Death has gotten in the way: Pt. 1
Instilled sensitivities prevent us from questioning 9/11
by Jeff Ogrisseg
Exclusive for Challenging Scientism
Shock and awe. Watch helplessly as a thousand people die at once for reasons you can’t begin to comprehend. Repeat as necessary to produce the worst possible fears.
– Burning towers, South and North. The fireball from the South Tower was the first act of the mass flash-brainwashing that took place on Sept. 11, 2001.
Now matter what you believed happened on 9/11, the stark fact is that the world continued to watch what they understood to be untold hundreds of people dying within seconds of each other. And not just once, or even twice.
Three times, plus change, in an hour and a half. Even Hollywood can’t swing this one very often. But there it was on TV. And nobody could turn it off. Especially after the morbid imagery of suicide jumpers (the change) and a huge fireball bursting out the side of a well-known skyscraper.
– The top of the North Tower begins the first few seconds of its nearly free-fall date with the ground below. This second building collapse was the morning’s final live act.
Second for second, these were purportedly the largest mass murders ever broadcast live on television, and probably the first that didn’t involve someone in a uniform shooting at people. Folks tuned in everywhere, even on office TVs in Tokyo, mesmerized by a smoldering hole in the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York and a news anchor’s promise of updates as they come in.
The events of that autumn Tuesday in 2001 without question took a wretched toll on the minds of all the innocents who saw it in person or live on TV at levels that none of us could comprehend. What I didn’t understand then was that this was the purpose.
– Troubling imagery of suicide jumpers on 9/11, which triggered deep emotional responses in all of us by facing us with the decision of whether or not we would jump.
I went to sleep that night feeling sorrow for the victims and fairly bewildered as to what I had witnessed. I also felt the first twinges of guilt, for watching it unfold like a journalist, so busy trying to catch details that I never got around to wishing that it would stop.
Since then my sympathies have shifted to all the other people that watched it and lived. Because we have been carrying and burying 9/11 guilt for nine years – at some level we feel ashamed for continuing to watch after we saw the fireball. And, too, for some of the darker things we were thinking, or even spoke up in regret.
In fact, people feel so guilty about not preventing what happened, so deeply emotionally scarred, that the general public has come to fear that any discussion of the events could have the appearance of either disrespect to the victims or a lack of patriotism. We understand, it came straight from the President.
These days, however, guilting someone over the U.S. military’s casualties, which are the result of 9/11, gets the job done much quicker. Thus, the bar for free speech starts at around six feet under.
Programing the American Mind
Stop blaming yourself. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve been conditioned to respond in certain ways to certain stimuli. The total imagery presented was that of being an actual terrorist attack, with people dying in American cities. This was not an episode of “The Lone Gunman” or a “Die Hard” sequel. It was happening and we didn’t know the plot so we continued to watch.
Overwhelmingly, I imagine, American readers about 20 years either side of me were, like myself, educated in a way that makes talk of anything other than the Official Story of 9/11 simply unthinkable.
Embodying a neoconservative’s wet dream, we were brought up to believe in Old Glory, “America the Beautiful,” and told that ‘We proud, lucky Americans have always been the good guys.’ Sporting fantastic white hats, we’ve been doing great things and helping people of the world against evildoers for more than 200 years. We Are The Superpower. ‘And with great power comes…’
Imagine the impact that learning to read the word “astronaut” had on an impressionable 1st grader back in 1968. Nine-letter words were still pretty darn imposing at that age. We were proud from watching our big glowing rockets take American men into space, with dramatic TV commentary from Walter Cronkite.
Our American astronauts were heroes, in a long, long line of American heroes. Maybe I hadn’t yet picked up the word “awesome,” but that was We, the American People.
And later, when we walked on the moon, we planted our flag but did we take it all for ourselves? No, siree! America decided to ‘share it with all mankind.’ Yeah. Hmn? So, how swell are we now? They told us everything we needed to hear in order to instill a high national pride and it was pretty great. How could we have known any different?
The Other American Histories
Setting aside all the stuff that we weren’t taught – like how the native population was cheated almost to extinction, eugenics programs, it’s become a long list — let’s make a trip back to just a few of the now-known-to-be fallacies that they drilled into our heads about famous people and sometimes tested us on:
- Christopher Columbus: The Italian explorer not only had to con the queen of Spain to fund his exploits, but also had to convince his crew to go along because they were certain they would sail off the edge of the planet. (Not! Except for the queen thing). The days when people believed Earth to be flat were long, long over; The sticky issue was whether ships of the time could take such a long ocean beating, and still carry enough food to keep the crew from eating each other before they got there. The version we were taught was written by Washington Irving. He left out more than he embellished. And he embellished a lot.
- George Washington: When I was a kid we were taught that young George chopped down a cherry tree with a hatchet, and when his father asked him about it, he did the Right Thing and Told The Truth. Which was The Lesson. And The Lesson came up every time when somebody was thought to be lying. (Except this incident never happened. Neither did the silver dollar across the Potomac. Sigh…)
- Abraham Lincoln: This U.S. president won the Civil War so he could free the slaves. Bazinga! Lincoln was in fact opposed to freeing the slaves because he did not want blacks integrating into White Society. What he did support was resettling the slaves, first in Liberia and later in South America. In the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, Lincoln said: “I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” He said much the same thing during his Inaugural Address in 1861. And Lincoln did everything he could to stop his generals from freeing slaves in the Confederate states. Laws to abolish slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation were — in Lincoln’s own words — a “military necessity.”Carefully timed and widely distributed, the Proclamation had the desired effect of “creating confusion in the South and depriving the Confederacy of much of its valuable laboring force,” according to one historian. Plus it looked good in the eyes of European powers.
You get the idea. We grew up following the shining examples that were put in front of us. Our education was so full of heroes to remember that it never occurred to us to look for more information. Finding out later that so much of it was never true means that at least half of the hours we were forced to toil with construction paper and school paste were an absolute waste. You know what I mean if you’ve ever tried to make a Pilgrim buckle hat.
– A student lies dead on the ground at Kent State University. This was the day that America really lost its innocence.
I can still remember the jolt I got from watching the local news on May 4, 1970, the reports of an antiwar demonstration that ended in 13 seconds of gunfire by National Guardsmen on the campus of Kent State University. Four dead, nine wounded, about an hour up the turnpike. Too close. I was 9, and by bedtime that day, my days of running around with fake guns playing “Army!” with my friends were over.
So I know a thing or two about shock reprogramming.
– National Guardsmen spike their rifles with bayonets on the campus of Kent State.
It took Kent State to wake up the American public to the Vietnam War, because the real stuff going on across the ocean just wasn’t horrible enough. But we were fighting Communism, so that’s what was important. Those “sacrifices” for the cause of freedom were, um, necessary?
– Life magazine brings the Vietnam War to the American public, who forgot about it until the Kent State shootings.
And how did that turn out? In the end, a few gripping moments on TV showing disposable helicopter taxis from the Embassy roof in Saigon landing on the flight deck of the USS Midway, then being swiftly pushed over the side. And Hollywood filled in the rest, to make us feel better about losing.
Americans still feel uncomfortable about admitting that it’s even possible for the guys in White Hats to not win. Or how badly. Instead only half of Vietnam being Communist, now the whole place is. Didn’t we have Right on our side? How much did we spend?
– Eddie Adams’ iconic 1968 photo of a Vietnamese general in Saigon executing a Viet Cong suspect on the street at point-blank range. It was four years later that photographer Nick Ut snapped “the other Vietnam photo” of a naked 9-year-old running from a napalm attack.
We ran away with our tail between our legs, but we’re friends now, so it’s more chic to discuss the final score. But only up to a point.
Here we are in Summer 2010, and the list of countries that the United States has attacked since 1945 could grow to, as I understand, 27, any second it seems. The number is much, much higher when you add in less direct forms of hostile action. The total possible impact of questioning the Official Story of 9/11 (as well as a bunch of other offshoot stories) grows larger every year. And who by now doesn’t have at least something invested in this?
The shootings of antiwar protesters at Kent State University did not stop the American public from taking a square look at the Vietnam quagmire, even though a large percentage of the population had been touched somehow by the conflict. Those are the Americans I grew up with.
– “Why?” Why indeed? What was it all for? And what’s it all for this time?
It’s time to stop feeling guilty about what you did or didn’t do on 9/11 and understand that it really is your duty to ask the hard questions, no matter where you live.
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Jeff Ogrisseg is a Tokyo-based expat with 14 years of military experience in air traffic control and journalism and another 14 plus change as an editor. Read Jeff’s work on Plate Tectonics and Expanding Earth theory, and CS’s related article.