Sunday, December 6, 2009


Obama’s Escalate-Afghanistan speech turned, as did all of Bush’s, on the tired and depleted justification of “9/11”. "We did not ask for this fight," the president intoned. "On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women and children without regard to their faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions of the passengers on board one of those flights, they could have also struck at one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killed many more.” And so we need 100,000 soldiers plus 110 “contractors” to fight the “less than 100 operatives” (Gen. Jones) left in Afghanistan.

Aside from the absurdity of proportion, the demonstrated ineffectiveness of the approach, and the barbaric “collateral damage” always accompanying it, the entire package is based on a most problematic “fact” -- the official story of 9/11, 19 Arab hijackers with boxcutters, etc. Absolutely every one of the major and minor elements of this tale has been shown to be inconsistent with physical events and surrounded with suspicious behavior.

After eight years of study, thousands of serious researchers in many technical and response areas can confidently assert the complete falsity of the official story, along with slightly differing alternatives, diffuse along the edges, but solidly agreeing at the core. (Google “9/11 truth” for many professional websites devoted to exploration and discussion of details. This is not “crackpot” material.)

And yet the same, tired, much wounded story continues to justify the exercise of our killing machines, military and financial, around the globe -- including here at home where our own population is still starved of humane goods and services. The “war on terror” (by whatever Obama chooses to call it) remains the be all and end all of our existence -- all based on a set of demonstrated, manipulated falsities. The media has enshrined the official story; any challenge to it -- at least in this country -- is off the table of the mind.

I’ve tried to make an endrun around the general censorship by writing Skulk, a comic novel about 9/11. The characters are a bit silly, but the things they rant about are not. And the websites they mention in their “calls to the people” are real. I call this approach “Fighting Fiction with Fiction” -- an essay I appended to the back of the book. Here it is.

Marc Estrin

After seven years, the resistance to 9/11 truth studies continues to astound. Many very smart people, lefties, political activists, -- people who don’t believe one word of what anyone in the Bush administration says – for some reason believe every word of the preposterous official version of 9/11. Unlike any other blather from Washington, this seems to be the story they want to believe. In any case, when I’ve tried to raise the subject, they will “not go there”. “Not going there” always involves the same hand gestures – both arms raised from the elbows, palms out, slightly in front of the face, blocking passage to the ears.

What’s going on? It’s not as if these people have no political analysis, or hold worldviews which won’t tolerate 9/11 truth investigation. A standard explanation is that some truths are so destructive the most common defense is total denial. When I tried to bring up the subject, one woman actually said to me, “I don’t want to live in a world where such things could happen.” Well, if openness to thinking about 9/11 necessitates suicide, I can understand her reaction.

But there are many kinds of suicide. In my case, there is the suicide envisioned for me as an author by my usual publisher, and a possible secondary suicide of his publishing house for associating themselves with an author who might be perceived as a tin-hatted conspiracy wacko. In the case of normal, mainstream, journalism, it seems again to be the editor protecting the writer from suicide, and, more importantly, keeping the publication safe from assault -- as the owners protect the public from the need to think. In any case, fiction or nonfiction which explores alternative stories and explanations of 9/11 seems to be firmly censored in the womb with little protest from the pro-life crowd.

I first started thinking about 9/11 fiction after writing an early review of David Ray Griffin’s first book, The New Pearl Harbor. In 2004, there were still so many unanswered questions and so little evidence with which to construct answers. As in any investigation, the first step is speculation: who might have done it, how might it have happened? Forensic investigation is well left to experts, but speculation itself is often best done by creative writers. So while Griffin and other investigators pursued their work, why not ask my fellow fiction writers to think about clues?

I put out a call to the small circle of writers I happen to know, angling for 9/11 short stories for a possible anthology. I was surprised to see so few come in, and of those few there were even fewer that were likely to be publishable. So I abandoned the anthology project, and thought, “I’ll just do it myself.” Out came my novel, Skulk.

Skulk was a pleasure to write. It was fun actually having fun writing about 9/11! The book contained many of the playful/serious elements common in my writing:

-- inventing an Ann Coulter-ish heroine
-- a political attack on the concept of Santa Claus
-- the difficulties of making a quill pen in contemporary America
-- how to smuggle pot past Homeland Security
-- a short history of Bleeding Kansas
-- Jesus and political weirdness in Mullinville, KA
-- instructions on trailing, evading and bugging 101
-- a Kansan Indian anthropologist on PC towards Indians, Kansas Indians, and a Norwegian story of the devil
-- a middle-east address attacked by yarmulka-ed clowns, and descending into melee, with lab experiments in the latest methods of crowd control
-- some advanced writing on learning skydiving, based on AUTHOR EXPERIENCE!
-- flight training software from Sadosoft, a pedagogical breakthrough.

…and I thought such a book might actually make an end run around the censorship on the topic.

I submitted it enthusiastically for publication and submitted it again, and again: no one would touch it except for John Leonard at Progressive Press (at the kind suggestion of Webster Tarpley). As John had not really worked with fiction before, and because the fiction market is quite different from his usual one, we decided it wasn’t a match. But after a year of further, unsuccessful submissions, I embarrassedly turned to him again, and we both decided to take the gamble together.

We shall see. There remains the question of how to reach beyond the initiates who are already looking for the kind of books Progressive Press put out. This is a general problem beyond that of publishing 9/11 fiction. As activists, we all have to spend time and find ways and to speak and educate beyond the choir. 9/11 truth? As Dick Cheney so pithily observed, “So?” So the government is tricking the people? What’s new? So the American government has murdered its own citizens in pursuit of its goal of world domination? “I don’t have a dog in that fight.”

As my publisher, John Leonard, sees it, It's the old problem of the Big Lie. They got plausible deniability by doing something so unbelievably outrageous that it really can't be believed by most people. But a lot of us who could see through it hitched our wagon to 9/11, figuring that it was dynamite, the highest-powered door-opener around. After seven years, it looks like it's no silver bullet after all. We have to start a bit further back with people -- maybe all the way back with learning how conditioning works? I'm reprinting one classic on that subject, but mainly I'm branching out from 9/11 and trying to cover the whole conspiracy, bit by bit, to build up the background information. Marc Estrin's approach is a very creative one on these lines -- to look for side doors that may be open, instead of trying to drive another truck through the front gate. Maybe that's why he called it 'Skulk' -- it's a stealth approach to 9/11 Truth."

The problem seems to be that so many of us – most of us – are “embedded.” We are embedded in a culture whose frame has expanded to include anything that happens. There is no longer anything “beyond the pale.” Everything is normal, bipartisan, omnipartisan, cloaked in the magic power of “whatever.”

I had thought that the one thing that the American public would not put up with would be the idea that it’s own government had attacked it on 9/11. That’s still probably the case. But between that idea and its consequences stands The Great Wall of Denial. It seems one cannot simply argue people beyond the wall, or hand them a factual triptych to get there. So in Skulk I have used another strategy: to simply assume the truths of 9/11 truth, and incorporate them, without argumentation, into the underlying structure of the novel. As the would-be activists, Gronsky & Skulk, pursue their goal – our goal – of public enlightenment, they are frustrated as we are. But the websites they publish in their Calls to the People are real: any reader who decides to check them – as many readers will now do, having grown used to hyperlinks -- will find him or herself bathing in the wealth of facts and ideas that real 9/11 researchers have come up. In this way, I hope to have brought the 9/11 material to a new cohort – that of readers of fiction who may not have otherwise come in contact with it.

Since September 13, 2001, I have been standing every weekday from 5-5:30 at a busy Burlington intersection with a group of vigilers, each with his or her own sign, protesting the many things there are to protest. I have thought it best to use my own signs to simply inject an idea into public discourse. For several years before the word became common, my sign simply said IMPEACH. Impeach who? That was up to the reader. Once the word “impeachment” became common in public discussion, I changed my sign to read “GOT FASCISM?”, a concept we are not yet commonly talking about. I often get questions from passersby – “what is that – fascism?” Sometime the pronunciation is comical. It amazes me, but there are many people who have forgotten – or never knew.

In the same way, I would like Skulk to simply put the materials of the 9/11 truth movement into circulation. Skulk does not argue, it does not prove, it assumes the reader knows all about it. And on some level, I do think that many denying Americans do know. It needs only to be brought into legitimate discussion. 9/11 fiction may be another, possibly successful, doorway to that discussion.

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