Last Friday we saw another September 11 come and go. This question still troubles us, as we observe 9/11’s fourtheenth anniversary:

Does it honor or dishonor 9/11 victims to insist that everyone responsible for their deaths account for the crime?

I know that when I italicize those words, I load the question up with all sorts of trouble. Officialdom states that twenty-two people were responsible for the crime: nineteen hijackers who killed themselves; assassinated Osama bin Laden, whose body may lie on the ocean floor; Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who for reasons withheld can never be tried; and belatedly charged Saddam Hussein, who managed to clear his name after we had him hanged. Officialdom says that the original twenty-one terrorists committed the crime by themselves – therefore justice is done.

Do you believe that?

If so, why do you believe that? Several reasons exist for believing this account:

  • Officials and institutions who make the claim are authoritative, trustworthy, and knowledgeable.
  • Tested evidence – both forensic and eyewitness – establishes the claim’s truth.
  • Alternate accounts of 9/11 are too horrible to think about. The official account must veil a family secret, for the nation to continue.

If you do not believe official accounts, opposite reasoning yields opposing beliefs:

  • Powerful people who make the claim are dishonest, untrustworthy, and certainly do not reveal what they know.
  • Tested evidence from all sources contradicts the claim.
  • Though truth be hard, falsehood is much harder. Buried secrets do not stay buried.

Take some time to consider which way your beliefs go. For this question, among all others, reach your own conclusions. Do not rely primarily on family members, friends, or office holders to evaluate possible or likely accounts. Rely as well on methods of discernment and evaluation useful to discover true beliefs in other areas of your life, whether religious, scientific, personal and interpersonal, professional, or philosophical. Think not only about what happened on 9/11, but why you believe what you believe.

True belief about this crime matters.

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