It seems a strange coincidence that today as the nation mourns the 12th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Centers in 2001 that the last, most recent image we have of our president is of him giving an internationally televised speech attempting to explain to the world America’s dire need to militarily attack yet another country in the Middle East; an irony uniquely American.
I usually refrain from posting in the Transcendence Diaries on September 11th, or making any major or minor statements about it one way or the other; precisely because of the reason that compelled me to do so this year. The day is as memorialized in the national consciousness of the United States people as any major national holiday at this point. 9/11 is as deeply embedded in the American psyche as Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July. But unlike other stand-out days of the year, like Christmas or Easter for instance, September 11th cuts across all races and religions and touches every American heart in a profound way. But the reasons why, now, twelve years later, may be different for some people as compared to others; which is what has transformed the day into such a controversial and contentious topic.
This morning as I contemplated these ideas, I realized that there is no better way of illustrating this point personally than to simply do what I always do every year on this day, but with a few slight changes and additions. Every year on September 11th our record label marks the occasion by posting the music video of the song “Rebuild America” on a wide variety of websites across the internet and on social media, as well as emailing it to our fanbase and releasing a national press release. We recorded the song the week after the attacks and released it soon after. The song became an instant favorite with our fans, an emotional touchstone that helped express the grief and desired hopefulness that many were feeling during that time. The following year we decided to begin donating the proceeds from the sales and downloads of the song to The Robin Hood Foundation, a New York City non-profit that has a special chapter solely dedicated to helping the families of 9/11 victims.
As always, here is that music video:
There is no need to go into any of the details of my own personal experiences on that day or that week as many are apt and justified to do today, as all of it has already been written about extensively here in the pages of the Diaries of previous years. [a simple search for 9/11 would bring up all the entries from the last 12 years related to this day, the tragedy, and the song]. By the spring of 2003, many Americans had shifted their attention from mourning the tragedy of 9/11 to protesting and demonstrating along with the rest of the free world the United States’ government’s stated plan to invade the country of Iraq. I participated in several demonstrations across the country that season, from Miami to New York to Washington DC. One thing was certain if anything: though the world grieved and sympathized with us for our losses, they were unanimous in their opposition to our government militarily attacking another country with no direct connection to the 9/11 attacks. The month of March saw the world break every record in humanity’s history books related to the massive numbers of attendees at these demonstrations. Some cities clocked in over two million people marching through the streets carrying signs and banners begging or demanding the United States to not invade Iraq.
Needless to say, democracy did not prevail in that mammoth global endeavor; democracy had been trumped by sheer force of political will and military might. The event had the unfortunate effect of triggering a reversal of the sentiment of the people of the world in regards to the United States of America, from sympathy and empathy to a very palpable anger and resentment, and worse yet it more brightly illuminated the stated reasons the attackers used to justify their attack than any flag burning or jihad message ever could, i.e. the United States was a heartless bullying global superpower with no respect for the sovereignty of other countries and no appreciation for the sanctity of human life; like many empires before it it was an imperialist arrogant and elitist killing machine that deserved to be attacked and stopped at any cost. It was hard to argue with this idea when confronted with it while traveling to other countries over the next few years. The image of George W. Bush had become the face of a new kind of corporate controlled war monger; the American flag the new symbol of 21st century evil. It was an inescapable sentiment that spanned the globe no matter where I traveled over the next few years. Planet earth had found its new villain that the world loved to hate.
By the fall of 2004 a cheap independently produced film entitled LOOSE CHANGE was making its way through the underground and the cognoscenti that portended a seething theory about 9/11 through asking a series of questions about the myriad inconsistencies and mysteries surrounding many of the events before during and after that fateful day. Many of the inconsistencies were just too obvious and eerie to easily dismiss or deny. At the same time hundreds of videos were beginning to appear all over the internet from a variety of different countries that were pointing out the same problems with the official story and asking the same questions. There are now three full length feature films in the LOOSE CHANGE series. And they are only the tip of the iceberg in regards to the vast quantity of films that have been produced now all proposing similar theories… that there is more to the 9/11 story than what was originally reported officially by the American government and media. If you haven’t yet seen these films it would be difficult to think of anything else more important to suggest that one do today. No matter what you’re viewpoint, if any, SEE THESE FILMS, if you care in the least about America or the world and it’s people.
In 2004 it was ludicrous to suggest to anyone outside of your own family that you had any doubts about the official story surrounding 9/11. It was too close, too soon, too sore still. And besides, are you not a patriot? Do you not love America? Have you no shame? Or pride? Flash forward to 2012 and one is hard pressed to not find that at least half of the people you know aren’t skeptical of the official 9/11 story or harboring their own suspicions that something just doesn’t feel right about it. (I hesitate to say this and only do so in order to prove a point, with no egoistic intention whatsoever, despite what it may sound like), but it is not often that I personally encounter anyone who knows as much or more than I do about any so-called underground knowledge or conspiracy theories or unreported facts or truths that haven’t yet reached the mainstream, let alone have anything to teach me or new to share with me. This has nothing to do with any particular gift talent skill or advantage I claim to possess as much as it does the simple fact that I have more desire to study and learn and can afford to and am willing to give up more time attention and effort for it than anything else. It may be the one thing I personally excel at, if anything, being that learning is the one thing besides making love and music that I am more passionate about than anything else in this particular lifetime.
The reason I mention this is because over the last few years, millions of people have surpassed me in their quest to research and collect data regarding the alleged “terrorist attacks” of September 11th. It seems that everyone has their own personal storehouse of unreported details and facts about the event, and their own personal theories as to what exactly happened; millions of people all over the world, from every race, nation, class, economic background and of every age. The hearts and minds of the people of the world have slowly transitioned from shock, sadness and sympathy over that day to doubt cynicism suspicion and skepticism, a lurking uneasy feeling that won’t leave one’s thinking once started on the path of researching the events of that day, that week, that month, that year. It has gone from underground conspiracy theory to mainstream common knowledge that the events as they were officially reported are downright impossible to believe.
As the years wore on, it became more and more challenging to defend the United States of America and its dubious so-called foreign policy. Even if the events of 9/11 as they were officially reported were indisputably true and trustworthy, it was becoming more and more apparent to the world that the United States had metamorphosed into something ghastly inhumane and deadly on a global level. Fear and anger rather than patriotism and envy filled the hearts of many when the subject of the good old USA came up in conversation. In 2005 I had already written and released the music video for the song “White House Jihad”. The stark contrast between this song and “Rebuild America” couldn’t have been more striking. The sentiment of the songs couldn’t be more different. It wasn’t a conscious thing. I’ve never written songs like that; in fact I’ve never done anything with much consciousness or conscience. As anyone can attest, I am more a seat of the pants type. I tell it do it call it as I see it, in each moment, without foresight or regard for consequences.
That video is here:
Just like “Rebuild America”, “White House Jihad” seemed to resonate strongly with a certain group of people. The innocence and blind patriotism of “Rebuild America” had long since dissipated and given way to a new-found realism and self-consciousness that each of us had an inherent responsibility to attempt to stop the bloodshed and madness, whether American or any other nationality. Watching the horrors of war, if one is compassionate, is a grueling experience. Whether it’s the hundreds of thousands killed in the country under attack or the thousands killed or tens of thousands maimed and injured of one’s own country, it doesn’t matter. The horror of war is the most unpleasant aspect of the human condition to consider and behold. I knew “White House Jihad” was a controversial song. I knew it was the furthest thing from patriotism during a time when tens of thousands of our fellow brothers and sisters were in harms way and risking their lives and the welfare of their homes and families. But at the same time I felt like I had to do something, to say something. Marching demonstration protesting wasn’t working.Talking about it wasn’t working. Hell, singing about it didn’t work any better.
But as artists we put it out there, no matter what “it” is, when we feel it. It’s a statement of purpose, a mass, a vigil, an act of defiance and protest, a mission statement. Years pass. Critics have condemned me for the insensitive and disrespectful sentiment of “White House Jihad”, just as others have criticized me for the seemingly ignorant and blind patriotism of “Rebuild America”. It’s a classic “you can’t please everybody all of the time” catch-22. I find it funny now when music critics doing their research to review one of our new albums come across “Rebuild America” and not “White House Jihad” and assume that I am nothing more than the simple naive American flag waver given voice in that song, as if that alone sums up a person. And vice versa. Surely we are all, every single one of us, much more than the momentary feelings and ideas we express in any given hour on any given day. Especially in the context of the state that we live in, as confused and convoluted as it is. It isn’t easy being American in this day and age. Perhaps it never has been.
It is certainly a privilege to be American; the country and its chosen mode of governance offers tremendous freedom and holds great potential. But it is also a heavy burden. Of course we wanted and want to rebuild our America; just not at the expense of others weaker than ourselves. Regardless of what we eventually discover or determine caused the tragic events of 9/11, innocent lives were lost. And that’s a sad thing. The wind got kicked out of us for a few minutes there. Hope was all we had, along with a very human ability to work hard, see beyond our momentary grief and persevere. On the other side of the coin of course we are embittered and angered by the atrocities committed in our name over the last twelve years. Anyone seeing and hearing clearly sees the dire need we have as a country for change and transformation; it’s hanging around our collective neck like a “kick me” sign or a noose. Perhaps it is nothing less than White House jihad that we need to rebuild. A full on revolution of the whole set up. A full cleaning and clearing of the whole house, top to bottom. We don’t say these things out of being unpatriotic or unaware or unappreciative of our many blessings as citizens of this country. Rather we say them out of that same hope and love and pride we felt for the country on the first September 11th all those years ago.
I am sure I am not the only one who harbors this same set of confusing and contradictory beliefs and ideas. They echo through our collective conversations as a country on a daily basis now in every form of media and dialogue available to us. Our emperor lost his wardrobe many years ago and I think almost all of us would do just about anything to see the poor glorious bastard clothed once again. This is what makes today so difficult and challenging for many of us. His nakedness is ours; and in the seat of our soul we long for that pride and respect and sense of honor that we vaguely remember feeling once a long time ago to return. We just aren’t sure how to get there, which makes days like today even more painful than just the mourning and pain over innocent lives lost. The day has taken on a new meaning for us all, not because of what transpired on that day, but on the days and years that immediately followed it since. Somewhere in our future, if we are to have one at all, is a path that will take us to a new-found sense of self respect honor pride and patriotism as American citizens, but more importantly as responsible and respectful citizens of the world.