9/11 Numbers: How Many People Died?
9/11 Numbers: How Many People Died?
As we marked the 21st year since the 9/11 attacks, and mulled over what this day meant to so many, we also noted everyone from sports teams to politicians observing this day as well – even if it was just on social media with a tweet.
And it was a tweet by Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which tipped off some eagle-eyed people who did a little math. Jayapal, who is apparently not creative and neither is her staff, has used the same 9/11 message for the last two years. Except that you won’t find the one that she sent out yesterday anymore. As soon as yesterday’s tweet garnered attention, it was deleted. However, as of the writing of this post, the identical 9/11 post from 2021 is still up.
For two years in a row, Jayapal has included the 19 terrorists in her list of 9/11 victims
Two years in a row = this wasn’t an error. It was intentional. pic.twitter.com/47ecXX3PFi
— John Hasson (@SonofHas) September 12, 2022
But as Matthew Foldi, former congressional candidate and reporter, continued to look around, he began to see this “2,996” number duplicated in multiple places.
My Communist County executive, @Marc_Elrich, is mourning the 19 radical Islamic terrorists who declared war on civilization
The Pentagon attacks hit our community hard—and our deranged county executive mourns the terrorists who did this terrorist act https://t.co/5uM4rdArXk
— Matthew Foldi (@MatthewFoldi) September 12, 2022
Foldi began documenting multiple examples of elected officials (though some started deleting their tweets) – mostly Democrats – repeating the “2,996” number. The number of people killed on September 11, 2001, is officially 2,977. This number comes from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, though they often add in the victims from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as the museum and memorial also honors those six, plus an unborn baby. But adding in those six only makes the official number 2,983. So, what is 2996 minus 2977? Nineteen. And how many hijackers were there? NINETEEN. And we actually know quite a bit about these terrorists – and of course, we all know what they did to thousands of innocents, twenty-one years ago.
But then something else got pointed out on Twitter. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also used that “2,996” number in his own tweet, though not in the video clip, where he says “nearly three thousand” instead of trying to give an exact number. (McCarthy and/or his office has now deleted this tweet.)
Which sent me looking for where this number was coming from. Jayapal has expressed terror sympathies before, but Kevin McCarthy? Who came up with this number that includes the 19 hijackers, and why is it so widespread?
The answer looks to be fairly simple. Google. This is what you see when you ask Google “how many people died on 9/11.”
At the suggestion of a friend, I eliminated the passive voice and asked Google “how many people were killed on 9/11.” The answer was the same.
So what we seem to have here is an issue with Google, who somewhere along the line, decided that the 19 hijackers should be included in the number of deaths recorded on September 11, 2001. Wikipedia, which is the first link that Google gives the search, also notes the 2,996 number, but then promptly breaks it down into the 2,977 victims and 19 hijackers. But because Google simply gives the “2,996” number, which includes the hijackers, that becomes the number that gets spread out in far too many posts and tweets. And why does that happen? Because some intern, or whoever is sending out that tweet, decides to ask Google what the official number is, and this is the result that they get.
Now, do I really believe that all of these politicians who were sending out rememberance tweets with the “2,996” number were intentionally including the 19 hijackers in that number? No, but I do find it very interesting that Pramila Jayapal’s Twitter account deleted their tweet from today once they started taking flak for the number. I can also nearly guarantee that her staff was responsible for both the tweet and the deletion, and that their attitude toward 9/11 can be safely inferred by the language that they did use, with the snark about “forever wars,” and the fact that the whole tweet was recycled from last year. So much for meaning and originality. And McCarthy and others are joining in the deletion spree. Unfortunately for them, the internet is forever.
Are these politicians and their interns who run the Twitter accounts just so lazy that they don’t bother to look beyond the headline on Google, and then take it as absolute truth? If we apply Hanlon’s Razor here – that we should “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity” – then it’s easy to see how some intern who believes in Google’s infallibility looks up the number, writes it down, and it gets tweeted out around the world.
So if we accept Hanlon’s Razor for the politicians, what is Google’s excuse? After all, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum should be an accepted authority on the numbers, right?
Well, Google? Do you have anything to say for yourself? Or are we just supposed to be grateful that you actually acknowledged 9/11 on your homepage this year with the smallest possible flag, with no link or doodle?
Call me crazy, but I’m beginning to think that Google has some ulterior motives here! And yes, that is sarcasm.