September 11, 2001 was the defining historic event of our time. We still cannot comprehend the full ramifications of this atrocity.But it has had stark cultural and political fallout. Among other things, it inspired Sam Harris to write The End of Faith, and it inspired me to publish this Journal.
I had started Black Sun Journal a mere two or three weeks prior to that horrible day, and all I could think to do in the aftermath was to write, and write, and write some more, to try to make sense of the horror and frustration I felt. So here it is five years later, and on this official fifth blogiversary, I should be celebrating. But I’m not.
The same delusions so eloquently documented by Sam Harris still exist today. To some extent, things have even grown worse. Two years ago, it seemed a kind of “Prague Spring” was sweeping Iran, as intellectuals and secular leaders fielded thousands of candidates for public office. For a brief moment before the 2005 election, it seemed we might see some real change in that important nation. But then the ‘Guardian Council’ disqualified 90% of those candidates, and thereby ensured the theofascist nightmare we see unfolding today.
In a recent brilliant interview with Bill Maher, former Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu compared Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to a “potential Hitler with nuclear weapons.” (The interview is reportedly available for a fee at CNN pipeline). Tony Blair has echoed this sentiment, saying the western public opinion has not kept pace with events, and “there is a big battle to be won.” I couldn’t agree more on both counts.
The only salient lesson of 9.11 for Americans (aside from security) was that our modern civilization was and is completely and totally incompatible with all types of religious delusions.
[ dih-loo-zhuhn ]
See synonyms for: delusion / delusions on Thesaurus.com
an act or instance of deluding.
the state of being deluded.
a false belief or opinion: delusions of grandeur.
Psychiatry. a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact: a paranoid delusion.
Ironically, the smarter we get and the more progress we make, the greater the ensuing gap between religion and reality. In the face of this gap, the drumbeat gets ever louder for some kind of accommodation or reconciliation between the two. People are feeling the cognitive dissonance, and it’s damned uncomfortable for them. From Francis Collins to the Pope, (who routinely and repeatedly denounces science), social and cultural leaders on both sides of the fence seem to be ignoring the facts, and arguing for deliberate retrenchment into the (not very) comforting fantasies of yesteryear.
But that’s exactly what will keep us unprepared for the next 9.11. Like our religious myths, America’s facade of invulnerability has begun to crack. Our international theocratic enemies are not resting. And our own theocrats are making strides, such as Florida representative Katherine Harris (the very same woman who may have put Bush in office through electoral manipulation while she was secretary of state) who recently claimed that anyone who doesn’t legislate Christianity is “legislating sin.”
Not only are our leaders bankrupt for failing to kick this kind of theocratic blather out of the public square, they are not doing enough to keep us safe. The money spent on security is being spent recklessly out of fear, and on the wrong things. The Iraq war would have been unnecessary if we had quickly and earnestly embarked on our now inevitable Energy Transition. Half a trillion dollars buys a lot of solar panels, windmills, and biofuels. It also would have bought a tremendous amount of small-scale covert anti-terrorism, port security, and air marshals. And I’m sure it could have bought our way to capturing the big fish, OBL. As long as he’s still cranking out the terror tapes, our government should be ashamed of itself.
It’s a big bad world out there, and Tocqueville’s American Exceptionalism has kept us acting like spoiled rich kids who think the rules don’t apply to us. We have no idea what life is like on the other side of the tracks. Our enemies wish to give us that experience. Most people alive today (myself included) have no idea how to cope with levels of national crisis that would ensue from terrorist nuclear detonations. Aside from the obvious mass destruction, these effects would likely include starvation and deprivation on a grand scale–the kind of wartime suffering Americans have only seen in films. Like the rest of us, the Christian end-timers may get a rude shock when they find the Armageddon they’ve been praying for is upon them, and no sky-fairy is coming to their rescue. Though I may starve or perish in such a crisis, at least I’ll never have that particular brand of disillusionment.
My son was asking me last night if I thought the next 9.11 type disaster was inevitable and if it would be worse. I said that it could be, but that doesn’t have to happen. After all we did stop the ‘liquid gel’ airliner attack. But five years on, it still feels a little like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Hope springs eternal, and even in the face of ever growing irrationality on the one hand, there are points of brilliance breaking through on the other. National news magazines are actually starting to discuss atheism seriously, and the blogosphere seems to be far less tolerant of the blatant falsehoods and distortions promoted by believers. Maybe it’s just me, but I think more and more people are starting to understand the factual and rational arguments we secularists have been making for years. It seems that just maybe, from amidst all the apologist rhetoric, some people are having their worldview altered by the clear insanity we are witnessing. Cartoon-gate showed us the rank immaturity of many Muslims about their beliefs. The foiled liquids plot displayed their continued monkey-wrenching ruthlessness toward our way of life.
As I go back and read my original post from 9.11.01–I can also see my own intellectual evolution. Though I had taken strong steps away from my theistic upbringing even at that time, I still had a very emotional response to the tragedy. In my grief, I joined many others in fantasizing about some sort of universal spirit that might help us to deal with the crisis and its aftermath. Of course I realize in retrospect that was obviously a pipe dream. I was then in the last stages of extricating myself from the religious worldview that I held for the first 30-odd years of my life. Old habits die hard.
We’ve seen no evidence of any divine assistance or guidance in our fight against terrorism and fanaticism. No one but a fool could possibly view the actions of George W. Bush over the past five years as having been divinely inspired. In fact, it would be hard to see how our government could have screwed things up any worse. If this is God’s president, what would Satan’s be like? But seriously, as always, we humans are going to have to solve these problems on our own–or–not.
My other sentiment from 9.11.01, that we should “do whatever we can to help ensure the peace, stability, prosperity, and happiness of the rest of the world,” to prevent further terrorism, was equally naïve. Sure that would be a good idea. But we Americans clearly pay attention to stopping oppression only when it serves our needs (oil), and we’ve even been known to promote oppression (Saudi Arabia and elsewhere) when it serves our (oil) needs.
But in places like Darfour, Sudan, Rwanda, the Congo, Zimbabwe, where we don’t need anything from the oppressed, it seems we Americans could care less about genocide. (I actually overheard someone say on the way out of the film Hotel Rwanda. “Wow, that was intense. Where are we having dinner?”)
Regardless of the callousness of some, we should understand that the people suffering genocide through western inaction (arguably the ones who should be the most upset with us), are not the ones committing the vast majority of the terrorism, and it’s not the result of economic desperation. No. Nearly all recent anti-American terrorists have two things in common: oil wealth and Islamism. For the thousandth time I repeat: we won’t see an end to this until we stop buying their oil, and until we put an end to theocracy worldwide.
Anyhow, dear readers, it’s a grim anniversary. Let’s hope our next president is more in tune with the world that is. Let’s hope we have new towers, and a few more rational thinkers by 9.11.11. Here’s to the end of faith, world peace, and a bright future!
ARGH! it erased everything i wrote!!!!!!
Goddamn it I hate this work proxy server crap. I just wrote this huge comment and it erased it alll!!!
Read (ok so I’ve got one whole chapter left… and have been procrastinating)…
but needless to say, it is a GREAT book!
Great write up, great blog. Keep up the good work. I’m always enjoying it.
Aaron… aways type in notepad first… then paste and copy. :)
Then only a reboot will make you loose your stuff… and you can always just save a notepad document. ;)
Once again you are missing some major issues here. The evidence clearly indicates that the main reason for terrorism against the United States is not the fact that some people of the Islamic religion hate “our” freedom or “our” way of life—although certainly some do—but rather it is that people hate continual United States government meddling in the Middle East, active support of the state of Israel and active support of various unpopular Middle Eastern regimes, as well as the current diasterous war in Iraq.
Few people are going to blow themselves up over a Madonna record, but people will be provoked to terrorism when, for example, the United States government kills their family with a bomb, runs an unpopular puppet government, finances the hated Israeli government or is seen to be defiling the holy areas of Islam.
If the United States adapots a non-interventionist foreign policy and terrorism continues to be a problem, I’ll admit I am wrong. However, I do notice that Japan, the second wealthiest country on earth and arguably freer than the United States, has no real terrorist problem. Perhaps the Japanese foreign policy is the key.
And the idea that oil has anything to do with terrorism is strange , to say the least. Trading with other countries promotes peace, not violence.
Thanks, Adron. I like your blog also, especially the post about Atlas Shrugged.
Mark, your position is pretty standard orthodoxy on the political left. But the most aggrieved peoples of the world (like from Sudan, the Congo, etc.) don’t seem to be attacking us. It’s the Islamists–every time (if you don’t count Tim McVeigh).
In fact, the mujahedin, who were the predecessors of the Taliban in Afghanistan, were once on the CIA payroll. They took U.S. money, weapons, and tactics, and turned it against us. Of course it’s not “they hate us for our freedom.” That’s a stupid Bush slogan. But it does have a lot to do with religion–both in terms of “anti-crusader” rhetoric, as well as “anti-infidel” rhetoric. So while they don’t blow themselves up over Madonna records, their strategy IS one of cultural domination. They intend to use violence to spread their religious values worldwide.
I briefly alluded to the link between oil and terror in my post. We support a despotic regime in Saudi Arabia, and the fundamentalists there don’t like it. If Saudi Arabia were a democracy, they would quickly vote in an Islamic government. The reason for our support of the House of Saud is TOTALLY oil. As for Iraq–it sits on top of the second largest reserves in the world. That war was also TOTALLY about oil.
Trade promotes peace and freedom–except when you are trading with corrupt governments who are selling their people’s resource out from under them and pocketing the cash. That’s why oil consumption motivates terror. (Not to mention paying for it.) Osama Bin Laden has stated this many times in his speeches. He has basically offered a truce, if the U.S. withdraws its support and leaves the Arabian Peninsula. We can’t do that because we need the oil.
The civilized world faces an organized opposition we haven’t seen since the Cold War. A lot of it can be traced back to Iran. No less a figure than Henry Kissinger has stated this today.
Mahmoud Ahmedinejad just also said that Iran “would be a better leader for the world than the U.S.” Think he’s kidding? Three months before Iran attacked Israel through its proxy Hezbollah, A-jad prnounced that “Israel should be wiped off the map.” We should take him at his word, and prepare for his next move–or we are morons and deserve what we get. (The worst irony is that most of the Iranian people actually like America and American culture. They just want to be left alone to live their lives.) More people on both sides will die if we don’t sort this out and root out the Islamic influence.
I’m not an expert on Middle East politics, but I do read a lot. You have not proved your point. Which people’s houses in Saudi Arabia did the U.S. bomb before 9/11? (11 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.) Which people’s homes in Yemen did we bomb before the USS Cole was attacked? What about the Khobar Towers bombing in which BOTH Bin Laden and Iran have been implicated?
These are strategic acts of war and political theater, intended to show that the west is vulnerable.
The only attack that could REMOTELY be said to have been provoked by the U.S. aggression was the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983. Our troops could be said to have been fair game then because we were participating in a UN sponsored peacekeeping mission in the middle of a civil war.
Japan doesn’t get attacked because they rely on the U.S. for their protection. They are Buddhist, and Shinto, and don’t have a history of being “Crusaders.” They are also not the “king of the hill” right now. But if they were the world’s secular superpower, you can bet they would become the target.
Back to your other argument–by your logic, we should have plenty of people pissed off from former Yugoslavia after we bombed the shit out of that country. Where are the Yugoslavian terrorists? What about Libya? We bombed the shit out of them too, and killed Moammar Ghaddafi’s adopted daughter. He has now re-established diplomatic relations with the west, and paid back the families of people he bombed on the Pan Am flight $10 million each. How do you explain this?
By your logic, Native Americans should have the biggest justification of all for terrorism against the U.S.–After all, they were driven from their land mercilessly by our ancestors. Where are the Native American terrorists?
Mark, thanks for reading, and for your comment, but you really need to consider global Jihad, and start asking yourself some of these tough questions.
One more thing: This nexus between oil and terror is the primary reason I’m such an energy geek and so strongly in favor of renewable fuels. Kill two birds with one stone: Get Osama Bin Laden off our backs by disengaging from the Mideast, and solve global warming.
Please see the movie Syriana for a dramatization of how America supports the most corrupt of Saudi rulers.
It’s also pretty clear that Bush and Co. are not hurting from the profits of their Saudi oil friends. This may also explain why they keep saying that the war on terror will be a long one: Make money on the oil, and make money on the weapons needed to fight the Jihadists.
Usually I compose in notepad but sometimes I get careless. I will be more careful in the future. My work proxy server has burned me one too many times. :(
The meaning of the word “delusion” as it applies to the events of 911 is that it describes anyone who “believes” that the events of that day had any origin other than here in the US. There was no Arab terrorist responsible for anything that happened on that day. An empiricist such as yourself should do your homework and you will get a much clearer picture of the events of that day.
Thanks for stopping by. I’m not going to entertain conspiracy theories. But thanks for your comment.
No need to start a conspiracy discussion in this thread as there are hundreds out there. However I wanted to share this documentary with you and your readers in a spirit of friendship and understanding of the importance of the events of 911. It is clearly the most scientific and comprehensive rebuttal to the official Kean Commission report. I hope it will help all to understand the big picture as it relates to that awful day. I will go out on a limb and say it is the equivalent of the Zapruder film in how it portrays the official version of a national disaster as a complete lie.Empirical observation is needed not only as regards to debunking religion but also in debunking other myths such as the official version of 911 as well
90 minutes of pure demolition evidence and analysis, laced with staggering witness testimonials. Moving from “the myth” through “the … all Â» analysis” and into “the players,” careful deconstruction of the official story set right alongside clean, clear science. The 9/11 picture is not one of politics or nationalism or loyalty, but one of strict and simple physics. How do you get a 10-second 110-story pancake collapse?
james prince, please read my follow-up book review of “102 Minutes,” where I commented on the conspiracy angle. Also included there are the comments of Sam Harris.