*** Update 10.1.14 – bottom, after you read this
You know, there was a time was hijacking was a glorious and time tested event. Mostly, it was a victimless crime. Yeah, sure, you got detoured to Cuba or Algeria…. But you lived, right? Think of the stories you will have to tell. Look at DB Cooper; all reports say he was both handsome and very polite. Now that is my kind of terrorist! See, the hijackers never killed anyone, because had they, there would be no ransom money. No one will pay you for dead Americans. Trust me on this one! Of course, you and I know ransom money rarely works out even if they pretend to acquiesce. Mostly, the bad guys get killed.
You have probably heard in the movies ‘the United States does not negotiate with terrorists’. This is true, for the most part, and it comes from hijacking. They have to remove the incentive. If each time the US paid a bad guy who hijacked the plane… people would hijack planes daily. So, how does it end? Well, we usually shoot the bad guys. Wanna see a cool movie about this stuff that I think is a thoughtful and entertaining look – Dog Day Afternoon. It stars Al Pacino as Al Pacino. Get it? I mean sure, his character has a name… but dude plays the exact same guy in pretty much every movie. In this film, he plays a gay psychotic and manic depressive nutjob going through a break up with his boyfriend, who is the hospital as we speak to get gender reassignment surgery. Yet… it is really just Al Pacino doing his thing.
People understood the rules of hijacking. It was a kind of gentlemen’s understanding. Don’t mess with the hijackers. Be quiet and make NO trouble. No one gets hurt. Yes, they will scream a LOT. Odds are they will threaten to kill you a bunch. Stay cool, you will be fine. Hijacking was grand good fun for all involved
Those were the good old days. Then, the terrorists won. As you know, 9/11 began with hijacking. Initially, no one touched or challenged the hijackers. If you are under 30, you are likely thinking “why in the hell didn’t they attack the hijackers? They were all going to die anyway, that much is obvious, right?” Wrong. As I mentioned above, hijackings rarely resulted in passenger deaths. We also know from recordings that the bad guys didn’t say “Hey, we are going to fly into some buildings.” No. They said “stay cool and no one gets hurt”. Sadly, everyone in the first two planes died a horrible death.
What was different about the fourth plane, then? Why did they attack? This is the question you should be asking. The people on the fourth plane knew all about the first three planes. The fourth plane, which we suspect was heading for the capital building, was hijacked an hour after the first two crashed into Manhattan. So, those folks in the last plane knew they were going to die. They had nothing to lose. What they did took balls of steel, and I forever admire their sacrifice. Let’s roll!
Hijacking, now, is ruined. You can’t just tell everyone to chill out… anymore. You can’t say “give me a million dollars and fly me to Cuba”. If you do that now, the passengers (me included) are going to kill you. For that, the terrorists won.
* bonus trivia: Seth McFarland was supposed to be on the first plane. He overslept. He had the greatest and most thoughtful response to the usual question. People asked him “do you believe you were spared, or have a special purpose in life now?” He answers “
His point being (in case I didn’t explain it right) is to say “to imply god spared me and wanted me to live is to imply god wanted all those other 3,000 to die”. He is a good man, and I have lifelong respect for him and his thoughtful response.
**** update 10.1.2014
More proof that hijacking was just ‘plane’ fun before 9/11. Just after I wrote this piece, this story came across my desk, via Reddit. It’s a 45 year old story, so it seemed like creepy fate when this popped up a day after my groundbreaking and courageous piece. Do you remember Allen Funt? He was the guy who ran the original ‘punk’d’. He did a wildly successful show called ‘candid camera’. It was just like it sounds, put regular people in super awkward situations and film them. Then, most importantly, film the reveal. Everyone watched this show. EVERYONE. Know why? Because it was great? No. Because in 1969 you only had 3 channels. NBC, CBS, and ABC. That was it.
Because of this, Allen Funt was one of the most recognizable people in America. In 1969, Funt was on a flight from New York to Miami with his family. The plane was being hijacked. Hijacking was scary common back then. This happened in February, and it was already the 12th hijacking that year. The hijacking was real, very real. Problem was, no one believed it. Since everyone had seen Funt, they all assumed it was a bit, and they were on TV. Even as the plane was being re-routed to Cuba, everyone thought it was a bit. Rather than being terrified of the hijackers, passengers complimented them on their acting skills and believability.
These people would NOT believe they were being hijacked. The plane was diverted to Cuba (that was all the rage for generations. Why? It was an independent country with no extradition to America and it is super duper close. By plane, it was an extra ten minutes from Miami. Anyhow, then the plane landed in Havana, the passengers stood up in the aisles and gave their hijackers a standing ovation for being so credible.
Don’t believe me? I rarely believe me, either. Here’s proof. This is one of Funt’s kids who was on that plane