Obscuritus.ca A nerd making a nerdy blog

9/11 Footage

I have had a very conflicted and complicated couple of days. I basically heard the remarks regarding "thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11", and went, "Ummm, yes, I remember this". And then I heard a bunch of people saying that it didn't exist. Which was more than a little weird.

And, threfore, I decided to go and check my own memory. Since memory is fickle, and I was young at the time, so, I began to go watch footage, do research, find articles written from 2001 to 2005. Basically - my goal is to either disprove my belief in the footage's existence, or figure out why it didn't exist.

In the end - I found out the truth: The media portrayed a lot of footage of people in the Middle East as celebrations of 9/11. And they were also fairly loose about where they were. I spent a craptonne of time engaging with 9/11 News Coverage and pouring through the footage, mostly from the CBC because that is what I had watched. This was a strange experience, because it was reliving a rather horrific moment from my own past.

The footage I saw, and also likely Trump saw was summed up here - which basically fills in a pretty basic story, which a noncritical viewer, such as my 13 year old self, might completely misunderstand. Importantly, I don't think this is an example of a racist Donald Trump, I think this is an example of a racist media. This was a failure of the media. The media was trying to grab at more fear and more story out of the day. They wanted to spend many hours on the story, all day on the story - and so - rather than simply showing what was happening - they commented on it. And then commented in rather problematic ways - and said things that still reverberate today. That's a scary thought as well - whenever the media does something that's racist and terrible, such as portraying small groups as respresentative, they can make politicians over a decade later try to enforce policies of marking minorities for assault and detainment.

This fits into the media narrative of conservativism. We get the sense sometimes that Harper, Rubio, Carson, or Trump come from a narrative of fear - which is propagated by the media, and isn't backed up by reality. And now - we have a media narrative, compared to reality - a narrative you would only get if you uncritically watched the news. Now, definitely, there's no sense in claiming that no one is paying attention, nor is it claiming people are stupid. That's not the point to all this. Really this is more about the ways in which campaigns are run.

Trump is powerful because he says what everyone is thinking. That's a horrible, frightening, and destructive thing. Since, definitely, people support him because they agree with him. Not everyone is - but a non-trivial portion of people who believe him. And, that's a failure (or, depending on how you look at it, success) of media. And the fact that the media can so pervert constituencies is a failure of media savvy democracy. Candidates who follow narritives in media succeed (oooh controvertial, except, not) - and candidates who don't - don't. That's a huge problem. This isn't about low information, or high information, it's about narrative vs reality, and there's no great way to stop humans from telling stories. And stories about fear are far less salient than stories about YOU DYING. It would make sense to try to bring the personal narratives of refugees and other people into focus - which would be good for breaking down these narratives. But, sadly, people are peddling fear.

To make sure that this is mentioned, since I want to make myself feel better about myself - I got duped. But I did my best to be a Good Jackie. When I first heard this - I felt pretty horrible about it. And, so, over the next five years, I did my best to read about the history of conflict. I began to understand something else, that fundamentally made my image of the attacks needed to be tempered by history. As you look at the history of the region, you see children maimed by landmines, you see regular bombings, and you see groups armed without any sense of political ideology. As I read about the Middle East, I began to understand the amount of attacks. Reading about Aldus Huxley and his own issues with a post-WWII America grew that information. I began to form a theory of the US as a far off power which would project its interests into complex situations, without any real consequences to itself. And I began to understand that 9/11 was one of the first real consequences to the USA (much like Pearl Harbour) and began to understand why people may dislike it. And, why, perhaps, the US got so damned scared when they figured out it was possible to attack them.

PS: Yes, I am doing my best to make myself feel better as well.