September 12th, 2012
Read Kevin’s original article on his website.
Jad: Hello, and welcome to this particular proto-project[?]. It’s incidentally and not unintentionally – and perhaps – only initially styled after, meta[?] narrative shows like Radio Lab – though, without the budget and perhaps the attention to detail. Given my interests and those of the co-creator, and given the lifespan to move from proto-project to project proper, future installments will range over all scopes and topics of the human experience.
The central connecting themes will likely include the grand ideas of liberty, humanity, and equality – though, without the horror and bloodshed of a French revolution. This particular episode revolves around the 11th anniversary of 9/11 – which for us, just passed into the rearview mirror. Our jumping off point is an article that – not coincidentally – was written by the other voice you’ll hear when you tune into the series. His name is Kevin Ludlow, and I’m Jad Davis.
It was a year ago today that I posted on my Facebook wall, “I fucking hate 9/11 and everything about it.” It was an honest feeling about the 10th anniversary of the American tragedy. Perhaps not surprising, I was met with some pretty strong views from both sides. A few in agreement appreciated the bluntness, but a few in disagreement were furious at my callousness. Contrary to what the latter group may have assumed at the time, my position was not intended as one of rudeness. It was not intended as a lack of sympathy for mourners, and it was certainly not intended as a childish outburst of disrespect for the deceased.
Instead, it was an introspective position, questioning very sincerely what 9/11 actually does mean to America – not what we’d like it to mean, but rather the meaning it takes on given our actions as a nation. Why can’t I, “fucking hate” 9/11? Why is that so wrong? In the 11 years since the towers were brought down, I would like to think that the United States has progressed in wisdom and maturity. I would like to think that the majority of people have become more knowledgeable, and less ethnocentric in their ways, but I am also very aware that this is far from reality. People are becoming more and more divided on a daily basis.
The United States military is involved in numerous conflicts with sovereign nations around the Middle East, and despite what the president claims, withdrawing from the region seems very unlikely any time soon. The rich continue getting richer, and the poor continue getting poorer – and worst of all is that with the exception of our fringed political dissenters – both left and right – nobody really seems to care enough to change anything – hell, most people probably don’t even notice. In my eyes, the United States is the antiquated representation of a former greatness.
Where innovation once stood, now stands blind corporatism in its place. Where soldiers and police once honorably defended philosophical values, now stands blind militarism, used for defending only value itself. Where liberty once stood, now stands an army of lobbyists, increasingly proficient at penetrating our three branches of government. And atop the entire chain is the media – always there to remind us that it’s the fault of someone else. We are every bit as good to the world as we think we are.
We now live in a country where it’s borderline treason to question anything that led to the events of 9/11. Never mind questioning the conspiracy theories, but even the underlying motives of the high jackers remains a socially condemned topic in most discussions. The population remains willfully oblivious to the fact that we’ve been dropping bombs in the Middle East for decades without consequence, and of course, to most people, it’s impossible to believe that we are directly responsible for arming and using the Taliban to stifle the Russians – now one of the very group we’re allegedly seeking to destroy.
Still, my personal favorite is that while we continue to wage wars and conflicts with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and soon to be Iran, we still enjoy relative peace with Saudi Arabia – ignoring the fact that 15 of the 19 high jackers actually were citizens of this country. My effort is not to denigrate the lives of the 2,977 innocent Americans killed by such evil intentions. My effort is not denigrate the lives of 2,977 innocent Americans killed by such evil intentions, but to force the issue of why we should ignore the more than 120,000 equally innocent lives that we have killed in reckless retaliation since.
The United States is the land of opportunity, and there is no tragedy too great for this mantra. We sell t-shirts, stickers, cigarette lighters, pens, coffee mugs, patches, plates, and truckloads of other petty memorabilia, embroidered with this notorious day. We can buy 9/11 in a dozen different colors, we just can’t talk about it quite as colorfully. This is how we choose to “honor” the memories of those who died because this truly is the character of the United States. We’re materialistic in every way imaginable, and it couldn’t be illustrated any better than on a day such as this. People were literally blown to pieces in the sky. Rescue workers were literally crushed to death by falling steel, concrete, and debris. Innocent men and women literally jumped to their untimely deaths to escape the horrors of being burned alive by jet fuels. And so, to immortalize these people, we find that in good taste to purchase tiny, plastic replicas of the buildings bearing the words, “never forget” across the front, and made in China underneath – we are truly surreal.
So when I wrote, “I fucking hate 9/11 and everything about it” on the 10 year anniversary of the tragedy, I genuinely meant it – and one year later, I still do. If we truly honored the deceased – as we pretend to do – we would all fucking hate 9/11. This is the natural human response toward any tragedy – especially one of such magnitude. Instead, we’re taught to embrace the moment as some kind of halftime pep rally, while we continue to sign the rights to the country away to the highest bidder. I suspect very sincerely, that before this chapter in history is all over, we’ll learn to fucking hate 9/11.
I agree to disagree with various aspects of the article. I thought it would be interesting to have a conversation about it, and Kevin and I had just been talking about maybe recording and editing some of the discussions we’d had based on our similar, ultra-fringy political views.
Kevin: Hey man.
Jad: How’s it going?
Kevin: Pretty good – wow, that sounds really good.
Jad: Yeah, I know. I [?] –
After sorting out some technical basics, and talking about format –
Kevin: What do you want to do? How do you want to – how do you want to approach this?
Jad: And arriving at a conclusion –
We don’t have to go as far as the Radio Lab version where they –
Kevin: That was actually what I was thinking also [?] –
Jad: Yeah, so like Radio Lab, but with a lot fewer cool transitions. With all the details worked out, we were off.
Well here’s a good segue then – the 11th anniversary of 9/11 as of yesterday, and you had some thoughts on that?
Kevin: I did, actually. I posted a yearly rant that I like to come up with and I do a lot of writing, so threw some stuff out there. I you know, I tried to organize it pretty succinctly, and I put it out for some of the masses to see. And to say the least, I didn’t get – it was a lot of people didn’t give me very respectful opinions of it. But for the most part, I think that far more people disagree with the opinions that I was sharing than agree with it. And I guess, kind of what I was talking about and what I tended to say the other day was just the fact that I don’t really feel that the way the United States handles something like 9/11 is – inappropriate is perhaps the wrong word – but I think we go about it in a very type of inappropriate way for lack of a better word.
Obviously it’s this terrible, horrible tragedy, people died you know I mean, in the worst way, and I described that in some detail in this rant that I wrote the other day. And what bothers me about it is the way that we kind of – I feel – is very callous, frankly, and I find it ironic that people would say I’m the callous one for it. But we treat it almost like it’s this big event that we’re looking forward to. This really kind of got into my head on the 10 year anniversary of it last year, and I swear for weeks leading up to it, I felt like I was watching Super Bowl promotion commercials for you know, 9/11 – the night that it happened and you know, showing the towers over, and over – and I guess it just really kind of bothers me, quite frankly.
Jad: Sure. Sure. Did you notice a market decrease this year in the coverage? I mean obviously, the 10th year is like the you know – in the telling of the narrative, the mass memory event and all of the things that followed that they need 10 years, they have a bunch more critical milestone than 11.
Kevin: Sure. I did – I did notice a decline, actually. You know, I don’t watch television, but all the same you know, just even online and everything, there seem to be quite a bit less chatter around it, and listening to some of the radio talks and things like that, they certainly weren’t talking about it nearly as much as they were on the 10th anniversary. So I don’t really know what to make of that frankly, but there was a noticeable difference from last year.
Jad: I think it’s to do with what that year meant I mean, because it is a ritual – in a sense.
Jad: Right, I mean, it is a – besides the commercial appeal or whatever, that you referred to in your article, there’s also a political justification for essentially all of the entire American policy for the last 10 years – both foreign and domestic. And so it’s really important that we all remember the same story and the same sequence of events that happened after the story. And it’s very important that we kind of forget about some of it – a little bit – such as the reasoning for invading several countries that were seemingly uninvolved with 9/11, yet somehow at the time seemed to be magically tied to it.
Last year really served as – 10 years, like you were talking about earlier with memory – it’s really a lot of recalls and rewrites, perceptions of the – at the time – can really have been manipulated by the intervening 10 years of retelling of the tale in a very, very coordinated and systematic way in media, and even with each other and so forth.
Kevin: Absolutely. Well I mean, did you find – because I agree with that entirely – did you find the same sort of thing – that there was perhaps less of a telling of it – and I don’t know what you’re you know – perhaps something your friends, or peers, or even family members – I mean, did you notice a difference yourself this year compared with last year – or even previous years to that?
Jad: I did. I did. I think last year I had the same perception you did, and I tried to hide from it to some degree, but last year was kind of inevitable. I mean, it was definitely like you said – for weeks ahead of time it was a big run up to the event.
Jad: And this year, it kind of passed with very little – well I hate to say fanfare, but I guess it is appropriate – fanfare.
Kevin: Yeah. And I think so too, that what I was getting at which is why I – my rant this year was a little bit different than I guess, the position I was taking last year. I still think it exists, and I think it’s a very interesting segway that you – or that you actually [?] on there about the whole memory thing. You know, I’ve spoken with so many people about the event over the years, and I’m not a conspiracy theorist to be perfectly honest with you. I mean, I happy to explore alternate concepts of things, but I tend to look at simpler answers of things. And just over the years of exploring the topic with people, it’s fascinating to me how few people really know some of the just – not even the conspiracy, just the actual stories that happened.
Building 7 for example, I mean – blows my mind. Go out in the streets and you know how they do those things where they’ll be like, “who’s on a $100 bill”, and of course, nobody knows. Ask people who – how many buildings came down on September 11th, and they’ll tell you 2. It’s fascinating to me how little of the story people actually put together, never mind you know, the conspiracy theories that go well beyond that.
Kevin: So I think it is really interesting as you say, that everybody has to keep kind of, the same story, and it’s been a real – as I expressed yesterday also – a real rah, rah, rah type of moment for nationalism, for the United States to justify its actions around the world.
Jad: You were talking building 7. Going down that trail, people will immediately sort of close off those lines of inquiry because they’re in the category of you know, like you said, conspiracy theory. Even though that’s – there are certain questions on the outline levels at least, which seem very, very legitimate how people still will [?] shy away from it. And that kind of goes to what you were saying some of the responses you got from your article tended to be along the lines – either it was you know, supportive, or if it wasn’t supportive, it was sort of a, “I really just don’t want to think about this”. So what were some of the responses like along those lines?
Kevin: You know, that was the thing. It’s not so much that the responses that I’ve gotten from people are outright negative. I’ve gotten a few of those you know, where people just say, “look, it’s wrong for you to talk about this”, and there’s clearly some frustration with me that they have for even you know, just bringing – it’s inappropriate I suppose. But more importantly – and I guess what really sticks out in my mind are people who did write to me and say, “you know, I don’t want to think about this – I don’t want to see it like that. I want to memorialize it as you know, as something to look – something to use for patriotism, and for the country to move forward with, and I have a very difficult time with that – with people – because building 7 I think is a great example, and what you just said is completely true – at least in my experience – you bring it up and immediately, it’s – you’re in the world of conspiracy theory.
And I’m not saying that the government did something. I’m not saying that there was some you know, nefarious internal acts that took place. The fact of the matter is it did collapse, so what – how can we not even talk about that, you know? When people say, “well, I don’t want to think about it enough to even consider the fact that that happened”, I’m like well, you know, I’m not theorizing, I’m just saying that’s what happened.
Kevin: Can’t we even just discuss what we saw, never mind what we think may have happened?
Jad: Right. Well and that leads into – [?] could pick the next layer out from that even, assume that the events all occurred exactly as they were outlined by the 9/11 commission –
Jad: – and which I think – if I remember correctly – does not even address building 7. But let’s just say all of that is totally kosher, you still are even getting into the conspiracy theory area when you talk about the possibility that it’s the American foreign policy of the previous 50 years leading up to 9/11 that might have had something to do with the event itself. Like even that is really – like you said – clouding this sacrosanct nature of the day and the event for some people it seems like.
Kevin: Oh, absolutely. I mean, and that was another you know – I included a paragraph or two, and I rant about that pretty frequently I mean, it’s a big – it’s a big issue with me for both just humanitarian reasons – which I think are the more obvious ones. But for economic reasons also you know, I just don’t see any sense in spending money to blow up the rest of the world as we’ve been doing for so long. And that was something that people wrote to me about as well, you know? They don’t want to hear about that, and I think I may have even said this to you earlier, but trying to put this in perspective with some people and they say you know, “this is where 3,000 people died”, and that is one of the facts – that’s terrible.
In the piece that I wrote you know, I wrote in some detail about how you know, you had people literally blown up you know, inside of a plane – that’s how those people died. You had people who were literally crushed to death by steel, and debris, and et cetera. You had people who – and this is probably the most graphic one we all remember – people who literally jumped 70 stories to their death because they didn’t want to be burned alive. And this was a horrible, absolutely horrible concept, but in response, we have – just in Iraq alone, never mind you know, another 6 or 7 countries we’re involved in – we’ve killed 120,000 people.
Kevin: And the point that I made to some of these people the other day – and I’ve made this before – is that I really do think that it kind of comes in terms of marketing and perception. I think when you tell somebody the number 3,000, or for that matter if you said 200 people died, right – it’s a lot of people. People are like, “oh my God, 200 people were killed – that’s phenomenal”. But when you start talking about things I mean, consider the Holocaust or something, I mean, it’s not something that you can fathom millions of people died.
When you say 120,000 people were killed, you can’t relate it in your head – you just know it’s a big number and I think most people just put it out, whereas with 200 people you’re like, “oh, that’s terrible”, you know? And I think there’s a real – I think it’s emotionally worse to actually have the much smaller, but still big number – if that makes sense.
Jad: The other aspect of it I guess, decides the numbers, kind of highlights what we don’t like to think about, which is the fact that we’re still a rampantly nationalistic you know, I guess racist, really – in a global sense – country that let 120,000 deaths of brown peasants is not a real deterrent to something if it – if there’s any kind of explanation of why it’s you know – was necessary required.
Kevin: Well, and that’s conversation I have frequently with people, which is –
Jad: Well[?], at this point the conversation took a turn and did what I think might be called post production. We decided that it should be its own stand alone episode. So you will need to come back again to listen in on the amazing and mind expanding content that we lay down next. Thank you so much for listening, and I hope you’ll come back and check out future episodes in this project, and I’m sure the near future will have a clear way to contact this specific venture.
For the moment, you can come drop by and leave some feedback at Jad-Davis.com, J-A-D dash D-A-V-I-S dot com, or KevinLudlow.com, that’s K-E-V-I-N-L-U-D-L-O-W dot com, and there is contact information there, as well as a link to Kevin’s article, and any other show notes we come up with. It would be great to hear back from you, and we’ll talk to you again soon.