11 September 2010

Marc Estrin : Unholy Ground


By Marc Estrin / The Rag Blog / September 11, 2010

Here it is 9/11 again, and the world is all caught up in a debate on whether our "attackers" are being "insensitive" in demanding a presence at "ground zero" -- or two blocks away, or 20, or on the island of Manhattan.

Although I'm a fiction writer, it's hard for me to get involved in this debate concerning counterfactuals, sides taking passionate sides on the ethics of a fairy tale. Though it is interesting to thrash out whether Jack was right to steal the giant's magic harp, the fact is that there was no giant; there was no harp; there was no Jack. At least not as real people in this marvelous story.

While there may have been some middle-easterners involved in some way (though the evidence is unclear), the concrete-set notion that "19 Arab highjackers with box cutters attacked us" is -- to anyone who has looked at the physical and circumstantial evidence -- perfectly silly, and certainly not grounds for an anti-Muslim crusade.

This is not the place to present the mountains of evidence against the "official story" of 9/11. For a brief fact sheet on the collapse of the three buildings, one might go here.

Suffice it to say that planes do not "vaporize" upon crashing, and steel buildings do not symmetrically collapse at free fall speed from airplane strikes or fire -- or from no airplane strikes and tiny fires, as in the case of Building 7.

I began serious study of 9/11 issues back in 2004 after my reading of David Ray Griffin's first book, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11. Here is my review from back then.

In the six years since, I have read many articles, watched many videos, and had endless discussions with smart people about this issue. And I've concluded two things:

  1. The official story is transparent junk.
  2. It's very difficult to get anyone to question it.
And while firm conclusions are a bit evasive -- at least around the edges -- about who actually "did" 9/11, much evidence points to those with motives, materials, authority, and opportunities to pull it off. The prime suspects combining all these are personnel and agencies of the U.S. government. But it will take an independent investigation to look into that. Nevertheless, it is very likely that "ground zero" is not only not "sacred," but is rather intensely unholy, smelling of sulfur.

Given #2 above, it's not likely that an independent investigation will happen soon -- at least in the U.S.

So what should a novelist do? Since the MSM will not cover it, I decided to write SKULK, a comic novel about 9/11 issues. Maybe, I thought, the material could get beyond the truther choir out into the fiction-reading public. An end-run, as it were, around let's-not-go-there-ism. Though the story is ridiculous (but rich), the websites mentioned by the schemers are real. Were a reader to be curious enough to check them out, he or she would be standing at the edge of a vast sea of real information generally out of public view.

So for this 9/11, I thought I'd share a short section of SKULK in which Skulk -- Teresa Lee Skulkington of the Connecticut Skulkingtons -- convinces her boyfriend, Prof. Richard Gronsky, of Kansas State University, that America needs a "teaching moment," and that 9/11 truth is it.

Our heroine was originally modeled on Ann Coulter, and this scene germinated after I was told (I cannot vouch for this) that AC was -- improbably -- a Deadhead! So here, in a chapter called "The Wheel, our dynamic duo, high on Uncle Sam acid tabs, are recovering from a complex trip. Gronsky's pet project is to get Kansas to secede from the union. I'll explain anything else that needs explaining in [square brackets].
And at the seventh hour, they rested. The Dead cd had been retired. Richard lay sprawled out on the couch, eating green, green guacamole, singing to himself his favorite verse from Carmina Burana over and over like some tape loop at Kaufmann’s. [the department store where a mysterious year-round Santa Claus works]
Rex sedet in vertice
Caveat ruinam!
Mmmm, mmmm, mmm, yowsa...
Nam sub axe legimus
Hecubam reginam.
She, on the other hand, was over-tired-revved, sitting in the chair, her arms around her knees, her head down, wrapped in teeming brain.
“You know that article you read me?”
“Unh unh.”
“The article about the kid and the water?”
“No. What kid? What water?”
“Hydrogen oxide or whatever.” [a conspiracy theory about the government putting di-hydrogen oxide in the water]
“Oh, yeah, yeah. What about it?”
“The Free State of Kansas is never going to happen...”
“What do you mean?” he loudly objected.
“Hold on there. Hear me out, hear me out.”
Richard closed his eyes.
“The Free State of Kansas is never going to happen -- without some kind of shock, some huge consciousness-raising about the true state of things.”
“Isn’t Dubya enough?”
“No, no, no. Read your own goddamn Frank book. [Skulk has come down to Kansas to disprove Thomas Frank's book, What's the Matter with Kansas?] Rove has got the status quo sewn up. We’ve got to break...”
“Could we talk about this tomorrow?”
“This is tomorrow. Look at the sky. And you’ve got an eight o’clock class. So perk up!”
She poured what was left of the chardonnay in his lap.
“Look,” she continued, “the American public is very sweet -- especially Kansans -- and Love is All -- and all -- but they’re...I don’t want to say ‘stupid’. Let’s just say they’re a little hidebound in what they take to be the present. The official version of the present.”
“Let’s give ‘em all some Uncle Sam...” he suggested.
“Yeah, well they’ve had too much Uncle Sam already. They need to -- what do you academics say? -- unpack him. See what’s really in there.”
“But that’s ridiculous. They won’t,” Richard observed.
“They will if they are shaken up enough. Enough to see through some of the more obvious lies.”
“Like all the 9/11 stuff, liberal bonehead. What could be more explosive?”
“They’ve already been shaken up by 9/11.”
“Yeah, and they’ve circled the wagons. Around Dubya and the gang.”
“That’s predictable. People always support...”
“But what if they realized that Dubya and the gang were the ones that did it? I mean in some way did it?”
“Unh unh. I’m not going there. And no one else will either.”
He rose exhaustedly to his feet and began pacing.
“Look,” she lectured, “who ordered NORAD to stand down? Have you seen the early photos of the Pentagon? It’s only a little, tiny hole. Where’s the plane? Melted? Where are the engines? Engines don’t vaporize from burning fuel. How did two giant skyscrapers…”
“Three -- collapse from fire when no steel buildings had ever collapsed like that before in the history of buildings? C’mon. Weren’t you suspicious when you saw all that on TV?”
“No. I was horrified.”
“Hey, these are the guys that took us into war to stop Saddam from dropping nuclear bombs on us. And they’ve got people still swallowing it.”
“These are the guys?? These are your buddies, your father’s friends. I can’t believe you’re saying this! You! Ms. Fierce Right-wingnut.”
“Yeah. Well that was then and this is now. Post. Don’t you want to see the Free State of Kansas?”
“Yes, of course.”
“So we need to shake our dear citizens out of their lethargy. Fight the mass psychosis.”
Teresa sat down in Richard’s place.
“I don’t know.”
“But I do know this: Things seem pretty benign here at home, right? -- at least for Dubya and the gang. But a haystack soaked with kerosene also looks benign. It doesn’t smell that way -- but then neither does the country. But it appears content to just sit there -- until you toss in a match.”
“And you want to be the match.”
“We want to be the match.”
“The 9/11 stuff.”
“What else? It’s the smoking gun.”
“I see.”
Richard plopped down next to her on the couch. They both sat in silence for several minutes, each concerned with conflagration.
“What was that place called with the French name that John Brown...where somebody slaughtered somebody else?” she asked out of the blue.
“Marais des Cygnes,” he answered, Swamp of the Swans. Why? You thinking of slaughtering somebody? Your once-beloved vice-president, when he comes to speak at Raytheon next week?”
“No,” she said, taking him seriously. “That would bring down a police state big time. Homeland Security über Alles. No, we need some kind of teaching moment. And it can’t be seen as a terrorist act.”
“A teaching moment.”
“You’re supposed to know about those. I just thought it was a nice name.”
“Marais des Cygnes.”
“It’s like you and me. You the swamp, and I the swan."
How much Uncle Sam will it take to get people to understand the workings of Uncle Sam?

[Marc Estrin is a writer and activist, living in Burlington, Vermont. His novels, Insect Dreams, The Half Life of Gregor Samsa, The Education of Arnold Hitler, Golem Song, and The Lamentations of Julius Marantz have won critical acclaim. His memoir, Rehearsing With Gods: Photographs and Essays on the Bread & Puppet Theater (with Ron Simon, photographer) won a 2004 theater book of the year award. He is currently working on a novel about the dead Tchaikovsky.]

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