Throwback: Hunter S. Thompson’s 9/11 Article

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As those who have been watching Peaceful Globalist Review know, I’ve been going through a bit of a Hunter S. Thompson phase at the moment. During this time, one of the many things I have done is watch the film Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

One shot that has stuck with me is near the start, where Thompson’s column on 9/11 for ESPN is read out. While this is happening, we see Thompson looking out his window typing, watching the future post-9/11 unfold right in front of him. I’ve actually told people this is a good representation of the high writing a good non-fiction can put you in, where you actually feel like you’re seeing what you’re writing about right in front of you.

His first column on the subject, titled Kingdom Of Fear, was published on 9/12/2001. Thompson begins by telling his own story about what he saw happen on 9/11:

It was just after dawn in Woody Creek, Colo., when the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City on Tuesday morning, and as usual I was writing about sports. But not for long. Football suddenly seemed irrelevant, compared to the scenes of destruction and utter devastation coming out of New York on TV.

Thompson then goes on to say what he thinks will be the results of 9/11, and he’s spot on:

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.

It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. Osama bin Laden may be a primitive “figurehead” — or even dead, for all we know — but whoever put those All-American jet planes loaded with All-American fuel into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon did it with chilling precision and accuracy. The second one was a dead-on bullseye. Straight into the middle of the skyscraper.

Thompson goes on to say:

We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for WAR seem to know who did it or where to look for them.

This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed — for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now. He will declare a National Security Emergency and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter where they live or why. If the guilty won’t hold up their hands and confess, he and the Generals will ferret them out by force.

It is commonly said Thompson predicted the post 9/11 world, and while I think there’s some truth to that, it’s important to note that this was not a hard guess. Bush was openly a religious fanatic (one of his first acts in office was to make donations to religious organizations tax deductible), had talked about invading Iraq on the campaign trial, and had a bit of an authoritarian streak. The connection between him and the oil industry had also long been a talking point of the left, with his Vice-President infamously being the CEO of the oil company Haliburton, long before he invaded Iraq. And, of course, Bush’s dad had a long history in the Texas oil industry, which the young Bush tried to follow in the footsteps of his father on, and sunk three businesses in the process.

His second column “When War Drums Roll,” published 9/17/2001, continues the themes of his last article. The most interesting thing about the article is how he talks about Bin Laden:

Indeed, but the New York Stock Exchange opened Monday morning, so I have to get a grip on something solid. The Other Shoe is about to drop, and it might be extremely heavy. The time has come to be strong. The fat is in the fire. Who knows what will happen now?

Not me, buster. That’s why I live out here in the mountains with a flag on my porch and loud Wagner music blaring out of my speakers. I feel lucky, and I have plenty of ammunition. That is God’s will, they say, and that is also why I shoot into the darkness at anything that moves. Sooner or later, I will hit something Evil, and feel no Guilt. It might be Osama Bin Laden. Who knows? And where is Adolf Hitler, now that we finally need him? It is bad business to go into War without a target.

Thompson famously said that he did not believe the Bush administration regarding 9/11, although he admitted he had no evidence to prove a conspiracy took place. Legend even states he was working on an article on the subject at the time of his death in 2005, although I’ve never seen anything to back that up and it’s usually only mentioned by those who believe Thompson was murdered (he wasn’t).

Thompson then goes on to reflect on how the people who have no memory of 9/11 but are growing up in its aftermath will feel:

We are At War now, according to President Bush, and I take him at his word. He also says this War might last for “a very long time.”

Generals and military scholars will tell you that eight or 10 years is actually not such a long time in the span of human history — which is no doubt true — but history also tells us that 10 years of martial law and a war-time economy are going to feel like a Lifetime to people who are in their twenties today. The poor bastards of what will forever be known as Generation Z are doomed to be the first generation of Americans who will grow up with a lower standard of living than their parents enjoyed.

That is extremely heavy news, and it will take a while for it to sink in. The 22 babies born in New York City while the World Trade Center burned will never know what they missed. The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids, compared to what’s coming now. The party’s over, folks. The time has come for loyal Americans to Sacrifice. … Sacrifice. … Sacrifice. That is the new buzz-word in Washington. But what it means is not entirely clear.

Of course, now we know the how this turns out. Not only was Thompson right, but it seems like he might have predicted his own disciples. I have previous said that our current era is one of radicalism, and one of the biggest causes for radicalism is the idea that something better is possible. What better way to start believing that then by being told that not only is something better possible, but something better happened, and oh, by the way, you just missed it.

The last section I want to show you is about truth in the post-9/11 era, considering we were lied too about Iraq and Afghanistan, and the full 9/11 commission report was not even available until eight years after Bush left office, I believe it’s a very good place to end:

Winston Churchill said “The first casualty of War is always Truth.” Churchill also said “In wartime, the Truth is so precious that it should always be surrounded by a bodyguard of Lies.”

That wisdom will not be much comfort to babies born last week. The first news they get in this world will be News subjected to Military Censorship. That is a given in wartime, along with massive campaigns of deliberately-planted “Dis-information.” That is routine behavior in Wartime — for all countries and all combatants — and it makes life difficult for people who value real news. Count on it. That is what Churchill meant when he talked about Truth being the first casualty of War.

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