People Have A Serious Case Of 9/11 Brain Right Now, And It’s Scary

Caitlin Johnstone
6 min readOct 12, 2023

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

I had to take a short break from reading about what’s happening in Gaza. I saw one too many images of dead kids on Twitter and just had to lie down for a while.

It was like running out of health in a video game. I was still trucking along, and then I saw this one particularly gruesome image on Twitter of a dead Palestinian child which I won’t even describe here and my nervous system was like, “Nope, that’s it, we’re done,” and I just felt all the energy go out of me and slumped over.

And that was just me sitting in the comfort and safety of my own home. I can’t imagine what it’s like to actually be there, under siege with all energy and supplies cut off, while it gets harder and harder to get information to the outside world as military explosives rain down relentlessly.

It’s so, so bad, and it’s going to get so much worse. Israel has already taken more lives than the 1,200 it lost in the Hamas attacks, with the official death toll from the Gaza bombings now having passed 1,200 as of this writing, on top of the 1,500 Hamas militants who were killed during the attack. But the killing is going to continue far beyond this point. One gets the sense that the IDF is barely even getting started.

That’s why so much energy is getting poured into trying to make the Hamas attacks look as bad as possible — to make the gratuitous slaughter that’s about to come look reasonable. We’re seeing claims about decapitated Israeli babies being uncritically promoted as fact by the mass media and by US and Israeli officials, and then being walked back as it turns out those claims are unverified and dubiously sourced. We’re seeing claims about mass rapes being uncritically pushed by the mass media, only to see them retracted as unverified after the narrative has taken hold.

The only reason the political/media class of the imperial core are falling all over themselves to promote these narratives without waiting for the evidence is to make Israel’s ongoing murder of civilians in Gaza look appropriate. It’s completely undisputed that Hamas killed a huge number of people on Saturday, and it’s completely undisputed that a huge number of those killed were noncombatants. This alone could be used to justify retaliatory military operations by Israel, but because those retaliations are going to dwarf the initial offense, Israel and its allies need to frame that initial offense in the most shocking and rage-inducing light possible.

It was reported that the US and Israel were in discussions with Egypt to provide safe corridors for an evacuation of Gaza, which Moon of Alabama noted would have been ethnic cleansing if carried out. But it’s now being reported that Egypt has rejected those proposals, citing the need to protect “the right of Palestinians to hold on to their cause and their land”.

So they’re trapped there. Two million people, half of whom are children, packed into a tiny strip of land which an Israeli security official says is going to be reduced to “a city of tents” with “no buildings”. And they have to somehow not get killed amid this onslaught while somehow managing to get enough to eat and drink in a besieged city with no power.

We could be on the precipice of one of the darker entries in the annals of history.

Something very eerie happened the other day. I posted the following on Twitter:

“If I was an Israel supporter I’d be thinking very carefully about the things I’m posting online in the build-up to what could wind up being regarded as one of history’s worst genocidal massacres. The internet doesn’t forget. What you’re tweeting today could haunt you for life.”

The post received hundreds of comments, many of them hostile and argumentative. But what really disturbed me is that going through them I couldn’t find a single one that disputed my claim that Israel may be on the verge of committing one of the worst genocidal massacres in world history. They were angered by my opposition to Israel, angered by my criticism of their social media activity, but apparently they had no objection to the whole massive genocidal massacre bit. That part they take as a given, and accept.

Which may come as no surprise to you if you’ve been paying attention to the way Israel apologists are talking about this situation. The Grayzone’s Jeremy Loffredo recently posted a compilation of numerous pro-Israel demonstrators in New York City spouting genocidal vitriol calling for the extermination of all Palestinians and turning Gaza into a parking lot. It’s ugly to watch, but it’s also just Israel apologists saying the same things in person that they’ve been saying online all week.

Stokely Carmichael said “If a white man wants to lynch me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to lynch me, that’s my problem.” These genocidal ideations wouldn’t be as much of a problem if Palestinians weren’t completely beholden to the whims of a deadly military force that is backed to the hilt by the most powerful empire that has ever existed. They can kill as many Palestinians as they’ve got a mind to, and there’s a lot of consent for this throughout the member states of the US-centralized empire.

When announcing the total siege of Gaza, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that “We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.” This is the dehumanizing language of extermination. This is not the sort of person you want pointing modern weapons of war at defenseless civilians in an open-air concentration camp.

People are going insane, in the same way they went insane after 9/11. In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks there was this shrieking emotional intensity which saw critical thinking go out the window and saw people’s minds consumed with a rabid lust for Muslim blood. People have a serious case of 9/11 brain this week, and it’s more than a little scary.

It is very fitting, then, that numerous political and media figures have been working to brand the attacks this past Saturday as “Israel’s 9/11”. After 9/11 everyone lost their minds and started believing a bunch of lies and consenting to power-serving agendas that went on to do orders of magnitude more damage than the initial traumatic event did, and we’re seeing that same infernal trajectory unfolding again today with Israel.

Comparisons to 9/11 should make everyone more critical and resistant to warmongering agendas, not less. The most consequential thing about September 11 2001 was not what happened on that day but what happened in the days that followed, with the “war on terror” causing millions of deaths and displacing tens of millions of people — vastly eclipsing the 3,000 dead from the 9/11 attacks themselves.

That’s what people should think about when these 9/11 comparisons emerge. Not “Oh well we need to consent to a bunch of military agendas and kill a bunch of people then,” but “We need to be extremely skeptical about everything we’re being told, and begin pushing for peace as aggressively as we possibly can.”

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