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(DV) Willers: In Whose Times?







In Whose Times? 
by Bill Willers
December 15, 2006

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If one is looking for a publication that upholds a left of center viewpoint, it won't be found these days in In These Times, a 30-year-old periodical founded by James Weinstein in collaboration with such as Herbert Marcuse, Noam Chomsky and Barbara Ehrenreich, ostensibly to "identify and clarify the struggles against corporate power now multiplying in American society."

The December 2006 issue contains an amazingly Fox Network-like piece by Laura Washington, in which she claims to be "salivating at the prospect of the Democrats reclaiming the middle." The "middle," that part of the political road Jim Hightower accurately described as populated with road kill, is where every corporate interest in the country has sought for years to contain Democrats. These interests include the "Republican-lite" Democratic Leadership Council as well as mainstream media pundits, those on Fox included. "Stay in the middle and win" has been a drumbeat applied to keeping views from the left from being heard, and it's a drumbeat that has resulted in a country that correctly sees the Democratic Party as representing nothing in particular.  

Washington argues that the Democratic Party has been too far in "the wilderness of the left." With this assertion she is, of course, taking the position that it should move rightward. In These Times is a magazine with a progressive voice?

She then takes on the phenomenon of Barack Obama, the charismatic star who bonded early in his Senate career with Joe Lieberman, sometimes called "Bush's favorite Democrat," and who mirrors Lieberman's politics to the extent that he stumped for him in the race with Ned Lamont. After reporting "grumblings from the Democratic left" regarding Obama's centrism, Washington writes: "Still, I predict that by 2008, the whiners will be vanquished." "Whiners"! -- that favorite descriptor by such as Limbaugh, O'Reilly and Hannity when referencing those on the left trying to find a voice in this world so dominated by the corporate microphone. 

On December 8, The Nation, also a high profile "progressive" periodical, published an essay by Christopher Hayes, the senior editor of In These Times, titled "9/11: The Roots of Paranoia," in which the author, troubled that a third of the US population believes in some level of government involvement in the 9/11 attack, disparages the "so-called" 9/11 Truth Movement, which he calls "a rabbit hole of delusion." He first mentions the widely distributed film Loose Change, to which he refers disparagingly as "a low-budget film produced by two 20-somethings," then goes to "more highbrow offerings of a handful of writers and scholars, many of whom are associated with Scholars for 9/11 Truth." Two of the scholars he identifies by name: theologian David Ray Griffin and physicist Steven Jones. 

Most certainly the scholars, of whom Hayes is so dismissive, are his intellectual equals, but Hayes treads on thin ice with an accusation that "The Truth Movement's relationship to the truth may be tenuous." Within the article's context, which is an attempt to denigrate the 9/11 Truth Movement, he is, in essence, claiming that the Movement itself is characterized by willful lying, and any journalist making such a serious charge should be able to cite evidence, not mere opinion, to back it.

Regarding investigative thoroughness, the two scholars cited, Griffin and Jones, are scrupulous in their investigative methodology. Moreover, James Fetzer, a leading 9/11 skeptic and retired professor of philosophy, has written numerous well-received books on research technique and cognitive inquiry. Hayes' suggestion that the Truth Movement is based on half-baked ideas and lies is simply untrue. 

Nor are 9/11 skeptics of note only in academe. Go to  www.patriotsquestion911.com (really, go to it)  and find an astonishing list of figures who flatly reject the official version of the 9/11 Commission. They include individuals from the U.S. Senate (e.g., Mark Dayton, D-MN), the House (e.g., Curt Weldon, R-PA), the FBI (e.g., Louis Freeh, former director), the CIA (e.g., Raymond McGovern and Bill Christinson), the Departments of Defense (e.g., Morton Goulder, under Nixon, Ford and Carter), Treasury (e.g., Paul Craig Roberts, under Reagan), Labor (e.g., Morgan Reynolds under Bush ll), Justice (e.g., John Loftus, under Carter and Reagan), State (e.g., George Kenny, under Bush l), and the U.S. Military (e.g., Major General Albert Stubblebine). Given that such open expressions are dangerous for one's professional life, it is safe to assume that for each one who comes forward, there are many remaining silent. 

Now, add to those the numerous high-level governmental and military voices from around the world (Germany, Egypt, the UK, France, Russia and more), and consider that Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission, has admitted that the Commission was set up to fail. Then ponder the fact that Bush's appointee to direct the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, whose admitted area of academic expertise is "creation and maintenance of public myths" (see pages 5-7 of the Miller Center Report on Contemporary Political History), had editorial control over the Commission's final report.  

Despite all of this, In These Times editor Hayes seems irked that the Truth Movement continues to grow -- even after the official 9/11 Commission report was supposed to settle the matter once and for all," and he makes a flat statement that theories coming out of the Truth Movement are "terrible waste of time."

Citing divisions within the Truth Movement with "some [that] don't even think there were any planes," Hayes is unaware that creating silly, unbelievable scenarios, and inserting them within the larger Truth Movement, is an easy way of sabotaging the Movement itself. This is such an old tactic -- as with the establishment of corporate-backed phony "environmental" groups -- that the savvy should expect them. Hayes reveals a disturbing lack of political "street smarts" that one would think necessary for anyone in his position.

Hayes is alarmed that life in the U.S. "continues as before, even though tens of millions of people apparently believe they are being governed by mass murderers." But given the chilling ramifications of the Patriot Act and the now widely reported experience of American citizen Jose Padilla, it is more likely that paranoia is to be found within the silent masses, not those in the Truth Movement who, driven by anger at injustice and fatigue from endless lies, are willing to express openly their views. 

Yes, the Truth Movement "raises questions", and the questions are of vastly greater importance than any theories that might arise from them. It is not necessary -- perhaps not even desirable -- to resort to scenarios that can then be dashed by the belittling label of "conspiracy" which, like the word "paranoia", can be applied to neutralize valid concerns. The questions themselves are so numerous and significant that demands for honest answers are implicit within them.

Bill Willers is an emeritus professor of biology, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, now living in Madison, Wisconsin. He is editor of Learning to Listen to the Land and Unmanaged Landscapes, both from Island Press. He can be reached at: willers@charter.net.

Other Articles by Bill Willers

* Liebermanís Loss and the Future of the Internet
* The One and Only Answer: Two Cappuccinos Please
* McCarthyism at the U