What does September 11th mean to you? Although no two people see one hundred percent eye-to-eye on any given topic, I would wager that the great majority of people feel the most basic senses of sadness and loss. Stemming from sadness and loss, there bursts a plethora of emotions and feelings that cover just about any spectrum of adjectives you care to apply.
Through my past blog posts and contributions on the SGU podcast, I have shared my feelings of sadness and loss concerning September 11th. However, I also feel anger and frustration, brought about by those that have chosen to champion the causes of revisionist history, data cherry-picking, and a revolting extreme political ideology. The antagonists that have brought my feelings to the surface are the so-called “9/11 Truthers”. These “truthers” consist of organizations and individuals who actively contribute to the crafting our generation’s modern mythology. It has been happening since shortly after the 9/11 attacks, and it continues to manifest today.
Back in 2004, a CNN poll showed that 89% of their viewers believe that there was a 9/11 U.S. government cover-up. In a 2006 Zogby poll, 42% of people polled believed the U.S. government and the federally funded and mandated ‘9/11 Commission’ were covering up information. Penn & Teller reported (via their Bullshit! episode on 9/11 conspiracy theories) that in a recent poll, 49.3% of New York City residents believe that government officials knew of the impending attack and willingly allowed the attack to commence.
Our culture now includes a portion of the population that has been saturated by extreme and unproven “truths” about 9/11, so much so that the best way to properly describe what has happened is that we are in the midst of an active mythology, unfolding right before our eyes.
As September 11, 2009 approached, we were reminded that “the lunatics are (still) on the grass” thanks to one of the “truth” movement’s most recognizable figures, the actor Charlie Sheen.
Last week, Charlie did us all the great service of crafting a dialogue between himself and U.S. President Barack Obama titled “20 Minutes With the President.” Because Charlie (thankfully) has little or no shot of ever being able to engage a US President in such a manner, the best Charlie the actor could do to satiate himself and his audience was to pretend to have a conversation, or to show how a conversation between himself and President Obama might go down in Charlie’s brain. (Thankfully, the art of teaching through use of fictional dialogues is still the domain of the likes of Plato or Aristotle instead of Sheen, but I digress.)
Courtesy of the website prisonplanet.com (Alex Jones’ website, and he’s a whole other blog post subject for another day), here are some “highlights” of Charlie’s imaginary encounter with President Obama:
Charlie Sheen – … In researching your position regarding the events of 9/11 and the subsequent investigation that followed, am I correct to understand that you fully support and endorse the findings of the commission report otherwise known as the ‘official story’?
President Barack Obama – Do I have any reason not to? Given that most of us are presumably in touch with similar evidence.
CS – I really wish that were the case, sir. Are you aware, Mr. President, of the recent stunning revelations that sixty percent of the 9/11 commissioners have publicly stated that the government agreed not to tell the truth about 9/11 and that the Pentagon was engaged in deliberate deception about their response to the attack?
PBO – I am aware of certain “in fighting” during the course of their very thorough and tireless investigative process.
CS – Mr. President, it’s hard to label this type of friction as “in fighting” or make the irresponsible leap to “thorough,” when the evidence I insist you examine regarding 6 of the 10 members are statements of fact.
(At this point one of Obama’s senior aides approaches the President and whispers into his ear. Obama glances quickly at his watch and nods as the aide resumes his post at the doorway, directly behind me.)
PBO – No disrespect Mr. Sheen, but I have to ask; what is it that you seem to be implying with the initial direction of this discussion?
CS – I am not implying anything Mr. President. I am here to present the facts and see what you plan to do with them.
According to Charlie, he’s not implying anything. Oh, really Charlie? Continuing …
CS – Mr. President, are you aware of the number of days it took to begin the investigation into JFK’s assassination?
PBO – If memory serves I believe it was two weeks.
CS – Close. Seventeen days to be exact. Are you aware sir, how long it took to begin the investigation into Pearl Harbor?
PBO – I would say again about….two weeks.
CS – Close again sir, eleven days to be exact. Are you aware Mr. President how long it took to begin the investigation into 9/11?
PBO – I know it must have seemed like a very long time for all the grieving families.
CS – It was a very long time Mr. President – four hundred and forty days. Roughly 14 months. Does it bother you Mr. President that it only took FIVE HOURS for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after the initial attack to recommend and endorse a full scale offensive against Iraq?
Are you implying anything yet, Charlie? Or are these still simply the “facts”?
Later in the script, Obama reminds Charlie that he’s down to his last five minutes, so Charlie goes into rapid-fire classic Gish-Gallop mode as he throws up crunchy nuggets of “truth” such as: Osama Bin Laden was never charged with any crimes by the Department of Justice in relationship to the 9/11 attacks, an ex-CIA employee claims that Bin Laden was on the CIA payroll on September 10th, 2001, that NY City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was informed by a mysterious person of the tower’s imminent collapse just minutes before the first tower collapsed, that years prior to 9/11 the U.S. government simulated exercises to respond to hijacked airliners crashing into the World Trade Center, that government “Doomsday planes” were sighted over New York City and Washington DC the morning of 9/11, that Dick Cheney usurped NORAD control just months before the attacks, that the black boxes from the planes that struck the towers were recovered and covered up by officials, he carelessly invokes WTC7 with no facts whatsoever …it goes on and on. If you have the patience and the stomach, you can read the whole work of fiction here.
To cut to the chase, all of the questions surrounding 9/11 that the “truthers” validate themselves by can all be found within a few sources. First, read the Popular Mechanics article by James Meigs who does a wonderful job of summarizing what the 9/11 “truthers” (who are more accurately described by rational skeptics as “9/11 deniers”) are all about. The article includes links to the original Popular Mechanics March 2005 cover story which thoroughly examined actual evidence, refuting many of the items Charlie touches upon in his dialogue.
Second, everyone should read Gerald Posner’s book ‘Why America Slept’ for an unbiased appreciation of the actual political factors and government failings since the late 1970’s that all led to the events of the 9/11 attacks. (Sorry, Charlie, it can’t all be pinned on Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld and company.)
Third, check out the website debunk911myths.org, a valuable and non-ideological resource whose acknowledgements include: Mark Roberts who wrote the Loose Change Guide, Mike Williams who runs 911myths.com, Pat and James B. (authors of the Screw Loose Change blog), the authors of Debunking911.com, the editors of Popular Mechanics who wrote “Debunking The 9/11 Myths – Mar. 2005 Cover Story”, members of the JREF forums, “RealityBites” and Abby Scott (creator of 911 Conspiracy Wars – “The Movie.)
Lastly, give snopes.com a look at their collection of 9/11 related stories. Only a few of them directly relate to Charlie’s pretend conversation with the President, but several of these items are still cited by 9/11 deniers to this day.
Charlie Sheen believes he is performing a noble service with his work of fiction. What he is actually doing is giving credence and weight to a set of incorrect notions that are poisoning our culture and incorrectly re-writing our history. Much the same way Jenny McCarthy attacks the science and evidence concerning vaccinations, or someone like Oliver Stone perpetuates the myths about the assassination of President Kennedy, Charlie Sheen’s behavior helps sway public opinions against the facts and evidence surrounding one of the most defining, important, and emotional days in United States history – simply becasue he is a famous actor. Charlie’s attempt at a noble service is actually a great disservice to us all.