Just about five years.
That's the answer to a question that's been taking up space in the back of my mind for some time now. It involves a difficult and painful subject -- which as it turns out, is precisely the reason why this particular answer is what it is. Easy topics make for easy discussion -- the stuff of cocktail parties and backyard Bar-BQs; but no one wants to be the one who brings up a dead relative on prom night -- or in this case, 3,000 dead relatives.
The question: how much time has to go by before Americans are willing to debate the official story of 9/11?
Now before you snort dirisively and turn away, assuming that I keep a lovely collection of tin-foil hats in my closet -- you should probably know where I'm going with this somewhat sensitive topic. I refuse to rehash the supposed facts which certain groups claim as proof of a conspiracy (as there are many); I also refuse to rehash the supposed facts which so many others claim as proof that conspiracy theorists are goddamned nuts (as there are just as many). The truth is, I'm not half as interested in the anatomy of an alleged conspiracy as I am in the anatomy of the theory itself.
I suppose however that in the interest of full disclosure, I should probably mention that I think Oswald got off a few very lucky shots. I also think that it probably really was a weather balloon that went down in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. I'm certainly not blind to the possibility that conspiracies exist and that our own government can be involved, but I suppose that I've always been willing to give those in power the benefit of the doubt -- a fact which admittedly doesn't gel very well with my misanthropic nature; in fact, it's far more likely that I simply have bills to pay and a life to lead and don't have the time to concern myself with every little fucking thing.
And yet it's these very facts which have led to a nagging feeling that I can't seem to shake, no matter how much I'd like to.
I realize that there will always be those who will ask questions and doubt the reality of any given situation -- schizophrenics, argumentative assholes, philosophy students etc. -- but for the most part, the population of America is made up of people who trust their eyes and their gut; they'll believe something when it hits them in the face -- or flies into the side of a building. But what happens when events unfold in the aftermath that actually force you to go back and look at that initial moment in an entirely different way? I hate to once again bring up my best friend in the whole wide world, M. Night Shyamalan, but how many people rewatched the first hour-and-a-half of The Sixth Sense once the ending was revealed, simply to observe how deftly that eventual outcome was engineered?
America is now engaged in a war, the aim of which would seem to be to remake the Middle-East. It's a war prosecuted under the guise of protecting America from terrorism -- and by that very definition would be a war without any forseeable or even possible end. It's a war we are unfortunately not winning. It's a war that began on September 11th, 2001, as our president seems practically orgasmic in his desire to remind us. In fact, I'm pretty sure that George W. Bush believes that every time he mentions this in front of a television camera, an angel gets its wings.
The root question at the core of any conspiracy is always the same: who has something to gain?
Believe it or not, when it came time for me to decide whether or not to doubt the government's version of 9/11, this thought barely entered my mind.
Instead, I asked myself another question -- the simple logic of which became inescapable: after everything you've seen, would you believe anything these guys said or did?
Once again, I'm not a conspiracy theorist -- but there's just no denying that this administration has made it astoundingly easy to become one. In the past four years, I've seen more lies, more cover-ups, more dirty tricks, more purposeful fear-mongering, more outright arrogant disregard for the rule of law and basic reason that if Dick Cheney told me what time it was, I'd get a second opinion.
Quite frankly, they've lost the benefit of the doubt that I was formerly so willing to hand over.
There goes the first hurdle to ostensibly questioning my government's story.
The second, as I mentioned, was my desire to simply keep busy living my own life. Awhile back I wrote about the belief that if your entire existence is a lie, then that lie actually becomes the truth. An offshot of that assertion is this: the smaller the lie, the easier it is to see through -- the better it stands out among all those truths. Let me put it another way: I'm actually more inclined to believe that an alleged conspiracy would be behind the deaths of 3,000 people than behind say, 30. The logic is flawless. The larger the act, the less likely it would be questioned -- and the more likely that those who did question it would automatically become pariahs.
To those who insist that there's simply no way that a college kid with a video camera -- or any other average American -- could expose a cover-up so vast (and not be killed by the same shadowy forces behind that cover-up), you're not understanding the beauty of something so perfectly engineered (if in fact it was). The fact that you're unwilling to even consider such a possibility renders the threat from him completely impotent. It's simply beyond the realm of rational thought that our own government could have a role in something so hideous, which is why a conspiracy of this magnitude would create its own impenetrable shield of protection for those involved.
This is all academic though; the fact is that I don't know what I really believe about what happened that day. I know what I saw, and that first impression remains a logical one.
I do know however that it's never a good idea to stop asking questions -- certainly not these days.
(I guess I should take this opportunity to say hello to the nice folks at the NSA. To everyone else, as Bill Hicks used to say -- don't worry, the dick jokes return tomorrow.)