New campus organization of 9/11 ‘truthers’ is misinformed

Story by James Kust

On Sept. 11, 2001, this country  changed forever.

There’s no overstating it. It’s the day that bumped George W. Bush’s approval rating above 90 percent, the day that united our country in a display of patriotism not seen since World War II.

Sept. 11 shifted our nation’s domestic and foreign policy permanently, and was responsible for starting a War on Terror that is still deploying thousands of young men and women.

Ten years later, we’re still trying to understand what happened that day.

And from this lack of understanding comes confusion.

As many know, there exists a noteworthy movement that claims the events of 9/11 were an “inside job” — a purposeful act orchestrated by our government and special interest groups designed, depending on who you ask, to increase oil revenues or seize foreign lands, among other claims.

These so-called “truthers” have arrived at UW-Eau Claire.

On Monday night the Student Senate unanimously approved the constitution for a new student organization — Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth: College Outreach Team.

According to the organization’s parent website, their mission is to “research, compile, and disseminate scientific evidence relative to the destruction of the three World Trade Center skyscrapers, calling for a truly open and independent investigation.”

A disclaimer: I’ve lived in Wisconsin all my life. I didn’t know anyone involved in the 9/11 attacks. I’m not an engineer or an architect. But I can’t help but be vehemently opposed to everything this organization stands for.

To imply that our government would stoop so low, that our leaders are so driven by greed that 2,996 deaths are simply collateral  damage can only be described as offensive.

It’s offensive to every family member and friend of those who lost their lives that day, and it’s offensive to Americans who, naively or not, exercise a degree of faith in those who lead them.

Defaming this tragedy by dragging everyone involved in it through the dirt is a tragedy in and of itself.

But as strongly as I’m opposed to this organization’s intentions, I feel even more strongly about something else — our nation’s First Amendment. There’s no law, thankfully, that prohibits this College Outreach Team from existing.

They are free to organize here and use student fees here and spread their message here. That message — no matter how much I personally disagree with it — is protected by law. I respect that right, and when this organization becomes active on campus, I urge you to respect it as well.

I happened to be in New York City this January, and had the privilege to visit the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero. There are nearly 3,000 names etched into stone, shaped to mimic the foundations of the original World Trade Center, now filled with water that flows continuously throughout.

In busy New York City, in the middle of the work day, this small patch of ground was silent, as people simply remembered.

No matter your position on how the events that day unfolded, it’s important that we remember: that we remember those whose lives were lost, that we remember everyday people who ran into burning wreckage without a second thought, and that we remember the constitution that defends our right to make our opinions known.

So long as we remember, this country will continue to be the great one it is today.