On Sept. 11, 2001 I was a 12-year-old in math class. Our teacher had been instructed to tell us that New York was under attack. Our first thoughts were to question whether we were safe in our Scarborough elementary school. Seems silly now, but I think everyone thought the same thing in that moment.
It wasn’t until I arrived home for lunch to see my mother, silent and wide-eyed, staring at images of a plane so effortlessly smashing straight into an office tower did I realize the gravity of the situation. It didn’t look real. Planes aren’t supposed to do that.
This Sunday, we will all remember where we were when we found out. The moment “terrorist” entered the lexicon of a generation.
I do believe terrorists committed those acts of horror. I don’t believe it was an inside job. I don’t believe there were explosives inside the twin towers or some government conspiracy to justify invading the Middle East by killing 3,000 people.
However, this week Ryerson will play host for those who do believe. The Toronto Hearings will examine the “myths” surrounding 9/11, from the supposed controlled demolition of Tower 7 to analysis of metal particles found in the dust after the towers collapsed.
The climax of the event will be on Sunday, the tenth anniversary of the attack.
Some are calling it insensitive, inappropriate or just plain nutty. Even Ryerson President Sheldon Levy isn’t too pleased at the idea (see page 3). But what’s even nuttier than any conspiracy theorist is saying the Toronto Hearings should take their skepticism elsewhere because it will give Ryerson a bad reputation.
But what reputation would that be? That we don’t silence voices we don’t agree with? That we respect the right to question governmental bodies? That it’s our role to offer a place for free speech and open discourse? How dare we.
On Sunday, 9/11 will be remembered as we grieve for those who were lost. Those gathered in the ILLC will be grieving too. Questioning the attacks is not denying the horror of that day. Rather they are seeking answers for why the horror happened at all.
Skepticism is healthy. Asking questions is healthy. Telling those who dare ask those questions to please shut up because it makes you uncomfortable is not healthy.
And even nuts come in different varieties. Even if you’re not interested in questioning trading spikes on Sept. 10, 2001, you can’t deny the reasonable nature of asking whether the events of that horrible day justified the killing of many thousands more over the course of two wars. Or the related human rights violations. Or the loss of freedoms once taken for granted.
This Sunday, I will remember the day that shocked us all and the grave consequences it produced. And I’m fairly certain there won’t be any skeptics telling me to do it somewhere else.