-written collection of all the facts and questions pertaining to the
occurrences of that day, and to the events leading up to it. It is not a preachy
left-wing book, but rather a dispassionate, systematic study of the facts and
evidence that make the official version almost impossible to believe. [This issue of G&G reviews this important book and also interviews Griffin. - Ed.]
Was it just sheer incompetence that on this particular day, the North
American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which routinely intercepts
aircrafts (meaning guiding them back on course, not shooting them down), and
the National Military Command Center (NMCC) allowed 4 civil airplanes to go
off course over a span of almost 2 hours and fly into America's most
populated areas, including Washington D.C, the world's most heavily guarded
airspace? And if so, how come nobody has gotten fired or reprimanded? If it
really was just massive human error, how come the
administration keeps obstructing and stonewalling any effort to simply shed
some light on what happened?
There are many more questions, from how two
steel enforced buildings can turn into tiny heaps of dust from fires that
are hardly burning, to how the debris of Flight 93 could be strewn across 8
miles in the Pennsylvania countryside without the plane having exploded in
the air, to the question of who benefits from it all. But I urge you not to
take my word for it. Look into it yourself.
A Time for Courage and Introspection
I believe in karma, and from my own perspective it is completely unthinkable
that anyone – of any creed or
heritage – could commit such a heinous crime. Yet this is not the first time that human beings have inflicted
the kind of pain on each other whose description I lack words for. What I'm learning once again is that good and evil aren't outside of us; their potential lives within us all. Deeply, I know this. I know that I
myself am capable of peace and of violence, of loving and of hating. And with that awareness I can
develop compassion for all humans, because we are all confronted with the
same choices – choices that reflect how we respond to our situation or
I am saying this about introspection because the biggest obstacle we face in looking at the
truth about 9-11 – whatever it may be – is that the only version of it that we
seem to be able to live with is the official one about an evil foreign
attacker who is completely separate from us and all that we think we embody. To consider that some of our own could have been complicit in such an atrocity
would be to acknowledge that we ourselves could have such capacity, which
evokes an almost existential fear. We like to be good humans, but if it's
too hard to be good sometimes, we at least like to maintain the illusion of our
goodness. Yet when we refuse to acknowledge our dark side, it comes back to haunt us in ways that we cannot control.
We have a tremendous opportunity to look at the facts about 9-11 with heroic, curious minds.
Remember, we have a tremendous opportunity to look at the facts about 9-11 with heroic, curious minds. We can be Harry Potter. No matter what the outcome, we
owe it to ourselves and to the healing processes of our soul, to shed our fear
of a potentially dark and disturbing truth, and investigate what really
happened on "the day everything changed."
With this in mind, I urge you to think about 9-11 as if you'd never heard
anything about it. Be a jury objectively deliberating a case without the
influence of popular opinion. I'm eager to hear what
you come up with, as I personally am not completely sure what happened that
day. I just know that what we believe happened that day can't possibly be
To get a start, check out the links in the resources. I also
definitely recommend David Ray Griffin's book for some good old fashioned
reading on the couch – you'll fly through it like a Perry Mason story. As
far as the "independent" 9-11 Commission issuing its final report, we should not
let this case be closed before the pivotal questions have been answered. And
the ones who must insist on asking these questions are you and I. The government has not, and will not, ask them – for reasons that may lay buried in the answers.
With love, blessings and a clear mind poking through the haze.
Sven Eberlein is a musician with Chemystry Set and a writer for the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
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