Today is September 11th 2015. Fourteen years ago I, like many of you, watched in horror as planes flew into the World Trade Center, and heard reports of one flying into the Pentagon. I was living in New York at the time, and like many other New Yorkers I know people who lost friends and family in the attack. I know first responders who were involved in the rescue effort and clean up, who now suffer from health problems. The events of that day changed my life. This website and my podcast probably would not exist if not for the events of September 11th 2001. So perhaps more than most, I’ve taken an interest in finding out what actually happened on that day.
I didn’t have much reason to doubt the story fed to us by the government at the time. I had never been politically involved prior. On 9/10/2001 I couldn’t have told you the difference between a Republican and a Democrat (and oddly enough, I still have trouble with that sometimes after fourteen years). I was quite comforted when I saw George W. Bush out there with a bullhorn saying “I can hear you! And the people who knocked these buildings down, are going to hear from all of us soon!”
I bought into all the patriotic sentiment. When it was announced that the United States was going to war, far from the horror I feel today, I was excited. I saw the president as decisive and bold.
About a year prior, I had tried to join the US Army. I was rejected due to some mistakes from my younger years. When my mother heard of the war about to begin she said to me “Thank god you didn’t get into the Army!” and I said to her “Why do you think I wanted to join?”
I was listening to the Howard Stern show when the towers got hit. I was running a landscaping truck at the time, and I told my employee it was time to call it a day, because America was under attack. We rushed back to my place to watch the TV and find out more, and by pure happenstance the channel I tuned into was Fox News. I don’t think I had ever watched a 24 hour national news channel prior.
Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity were more than happy to explain to me all about the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Specifically, that Democrats were weak lefty socialists, and that Republicans were awesome defenders of freedom. I was addicted, and I watched that channel nearly every moment I spent in front of a television for about 8 years. I was certain that this made me more informed about political matters than most people, and my proof was that most people I spoke to had no concept whatsoever. However misleading Fox may have been, watching them made me more informed than people who just watched MTV and reality shows.
But as it turns out, being able to stump or frustrate the average centrist or liberal in a political discussion, does not an informed position make.