Conspiracy theories are mostly just a way for people to try find an excuse for why
these things happened. Subconsciously, of course. No human in their right mind can comprehend how people can commit such atrocities on innocents. Yes, we all hear stories of the Holocaust, or attacks on other countries, but when thousands of people die in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania, it is a bit of a shocker. I was watching the CNN Pipeline replay of the entire day earlier, and the news anchor was convinced at first that it had to be a mistake; something was wrong with the navigation systems of the planes. Even after the second tower was hit, he said that something must be messing with their systems, and it took a guy he was interviewing via telephone to say "Even if their systems were messed up, the second plane would have noticed the flames and smoke" and tell him that it was on purpose. It just doesn't make sense to people. It's the United States of America... New York City, one of the most famous cities on the planet... The Pentagon, where the defense of the country is controlled from. The general feeling was that people don't hijack planes anymore, and no one could nor would certainly be able to use American planes to kill thousands of Americans civilians-- women, children, infants, elderly. Prior to 9/11, there had been no great disaster like this since Pearl Harbor. Yeah, there was the first WTC bombing and the Oklahoma City Bombing-- both horrible, devastating events, but nothing near the scale of 9/11. Something that large and deadly would surely be discovered by our CIA and foiled by the FBI-- that was the concensus of many. It's America, the world's sole superpower. It can't happen. It's impossible. That's how many people felt--and how many people still fell.
They're scared, and they don't understand. They point to certain oddities in how things played out-- the towers imploding as if it was a planned demolition, one building blowing up and smoke arising from it before the second tower was even hit, etc. They look for something, anything to point a finger and what they think is more believeable. In their minds, only a vast conspiracy involving inside men and high-level authorities could have pulled off an attack on our financial and military capitals. Only someone operating from within could have managed to wipe out nearly 3000 people in a single day. Someone operating from a cave in the Middle East couldn't possibly manage to perform such a heinous act without the approval and aid of those in power within the country. They can't fathom had entirely dangerous the world was. At that moment, the United States of America realized that it had no special amnesty from attacks on its own soil and civilians; it was vulnerable.
That is why the September 11th attacks and the subsequent attacks on London and Madrid really hit the public hard. It's almost as if people expected there to be bombing in random cities throughout the Middle East and Africa and such. But the idea of peacetime attacks taking place in places like New York City and London was just unthinkable. The fact that civilians in these powerful, 'modern' nations would be targetted and murdered en masse just doesn't make sense to a lot of people. So they have to come up with their own answers and theories. They have to find a way to explain it to themselves, and someone other to blame than a man hiding in a cave somewhere.
What's truly sad is that terrorism has really been the thing that has defined this generation. Ten years ago, it would be difficult to find a child in elementary school who would tell you what 'terrorism' was. Words like 'Al Qaida' and 'Bin Laden' and 'Anthrax' would not mean much to them. Ten years ago, airports were sometimes just a place to hang out, where anyone could come and meet you at the gate-- one might remember an opening scene in the film Dogma
where they two chief characters are sitting outside an airport gate watching people as they come off. The only fears a child would have of flying is that it might get hit by lightning or something and crash.
I really feel that that innocence has been lost. Many children really, sadly, have a firm grasp on what is going on. They have more to be afraid of. I remember the morning it happened very clearly, as many of us do. I lived on the west coast, right next to Vandenberg Air Force Base (the base property began less than a mile from my backyard). We were on the way to school when one of the towers collapsed; I didn't quite understand what was happening at first via radio-- I heard the Twin Towers were hit, and thought not too much of it until I heard the Pentagon was hit as well, and then it clicked that something was seriously wrong. Anyways, I just remember being in the school office (my mother was the school nurse) and this little 1st-grader runs in in tears; her father was in Washington, D.C. at the time and she was terrified when she figured out that Washington had been attacked. Such outbursts from the children continued throughout the day, as many of them had parents that worked with the base. The base controls much of the missile defense systems for the West Coast and is one of the primary targets should the USA ever be under full-fledged attack, and was this placed on incredibly high alert. These children had to go past barricades, military jeeps, and many soldiers carrying automatic weapons just to get to and from their house. The base's middle school, located just outside its front case, had armed soldiers standing outside it before and after school every single schoolday for three years. Having to walk past armed guards daily just to attend your middle school in nice, sunny, coastal California--- it really got to some people.
I think it is too early to predict the long-term effects this could have on the psyche of the generation, but it is definitely having an effect. These children really know what terror is, whether they have military families or not. And, really, an 8-year old shouldn't have to spend some time thinking about the scary things out there, but they do. And I truly think that this is one of the larger long-term tragedies of that horrific day.
Alright. I'm sorry for rambling. But it has been a long day and I just needed to vent.