It’s amazing the kinds of people you meet when you’re traveling. I was hoping to avoid this one – the 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist – but as is my luck, I met him in Kuala Lumpur.
As I waited to cross the street, a middle-aged gentleman approached me (I suppose having lived my entire life in Hawaii and almost a year in New Zealand I was sort of doomed from the start, but I digress). My natural reaction was to politely acknowledge him and say “hi” (and yes, I know all you big-city dwellers and my German friends are hitting your heads against the wall saying “doh!” in Homer Simpson fashion).
Apparently, “hi” is the universal signal to engage in lengthy political conversation (who would’ve known?). The man proceeded to ask me if I was from Malaysia and when he found out I was American, he became quite animated in speech and gesture.
He said he was a refugee and had just come from the United Nations where he wanted to file charges against former President (George W.) Bush and his “cronies” for unfair treatment. You see, up until recently this man had been held by the U.S. government for months with no contact with his family. I have to assume he was some kind of “person of interest” (or that he’s just a nutter, which is probably more likely) but he didn’t elaborate and I didn’t ask.
The man claimed that September 11 was a conspiracy that Bush made up, remote-controlled planes hit the towers and explosives were used to make the buildings fall.
A little intense for banter during the middle of the day while standing on a corner? Why, yes, yes it is.
Despite the cray-cray vibes coming off this guy in waves, I have to admit that he’s not the only one in the world who believes everything was a conspiracy. There are a number of documentaries that address this and many other theories surrounding 9/11 (although I’ve yet to actually sit down and watch any).
Being like many typical Americans (sad, but true), I am probably less versed in our political activity than most foreigners looking in. All I know is that 9/11 happened – whether by our own devices or not I am not well-informed enough to comment. So, all I could do was nod my head and hope that this man’s rant would soon be over (and that the lil’ voices in his head didn’t tell him to kill me).
My impression of a deer caught in headlights must’ve broken through his torrent of anti-U.S. sentiment because he quickly switched gears and offered me his number. He said that his friend had just opened a restaurant over in Pandan Jaya, and he’d buy me a beer if I dropped by for a visit. I politely declined and tried to make my escape, but he continued talking about how Pandan Jaya is the next booming suburb of Kuala Lumpur. At some point, he relented and let me return to my once-enjoyable stroll.
Now I don’t mean to make fun of 9/11, political captives, conspiracies that led to thousands of deaths (in America and abroad), mental illness or anything else that may be taken as insulting by this post. But seriously, I am not the right person to come to with any important international relations and political issues.
I’m just a backpacker trying to make her way in the world.
And if this was just an elaborate attempt to hit on me, I gotta say that while it ended in failure, I must at least applaud his creativity, ingenuity and earnestness. Not many guys will go to these lengths (I mean, political refugee?) to impress a girl. Well, at least not in the U.S. that is.