By Craig McKee
Are you ever tempted to lose it because people don’t think exactly like you do?
I get it, we’re civilized. We don’t behave that way. We celebrate the right of everyone to believe whatever they choose to. We respect everyone’s right to say what they want – and think what they want.
Well, if that’s true, why am I gritting my teeth as I write this? The truth is that sometimes all that polite “agree-to-disagree” crap makes me want to look into primal scream therapy.
As you can tell by the majority of articles posted on this blog over the past two months, I’m pretty interested in the subject of 9/11. No, not obsessed. Preoccupied, maybe. Fascinated, definitely.
I write what I want, and I love that freedom. But it’s sometimes hard to know how people are reacting. I tend to learn more from actually talking to people. The problem is that it’s hard to have a serious conversation about this subject without someone getting mad – or being bored. So far I’ve managed to avoid being that person – almost every time.
Like most people, I used to believe the “Osama bin Laden, 19 hijacker, surprise attack” fantasy. But then I started to really look at the evidence. I read everything I could find, pro and con. I watched every documentary I could get my hands on. And I’m still doing that. The more I looked at it, the more the official story crumbled.
Finding others who are willing to have an intelligent conversation about the subject – without anyone getting bent out of shape – is very tough. I’ll give you some examples, and all of these come from the past three weeks. I’ll remove their names in the hope that they don’t recognize themselves and then wish to get even.
Friend number one reacts to the news that I’ve been writing a blog dealing mainly with 9/11 by launching into a diatribe about the paranoid, lunatic, deranged social garbage that can be lumped together under the heading “conspiracy theorist.” Our conversation is only 20 seconds old and I’ve already counted to ten.
He explained that it had been proven that Building 7 collapsed only because of fire. He quoted an unidentified “structural engineer” who claimed that the way the building fell (straight down into its own footprint at near free fall speed) was exactly how buildings fell when they caught fire. He added that since I wasn’t a structural engineer, it would be pointless for me to comment further. Our conversation lasted less than two minutes. We attempted unsuccessfully to switch to small talk.
Another friend, with whom I’d had some long debates about this and other controversial subjects, took this tack: “Since we weren’t there, anything we might say would be pure speculation.” This ridiculous argument would be easy to refute, but I decided to pass. That’s a big step for me; usually I’d argue anyway. And three hours later I’d be throwing back several extra-strength Tylenol.
My third encounter was not so easily dismissed. It was a very challenging conversation with a reluctant engineering student from New York. I understand that New Yorkers are going to look at the subject less clinically. They feel the heart of their city was ripped open, and they’re not thrilled with people trying to tell them what happened. I don’t blame them.
We had a fairly long and contentious discussion (leaving the third member of our party getting impatient). I did my best to calmly put my position forward, and I think I did pretty well. And so did he. I wanted to really dig in my heels and fight to the death, but I didn’t. I just put the facts out there as I saw them.
We debated the science of how the World Trade Center towers could have come down. He believed in the “pancake” theory of collapse; I thought only explosives could account for the evidence.
In the end, I felt kind of bad that I’d put this guy through a debate he would prefer not to have had. He feels the ongoing debate is disrespectful to the victims. I can understand this, and I also feel angry about the loss of innocent life. I just don’t agree who is responsible. I guess I think it’s disrespectful not to find out the truth.
My fourth attempt at a discussion on the subject was the strangest of all. The good friend I discussed it with is quite knowledgeable about airplanes and the materials they are made from. He agreed that Flight 77, had it been going 530 miles an hour and hit several lamp posts, would have left debris behind. If it was the wing that made contact, it would have been sheared clean off. There would certainly have been large pieces of wreckage on the lawn of the Pentagon.
He agreed the Iraq War was a fraud, and that the Bush administration had manipulated events to justify the war. He agreed that Afghanistan was more about oil than about the Taliban. We agreed on point after point. The science, we agreed, surely doesn’t fit with what I was telling him was the official story about 9/11.
At the end of it, I asked him: “So, have I changed your opinion at all?”
“Not one bit,” he said. “I agree with a lot of what you’ve said, but I just don’t believe they would ever do that.
“And I never will.”
So I concluded something very depressing from all of this. For many people, no matter how convincing a case you make, they won’t believe it. They can’t believe it. That’s if they listen to the evidence at all.
But we have to start listening. Otherwise, our thoughts are no more than preconceived ideas divorced from facts. And we’ll never learn the truth that way.