Sept 11 and all that

I’ve been wrestling with angels for some days as to how to write about the dreaded September 11 date. For starters I figured I didn’t want a comments box filled by outraged americans who’d missed my point and so were going to attack me instead of starting their own blog. I didn’t want to trample over my american friends’ toes either. I’d quite like to set foot on american soil again without feeling I offended the sensitive nature of the homeland security.

I also didn’t want the day to go past without noting how the date was historically important from an aviation perspective either.

No, not those hideous scenes of aircraft going into the side of buildings. September 11 marks the day when the first flight was made from Australia to New Zealand. The first trans-Tasman flight was completed by Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and CTP Ulm on 11 September, 1928. They flew a Fokker monoplane from Sydney to Christchurch in 14 hours 25 minutes, and they were met by a crowd of some 35,000 people. Probably most of the South Island if truth be known.

I still wanted to comment on the event from 2001. Finally, some days later (it’s the 16th, as I write) I got an edge from Andrew Bartlett’s writing, where he refers to an article on openDemocracy.net – 9/11, five years on: what has been learned?

At the time I was writing papers for my masters – we had to put forward a meta-analysis for where we saw the state of the world being ten years time. Apparently meta analysis is academic gobble-de-gook for ‘examine your belly button for lint and reference it using APA’. My big theory then (as now) is the issue is water. Or the lack thereof. And how there was a whole chunk of the planet under the age of 25, short of water, short of jobs and money, and short of prospects in general; but not short of relgious zealots redirecting their hormones and disposable bodies for their own political and ideological genocide. I saw the planes on buildings as a communication piece and naively believed that the images might provoke some sort of satori amongst the western powers.

What was I thinking? As if it would. Initially, for me, always the sceptic, I thought nothing has changed.

Abdul-Rehman Malik writes that from his perspective he’s learned four lessons. Of all the writers covered in the document (and there’s some good writing there, make no mistake) his resounded most for me. Might be right. Might be wrong. But it made sense to me. And so, building on Malik’s list, some things are changed. I agree with his first point 9/11 continues – same shit, different day. Different people have their own personal 9/11, often delivered to them courtesy of some western corporate. No wonder people strike out at the futility – you can only ‘be a bigger person’ for so long.

I’m not a cynic, but I am a sceptic. Cynics tend to be people who care the most, who love the most, who built up a leathery coat to defend themselves against the venom of the world. I’m not like that. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t believe. I’m not that good at tv, as an example, because I don’t believe technology is neutral or innocent. Andrew Bartlett comments that he’s amazed about the persistant nature of the conspiracy theories, as outlined in Time magazine. Well, I’m not. I’ve seen stills and video footage, and heard and read eye witness accounts of the event. One thing they have in common was the clouds of billowing dust – apparently from the pulverised concrete. Why a fragment of the conspiracy theories will remain with me for a long time is I’ve yet to hear a convincing explanation how a reinforced concrete building can be pulverised to dust. Take a hammer to a concrete block. See how much dust results. Concrete is a stick-together kind of product, not a turn-to-dust kind of product. I do believe what I see, I’m just not believing the media’s conspiracy to convince me that a glancing blow from an aircraft did it alone. But aparently, I’m wrong. You see, the National Institute of Standards and Technology have spared no expense ($US 16 million) to investigate and report – to the extent of putting together a web site heaving with data to assure us that, pretty much, any crap design will fall down if you shove an aircraft up it.

In the end who cares? They are right, I am wrong. That changes nothing. On the day, and perhaps as a result of that day, there are winners and losers. The winners typically wear suits, uniforms, or robes; and travel not less than business class. The losers wear work clothes or if they lose badly enough, shrouds. They travel cattle class or more unfortunately, freight class. It doesn’t really matter what ethnic background, or what passport they carry. It doesn’t matter what religious affiliation they espouse, even if they don’t have any religion to speak of, the results are the same, for all sides. It’s a bit like at the end of Animal Farm, the animals outside noticed how the farmers and the pigs started to look alike.

Peaceful Tomorrows quote Martin Luther King Jr: ‘Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows’. I don’t think we can go through life wringing our hands and bleating ‘how terrible’ however. What we have to do is make an effort in our own immediate sphere to contribute positively to our people. They in turn to theirs. We have a power of communicating worldwide now – you’re doing it now – reading my words, written here in Wellington, and you are somewhere else. Reach out to the person nearest and make a difference where you are.

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