from 9/11 to MH370

“At the moment everyone is an expert on what happened to flight MH370”

these were the words that started a debate in a mostly US American frequented IRC chatroom I sometimes hang out in. I can’t shake off the feeling it ended with be having become some kind of a persona non grata. And that was not because I was told off for using the word “clusterfuck” in a chat room.

But back to the beginning. So everyone was speculating on what happened to that plane that has disappeared somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Little surprise theories were ripe about aliens and black holes and whatnot. Some were more serious, some less. At some point I suggested it may have been the NSA since they seem to be to blame for everything these days but sure enough I got told off by the American experts. I was kindly informed that you blame the NSA when it’s something that can be done hiding cowardly behind a computer. If it involves actual dirty on the ground work you blame the CIA.
Fair enough. Point taken.

So all was fun and games until the discussion got somewhat more serious again and I suggested it did indeed look very much like an attempt on hijacking a plane gone very wrong. Now that got the US Americans all fired up. “Do you really think after nine-eleven you could still crash a plane into a major city?” As a matter of fact, yes, I do but I decided not to say as much. A wise decision but not wise enough as it turned out. Instead I put out the possibility it could have been (or rather should have been) a good old-fashioned attempt on getting ransom. It’s only been some fifteen years after all that it seemed some plane got hijacked for ransom every other month or so and there may well still be groups alive that remember the times when you could do other things with hijacked planes than crashing them into buildings.

“Completely impossible!” I was informed because “after what happened” plane hijackings were taken “very seriously” and nobody would hesitate any more before shooting down a potentially hijacked plane. Again I think that’s all – to put it the old school way since any US American readers may take offence on me swearing – a bunch of rubbish. And again I had the sense of not saying that much in front of my US American audience. “The plane hasn’t disappeared from the US though, has it?” I instead suggested. Now I opened the gates of hell. Or so it felt.

I was ‘unbelievably naive’ I was told and asked whether I knew ‘what happened on the 11th of September’ and duly informed that 3000 people were murdered. Maybe that should have been the point at which I realised that the case was lost either way and instead I should have taken to amusing myself by quizzing them about the number of Syrians that died on a monthly basis. Or the amount of their own fellow citizens that were poisoned by trash food and a pharma industry gone rogue every single day. I didn’t. Really I didn’t get the chance to either cause that’s when I used that evil word that was half the F-word of which Americans seem to be scared to hell and that was that with the discussion. And yes, I did apologise for ‘not watching my language’ in the interest of cultural sensitivity. Apparently the acknowledgement for cultural differences works only one way, though.

In all seriousness, after twelve and a half years does your random US American still think the world stopped spinning on the eleventh of September 2001? It was a terrible tragedy, don’t get me wrong, and it will be a date our kids will get to learn in school. With a little bit of bad luck they may get to learn it as a trigger for things to come much like my generation has had to learn about the murder of the Austrian crown prince. But still: the world did not stop spinning on the eleventh of September 2001. And just because the US decided to turn into one giant collective looking for revenge no matter what costs and cast aside human rights and the very freedom the terrorists had set out to destroy in the first place it does not mean that so did the rest of the world. Would the US shoot down any plane approaching a large city without a good reason? Maybe, who knows. But I doubt most other places in the world would do it. The world is not the United States of Earth yet. Not by a far shot.

Just the other day I watched a documentary on the 2011 Norwegian Utøya attacks. And as I watched and remembered the media coverage that followed and the way Norway was shown to cope I couldn’t help but think just how different the Norwegian reaction was to that of the US. One thing struck me especially: In the documentary they interviewed the Norwegian prime minister at the time, Jens Stoltenberg, a man who claimed to have himself visited the island every summer since his youth. But when asked how Utøya had changed Norway he said that people had become more considerate towards minorities, especially the Muslims Anders Behring Breivik wanted thrown out of Norway so desperately. Society, it seemed, had entered the time after in showing to the world just how democratic and open they are instead on going on a blind rampage against the potential Breivik’s of tomorrow and blaming each other forever for not having identified him earlier. Yes, mistakes had been made, especially in the time it took police to get to Utøya but society didn’t dwell on it. They grew stronger instead of breaking.

And if you’d ask me who will shake his head in disbelief on having achieved nothing and who will dance a little happy dance about having brought a global superpower to its knees I know the answer.