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Retrospective: Hunter S. Thompson’s Iconic Post-911 Interview

“It was if something had brought on a bad trip, but this time it wasn’t the drugs. It wasn’t even the Sept 11th attacks – it was the lame-stream media.”

PHBy Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

Like many before it, the latest installment of the annual 9/11 Remembrance series has come and gone.

Just like Presidents Day, Flag Day and the Pro Bowl, it seems to have passed without too many people noticing this time, for not a lot more can be said about it that hasn’t already been raked, and re-raked over the proverbial coals.

Like any decent bottle of wine, quality in film and literature never turns – it always resonates and its unmistakable character continues to improve with age. The same can be said for timely interviews with seminal personalities.

The events of September 11th may be the most wide covered and documented incidents in modern history. Still, too many key questions remain unanswered. Hoping to achieve a little perspective on where 9/11 sits in the wider frame of American history, I found myself looking back in time to see what was said during the immediate aftermath of the attacks. What I discovered back then was unexpected – and a real testament as to how time can crystallize some real fighting words and preserve a few fearless ideas.

On Sept 2, 2002, one Hunter S. Thompson of Fear and Loathing fame, was interviewed by host Mick O’Regan on Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio – Down Under’s equivalent to NPR or BBC Radio 4. O’Regan wanted to hear Thompson’s take on the world following the attacks of Sept 11th. What he got was something that would hardly surprise followers of the irreverent gonzo scribe’s long career.

Still relevant: Thompson’s comments after 911 were straight from the gut.

One year year later, in September 2002 during the first anniversary of 9/11, where the collective psyche of the planet was subject to saw two weeks of relentless programming about the previous year’s horrific incident. You imagine this episode as another chapter out of Hunter’s adventures: “It was if something had brought on a bad trip, but this time it wasn’t the drugs. It wasn’t even the Sept 11th attacks…” – but it’s what came after 9/11 that really disturbed Hunter’s sense order in the universe.

While listening to Hunter’s interview (listen below), we have to bear in mind that it was conducted in the midst of a global media blitz with hundreds of pieces dedicated to the event – commemoration followed by redux, followed by memorial, followed by Toby Kieth songs, followed by endless terror announcements. It would be fair to say that Thompson’s comments were certainly brave in the context of what was playing in the media at that time, although it appears that few mainstream pundits took serious note of them back then.

During the Australian broadcast, Thompson predicted that George W Bush and his esteemed kitchen cabinet would use 9/11 as a rallying call for an eventual invasion of Iraq – and the record will show that he was only 6 months off in his prediction of that war which was officially launched in March 2003 (listen to his prediction in the first segment below). More insightful however, was his commentary on a wide range of issues that we are still grappling with today.

In this interview which lasts approximately 40 minutes, many important points are made about the nature of government, the loss of freedoms in the West after 9/11, freedom of the press, the folly of embedded journalists in war coverage, and the corporate media’s new-found inability to objectively report any major world-changing events.

On the subject of media, the former Rolling Stone Magazine rogue literary icon explained, “Overall, American journalism has been cowed and intimidated by this massive flag-sucking, this patriotic orgy the White House keeps whipping up, that if you criticise the President it’s unpatriotic, there’s something wrong with you – or you may be a terrorist.”

Straight out of the gonzo playbook, he also shares his feelings on ‘official’ announcements, “Be very skeptical about the pronouncements of authority. As a gambler I would say it’s a bit of an even bet that if you question the statements of truth from the White House or the government, more often than not you will be right… the truth is hugely stranger than fiction.”

Later in this interview, Hunter explains that in his opinion, the attacks of Sept 11th may very well have been a ‘inside job’ and goes on to support this opinion with his own personal experience and what he learned while running in high political circles for the good part of half a century – much was learned and little love was lost between the Nixon and Bush Jr regimes. Hunter knew.

Sure, we’ve heard it all before, but what’s important is that he said it way back then. We can only wonder where we’d be today if more media personalities did the same that early in the game – before the fear had really sunk in, embedded under our skins. Was that when the West was well and truly hijacked? Hijacked by leaders and their industrial counterparts preying on peoples’ apparent need to feel hyper-secure, leaving society with nowhere to turn but in on itself? If there ever was an authentic ‘fear and loathing’ moment for America, this was surely it.

What a difference a year makes. Illustration by Ralph Steadman.

When one looks at the Anti-War movement today, it looks like a movement that in many has lost its teeth, and that may very well be because of many Anti-War activists’ inability to challenge the 9/11 orthodoxy. How can you serious challenge the premise of 21st century wars like Afghanistan and Iraq when you cannot challenge their primary pretext event? Indeed, if he were still alive today, Thompson would have pointed out that obvious hypocrisy: that war protesters who still buy the official 9/11 story cannot in good faith be really against the initial invasion of Afghanistan, sold to the public as a ‘defensive’ invasion fabricated out of the popular 9/11 lie that attack operations were run out of a Indiana Jones-like cave in mountains of Tora Bora. In this way, the 9/11 Truth movement is really an Anti-War movement with a brain.

This is a brilliant and candid summary of world events from the writer who redefined journalism during his era, and a writer who so often (amid cheers from the peanut gallery) managed to ‘get away with it’. This time he didn’t need to though, as he put in plain English. Certainly, it’s an interview for the American cultural archive and further proof that some forms of rock ‘n roll from the past can from time to time, offer a little wisdom to today’s generation.

Listen to the partial interview segment below:


READ MORE 9/11 NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire 9/11 Files




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