20 years ago late at night there was a hammering on my door.
It was my best friend.
He had heard news on the radio that one of the Twin Towers had been hit by a plane.
He knew I had sky with CNN and had raced over to wake me up and watch it happening.
We both sat on my couch watching the live coverage of the gaping hole billowing grim black midnight smoke like the heat emanating from a portal that has torn asunder the fabric of space time.
Into that yawning maw we argued ideas as to what had happened. A lost pilot? A grand gesture suicide? Plane malfunction?
As we debated what had caused this visual impossibility the second plane like an architectural dagger thrown by a terrible God sliced through our rapid hot takes and plowed into the other tower.
I still remember the punch to the stomach visceral impact watching it live caused.
You so rarely witness the start of a war live in real time while knowing every other waking individual on earth is witnessing it too.
I was hosting talkback on Channel Z at the time and everyone turned up watching the madness unfold on the big screen studio TV.
We decided to run news reports all day on what was occurring in front of us because music seemed unholy in the face of what was happening.
I did the afternoon/evening shift after the towers had fallen and we crossed live to Kiwis living in New York who could see the destruction from their apartments and talked to a young guy who had seen the damage and was smoking a joint in Central Park to calm down his recollection of the sense of fear.
We all were shocked and in shock.
I remember trying to sum up the day for final words in a desperate attempt to find meaning in what the hell we had all just watched and I remember saying that we had witnessed history and that nothing will be as it was, because America’s vengeance against whomever had violated their sense of normal in such a perverse manner would redefine everything.
Everything changes after this.
And it did.
While the day itself and the loss of life and economic damage fades into insignificance in light of global world wars or paramilitary funded coups, its universality of audience in real time left a psychological scar upon everyone who witnessed it.
9/11 was a global bonding moment of an event whose reverberations damaged and robbed the first 2 decades of enormous global potential for us as a species.
The brutality of America’s vengeance was almost immediate.
We bombed Afghanistan from a Bronze Age culture into the Stone Age. Taliban leaders who a year earlier Washington was feting to gain an oil pipeline deal, were suddenly Satan incarnate.
After destroying most Government buildings, we rounded up vast numbers and tortured them mercilessly.
So much torture.
An obscene level of torture.
And when Osama was about to be captured, America eased off and allowed him to slip through their fingers so that the vengeance for 9/11 wasn’t sated by his death.
The Bush Administration so convinced of its own exceptionalism took that frisson for justice and manipulatively turned it on former CIA client state stooge, Saddam Hussein.
Sensing an opportunity to expand the Military Industrial Complex’s Corporate Empire by annexing a geopolitical status symbol like Iraq to show the corridors of history what Pax Americana looks like appealed to the Bush Administration the way evangelical Christians pray for the rapture.
The civilised worldview acted in astonished shock that any response to a mostly Saudi team of terrorists committing a terrorist act was to attack Iraq was immoral & demonstrably wrong.
Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and we staged the largest anti war demonstrations on the planet against the Iraq war.
The mainstream media fed us the lie of weapons of mass destruction over and over and over again to a planet still in shock from witnessing 9/11.
When it turned out that there were no WMDs, just as the Left had predicted, alongside the appalling break down of law and order and terrible civilian carnage, our faith was amputated.
We saw the election of Obama as a redemption of America, but his foreign policy only differed in that he killed remotely via drone.
The rise of ISIS from the ranks of former Iraqi military that the Americans tortured, the impact of cheap pure heroin warlords use to finance their operations to the eventual fall of Afghanistan after 20 years of pointless war.
The West continually managed to fuck up a clusterfuck that was already fucked.
The Trillions spent, the millions displaced, the hundreds of thousands dead.
All for what?
The cultural reverberations from 9/11 still echo through the DNA of the present.
The corporate war machine made obscene profits.
For every bomb we dropped we made 5 new radicals.
When Trump used ‘fake news’ it linked to the betrayal we all felt over the WMD lie.
Millennials grew up in a culture of distrust towards the establishment from a society who had opposed the war and maybe robbed them of the power to act in solidarity for change in favour of micro aggression policing what they could control.
Snowden and Assange gave testimony to the abuse of our 9/11 vengeance and alerted us to a mass surveillance state who had taken our fear and caged us in it.
What did we learn?
Last week an ISIS inspired broken person committed violence in the hope of causing more violence, the exact same malice as the White supremacy terrorist attempted in Christchurch.
If 9/11 has taught us anything, surely it must be to oppose the bitter harvest of violent revenge. That we must not allow our anger and fear to determine our hand lest we feed the hail of divided tears on barren soil that is the cold comfort of the lynch mob.
The watchful eye of the lidless State above us like a jealous God is no security.
Love, justice and forgiveness are our only armour against hate.
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