Prof. Anthony Hall on the Lesley Hughes affair
(The sacking of Lesley+Hughes reeks of political maneuvering in the run-up to elections in Canada. Hughes was indeed incorrect in writing, "Israeli businesses, which had offices in the Towers, vacated the premises a week before the attacks, breaking their lease to do it." Hughes was apparently referring to the Zim transportation company which did vacate the WTC, but had announced their decision to leave publicly, six months before 9/11. This misinformation is propagated by others, as well. Hughes' short article was dredged up by political muckraking blog, The Black Rod - echo-chambered by right-wing blogs like this one by Jay Currie, until it finally caught the eye of the Wall Street Journal wannabe, The National Post. [Oh yeah, there was one token "Left" blog getting in the action.] Now, the blogs involved are preening after ending Hughes' career as a Liberal candidate. In regard to Hughes, Winnipeg writer Dan Lett says, 'Altar of Google ravenous for sacrifices', and I think he is right. Alas, like the brigade of Flying Monkey bloggers that took down Hughes, his general understanding of 9/11 is rather under-developed. 911blogger.com has no problem calling out "Holocaust Truthers" and those who mix racist lingo with their message... but is Lesley Hughes one of those? Or has she been sacrificed on the 'Altar of Google'? Below, Prof. Anthony Hall writes on many of these issues. -rep.)
Reflections on the Decision to Disqualify Lesley Hughes from Running as a Liberal Candidate in the Canadian Election of 2008
by Anthony J. Hall
Founding Coordinator and Professor of Globalization Studies
University of Lethbridge
On September 26 the Canadian Jewish Congress commended the Liberal Party of Canada for dismissing Lesley Hughes, a federal candidate in a Winnipeg riding, for a factually wrong and ill advised comment she made in a paper delivered several years ago exploring a broad array of issues concerning the question of what really transpired to cause the events of 911.
Sylvain Abitol, Co-President of the CJC asserted, “Ms. Hughes crossed a line which cannot be crossed under any circumstances because there is no place in Canada for 9/11 Jewish conspiracy theories.” http://www.cjc.ca/template.php?action=news&story=978
I agree with the CJC’s contention insofar as we must strive to prevent ethnic or religious prejudices from colouring our interpretations of, and responses to, the assaults on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon seven years ago.
The term “Jewish conspiracy theory” quite properly conjures up terrible memories of Auschwitz, Hitler’s anti-Semitic ravings, yellow stars, and Henry Ford’s obsessive dissemination of the ultimate literary prod to racial hatred, the so-called Protocols of the Zion Elders. The heritage of the Holocaust stands as the classic demonstration of the fragility and contingency of the West’s claim to the decency of its civilization. We must never forget the very old legacy of religious and ethnic violence culminating in the industrialized genocide of 6,000,000 European Jews sent to their slaughter by fascist regimes throughout Europe. This travesty, it must be underlined, took place well within the lifetimes of many people still on this planet today.
In drawing a line in the sand of the 2008 federal election, the Canadian Jewish Congress is applying much of the substance of a report authored in 2003 by the Anti-Defamation League. That report is entitled Unravelling Anti-Semitic 911 Jewish Conspiracy Theory. http://www.propagandamatrix.com/020903adl.html There is much in that report that is soundly rooted in fact. Some of the speculation on the real causes of the events of 911 does indeed recycle old prejudices with very deep roots in the darkest chapters—and there are many-- in Western civilization’s history. But the story does not end there. Dealing with the substance of conspiracy as well as the thick public mythologies attending conspiracy theories is an inescapable aspect of addressing the contested meaning of 911. The basic question I have to ask is this: At what point does reference to Europe’s heritage of religious and ethnic intolerance become a shield of obfuscation to prevent us from facing the harsh reality that the officially sanctioned explanation of the events of 911 is itself based on an unproved conspiracy theory whose effect has been to dehumanize and demonize in the minds of many large swaths of the Arab and Islamic world?
There can be no honest escape for our civic duty to confront the substance of conspiracy and as well as layer upon layer of public mythology adhering to the real or imagined causes of 911. The stakes are immense in determining the outcome in this clash of conspiracy theories. Both extremes in this clash of conspiracy theories divert our attention away from rational debate on the events that have plunged the world into the weird nether zone of privatized espionage, torture and militarization that goes by the name of the War on Terror. What are the economics of this conflict? To extend basic questions presently being pressed on politicians during this period of worsening financial crisis, who is reaping the economic rewards of the new terror economy and who is being asked to pay the price? These are the kinds of questions that do not get posed, much less addressed, as long as public perceptions of the meaning of 911 are confined within the framework of competing conspiracy theories emphasizing religion and ethnicity.
This Canadian election, which is currently taking place during the seventh autumn following the events of 911, offers a crucial opening to begin to bring fresh commentary and understanding to rational debate on our most fundamental issue of public policy to arise in this decade. Indeed, given the huge barrage of psychological warfare that has badly deformed the collective mentality of post-911 USA, I believe we as Canadians have a particularly important responsibility at this moment to introduce some measure of calm reason to a discussion that cannot indefinitely be postponed at the highest level of international affairs. It is in countries like France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Japan and Canada where a substantial numbers of citizens are waking up to the terrible implications of constructing public policy based on conspiracy theories rather than on clear assessments of the evidentiary base, however partial and imperfect, that is beginning to suggest the real nature rather than the fictional mythology of the events of 911.
Hence I think it appropriate at this moment to pose a simple question of those who made the decision to disqualify Lesley Hughes from running as a Liberal candidate in Canada’s current election. Now that a line has been drawn in the sand on conspiracies theories and 911, I think it fair to ask if there is any public space remaining for serious political debate on this matter. In this season when we are called upon to entrust some politicians with the high responsibilities of public office, how are we to discuss in a civil fashion the contested events of 911? How should the event lying at the origins of the US-led War on Terror be perceived and acted upon by federal authorities? Because the attacks on the Twin Towers included the murder of twenty-five of our citizens, it is particularly important that our leadership contenders clarify their understanding of the meaning of 911 within the framework of Canada’s own requirements, values and interests, both at home and in the larger international community.
The assault on our citizens in New York has now extended to the terrible loss of about four times that number as a result of the Canadian government’s deployment of military force in Afghanistan on the basis of an unproven interpretation of 911. According to the Gordon O’Connor, the Conservative Party’s Minister of National Defence in January of 2007, our soldiers have been sacrificed in the quest for “retribution” against factions who allegedly who “came out of Afghanistan” to attack the Twin Towers. What is the evidentiary base to support this conspiracy theory positioned near the very core of the Harper government’s positioning of Canada in relationship to the rest of the world?
I recently took issue with the officially sanctioned conspiracy theory in a paper entitled “The Lies and Crimes of 911: A Canadian View of the War on Terror’s Origins.” I first presented this essay at the Stanley A. Milner Public Library in Edmonton on the day before this election was called in a fashion that, according to Professor Behiels as quoted in the National Post, put our Governor General in a position where she was pressured by our Prime Minister to violate the Canadian law.
In the hours after I made my presentation the digital version of my essay was circulated widely and published on a number of web sites including that of the Winnipeg-based magazine, Canadian Dimension. http://canadiandimension.com/articles/2008/09/07/2039/ Lesley Hughes has a history of deep involvement with this venerable old publication, one that is as deeply bound up with the long and fruitful academic career of the University of Manitoba political economist, Cy Gonig, In my view Cy Gonig’s connection to Canadian Dimension is as significant an aspect of Canadian intellectual history as is the relationship of the Winnipeg-based Asper family to their Can West Global media empire. As I see both Gonig and the Aspers epitomize the continuing vitality and importance of old and illustrious Jewish community of Winnipeg.
Since almost the time when Louis Riel’s Metis settlement of Red River merged into the post-CPR metropolis of Winnipeg, the Jewish community in Manitoba’s great capital has given Canada some of its most of important movers and shakers in the worlds of show business, commerce, the law, academia, and political activism. I am proud of the mark I have made myself in Winnipeg’s intellectual life. Between 1987 and 1990 I worked with Izzy Asper, Phil Fontaine and others in developing and publicizing some of the underlying analysis that eventually resulted in Elijah Harper’s being able to block the Meech Lake accord at the Manitoba Legislature. I have been a frequent contributor to Canadian Dimension and I have worked along with a gifted team of colleagues from across Canada to help Gail Asper and a New York-based consulting firm to develop suitable content for the great pride of Winnipeg, the soon-to-be-built Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Although this is only speculation, I would be surprised if Lesley Hughes has not also been involved in that project in some way.
When I wrote “Lies and Crimes” I was consciously advancing the idea that neither jewishness nor any other way of categorizing human beings along religious or ethnic lines provides the necessary lens for accurately interpreting what happened on 911 on Wall Street, at the Pentagon, and in an empty field in Pennsylvania. I am trying to put forward a way of looking at 911 that reflects the insights of Bill Clinton when he posted the famous sign in his campaign headquarters to remind him repeatedly, “It’s the economy stupid!” In the name of this stance and that of simple decency I intervened aggressively when I realized that one of many web sites to publish my article is indeed promoting hatred towards all Jews through its religiously and ethnically based interpretation of the events of 911. http://911blogger.com/node/17814
Having said that, there are slanders on both sides of this matter that must be identified and addressed. It is simply wrong to suggest, as some have done, that each and every individual trying to see through even the most obvious official lies of 911 is expressing some form of overt or latent anti-Semitism. This kind of counter conspiracy theory does a profound injustice to all concerned. The fact is that the movement of those seeking 911 truth is no longer on the fringes of public opinion. As Matt Taibbi correctly perceives in his none-too-flattering account of those seeking 911 truth, this movement, which obviously includes its own far share of imperfections, has become a core constituency in the political and intellectual culture of our times. It is extremely important that those seeking public office in the current national elections in North America come to terms with this basic fact.. http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl/9780385520348.html
Millions of individuals around the world have correctly rejected the official conspiracy theory of 911 as being inconsistent with the mounting evidence readily available in the public domain. These millions have identified the lies of those who told us almost
immediately after the Great Shock that all the destruction in New York and Washington could be traced back to the actions of nineteen Saudis armed with only box cutters, flight training, and jihadist zeal. As detailed in http://patriotsquestion911.com/, those who have seen through the lies in the ongoing quest for 911 truth include many hundreds of military and intelligence officials, pilots, professors, and relatives of those killed on 911. I am proud to count myself among them. In the absence of any credible accounting from the responsible authorities in government and in the commercial media concerning what transpired on that day of infamy, there has been an open season for all kinds of speculation, some of it wild and reckless and some of it careful and erudite. This outcome of wholesale public speculation can be directly attributed to the abject failure of our public officials and many of our most highly paid opinion makers even to address the growing frustration felt in many quarters that we are being lied to so consistently in such a fundamental matter of public policy.
The global community has a basic right and need to know how such an event as 911 could have come to pass at the very heart of by far the most expensive and elaborate military-industrial and intelligence complex the world has ever known. How is it that not one public official has been fired in the aftermath of the 911 debacle? What is wrong with this picture? Who benefited most from the crime? Who had the means and who the motivations?
At this stage the 911 Truth Movement performs its greatest public service when we insist on obtaining credible answers about even the most obvious and basic questions concerning the events of September 11, 2001. The 911 Truth Movement performs its greatest public service in calling attention to the huge and glaring contradictions in the official conspiracy theory. Accordingly, while we so-called “troofers” may differ greatly in how we interpret the crimes of 911, most individuals seeking 911 truth share in common a genuine determination to see a credible investigation, ideally by a panel of esteemed and disinterested jurists at the international level. No such investigation has yet taken place. As long as this goal remains unattained, there will be no stopping the proliferation of speculation in an atmosphere where even the most obvious official lies on the crimes of 911 are allowed to fester year after year.
How much longer will politicians such as Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion, Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper together with US Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama, make common cause in sidestepping any real reckoning with a specious interpretation of 911 that has been exploited by executive branches in many countries to reward the institutionalized lawlessness of those elites best situated to cash in on the privatized tyranny of the War on Terror? How does Jack Layton, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, see these issues? When Layton was in Calgary doing a book signing he was taped in a You Tube production telling Nathan Moulton that he was a good friend of Barry Zwicker, a Canadian journalist who did seminal investigative work that helped lay some of the foundations for the 911 Truth Movement. Layton clearly indicated that he has all of Zwicker’s “materials,” which he claimed to have studied. During this crucial time of political decision making in North America the NDP leader owes it to the Canadian electorate to let us know what he thinks of the contents of his friend’s investigations concerning the events of 911. Or are these matters deemed to be too important to be candidly discussed with average Canadians at the very moment when we citizens have it in our power to exert electoral influence over the basic substance of public policy? http://jasoncherniak.blogspot.com/2008/09/is-jack-layton-supporting-911.html
The largest of the professional associations formed to advance 911 Truth is composed of about 500 architects and engineers who have concentrated their professional investigations on the scientific problems with the official contention that three WTC steel sky scrappers were destroyed by two aircraft on September 11, 2001. Like most of those who reject the official explanation of what happened 911, the architects and engineers for 911 truth have devoted considerable attention to the collapse in 6.5 seconds of World Trade Center 7, a 47 storey tower that miraculously fell neatly and symmetrically into its own footprint at 5:30 in the afternoon without being hit by any airplane. There is a large quantity of visual and material evidence pointing to the conclusion that the most likely cause of the explosive destruction of the three towers, which all plunged downward at the speed of a free fall, was controlled demolitions rather than the combination of burning airplane fuel, melting steel, and gravity. Until this probability is properly looked into by a credible agency there will be, and should be, no holding back the growing tide of informed speculation all over the world that 911 was indeed an inside job. If internal explosives were the main means of taking down the three WTC towers, someone had to have planted and connected the explosive devices inside the buildings prior to their destruction on September 11. If that is the case—and I repeat, if that is reality--our world is run in a very different way basis than what most of us have been led to believe.
The 9/11 Commission in the United States neglected even to examine what happened to World Trade Centre 7. This negligence is part of a more general pattern that strips credibility from virtually every aspect of the work of those commissioned by US President George W. Bush to investigate 911. One of the more eloquent commentators to raise his voice in the chorus of detailed criticism directed at the 911 report is Benjamin DeMott. In Harper’s Magazine, hardly a radical or a marginal publication, DeMott concluded that the 9/11 report is a “whitewash… a cheat and a tremendous fraud.” It is full of “evasive manoeuvres that infantilize the audience, transforms candor into iniquity, and conceals realities that demand immediate inspection and confrontation.” DeMott concludes, “The Commission, in sum, offers peace through exculpation, evasion, and entertainment—and in doing so dangerously re-energizes a national relish for fantasy.” (Benjamin DeMott, “Whitewash as Public Service: How the 9/11 Commission Report Defrauds the Nation,” Harper’s Magazine, October, 2004, at
My own work on the lies and crimes of 911 has been informed and inspired by the pioneering work of many colleagues and associates in the emerging academic field of 911 Studies. Some of the key figures in this area of scholarly investigation are professors David Ray Griffin, Peter Dale Scott, John McMurtry, Stephen Jones and Nafeez Ahmed. Of these five, Scott and McMurtry are well known and distinguished Canadians. Richard Gage, the founder of Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth, is another key figure in the trend towards the professionalization of the citizens’ investigation on 911. Also prominent among the many whistle blowers is William Rodriguez, the veteran janitor in the Twin Towers who was honoured at the White House for saving many lives through his selfless efforts to assist others to survive the crimes of 911. Rodriguez has been particularly outspoken in detailing how the official conspiracy theory of 911 ignores and contradicts his own experience of what transpired inside the doomed buildings during the hours and minutes leading up to their instant pulverization. I place Kevin Ryan in a similar category to Rodriguez. A lab manager at Underwriters Laboratories, Ryan was fired when he insisted in pointing out the inadequacies of the studies being conducted into the demise of the WTC towers by his own employer in conjunction National Institute of Standards and Technology. Ryan has been particularly adamant in pointing out that the steel in the Twin Towers, which his former employer certified, could not have melted at the temperatures generated by burning jet airplane fuel, which is essentially kerosene.
Much of the citizens’ journalism on 911 takes the form of many hundreds of digital movies, many of which can be downloaded freely from the Internet. Of course some of these productions are informative and well made while others do not come even close to achieving a high standard. In my view one of the better examples of the genre is Dean Puckett’s The Elephant in the Room, winner of the 2008 award for the best documentary at the London Independent Film Festival. http://www.nosmokewithoutfire.co.uk/
Puckett chronicles the real life stories of some major and minor figures in the 911 Truth Movement. Collectively the members of this movement embody of a new style of international activism aimed increasingly at countering the management of public opinion by media conglomerates whose style of news coverage by and large advances the priorities of those elites who dominate the workings of the national security state.
The final segments of The Elephant in the Room focus on the so-called first responders, the volunteers who headed into the toxic hell of the 911 crime scene in the early hours, days and weeks after the fall of the three World Trade Center towers. As the film documents, many of these first responders are developing fatal lung cancers and other respiratory diseases from the asbestos-laden, chemical-laden dust to which they were exposed in great quantities in their efforts of rescue, recovery and clean up. According to one of these individuals, the federal, state and city governments failed in the early stages of the crisis to send in professional toxicologists to evaluate the environmental dangers facing those most exposed to the atmospheric poisons unleashed through the transformation of three huge structures into thick clouds of poisonous vapor and dust particles. One of the first responders interviewed in the film has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a fatal disease that can only be caused by exposure to asbestos. This victim of the lies and crimes of 911 pointedly asks where all the energy came from to pulverize three huge towers into a substance that he compares to talcum powder.
If the first responders’ accounts recorded in Puckett’s documentary are to be believed, the responsible officials in the United States are washing their hands of legal liability for the epidemic of lung disease and other ailments currently plaguing some of the real heroes and heroines of 911. The curtailed life spans and diminished health prospects of the first responders must be seen in the context of the fact that Christie Todd Whitman of the federal Environmental Protection Agency assured New York City residents under orders from the National Security Council that all the Big Apple’s “vital resources,” including the air, were safe only days after the 911 attacks. That was not true. Add one more lie to the record.
Hence the victimization of many groups through the lies and crimes of 911 may extend beyond the initial victims. It may even extend well beyond the plagues of lung disease and other maladies currently shortening and diminishing the lives of a disproportionately high number of first responders. Given that mesothelioma can remain latent for 10 to 15 years, the extent of this plague of 911-induced illnesses among New York City residents may still be several years away from showing its full extent.
As I note in “The Lies and Crimes,” Naomi Wolf, a child of Holocaust survivors, has drawn on her family’s experiences in her effort to alert her fellow citizens in the United States that they are moving along a continuum of official interventions similar to those resulting in the transformation of the civilized German parliamentary democracy into the Hitlerian nightmare. http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/endofamerica
Some might protest that her book displays unwarranted alarmism. Hey, a sceptic might point out, the United States isn’t throwing people in concentration camps, torturing them, murdering and displacing millions of innocent civilians, breaking international treaties and conventions, shutting down the rule of law at home, or conducting campaigns of psychological warfare whose effect is to deny and violate the shared humanity of whole populations defined in the state-orchestrated propaganda exclusively on the grounds religious and ethnic criteria! No?
In the long run one of the most devastating effects of the lies and crimes of 911 may reside in the prospect of alienating many of our brightest and most independent-minded young people who have good cause to question the potential for real democracy in even the most basic of our electoral processes. This risk of alienation is occurring, I believe, in the context of a more general loss of confidence among citizens of all ages in the integrity of our central institutions of self-governance. What lessons will be learned by the significant portion of Canadian youth who have decided to invest themselves wholeheartedly in the push for 911 truth? As demonstrated in scores of short clips on the Internet, many of the so-called “troofers” join their like-minded elders to head out into their communities, pamphlets, DVDs and video cameras firmly in hand. They seek to make a difference in the public arena with the optimistic view that they can in the long run influence public policy through informed engagement with their fellow citizens, including workers, opinion makers, captains of industry and elected officials. Matt Taibbi’s satirical diatribe in The Great Derangement notwithstanding, what could be more reasonable, hopeful and democratic than this way of attempting to bring about meaningful change?
What lessons should these young people derive from the removal of Lesley Hughes from her effort to represent a Winnipeg constituency under the Liberal banner? Are all those Liberals in Winnipeg who elected Lesley Hughes to run on their behalf somehow situated on the wrong side of some clear marker identifying a definitive distinction between virtue and malevolence? At what point does an unfortunate mistake become a punishable crime? What rules should guide those who must, from time to time, arbitrate where mistaken and wrongheaded and even hurtful expression ends and where genuine hate-inspired and hate-generating articulation begins?
Is Lesley Hughes really a reprobate not fit to serve in the House of Commons? Or does the push to relegate her back to the political margins speak to issues that are not being fully and honestly addressed by the politicians and professional pundits of all stripes whose responsibility it is to inform Canadians about what is really at stake in this crucial federal election? How will those seeking a mandate from us at this time of national elections in North America respond to the palpable public appetite, not only for 911 truth but for many other kinds of truth, however inconvenient to the interests of power and wealth? When is there to be some basic reckoning with the litany of lies and crimes that have been committed or are being committed with impunity at the very heights of the world’s inequitable system of political and economic power?