May 24, 2009

Taking Out The Trash - "Jews did 9/11"

I know of no credible evidence whatsoever linking anyone who is Jewish to the attacks on 9/11. Neither have I seen any highly convincing evidence that Israelis played a significant role. And yet you can't do a search for information on the subject of the attack without running into websites, videos, blogs, and books suggesting that Israel, the Jews, or a global Zionist conspiracy was responsible.

The quality of discussion on these topics certainly varies from intentional disinformation to those who honestly while, in my opinion, misguidedly feel that certain topics are worthy of long term academic review or broad public attention. The quality of fact varies just as much. At one extreme we have bigotry and at the other very fact based interest in the actions of the Mossad. Both are a small minority relative to movement participants and the wider public that this movement wants to reach. So it's important for us to be clear with ourselves and with one another about where we draw certain moral and strategic lines.


There is no doubt in my mind that a good deal of the anti-Semitism one can find at the fringes of the movement is intentional disruption. I make this claim based first on knowing that our government is investigating and infiltrating anti-war groups far less challenging to the system than we can be, and second that anti-Semitism has been quite effectively used to undermine our credibility and would therefore be an obvious way to do further damage. Eric Williams and his role in undermining the Arizona Conference is a telling example.

From my own perspective Eric Williams came out of no where and published a series of books about deep politics on topics such as 9/11 and 7/7. After having established some measure of credibility in the movement he took on a role coordinating a 9/11 truth conference in Arizona with other sincere movement activists. Then, just a few weeks before the conference, he published a book about Holocaust denial. The result was highly damaging to the event, those involved, and the movement itself. I have little doubt that Williams meant to undermine the movement. And I sincerely hope that's not true. I haven't heard much about him since.


Of course, a good deal of the anti-Semitism we find is simply home grown bigotry. Between %15 and %20 of the U.S. population have strong anti-Semitic views. And that's based on self reporting which necessarily involves a fair amount of dishonest response. The numbers are significantly higher in other Western countries.

For that reason we should expect to find those with anti-Semitic views in most social groups unrelated to Jewish culture. And if that is the case, it is certainly unfair to point to that overly vocal minority in this movement and suggest that it represents our cause. To do so would demonstrate a good deal of bias toward the movement as one could point that finger at just about any other group.

The point here is that, yes, there are people with anti-Semitic views who also concern themselves with 9/11 truth. But to suggest that these people in any way represent the movement is totally unjustified relative to the great majority of us who find these views abhorrent.

Essential facts?

The final group are those who have done research into the potential role of Israeli intelligence in the 9/11 attacks. There certainly are legitimate facts that support such speculation. And it would be irresponsible to suggest that critique of Israel itself is anti-Semitic. Academic freedom is an essential priority to me. And yet if those facts don't add up to much while they allow for significant misunderstanding a good deal of caution is necessary.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and state a controversial opinion of mine. I believe that much, and certainly not all, of this "honest research" is founded is subtle forms of anti-Semitism. It's not what those involved would ever consider any kind of overt hatred. To put it as plainly as possible, it's comes down to not caring how Jewish people might feel about how information, speculation and opinion is presented. You might call it a cultural insensitivity.

I'm not talking about avoiding the truth because it would hurt someones feelings. But I simply can't find logical cause to focus much attention on a concern that offers the movement very little benefit while potentially insulting those who would otherwise support our cause.

I am NOT saying that everyone curious about this or concerned for a time with exploring the details is a bigot. I'm saying, based on the lack of strong evidence, that extended focus on the issue and its public promotion play into the hands of those who would like to undermine the movement, has the potential to alienate an entire cultural group from the movement, and is therefore not justified merely based on claims of academic rigor.

So this is more than anything else, and as always, about sticking to promoting the best facts we have. Sincere research into the potential role of Israel can certainly be conducted in a culturally sensitive manner. And yet that research does not appear to be very important to the movement's progress while certainly presenting some serious problems.

May 16, 2009

Wasted Time - Citizen Investigation Team

I have fully reviewed the eyewitness testimony, videos, and other contents of the Citizens Investigation Team website. I've had a very extended online debate with Craig Ranke about his work. I have heard the opinions of many who support the efforts of the organization. And I have come to a conclusion.

CIT offers the movement no significant benefit and in fact does a great deal of damage.

Now it's not my intention here to retread all the reasons for my having reached that conclusion. That would be a waste of our time as most of those reasons are clarified elsewhere. Reasons that are recognized by a large number of the most thoughtful and committed of movement veterans.

Instead I want to convey my direct experience of having seen CIT create an unproductive distraction that wastes people's time and undermines our ability to recruit new participants and maintain our optimism.

Public distraction

Since the release of their online video "The Pentacon," CIT has continued to garner a fair amount of attention. That's particularly true when you compare how much more attention they have received than more factual resources such as "The Truth and Lies of 9/11." And with the support of various movement figures CIT has become a lot better known than the quality of their work would otherwise merit.

As a result, those newly investigating the problems with the official story are more easily lead away from the solid facts and distracted by speculation. And that speculation gives people who don't support our efforts even more reason to dismiss the solid facts we promote. That has been particularly evident to me during street action when the first thing out of people's mouths is, "So you are those people who think no plane hit the Pentagon." With such a bias in place those people are far less likely to explore the evidence.

The prominence of poorly founded speculation can also lead to new participants getting overloaded and confused. With all of the 9/11 truth media available it's very challenging for the uninitiated to get their head wrapped around what is and is not worth their attention. For that reason any prominent promotion of poorly founded speculation can really undermine our ability to recruit and retain new participants.

Movement distraction

While we might not expect the average person to get that far into analyzing or debating what CIT presents, those in the movement who hope to have a broad view of it's nature or who are invested as I am in upholding certain standards are more likely to research the matter, think about it's merits, and talk about it with others.

That is certainly productive to a point. As I said above, I took the time to examine the information presented by CIT. I wanted to determine it's merits and weaknesses so that I could share that with others. That in itself is no waste of time. You can't support what's good or counter what is bad without knowing about it first.

However, there is a threshold of time invested beyond which further discussion is very definitely unproductive. And I've passed it many times. As much as I enjoy discussion forums and e-mail, arguing in circles for hours is not a worthwhile endeavor. I feel fairly guilty when I consider how many hours I've wasted arguing with people unwilling to change their mind in any way. I could have been doing something more beneficial for the movement.

I've had my share of interaction with Craig Ranke, Aldo Marquis, and others, who have argued in a similarly inflexible manner. They are totally sold on the merits of CIT's work. Arguments with Ranke were circular, only superficially rational, filled with subtle manipulation, and ultimately totally without much benefit to either of us.

I feel the same is true for much of the discussion that goes on in the movement on this topic. As I don't believe that the eyewitness testimony is of any great importance when compared to better established facts, I am very concerned that the movement not be wasting time the way I have on this matter. We really do have more important things to be concerned with.

Personal distraction

Finally, and related to the concerns above, are we letting our ego get involved? Are we thinking about how to win an argument when we should be concerned with other things? Are we allowing ourselves to be baited into wasting our time? Or arguing because it's something to do? Are we having a debate because we are bored?

This movement requires a certain amount of personal discipline. I've certainly been guilty of all of the above. I understand that our feelings and ego and personality can't be totally disassociated from these concerns. Pursuit of 9/11 truth is a very personal experience in some ways. And yet the scope of the movement is international. The goals are based on fundamental principles of justice. And the stakes are really high.

We have to be able to see past ourselves as we involve ourselves in this concern. We have to be able to shelve our personal desires from time to time for the sake of what is best for others. There aren't nearly enough people truly committed to this movement. We need everyone who is to try their best to keep their wits about them and stay focused on the big picture. We need to keep asking ourselves if what we are doing is good for us or for the movement. Hopefully both. But that's not always the case.

Ultimately I'm suggesting that we should all simply take CIT for what it's worth. Even if you happen to support their research I hope you will agree that there are more important lines of inquiry in the movement and more important things for us to be promoting. Don't allow a speculative concerns to dominate your time, energy, or concern for this movement.

May 10, 2009

Avoiding Burnout - Start Your Own Group

No choice for me during my time participating in this movement has been more challenging and also more liberating than deciding to leave NY911Truth to found TruthMove with Max. For that reason I would like to share some thoughts about why group affiliation is so compelling and also why we must, under certain conditions, strike out on our own to promote what we consider most important in the manner we consider most responsible.

While I may dismiss the 'big tent' strategy, it's very important not to understate the significance of group affiliation in a counter-cultural social movement. Very few of us are able to do this alone. For that reason it can be particularly draining to face leaving a group to which we have dedicated a great deal of time. And yet at some point our priorities should exceed our sense of loyalty. This is after all not simply a personal hobby but an international social movement for transparency and justice.

From the moment we first arrived it was apparent that NY911Truth was having problems. Max and I, with the encouragement of Nick Levis, tried to help others in the group to focus on well founded facts, specific goals, promotional innovation, and responsible street action techniques. We came in trying to change things for the better, and looking back I'd say it's no surprise that we met some resistance.

9/11 truth groups are not merely activist meetups but also provide outgroup support. As our concern is met with a lot of distrust, anger, and ridicule from much of the public and even our friends and family, it is very important for us to have others in our lives that support our point of view and welcome our continued investment of time and energy. Unfortunately, along with the emotional benefits of that support comes an increasing sense of group loyalty that can become stifling if it exceeds our commitment to movement progress.

This is what we saw happening in NY911Truth. While it had become startlingly apparent to Max and I that Les Jamieson was dishonest and incompetent, many in the group were impervious to our concerns. Loyalty to the group leader seemed to preclude any logical critique of his methods. Our concerns were generally met with anger and paranoia or pessimism about the potential for change.

We started to talk about the possibility of founding a new group. There seemed to be many benefits to doing so, and yet the costs would also he high. We would be giving up our support group. We would be sacrificing use of the church in which meetings were held, some of them hosted by us. Street action would be far more challenging. And we'd have to develop and pay for a whole new set of promotional tools.

While it might be intimidating to go at it alone, or hopefully with a couple other people who agree with your concerns, and the rewards may seem distant and uncertain, I want to emphasize how rewarding it can be to do what you think is best for this movement and also that it's not as challenging as you might think.

First of all, while you might miss some of your peers, escaping from those who you feel have been stifling the groups progress can provide a good deal of motivation. It's a lot easier to maintain your enthusiasm when planning and action don't always involve some kind of fundamental compromise. No more entrenched authority figures. No more guy who always wants to monologue during group discussion. No more flyers with poorly founded information. No more covering for that guy who always makes the group look bad during street action.

Second, there are many online resources that make it easier than ever to discuss strategy, develop promotional materials, and coordinate group activities. In past decades planning had to happen over the phone or in person. With the advent of the internet we now have free resources that allow you to have group discussions, design promotional materials, create basic websites, and organize group activities. Appreciating the challenge people in the past faced to achieve their political goals, we should be encouraged by how much easier it has become.

Third, good promotion doesn't cost much. As I mentioned above, you can set up a free website with little knowledge of the web design. With that in place, spreading the word in the movement is as easy as posting to related forums and 9/11 truth group sites. You can have thousands of full color glossy flyers or tens of thousands of black and white leaflets printed up for only $100. And making a banner sign has always been more about time and inspiration than about the expense.

Finally, I'd like to suggest, based on my experience with TruthMove, that just a couple of thoughtful and concerned people can really have as big an impact as a much larger group of those with less focus or unity. We got started with just two people and together created an educational website, informative flyers, and a big banner sign. And with only a few more participants we have reached tens of thousands of people and certainly opened some of their eyes. It can be really surprising just how much a group of people can get done when they start out on the same page.

So rather than feeling burnt out by a group that seems incapable of adapting to new ideas or stifled by continuous disagreement, consider starting your own. It's not as challenging as you might have thought and it can be both beneficial to the movement and inspiring to others.

May 2, 2009

Wasted Time - Remote Controlled Planes

This will be a series of posts in which I address topics of interest within the movement that I believe do little to advance it's general goals. Whenever I bring up "general goals" I find that people want to debate what those are. That in itself is an issue worth it's own post.

The most widely accepted goals of the movement are to promote public skepticism about the official account, to formulate an accurate, fact based alternate history of the event, to secure a new independent investigation, and to expose those responsible and bring them to justice. There are other motivations for participation, but these are the most central.

Now, along with these goals comes a fairly diverse range of strategies for pursuing them. And my aim here is not to be critical of that diversity. Sometimes you need to try something to see if it will work, and the movement benefits greatly from diverse options being put on the table.

Within that variety some things just don't work for us.

The subject of remote control of the planes on 9/11 is one of those subjects that I believe do little more than distract us from more worthy pursuits. Here's why. We have no strong evidence that this happened. We most likely never will. And there really are more important things for us to be focusing on than questions with no answer.

There are certainly reasons to think it was possible. We know for instance that major U.S. airlines have deployed remote control systems. However, the possibility of its use is critically different from having any direct evidence that the technology was actually used. And that's a distinction that cuts right to the definition of the movement. Did it happen or not?

Nick Levis has pointed out to me (roughly) that this kind of speculation can help those with a great deal of information to determine weak points in the official story that we might benefit from exploring in more detail. Asking questions can lead to unexpected insight.

And I'm such an info nerd that I'd be as likely as anyone to talk about the latest tidbit. I might enjoy learning all sorts of details about the latest military technology and trying to fit it into how the whole operation all went down. But ... Is that really a good thing? Important?

I've tried more recently to maintain some perspective. 9/11 truth is not about me or you. It has nothing to do with what makes us feel good or fascinated or fulfilled. 9/11 truth is about our mutual dedication to the high principle of truth. People have sacrificed so much for that. We should be grateful and mindful of what they taught us. And we should express that gratitude in active ways.

For that reason, I'm suggesting that sitting around thinking about what might have happened is a potentially serious waste of our time. It might make us feel closer to some truth and yet does not in any way challenge those in power.

What can we DO?

We've had all the facts we need to promote 9/11 truth and push toward our goals since very soon after the event. And yet people continue to hope for some ultimate theory or smoking gun that will break the case wide open. We may yet see some new insight have a major impact on the mainstream consciousness. But too much time is spent not really appreciating the significance of what we already know, and know well.

And so we have to avoid the temptation to fill in the blanks on our own. Instead we should strive to be experts of the exact boundary between what is and is not known. The truth should be our goal and our method.