If indeed a cabal within the U.S. government orchestrated or was at least somehow complicit in the 9/11 attacks, this shouldn’t be just a left wing issue or a right wing issue. It should be a matter of concern to all Americans, regardless of our political views on other matters. A healthy 9/11 Truth movement should include people and groups with a wide range of opinions about this country’s problems in general and how they might be solved, and who disagree on many different issues, yet who are able and willing to work together on the few goals we can all agree on: (1) finding the real perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and bringing them to justice, and (2) opposing the things that 9/11 has been used as an excuse for, namely the wars, torture, imperialism, the attacks on civil liberties, and the attacks on the constitutional separation of powers. And indeed the 9/11 Truth movement does include people of many different political persuasions, including quite a few left wingers.
But the 9/11 Truth movement today is dominated by several flavors of paleoconservative ideology. For example, I’ve seen a lot more support for Ron Paul than for Dennis Kucinich. There’s also a lot of focus on the Federal Reserve System – an important concern in its own right, but probably of only marginal relevance to 9/11, unless you happen to believe in an ideology which blames all or most of the world’s ills on a conspiracy of the big bankers. (I’ll be writing more about this later. For now, see my blog entry on Some of the rhetoric against the Federal Reserve System.) There’s also a lot of talk about that bugaboo of the religious right wing, the “New World Order.” Also the 9/11 Truth movement has attracted more than its share of global warming deniers (e.g. Alex Jones), Holocaust deniers, and outright Jew-haters (e.g. Eric Hufschmid, Christopher Bollyn, and American Free Press). As far as I can tell, only a small minority of people in the 9/11 Truth movement agree with the Jew-haters, but they are a highly visible minority, some of whose writings and videos are referenced in the better-known videos such as Loose Change and even 9/11 Mysteries.
Here in New York there is a large 9/11 Truth group, We Are Change, which appears to be dedicated to pretty much the entire belief system of Alex Jones, a paleoconservative, although the We Are Change folks like to think of themselves as “netier left nor right.” (P.S.: See my subsequent blog entry Are you a paleoconservative? Find out!.) There is no similarly large group with a decidedly left-wing perspective. The only other large group is the original New York 9/11 Truth group, which welcomes people from across the political spectrum and focusses more on calling for a new and truly independent investigation of 9/11.
Why is it bad for the 9/11 Truth movement to be dominated by right wing ideology? Two reasons: (1) The right wing tendencies repel a lot of people, keeping the 9/11 Truth movement smaller than it would otherwise be. A more politically diverse 9/11 Truth movement, with a more visible left wing, could reach out more effectively to a wider variety of people. (2) Previously apolitical people in the 9/11 Truth movement are led to accept and work for a larger right wing political agenda, e.g. in groups like We Are Change, simply because a right wing political analysis is the only analysis they’ve been exposed to, other than the usual mass media pablum. If they were exposed to a wider variety of political perspectives within the 9/11 Truth movement, then they could make a more informed choice as to their larger political goals, if any, beyond just 9/11 justice.
Why is the 9/11 Truth movement currently dominated by right wingers? Probably because the 9/11 Truth movement has gotten most of its publicity from right-wing alternative media such as Prison Planet. Until 2005, there was an almost complete blackout on the 9/11 Truth movement in the mainstream mass media. And, for the most part, the left-wing alternative media have not been much better.
I’m not yet sure of all the reasons why the left wing has, for the most part, avoided the 9/11 Truth movement. Part of the reason, no doubt, is that a lot of left wing groups and periodicals are dependent on foundation grants. But that’s not true of all of them.
To some extent, the left-wing avoidance of 9/11 Truth is a self-perpetuating problem. The resulting domination of the 9/11 Truth movement by right wingers makes the 9/11 Truth movement repulsive to left wingers. (For an example of this, written from a right wing point of view, see 9/11 Truth Dubbed ‘Racist’ by Controlled Left Protesters Matt Conner, January 30, 2007. I’ll have more to say about this article in a future post. Anyhow, I myself, before I began seriously examining the 9/11 evidence, had attended some antiwar rallies where I ran into some griping about how horribly right wing those 9/11 Truth people are.)
The 9/11 Truth movement’s right wing tendencies can make it repulsive not just to left wingers, but to a lot of other people as well. For example, the “We Are Change” message board has been a magnet for all sorts of religious bigotry and sectarian preaching. I found several threads there by a fundamentalist Protestant bashing the Catholic Church – a great way to alienate the many Catholics among New York City’s cops and firefighters. There was also a thread blaming the 9/11 attacks on … Wiccans! Worse yet, I was the only person who raised any objection to these posts. (I won’t link to them here, due to WordPress’s prohibition on links to hate material. Some of these threads are linked in the following threads I started on the “We Are Change” message board a week and a half ago: “Questions about political views of We Are Change” and “Problems with the term ‘New World Order’,” both in the “Pit of Debate” section.) Elsewhere, I’ve heard and read that some people in the 9/11 Truth movement have problems with Steven Jones’s Mormonism and/or with Les Jamieson’s Urantia. And, of course, one does not have to look very far to find anti-Jew bigotry – another great way to alienate lots of New Yorkers. To me, all this religious bigotry is just ridiculous and utterly unbecoming of Americans, especially New Yorkers. I see no good reason for us to be denouncing anyone’s religion (except perhaps in the very rare case of a religion which inherently prevents someone from thinking rationally about 9/11, e.g. a hypothetical religion requiring belief in channeled messages claiming that the towers were hit by alien spacecraft).
Also, the anti-tax mania must surely alienate the ailing first responders, who need health care. Sorry, but it’s just not possible to have even a big-city fire department, let alone universal health care, without taxes. And the only kind of tax that takes into account people’s ability to pay is a progressive income tax. Of course, taxes on the lower and middle classes are ridiculously high, and we do need some drastic cuts in the federal budget. Mostly, we need a drastic cut in military spending.
Some anti-tax folks have held fundraisers for the first responders and for 9/11 widows. While this is a very nice gesture, there’s no way it’s going to cover all their expenses, and it’s certainly no substitute for health insurance.
Another problem is that the anti-establishment forms of right wing ideology typically involve what I see as an overly conspiratorialist mindset. In my opinion, we should aim for a realistic middle ground between the maximally conspiratorialist and anti-conspiratorialist views of history. We should not refuse to acknowledge conspiracies where there is clear evidence of conspiracies, but, at the same time, we should not jump to conspiratorial conclusions about matters that can be explained just as well or better in other ways. In the case of 9/11, it’s unfair to label the alternative views “conspiracy theory,” because every view of what happened on 9/11, including the official view, involves a conspiracy, so the only question is which alleged conspiracy best fits the evidence. But an overly conspiratorial view of the world in general can make us look like paranoid kooks, an image I think we should avoid inflicting on ourselves more than necessary. Not only that, but there are some conspiracy theories which have not only proven to be false, but which have also caused great harm to many people. Examples include anti-Jewish conspiracy theories (such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Henry Ford’s The International Jew) and the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” scare of 1980 to 1995.
So, what can we left wingers do? In my opinion, we should organize specifically left-wing caucuses and networks within the 9/11 Truth movement. We can create and promote websites and videos which deal with 9/11 and related issues in the context of a left-wing political analysis, rather than the usual right-wing scenario featuring a combination of evil bankers, “occult rituals,” and the “New World Order.” (I’ll be presenting some left wing analysis, and some further critique of right wing views, in future posts.) We should also promote websites and videos which don’t try to put 9/11 in any larger political context beyond obvious facts about the neoconservative agenda, but which just present the strongest evidence against the officlal story, leaving out the more questionable evidence. We can help give each other publicity, e.g. by linking to each other’s blogs and websites, as well as linking to the highest-quality 9/11 evidence.
Within the 9/11 Truth movement, we can respond to right wing views and let people know that there’s another view. When we do so, we should be ever mindful of how we ourselves come across to outsiders and newcomers. We should patiently educate, not just gripe. We should aim for civility and clarity. We should aim to avoid any appearance of petty quarreling.
Outside the 9/11 Truth movement, we can reach out to progressive political activists and try to reason with at least some of the “left gatekeepers.” We are, after all, the only people who could possibly reason with them. Certainly the right wingers in the 9/11 Truth movement cannot reason with left wingers outside the 9/11 Truth movement, since there would be just too many communication gaps.