What do we do when a neo-Nazi speaks at a Left venue?

A sharp controversy has been raging in New York City Left circles for the past week, as one of the city’s few remaining Left spaces allowed a neo-Nazi to speak as part of a forum about the 9/11 attacks.

I had originally intended to not name names because the intent with this article is to discuss the broader issues raised, not only one specific incident. But as the issue has been widely discussed already, there isn’t any point to withholding the name of the locale, The Commons in Brooklyn. Nonetheless, this issue is much bigger than any one institution.

The basics are this: The owner of The Commons allowed the space to be used for a presentation by Christopher Bollyn, a virulent anti-Semite with a long history of publishing on neo-Nazi and white-supremacist sites. He was booked to speak as a “9/11 truther” who would talk on “9/11 and our Political Crisis.” Adding to the intrigue is that the owner of The Commons has herself been a prominent “9/11 truther.”

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens (photo by Daderot)

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens (photo by Daderot)

I don’t wish to paint with an overly broad brush. Many people who continue to investigate what happened on September 11, 2001, do so out of genuine principle and attempt legitimate research. There is no reason to believe the official government account of that day, and one need not believe 9/11 an “inside job” to question the official narrative. (So as to not hide my own perspective, I don’t believe 9/11 was an “inside job,” for multiple reasons, and I am skeptical of the so-called “truther” movement.)

Although reasonable research merits support, we should distinguish between people who investigate the commercial ties of Bush II/Cheney administration members or who make scientific inquiries into the physical properties of the World Trade Center materials that were destroyed on 9/11 from the unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that shade off into the considerable anti-Semitism that permeates the “truther” movement. That movement consistently provides platforms for rabid anti-Semites, and that is to their cause’s detriment.

On what basis do we defend an objectionable speaker?

This issue is impossible to disentangle from the Right’s continual conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. It is not difficult to distinguish criticism of the state of Israel for its apartheid policies and other crimes against humanity in its ongoing subjugation of Palestinians from blanket accusations against all Jews. Critics of Israel routinely do so. Ironically, one defender of the owner of The Commons decided to build on Right-wing tactics of misinformation by inverting the meaning of words when he absurdly claimed that “There are zionist-fascists who are trying to destroy The Brooklyn Commons as a venue for radical events.”

Huh? People who oppose neo-Nazism, and condemn anti-Semitism on a Left basis, are fascists — and Zionists! Truly remarkable. That statement can be dismissed as the desperate agitprop of an individual who has burned many a bridge. But what of the owner of The Commons herself? When asked to cancel the appearance of Christopher Bollyn, she responded with a lengthy statement that seems to have since been pulled from her venue’s web site. But, in part, she wrote:

“I did not research the speaker before accepting the rental. I do not have the time, resources or inclination to censor the hundreds of groups who rent the space.”

That is not unreasonable. But once it was brought to her attention, she could have canceled the event, as Busboys and Poets in Washington and the Unitarian Society of Hartford swiftly did when confronted with the nature of the speaker. Two paragraphs later, however, she wrote:

“I never intended for The Commons to be a safe space at all times. Nor was it designed to be a cozy cocoon for intramural debate among leftists. From the beginning my goal has been to foster discussion among disparate groups across a wide political spectrum.”

Nobody is asking for a “cozy cocoon,” and the many groups and individuals aren’t objecting because Bollyn is from another part of the political spectrum, but because he represents something that ought to be out of bounds anywhere: A Holocaust denier and an advocate of an ideology that calls for (and has attempted) genocide. There can be no “debate” with that. To deny the Holocaust is to endorse the murder of 6 million Jews and the Nazi ideology behind it. If we are part of the human race, we give no quarter to that. Period.

One other passage stood out in The Commons’ owner’s response. Although the venue has consistently been promoted as a Left space (and many Left organizations have offices there), she wrote:

“Since launching in 2010, the list of renters has included local Tea Partiers, conservative promoters of charter schools, explicitly anti-union corporations, elected officials who voted for the Patriot Act and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Lies and damned lies

If I were an advocate of charter schools, I sure would be upset at being grouped with a neo-Nazi. To be sure, advocates of charter schools peddle lies about the performance of them, and knowingly do so in the hopes of destroying public schools systems, reducing education to narrow training schools for future corporate drones and busting unions. Alas, there are liberals, unable to free themselves of corporate ideology, who go along with this, thereby making themselves useful dupes. But discussion of charter schools is a legitimate topic, however much we disagree with them.

flier-opposing-bollyn-at-the-commonsThe purpose of the above defenses is to obfuscate the issue and turn it into one of “censorship” and of Leftists’ supposed inability to tolerate opposing viewpoints. This is the first I had heard of charter-school advocates booking the space and although I might not like that, there is no comparison to inviting a neo-Nazi.

Another defender of the decision to allow Bollyn to speak, Nathan J. Robinson, did so under the straightforward title “Let The Kooks Speak. They will only embarrass themselves.” Writing in Current Affairs, Mr. Robinson said:

“[T]he best way to deal with a Holocaust denier is to allow him to hang himself with his own words. Because the historical reality of the Holocaust is among the most well-established of factual certitudes, anyone attempting to deny it will quickly be forced to resort to babble rather than reason. It is the simplest thing in the world to humiliate such people.”

He backs up this viewpoint by citing what he says happened at the talk:

“[A]ccording to witnesses, he simply rambled incoherently for nearly two hours to a tiny group of bored misfits. The AlterNet writer who went said it was a ‘pathetic spectacle’ with the ‘supposedly brave iconoclast, prevaricating for a half-empty room of gullible dimwits while dressed like a dad at a PTA meeting.’ The Daily Beast’s Jacob Siegel wrote that ‘not long after the talk started, people started to nod off,’ and that and that once you ‘strip away everything else … here was a middle-aged man dully clicking through slides.’ So Bollyn gave his speech, and he was a failure who converted nobody.”

Facing the larger issue

The point, however, isn’t that a raving anti-Semite who denies the Holocaust and claims Jews assassinated John F. Kennedy to take over the U.S. government could be convincing. The issue here isn’t this or that individual speaker, it is the failure to confront anti-Semitism, racism and associated social ills. None of the defenders of allowing the speaker to talk have bothered to address the larger issue of the anti-Semitism that pervades the “truther” movement.

Take one prominent example. Many a “truther” (including some I personally know) repeat the preposterous argument that two, or five, (depending on the version) Mossad agents were “jumping up and down with joy” as the World Trade Center towers came down. This, sadly, seems to be widely believed among “truthers.”

Were these agents the same ones who called 2,000 Jews the night before to tell them not to go to work? What a busy day. Maybe the conversation went like this: “Yitzhak, Shlomo here. The family is fine, thank you. Listen, Yitzhak, I can’t stay on the phone; I’ve got another 500 to call tonight, but please stay home tomorrow because we’re taking out the towers. Oy, I better get time and a half for all these hours.”

Did the Mossad agents identify themselves to onlookers? Were they wearing Mossad name tags? (Maybe the tag read, “Hi, my name is Shlomo. I’m a Mossad assassin. How can I help you?”) Can anybody imagine one of the most professional (and thus deadly) spy agencies on Earth being so ham-fisted and obvious? No. Why would such a preposterous story gain traction for even a second? Because of belief, even if held unconsciously, that Jews constitute some sort of cabal, and when that arises on the Left it is among those who are unable to distinguish anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism.

I suppose that is not completely separable from a belief that because the U.S. government, or the Bush II/Cheney administration (take your pick) is capable of evil acts, all evil acts are done by them and thus 9/11 has to be an “inside job.” This is reductionist thinking. The irony of inside-job belief is that is actually lets U.S. foreign policy off the hook! Maybe people in the Middle East really are pissed off about the oppression they’ve endured thanks to U.S. imperialism and maybe some of them, with a deficit of political knowledge or guidance, decided that individual acts of terrorism would be their response.

Evil individuals or a rotten system?

We really need to get beyond the idea that no so much as a leaf moves without the CIA being behind it. I write that as someone fully aware of the CIA’s record (and have recounted it in numerous articles and in my book.) The CIA is not a secret cabal of evil people; it is simply the government agency that carries out much of the dirty work that is required to maintain capitalism and the U.S. as the financial and military center of it. If the CIA didn’t exist, some other agency would be doing that work.

Much of the 9/11 “truther” movement derives from an unwillingness to grapple with the concrete realities of the capitalist system, and the structural inequalities and oppression built into it. The CIA is not ultimately the problem; it is the system it serves.

Unfortunately, it is far easier to indulge in conspiracy theories than to systematically analyze the world we live in. Those evil doers did it! Let’s get rid of those bad people and all will be well! Anti-Semites who cast Jews in the role of evil doers, and assign responsibility for all ills to them, are just a more extreme version of conspiracy-theory mongers and, ultimately, lie on a continuum.

This I suspect is why otherwise rational people exhibit a willingness to believe ideas that fall apart once they are examined seriously, and why the “truther” movement is unwilling, or unable, to separate itself from unexamined, often unconscious anti-Semitism (such as the Mossad agents jumping for joy) nor even from outright virulent anti-Semitism that goes so far as to deny the Holocaust. Even if someone was unfamiliar with Bollyn before this episode (I, for example, had never heard of him), the most basic Internet search would find his work. The New York Left activist Carol Lipton, for example, did a quick search and found:

“Bollyn also makes repeated reference to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. … Bollyn regularly appears on David Duke’s blogs, blames Jews for all the ills in the world, is a strident Holocaust denier who refers to the ‘Holohoax,’ and has been quoted across Twitter in hundreds of posts to show everyone his fiercely Jew-obsessed and Jew-hating statements. He is credited by some 9/11 truthers with originating the theory that Israel and Mossad were to blame for 9/11. He blames Israel for everything from Orlando to problems in Ukraine. He was formerly a long-term writer with the American Free Press, a white supremacist newspaper that was founded by fascist Willis Carto, founder of the Liberty Lobby.”

The online magazine JewSchool similarly had little difficulty finding Bollyn’s rants, publishing a long list of his nonsense, including numerous mentions of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” well known as a crude forgery concocted by the frantically anti-Semitic régime of Tsarist Russia.

Taking a stand, even at a cost

To their credit, several Left organizations that are tenants of The Commons issued a statement condemning Bollyn’s appearance:

“As organizations that work out of the Brooklyn Commons, we reject the antisemitic politics of Christopher Bollyn. We do not have any say in event booking and management at the Commons but agree that such politics should have no place in leftist spaces.”

One regular user of the space, the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, has said it will “pull all of its classes and upcoming events” and go elsewhere, even though this will cause itself problems in the near term. And that brings up to the final point for now. Should a space that booked a neo-Nazi be boycotted?

That is not so easy to answer, especially for those familiar with the effect runaway gentrification has had on New York City real estate. This, alas, has to be practical discussion. One prominent Left activist, with a well-earned reputation for integrity, argues that any organization that stays by renewing its lease would lose its credibility and that people should cut its ties with the venue. Another prominent Left activist, with a similar reputation, argues the opposite, saying that to leave would be to allow the far Right to drive us out. “We have hardly any spaces left and an easily accessible space, such as The Commons, that includes both meeting rooms and a hall for large gatherings is not something we should easily abandon — such spaces are central to our organizing,” she said.

There is no simple answer here. For years, The Commons has provided a low-cost space for a variety of Left causes and events, and the Left organizations that rent office space do so at below market rates. (Full disclosure: I have given talks there, had my first book party there and have attended dozens of events.) It is very painful to have to have this discussion, but it has been forced upon us.

The question of real estate in a capitalist economy looms large here. If housing and real estate were not capitalist commodities, and instead meeting places and centers for organizers were part of a public commons, this discussion would not be necessary; organizers would not be dependent on the decisions of one person who, as the owner of a private property, is not necessarily answerable to a broader community. Organizers may choose to “vote with their feet,” but those would be individual decisions.

Housing should be a human right, and would be in a better world, but an incident such as under discussion here reminds us that the the issue of space goes beyond basic housing — the restoration of a public commons needs to be central to our struggles.

46 comments on “What do we do when a neo-Nazi speaks at a Left venue?

  1. Tyler says:

    There were Israelis celebrating the collapse of the towers. It’s not a made-up story. It’s true. Please see: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2015/11/30/hey-trump/.

    • Complete and utter nonsense. Here is the lowdown on the Veterans Today web site from the Southern Poverty Law Center:

      “Myriad claims that there was a conspiracy behind 9/11 (Israel orchestrated it, in cahoots with the American government), that the American government is a puppet (of Israel), that the Holocaust never happened or was greatly exaggerated (Jews made it up to manipulate non-Jews), and, most recently, that Julian Assange, the man behind Wikileaks, is a pawn (of Israel). Notice a theme?”

      The briefest glance at the site is all that is necessary to see it has no credibility. Please peddle anti-Semitic conspiracy theories elsewhere.

      • Tyler says:

        You’re in denial. They were arrested. It’s been documented. Here’s more on it from ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=123885.

        How does SPLC’s description of Veterans Today make the ‘dancing Israelis’ story untrue?

        If you want to stay in the dark, that’s fine. I really don’t care anymore.

        • newtonfinn says:

          Having read the inconclusive but disconcerting ABC news story that you referenced, I think that Systematic Disorder needs to correct its dismissive reply to your original post and to reconsider what may be its ideological motivation (laser-like focus on blow-back) for being similarly dismissive toward the substantial evidence about possible deep state involvement in 9/11. No doubt anti-Semitism has infected segments of the 9/11 Truth Movement. But that must not prevent us from seeking the truth about “the pearl harbor event” that launched perpetual war.

          • Prole Center says:

            I don’t think leftists should get bogged down by this. You will never discover all the facts and you will never come to a certain conclusion – that is the nature of covert operations. I think it’s enough to say that the official version is garbage, that the US government or the elites behind it have the will and the ability to do something like this and pull it off, or conveniently look the other way.

            None of these scenarios discounts the element of blowback; it is the resentment and rage against US foreign policy that enabled recruitment of the highjackers in any case.

          • Newton, I need to make no such “correction.” Having read the ABC News article, “inconclusive” is a good description.

            The basics of the story is that five people with a connection to a moving company were picked up after a tip that they were acting suspiciously, and that the five were Israeli. No links to intelligence agencies were found for any of the five.

            Here is a key passage from the article:

            “[ABC News consultant Vince] Cannistraro said there was speculation as to whether Urban Moving had been ‘set up or exploited for the purpose of launching an intelligence operation against radical Islamists in the area, particularly in the New Jersey-New York area.’ Under this scenario, the alleged spying operation was not aimed against the United States, but at penetrating or monitoring radical fund-raising and support networks in Muslim communities.”

            Later, the article says:

            “Sources also said that even if the men were spies, there is no evidence to conclude they had advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. The investigation, at the end of the day, after all the polygraphs, all of the field work, all the cross-checking, the intelligence work, concluded that they probably did not have advance knowledge of 9/11,” Cannistraro noted.”

            So we’ve got five Israelis who might have been spying on Muslims, something that sounds plausible. That seems to me a vast distance from five Mossad agents “jumping for joy” because the World Trade Center towers came down. So we have exactly zero evidence of Mossad, or Israeli, knowledge of the attacks, must less that they had anything to do with it.

            Once again, there is a vast space between the clearly false official U.S. government narrative and “false-flag” scenarios that 9/11 was an inside job. It is possible that the Bush II/Cheney administration knew an attack was coming and let it happen, believing it could take advantage. That doesn’t necessarily mean they knew with any precision what would happen; they could have been caught flat-footed at the scope of the attacks while expecting something far smaller.

            We also can’t exclude the possibility that they really were caught unawares simply because the Bush II/Cheney administration was the most incompetent in memory. Like the John F. Kennedy assassination, we likely will never know what really happened.

      • iamselma says:

        Tyler- I concur completely with Systemic Disorder on this. I’ve read up on the main writers for VT since 2010, and all have major Holocaust-denial and anti-semitic affiliations and articles in other venue. Here’s one example: the co-editor of VT, JB Campbell, wrote this virulently anti-semitic, hateful essay in Nov. or Dec. 2010 issue, entitled “Dam Of Lies”: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/11/29/dam-of-lies/. If you scroll down the comments section, you’ll see Gordon Duff’s praise of the article. Campbell has referred to the Holocaust as the “Holohoax”. In another blog piece, he praises Hitler for “resisting Zionism”. All of the major Truther writers, including Christopher Bollyn and David Ray Griffin. Just Google either of their names with VT and you’ll get plenty of links. Bollyn was a staff writer for the neo-Nazi American Free Press for years. He is credited with authoring the theory that Israel did 9/11, and that the Israelis were celebrating the collapse of the towers.

        Just curious, Tyler- you have any video footage of the Israelis at Ground Zero on 9/11 jumping up and down when the Towers came down? All I saw was about 5,000 people in a mad stampede.

        • Tyler says:

          “All of the major Truther writers, including Christopher Bollyn and David Ray Griffin.”

          Please explain what this sentence means. If you’re accusing David Ray Griffin of anti-Semitism, please don’t ever do that again. It is an entirely false accusation.

          No, I don’t have video of the celebrating Israelis. You can find the police files on them on the internet. Try googling “dancing israelis files”.

          • Speaking of David Ray Griffin, here is an excellent demolishing of his book by Chip Berlet, a tireless researcher on the extreme Right for many years. (Readers can also find a link to Griffin’s response, which Berlet posted.)

            To provide a flavor of the review:

            “Griffin’s book reflects a relentless disregard of substantial evidence from multiple sources that contradict the claims he is making. Griffin repeatedly uses classic Fallacies of Logic in his presentation rendering whole sections of the book refutable on this basis alone. …

            “Griffin makes a number of claims suggesting a widespread conspiracy to create and carry out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This conspiracy, as outlined in Griffin’s book, would involve numerous U.S. government elected officials as well as multiple state level, commercial, and media conspirators. To accomplish this vast conspiracy would necessarily involve hundreds–if not thousands–of individuals. Griffin never explains how this conspiracy would actually function, claiming that is not his goal.”

            • Tyler says:

              This is getting quite tiresome. I suspect this Chip fella does not demolish Griffin’s book, but I’ll take a look and likely waste my time.

              Have you seen the video of Tower 7 falling? It’s so obviously controlled demolition.

              The towers came down by controlled demolition. WTCs 1 and 2 were built to take the impact of a plane and not fall.

              Pete, I know you know how psychopathic the ruling class is, so why is it so hard to fathom they would do 9/11?

          • iamselma says:

            The online record of anti-semitic statements, quotes, and affiliations of both Christopher Bollyn and David Ray Griffin is extensive. Wikipedia cites Bollyn’s 6 year employment by one of the oldest neo-Nazi, white supremacist media organs in the US, The American Free Press, which was started by Willis Carto, founder of The Liberty Lobby. The editor of AFP was Nazi Eustace Mullens, author of “The Biological Jew”. Here’s the Wiki entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Free_Press. Ironically, another Nazi blog, Rense.com, reported that Bollyn was fired from his job at AFP for falsifying information in articles he wrote. Some scholar, huh?

            Here’s one article, from Jezebel: http://jezebel.com/an-antisemitic-9-11-truther-grows-in-brooklyn-1786392217 The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks far Right extremist hate groups, considers Bollyn to be a “raging anti-Semite”. Here’s another article: https://louisproyect.org/2016/09/18/the-uncontrolled-demolition-of-the-truther-brain/
            Here’s the link to where Christopher Bollyn appeared on David Duke’s radio show. That’s David Duke, former Grand Dragon of the KKK. https://web.archive.org/web/20160418173858/http://www.vnnforum.com/showthread.php?t=18441

            Here’s another article on Bollyn’s writings and affiliation: https://spencersunshine.com/2016/09/05/bollyn-at-brooklyn-commons-2/

            David Ray Griffin was also a writer for AFP. The American Free Press, which Griffin considers to be a credible source, is a white supremacist publication that also publishes “The Barnes Review,” the largest Holocaust denial publication in the country. (Barnes Review sells lots of titles claiming the Holocaust did not happen and praised Hitler as worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize!).

            Eric Hufschmid, also cited as a credible source, proudly boasts on his website that he doesn’t believe the Holocaust happened, either. Rense.com, also given publicity in Griffin’s footnotes, promotes the cause of Holocaust denial along with kooky stories of the paranormal that are entertaining to some but not appropriate for a serious examination of government malfeasance.

            He has been a featured writer on the pages of neo-Nazi publication Veterans Today: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/09/20/the-pros-and-cons-of-the-toronto-hearings/david-ray-griffin/


            As for the theory that the 5 Israelis who were filming the Towers as they came down, as proving they were here in the US as part of an Israeli plot to take down the towers, I’ve got a far better theory than that.

            There were 2 French filmmakers who were at the firehouse right near Ground Zero on 9/11. They had been in NYC that day to make a movie about the Fire Engine company right near Ground Zero. They wound up filming the entire attack and collapse of the towers, the rubble, the firehouse, and the streets covered in ash in a film that was shown around the world.

            So, if a group of filmmakers from another country are in NYC on 9/11 to do some filming, that proves that the country they are from must be in on the conspiracy, because why else would they have been in NYC on that day?

            • Tyler says:

              I clicked on that link to Veterans Today. It’s a photo of David Ray Griffin. Nice try.

              I also didn’t find any articles written by Griffin at American Free Press.

              In any case, I’m supposed to think that anyone who has written for American Free Press or Veterans Today is an anti-Semite? That’s total nonsense.

              David Ray Griffin is a great man. You are a slanderer and should be banned from this site.

      • I especially encourage one and all to read the second link, to a 2006 article by Alexander Cockburn, whose writings, although at times too self-consciously contrarian, are missed. Inter alia, he wrote in this article:

        “Into the theoretical and strategic void has crept a diffuse, peripatic conspiracist view of the world that tends to locate ruling class devilry not in the crises of capital accumulation, or the falling rate of profit, or inter-imperial competition, but in locale (the Bohemian Grove, Bilderberg, Ditchley, Davos) or supposedly ‘rogue’ agencies, with the CIA still at the head of the list. The 9/11 ‘conspiracy’, or ‘inside job’, is the Summa of all this foolishness.”


        “A central characteristic of the conspiracists is that they have a devout, albeit preposterous belief in American efficiency. Many of them start with the racist premise — frequently voiced in as many words in their writings — that ‘Arabs in caves’ weren’t capable of the mission. They believe that military systems should work they way Pentagon press flacks and aerospace salesmen say they should work.”

        And the late Mr. Cockburn also notes the serial corruption and incompetence of the Giuliani administration, ensuring that radios didn’t work, communication was difficult and other problems that contributed greatly to the death toll:

        “That’s the real political world, in which Giuliani and others have never been held accountable. The conspiracists disdain the real world because they have promoted Bush, Cheney and the Neo-Cons to an elevated status as the Arch Demons of American history, instead of being just one more team running the American empire, a team of more than usual stupidity and incompetence. … There are plenty of real conspiracies in America. Why make up fake ones? Every few years, property czars and city government in New York conspire to withhold fire company responses, so that enough of a neighborhood burns down for the poor to quit and for profitable gentrification to ensue. That’s a conspiracy to commit ethnic cleansing, also murder.”

        The more we run after conspiracy theories and the less we analyze the structural, material conditions of capitalist society, the further we are from solving the world’s problems.

  2. Rich Hemmings says:

    Pete -A most interesting and thorough discussion. Really interesting article. Hope to see you guys soon. Regards Rich

  3. Steph free says:

    you lost me when you express your support for The Official Gov Conspir cy.

    • I expressed no such support and am quite clear that I don’t believe the official 9/11 government story. Please read more carefully. It is quite possible to not subscribe to the official story or the “truther” narratives; there is a huge amount of space in between.

    • iamselma says:

      Steph- I agree with Systemic Disorder on this point as well. Opposing a speaker because he is an established far Right white supremacist who has expressed anti-Semitic and Holocaust denying views, and is not a serious scholar by any stretch of the imagination, does not prove that one supports the official government story. Unless, of course, you believe that a Nazi is a credible academic source.

  4. Prole Center says:

    It is possible to highly suspect that 9/11 was an “inside job” without resorting to anti-Semitism. The CIA can’t make leaves fall from every tree, but it does have enormous reach. My feeling is that the CIA likely farmed out the job to the Saudis. That makes the most sense to me. Other possibilities are that the CIA knew it was coming and looked the other way. Cui bono – who benefits – is the first question to ask. However, even if the US power elites didn’t plan or execute the attack, since they benefited from it and were glad it happened, in a sense it is the same as if they had done it.

    Anti-Semitism, like other forms of white supremacy is a huge problem in the US. I believe this is one of the primary stumbling blocks keeping the working class divided, misdirected and reactionary.

    • Prole, I fully agree with your statement that “Anti-Semitism, like other forms of white supremacy is a huge problem in the US” that keeps us divided and fighting among ourselves. This is the point I’ve been trying to make, which is why the focus of the article was on what should be done about a Left space allowing a neo-Nazi to speak rather than which 9/11 scenario we believe.

      I also completely agree with your earlier statement that Leftists should not be bogged down by 9/11. And I speak as someone who was at mass meetings about it in New York immediately following attacks and who participated in a silent protest in Times Square days afterward, and many protests afterward. Like many activists, I dropped what I had been working on to concentrate on fighting what we knew would be the government response to the attacks.

      I would add that the conception many 9/11 “truthers” hold — that 9/11 was a coup in the service of corporate control ignore the fact that corporate (or, more properly, class) control was very much in force before. And before the Kennedy assassination as well. Yes, it is true that the security apparatus was enhanced, and the police state tightened, but there has been no change in the underlying social relations of the U.S. nor of who constitutes the ruling class. Capitalism rolls on, and will do so until the peoples of the world decide to stop cooperating.

      Thanks for adding some common sense to this discussion.

  5. REDPILLED says:


    AE911Truth — Architects & Engineers Investigating the destruction of all three World Trade Center skyscrapers on September 11

    Patriots Question 9/11 – Responsible Criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report

    September 11, 2001: The 15th Anniversary of the Crime and Cover-up of the Century | Global Research – Centre for Research on G

    • Prole Center says:


      You realize that the red pill from The Matrix symbolizes socialism, right? For the most part blue has traditionally represented conservative political parties throughout European history while red is clearly the color of socialism. In the US Republicans are an exception to the rule, but the conservative Democrats kept to tradition.

      Neo chose the red pill (socialism) over the blue pill (the conservative status quo) in order to wake up.

    • iamselma says:

      Redpilled: Here’s what Louis Proyect has to say about the latest cutting-edge evidence offered by the Architects & Engineers Committee as proof that 9/11 was an inside job: https://louisproyect.org/2016/09/18/the-uncontrolled-demolition-of-the-truther-brain/

  6. tubularsock says:

    Great post SD. Tubularsock is not a fan of the Government’s Conspiracy Theory and throwing out terms like “The Truthers” as an opposing side is disingenuous to say the least. Painting with a broad brush is not really helpful to any discussion. (Not that Tubularsock is saying that YOU were doing this but speaking in general terms about the entire subject.)

    As far as the 9/11 story goes there is no question that the Government’s “theory” is fallacious and was intended to focus blame in order to carry out another agenda.

    But to get into details is for another day. In fact, knowing the intense research abilities you have you would have no trouble following the available information to show that there is something rotten in the state Denmark. Or thereabouts.

    But Tubularsock does take exception with you on, “The Freedom Speech” issue you have brought forth.

    Tubularsock’s position concours with Nathan Robinson. To suppress, even stupid ideas, only make them more attractive. And those ideas self-destruct in the light of day.

    Now for your larger objection about “. . . anti-Semitism that pervades the “truther” movement”. Tubularsock would recommend a broader look at the scholars that believe that 9/11 was not as described by the government propaganda machine. Anti-Semitism doesn’t “pervade” but rather exist within a huge movement.

    Anti-Semitism exists in the society as well but Tubularsock doesn’t see it as “pervading” any more than any other bigoted, racist grouping. That is just a small view within the whole.

    And sure one can take a look at many of the members of George W’s administration that were Jewish, Ari Fleischer, Josh Bolten, Ken Melman, Elliott Abrams, Mark D. Weinberg, I. Lewis Libby, Michael Chertoff, Douglas Feith, to name just a few or even within the “inner circle” like Paul Wolfowitz, or deeper in, Henry Kissinger but just because they were Jewish could mean different things to different people.

    And what could be extrapolated from that ………. skies the limit!

    Or you could note the seeming power of AIPAC on the American political scene and make many assumptions about Jews.

    So there is plenty of information out there that could lead to anti-Semitism OR NOT depending what ax one has to grind.

    So for the 9/11 scholars to “take-on” anti-Semitism within the movement is more of a hot-topic diversion than a help.

    However to believe that the CIA (U.S.), the Mosad (Israel), the GID (Saudi Arabia), the ISI (Pakistan), the RAW (India), M16 (U.K.), the FSB (Russia), the BND (Germany), and the DGSE (France) were just all “non-players” in this world of deception would be silly to believe.

    As Tubularsock has said many times before, ….. “9/11 was NOT AN INSIDE JOB! It was an out-sourced job … The United States out-sources ALL it’s terrorist activities! It’s the American Way!

    And to make 9/11 simple:

    • Tube, I didn’t know you had branched out to videography. A regular empire you are becoming!

      Let’s start with your statement: “Anti-Semitism doesn’t ‘pervade’ but rather exist within a huge movement. Anti-Semitism exists in the society as well but Tubularsock doesn’t see it as ‘pervading’ any more than any other bigoted, racist grouping.

      Pervade vs. existing within is a fair enough debate, and I suppose there can’t be a clear-cut answer satisfying to all. But I used the word “pervade” because so many (of course not all) of the people who seem to be the “leading” theorists among 9/11 “truthers” base their ideas on the anti-Semitism that forms the basis of their others writings. Anti-Semitism is hardly otherwise unknown on the Left, and it would be foolish to expect the social ills that are so common on this Earth to somehow not exist in our progressive movements.

      But, as serious Left activists, we have a duty to stand up when those social ills arise in our ranks and not overlook them. I have close friends — politically and/or cultural sophisticated people — who aren’t themselves anti-Semites who nonetheless completely ignore the anti-Semitic rantings of 9/11 truthers whom they eagerly recommend. Some of these friends are themselves Jewish, which makes it all the more curious to me and to those within this circle of friends who are on my side of this debate. (We’re rather evenly split.)

      That anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny, homophobia and other social ills exist widely in society does not give us an excuse to overlook it in our own ranks, even if these social ills occur with less frequency and are more likely to be challenged. Nor, in my opinion, should it go unchallenged when theories based on them are put forth, even when put forth by people who are themselves as free of these social ills as reasonably possible. None of us are perfect on this, certainly not me, but we can recognize it within ourselves and work to eliminate it.

      A better world means a world free of hatreds for all people, and thus I disagree that tackling issues like anti-Semitism is more diversion than help. Rather, it is a necessary component of the work necessary to bring into being a better world.

      What did happen on 9/11? I don’t believe we will ever truly know. There are four possibilities: 1) the Bush II/Cheney gang were incompetent and were caught flat-footed; 2) they knew something would happen but what happened was way bigger than they imagined; 3) they had a good idea of what would happen and let it happen; and 4) it was an inside job and they did it. Your concept of it being an “outsourced job” I would classify within 4; perhaps that is scenario 4b. My own belief is that 2 or 3 is by far the most likely with 2 more likely than 3.

      But I don’t know. I have to point out that those who insist they know also don’t know. Personally, I believe it vastly more productive to work on the larger structural issues facing humanity — and the necessity of transcending capitalism before it destroys the world — than on this or that specific act, including 9/11. As I said in the post, I make a sharp differentiation between those doing serious research and those who peddle conspiracy theories. We ought to do that for all topics.

      • iamselma says:

        Tubularstock: people on the Left routinely support boycotts. Those range from boycotting artists who supported S. African apartheid, boycotting non-UFW grapes, boycotting Israeli cultural performances and products sold in the US, by the BDS movement, and the effort to kick ROTC recruiting off of college campuses during the Vietnam War. I stand with Pete on this issue. I’m against giving a Nazi recruiter, which is what Bollyn is, space to do his recruiting under the guise of 9-11 Truth information. What he is spreading is hatred of Jews. He claims that Israel was responsible for 9-11, but then makes anti-semitic statements against all Jews, clearly what is fueling his claim that Israel was behind 9-11, when there’s no forensic evidence whatsoever to establish this.

        There have been many efforts on campus to ban speeches by racist groups and individuals, including those promoting the Bell Curve theories of William Shockley.

        The Commons is a commercial space, not covered by free speech in the same manner as a public space would be. Bollyn rented space there for a lecture and to promote his books, from which he derives income. Busboys & Poets in Washington, DC cancelled his appearance, and to date, I haven’t heard of any lawsuits against them. From everything I know as an attorney about Constitutional Law, that decision was correct.

  7. Alcuin says:

    “Capitalism rolls on, and will do so until the peoples of the world decide to stop cooperating.”

    Well said. If I were involved in the controversy, I would stay in the Brooklyn Commons, even if it filled up with neo-Nazis and Trumpists. Unless, of course, my personal safety became an issue. There is no arguing with another world-view. People have to come to an understanding of their world in their own way and at their own pace. We need to try to understand those who have rigid worldviews. It does no good to attack such people because fear motivates them and attacking them only justifies their fear. Fear, which capitalism generates in spades, is an extremely powerful motivator.

    The bottom line is that depriving another person of just compensation for their labor is a crime against humanity. That is the definition of capitalism: deprivation of just compensation for labor expended. Everything else stems from this.

    Henry David Thoreau, my all-time favorite writer, had a pithy comment on this issue that you are caught up in when he wrote, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

    • I think I got the line about not cooperating from you, Alcuin — it’s a theme you have frequently sounded here.

      It is too early to say definitively, but I suspect those staying will prove to be a comfortable majority. One of the signatories of the group statement by The Commons tenants opposing the Bollyn talk told me in a private message that there is no possibility of his organization leaving. Although characterizing allowing that talk to proceed a “political mistake,” he said to boycott would “also be a political mistake” because The Commons is “too valuable a space.”

      Fortunately, I think it most unlikely the place will become “filled up with neo-Nazis and Trumpists.” The person I quoted in the preceding paragraph hopes for a comradely discussion, and that strikes me as a good idea. Whatever our stance on this issue, we do need to focus on striking at the root.

      • iamselma says:

        It is clear from Melissa Ennen’s own press statement that she was inundated with emails protesting Bollyn hosting a private, paid-for speaking engagement at The Commons. I say this because there seems to be a massive misconception operating here, that this is a “free speech” issue. It is not. This was commercial speech, taking place in a private venue, where the majority of those using the space strongly objected to Bollyn being allowed to deliver his lecture.

        Constitutional protections and concepts of “free speech” govern speech that is occurring in the public arena, in a traditional public forum, such as Central Park Sheep Meadow, or the Mall in Washington, D.C. The fact is that Melissa had the right to cancel the speaking engagement, and that had she done so, it would not have constituted a violation of Christopher Bollyn’s free speech rights. Bollyn was there to recruit for the 9-11 truth movement. That’s what he does. He also derives income from hawking his books to people. He is not a serious scholar, and his purported theories have all been debunked, or strenuously argued against.

        No one promoting anti-semitic theory, and no one who denies the Holocaust took place, or thinks that Israel was behind the JFK assassination and the Orlando nightclub massacre is a serious scholar. The people who are commenting that the logical deduction to be arrived at, that opposition to Bollyn’s entire worldview and credentials, is the equivalent of supporting “the official version”, is so off-the-wall I’m speechless.

        It bears repeating, for those who are refusing to absorb it- Bollyn spent years as a staff writer for the American Free Press, one of the most virulently white supremacist publications in the country. It was founded by Willis Carto, who began the Liberty Lobby. Bollyn is a confirmed Holocaust denier who has worked with Nazis and Holocaust deniers for many years. That’s not scholarship. That’s hate mongering and hate speech.

        I’ve posted links, as have many others, to the “JewSchool” blog which took screen shots of Bollyn’s anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying statements. Jezebel has done the same.

        There is no difference legally between ROTC attempting to recruit on a private college campus, and Bollyn or any other far Right trying to recruit followers in a private, paid for venue. Students in the 60s rightly protested ROTC recruiting on their campus. Private campuses had the right to deny ROTC the space to engage in speech. So does The Commons.

        The Commons, before it even opened, was heralded among Occupy supporters, as being a left, progressive space. At no time was there any indication that Melissa intended to rent out space to far Right groups, who already have an abundance of venues they can utilize. If she’s strapped for cash, there are certainly other means to raise revenue.

        But given that Melissa herself has been a recruiter for the 9-11 Truth movement, meaning she is a strong supporter, the idea that Bollyn just coincidentally happened to contact her for a speaking engagement, strains credulity.

        I want to see if Melissa continues to engage in the same policy in the future. A left space should not be open to the far Right. This is not Trafalgar Square. No right-wing venue, club, or organization I know of solicits participation by leftists and progressives, and they far outstrip us in terms of financial resources. The libertarian sentiment that thinks this is “equal equal” is to me a dangerous and foolhardy stance to take to a member of a hate network that promotes racism, white supremacy, and genocide.

        The reason so many people move to NYC from small towns is to escape racism, homophobia, political intolerance, and a complete lack of cultural validation and safe spaces. I want to see this venue remain a leftist space.

        • Alcuin says:

          You’re preaching to the choir, iamselma. None of the right-wing commenters here will agree with you one iota. Their minds are made up and no amount of written argument is going to change them. I admire your persistence in trying, though.

    • Joel Meyers says:

      I think there are two primary necessities to have an effect on the world: Organizing and those who are ready for action, and working to demoralize those who actions are counterproductive, and possibly converting them. You say there is no arguing with another world view. If that is true, forget about revolution, because the overwhelming majority of the potential revolutionary base are imperialist-minded and counterrevolutionary. It is true as you say: “People have to come to an understanding of their world in their own way and at their own pace.” Engaging in arguments with them can be part of their development. Actually, though each person is a work in process, the political development of every individual is part of the collective development of the masses, through interaction. Consciousness has moved forward. When I was young, it was considered outrageous for anyone to demonstrate against “their own” country’s war. Institutionalized racial segregation was considered normal, and politicians like George Wallace and Lester Maddox could be governors. Today, even the Trumps of the world have to modulate down to using dog-whistles, and even many backward elements are skeptical about the real driving forces behind any conceivable war. It would take an enormous .Pearl Harbor;/ 911 type event to get a draft going, not that it such machinations can be put past those running the show today. The thing that cannot be argued against is apathy. Even those who are politically active on the right, recognize that problems have to be addressed, though they are misguided about what the problems are, and even more so about the solutions. But that invites argument. But when someone really just doesn’t a damn no matter what, they present a more frustrating resistance than a committed enemy. Now it is true that people here have put “Nazis” in their sight, which jmplies a violent enemy whose very presence can create an emergency. But it is unlikely that any significance audience could be gathered of actual Nazi stormtroopers. at this point. Real, committed neo-Nazis have to suppress their core message and deny where they are coming from, because they are trying to appeal to confused elements, who can go either way, but could get sucked deeper into a Nazi mentality and snake pit if they are abandoned. Several deeply radical people that I know started out as youthful Goldwater supporters initially.

  8. Here’s what Bollyn said at The Commons, in answer to a question about the protesters’ claim that he’s anti-Jewish:

    “I lived in Israel, speak Hebrew. My first wife was an Israeli. How much hatred do I have in my heart? I have no hatred for the Jewish people. My sister’s Jewish. It’s ridiculous. I’m not talking about an ethnicity or religion here. I’m talking about a crime. I’m talking about the crime to change this country. I could care less what nationality you or you or you or they are outside. That’s not the subject here. I’m talking about a crime where 3,000 people were killed that has taken this country into war for 15 years, with a million people killed and trillions of dollars spent, and no one has investigated the crime. That’s why my book is called “Solving 9/11”. )

    I’m not here to argue about whether he is or ain’t. The fact is, he doesn’t see himself that way and doesn’t want to be seen that way.

    Nor am I here to condemn protesters for verbally protesting. They had every right to be outside The Commons and protest a speaker whom they believed was anti-Jewish.

    They also had every right to verbally challenge the speaker inside.

    What the protesters don’t have the right to do is to hold up pictures of my friend Melissa Ennen, who owns The Commons, and libel her as a “Nazi.” Nor do they have the right to hammer her head into the wall, or issue bomb threats at her house. They also don’t have the right to spit on workers in the cafe and kick them, nor to try to bankrupt The Commons because they disagree with the owner’s decision to go forward and hold an event they object to.

    Now Pete, let me get to something wrote:

    “Ironically, one defender of the owner of The Commons decided to build on Right-wing tactics of misinformation by inverting the meaning of words when he absurdly claimed that ‘There are zionist-fascists who are trying to destroy The Brooklyn Commons as a venue for radical events.’ Huh? People who oppose neo-Nazism, and condemn anti-Semitism on a Left basis, are fascists — and Zionists! Truly remarkable.”

    I did not say that all who protested Chris Bollyn’s talk are zionist-fascists, but that some of those there were indeed zionist-fascists, and they were vocal and present among the 28 picketers at the start.

    Those protesting outside The Commons did not challenge the zionists on their support for the policies of the state of Israel, which I and others consider to be fascist. They instead welcomed their participation.

    What they created by doing so was an unholy alliance (a “popular front”) with zionists to achieve an expedient (opportunistic) purpose. Meanwhile, it’s not clear which group it was that acted like fascists by engaging in physical assaults on workers at The Commons and its owner.

    You claim (without any evidence) that the 9/11 Truth movement in NYC is “permeated” with anti-semites. So, using the same logic, let me turn it around and ask if you’d say the same about the protest — that it was “permeated” by zionist-fascists because there were some present there, just as there are a tiny handful of anti-semites in the 9/11 Truth movement in NYC? If not, why the double standard?

    In actuality, the NYC 9/11 Truth movement has exhibited zero tolerance for anti-semitism. This differs from the situation on the West Coast. Our success in NYC has been a direct result of leftists like myself and People of Color like Frank Morales involving ourselves in 9/11 Truth from the start, and helping to focus the burgeoning movement. As a result, the 9/11 Truth movement in NYC became a major gateway into every anti-war action in this city for the last 15 years.

    The protest at The Commons was also bolstered by letters from pro-zionist Democratic Party pimps for the real estate developers in NYC, who would love to get their hands on The Commons and who’ll foster any division possible to steal that building.

    That some Leftist-tenants of The Commons don’t understand that reality is unfortunate. They should have thought about whose interests they’re playing into when they posted their letter on the Brooklyn Institute’s website. The letter is mostly unobjectionable in the abstract, but is destructive in practice because it was used to fuel and incite reactionaries seeking to destroy The Commons.

    I am happy to report that neither WBAI radio — the tenant on the 3rd floor — nor the videographers with an office on that same floor, signed that letter, despite the pretense that everyone in the building had signed it.

    Strangely, the letter writers have issued no condemnations about the protesters’ violence against the workers associated with The Commons; nor have they written in defense of the space in which they continue to rent offices at reduced rates and hold events. Regardless of what one believes The Commons should have done on this matter, we all need to unite to save The Commons and rollback the threats to it, which would hurt all of us.

    Mitchel Cohen

    • People don’t tend to see themselves as anti-Semitic, or racist, or misogynistic. But we need to go by what people write, say and do, not by what their self-image might be. If someone writes that Jews killed JFK to take over the government, are responsible for the Orlando massacre and 9/11, quotes from the crude forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” writes regularly for white-supremacist and neo-Nazi publications, and denies the Holocaust, then the shoe fits. Those with a strong stomach can get a large sampling at this JewSchool link.

      I was careful to not attribute the quote you referenced, but if you want to out yourself, then so be it. I was not present for the demonstration nor had I received any reliable reports on it, and so was not in a position to comment on it. If it is true that there was violence or Nazi-baiting, against The Commons owner or any employee, I condemn it as 100 percent wrong and unacceptable. That is also very stupid tactically, as those who engaged in violence ceded any moral high ground. But I note that you did not differentiate; you made blanket statements condemning all who opposed allowing the Bollyn talk to proceed, not limited to whatever right-wing, pro-Zionist element was in attendance.

      You have gone so far as to lump a carefully worded letter that made no threats or demands of any kind with violent acts by characterizing the letter as “destructive.” As I noted earlier in another reply, one of the signatories has privately told people that under no circumstances should The Commons be boycotted. I also note that the Marxist Education Project, with which I have a strong association, has scheduled several events there throughout the fall, as per usual practice.

      The joint letter you find objectionable condemned anti-Semitism (shouldn’t we all?) and concluded by noting “such politics should have no place in leftist spaces.” That is about a benign protest as I can imagine, nothing more than a simple statement of principle. You seem to be far more upset at those who oppose a raving anti-Semitic speaker than the anti-Semite himself. Perhaps an unwillingness to examine the anti-Semitism of many leading 9/11 “truthers” is part of the reason why. I can easily name several and also point out the willingness of so many “truthers” to believe that Mossad agents were openly jumping for joy. I am sure you can point to more who would never go near those. Fair enough.

      But I say again, those trying to do serious research need to forcefully separate themselves from anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and publicly condemn them. Instead, I see many “truthers” willingly espousing “theories” promulgated by raving anti-Semites, and when this is pointed out to them, the usual response is to either deny the anti-Semitism, or ask defensively what their writings on “another topic” have to do with 9/11.

      I’ve had to wade through more of that than I care to the past week, as I have been in a private group e-mail battle where repeated evidence has been met with such responses. (And that discussion has been rougher than anything on this blog’s comments.) A Holocaust denier and/or a neo-Nazi has no credibility. The large numbers of “truthers” who willingly blind themselves to this can’t be wished away, however much you or others might want to. Going down a bottomless rabbit hole does no good.

      • iamselma says:

        I have the email in which Mitchel makes the blanket statement that the protesters and those who objected to Bollyn speaking, were both fascist and Zionist. This is a strange inversion reality, whereby the opponents to fascism now become the fascists themselves merely for exercising their First Amendment rights to protest. That also happens to be the line taken by every major white supremacist and neo-Nazi I’ve seen, from J.B. Campbell to Gordon Duff, to David Duke, to Clayton Douglas, and to Alison Weir (who calls everyone who opposes her views a Zionist, especially Jewish Voice for Peace, the Coalition to End the Occupation, and Ali Abumeneh, whom she referred to as being the “shabbos goy” of JVP.

        Mitchel no doubt was among the students during the antiwar movement who protested the right of ROTC to recruit on campus. This is no different. Nor is it different from the BDS movement, which Mitchel supports, that boycotts any and all cultural performances, academics, and others from Israeli, who wish to speak in the US, on account of Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians. Those efforts at denying the right to speak or perform are apparently acceptable to Mitch, who does not recognize the depth of the double standard or blind spot.

        This same principle was applied to South Africa under apartheid, and to those who promote racist theories, such as William Shockley. There are a multitude of other examples, of leftists turning out in great numbers to protest speakers, including at Zionist conferences. Would that Mitchel be as up in arms about a neo-Nazi as he would be over an anti-choice or racist speaker. It seems that the underlying value here is that of denial of anti-Semitism and denial to Jews and Jewish allies on this issue.

        It’s a minimization of the potential for anti-Semitic theories to unleash violence against Jews in the US. And as long as Jews remain only 5 or 6 million out of 300 million of America’s total population, the presence of a neo-Nazi peddling his pseudo-scholarship, in a space that was originally billed as a left progressive venue, is a threat. Not only is it highly triggering for many people, but it gives Bollyn legitimacy.

        He can now use it in his resume to promote himself elsewhere and claim support among leftists. Such is the strategy employed by many groups on the far Right who have wooed leftists support. Apparently, Mitch has not read “Eyes Right” by Chip Berlet, nor publications of Political Research Associates. There’s a long history of anti-Semitism in the US, and the fact that Jews have assimilated and entered the 1% does not impact our vulnerability to any right wing movement that would seek to blame us and then eliminate us.

        That is what is most disturbing about the blasé attitude taken by Mitchel about anti-Semitism, and by his dismissiveness of the protest as proof positive of a Zionist worldview, or as he accused me, of a failure to study 9-11 literature, which purportedly is conclusive proof that I support the government’s entire story about 9-11.

        As Systemic Disorder adeptly pointed out in his article, this has never been about the debate about 9-11, but rather the use of 9-11 as a Nazi recruiting vehicle, and the anti-semitic, Holocaust denying statements by Bollyn himself that are on the record. The link to the JewSchool article contains those references. So does this Jezebel article: http://jezebel.com/an-antisemitic-9-11-truther-grows-in-brooklyn-1786392217

        Hate speech is not protected speech under the constitution. Mitchel Cohen must know something that as a practicing lawyer with 40 years’ practice, a large percentage of which was Constitutional Law, that I don’t. This was never a “free speech” issue.

        Defending Bollyn’s right to speak at The Commons is on a par with defending the right of Randall Terry to speak at a NARAL conference, or William Shockley giving a lecture and selling his books at Bluestockings Bookstore, or Pat Buchanan being invited to an NAACP Legal Defense Fund conference. Inviting fascist hate-mongers to left forums and left venues does nothing to promote “free speech” nor does it do anything to create safe spaces on the left, of which there are precious few. Bollyn has access to multiple far Right venues.

        Anyone studying the history of the far Right, the Tea Party and militia movement as well as white supremacist groups, knows that there are many radio shows, blogs, bookstores, and conventions in existence. They already have plenty of spaces. The Left has a pittance in comparison.

        Bollyn’s choice to schedule a workshop at The Commons is out of a desire to gain a further toehold in the Left. Melissa Ennen has now been outed as a Truther who was a major recruiter for 9-11 truth. It’s highly disingenuous that anyone defending Bollyn speaking at The Commons, starting with Melissa, would be unaware of one of the movement’s major theoreticians, the man who originated the theory that Israel was responsible for 9-11. It would be a bit like a Leftist not knowing who Che Guevera was, or a feminist being unaware of Flo Kennedy.

        Just as discretion is the better part of valor, it’s also the better part of anti-racism and safe spaces policy.

  9. Joel Meyers says:

    The effect of 911 was to galvanize public opinion to be lied into a war. The country was hijacked and crashed into the rest of the world, or at least, and focally, on the Muslim world. It is called the “War on Terror”. It just happens to coincide with Israeli interests that the U.S., its chief backer, be hurled into actual warfare against Israel’s enemies, namely, the Muslim world.

    The U.S. was lied into war by an administration teeming with neo-Cons. Leading neo-Cons like William Kristol describe themselves with racist overtones as “liberals who have been mugged by reality.” Without exception, they are staunch supporters of Zionist expansionism and militarism, paid-for and protected by U.S. imperialist resources. Neo-Cons like Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, David Wurmser, Robert Kagan, among others, took over domination of the U.S. Cabinet.

    These Israel-Firsters were all part of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), while simultaneously serving in the Israeli government’s leading Likud Party, who campaigned for the terrorist Netanyahu in pushing that ethnic-cleansing product ever further to the ultraright. They jumped up-and-down in excitement over Netanyahu’s addressing a joint session of Congress, denouncing Obama. They were among the authors of Likud’s “Clean Break” document, renouncing the Oslo Agreement and the perspective of a Two-State solution.

    In PNAC’s document Rebuilding America’s Defenses (RAD), published in September 2000, a year before 911, and before Dubya was pushed into the White House by the stolen Florida selection. RAD called for U.S. invasion of the Middle East followed by forcible regime change in Russia and China, and called for a new “Pearl Harbor” as indispensable to generate the pretext to mesmerize public opinion. 911 was exactly made to order, and the War on Terror was on.

    Now I may be accused of anti-Semitism or at least not impartial, since the neo-Con’s I referenced above all have obviously Jewish names, but others were difficult to find. But wait: two other neo-Con sock puppets in PNAC turn out to be Bush VP Dick Cheney and DefSec Donald Rumsfeld, both definitely not Jewish, so I hereby cover myself with objectivity. Condi Rice, when interviewed by the Official 911 Coverup Commission, was asked why after the U.S. embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, and after the attack on the USS Cole, did not retaliate sooner. “The President (sic) was tired of swatting flies,” she answered. “We were waiting for an event that would change the way everyone looks at everything. Then he could implement a comprehensive solution to terrorism,” [not necessarily verbatim, but at least close, and available to research for further clarification.]

    So there are adequate grounds for suspicion about Likud, the Israeli State (the 51st state or the 6th borough), and Israel Firsters pervading the U.S. government at the highest levels. These circumstances and capabilities probably cast more suspicion on the Israeli than on the Saudi government, even if and when the secret 28 pages are ever revealed. Incidentally, 911-Truthers, whatever their various ideological orientations, rarely go there: An Israel job vs. an Inside Job, much less, at least publicly, blame all Jews. In my observation, that is a straw-person.

    The fact that there is not one page of investigation directed at the Zionist Entity only confirms the suspicion, shall we say, by default. Further corroborating these more-than-reasonable suspicions, is the fact that 5 Israeli citizens were arrested by New Jersey police after being reported as demonstratively celebrating the destruction of the WTO, photographing the event. The proudly told the Police that they, Israelis, were not the enemy, and words to the effect that Arabs and Muslims were (see http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=123885&page=1).

    After spending several weeks in jail alongside rounded-up Muslims, they were deported to Israel, subsequently boasting, or confessing on Israeli TV, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rStJ5BgadPs at 6:20) that they were there to document the event. Contrary to your statements dismissing these observed facts, they do indicate a foreknowledge, which cannot be ignored, except by shameless cover-up artists that serve on official “commissions”, and others who simply project their own decency into unreasonable doubts that anyone, even leading government “experts” could be THAT dishonest. Hitler and the Nazis proclaimed that the bigger a lie is, the sooner it will be believed.

    • Joel, you can see my response to the ABC News article to another commenter further up. All we have are five people from Israel, with no evidence of ties to any government or intelligence agency. The conclusion of an investigation, which you omitted, was that there were likely spying on local Muslim communities.

      Whoever they are, there were surely no Mossad agents because it is unimaginable that Mossad, one of the world’s deadliest intelligence agencies, would hire such buffonish amateurs. For argument’s sake, let’s say these characters really were celebrating the towers coming down. That in itself does not “prove” any foreknowledge, it only proves these people were ham-fisted amateurs.

      My best guess would be that the vast majority of Israeli citizens do not work for Mossad, just as most United Statesians do not work for the CIA or NSA.

  10. Paul Gilman says:

    I am in full support of the owner of the Brooklyn Commons. I do not agree with her choice to let the Nazi speak (even if pretends to like Jews because he spent time in Israel and married one), but I am for having 9/11 Truth events.

    My support for the owner is personal. She came through for me and others when we were in a most horrific situation. I feel it is a debt to her and others like her that is about staying committed to people who are capable of supporting people who are deep in the throes of fascist oppression. She has taken on a huge task of providing a space at below market rates for numerous leftist organizations that might not exist, or at least be in more precarious and even degraded spaces and situations. She is not a fascist, nor even closely sympathetic to them. Taking this into account, registering a complaint about booking someone who although a Nazi was not there to spread Nazi propaganda, is valid. Free speech goes numerous ways. To condemn the owner and turn what is a lovely space into one more sink hole of leftist foot shooting is wrong. In this sense, my support for the owner is also political.

    I do believe (belief is a guess when there is no absolute proof) that elements in the permanent US government (the ruling class) played a role in bringing down the towers. I don’t believe they planned it, but either through incompetence or because they wanted to create national unity through a Pearl Harbor style attack they let it happen. Either way the Bush administration had some warnings that something was going to happen. Systemic Disorder said the same thing in your reply to Newton. The point is that the official story is clearly false, with some elements of truth in it. It means once again the government lied to us. And this was a big lie in one of the most psychologically damaging events to the US national psyche.

    9/11 means that American exceptionalism is now over and the truth of what really happened is buried under a whole bunch of obfuscations and lies. There was no official discussion of the role of imperialism in why people would want to attack the US. There was no official discussion of the history of the role intelligence agencies create enemies in the service of imperialism, which includes false flag operations (the Gulf of Tonkin Incident for one example, the sinking of the Maine for another). The fascists who run this society are clearly not ready to tell the American people the truth.

    What was the response? The official response from the Bush administration and the powers that be was to whip the American people into a patronizing victim-hood (they hate us because we are free) leading to a nationalistic frenzy so the imperialists can invade Iraq. The war dragged on, the frenzy died out. US armed the Taliban and “moderates” in Syria, and even poked at Russia (Russia was dealing with a CIA created Nazi state on its own borders). New wars were started with just as shadowy causes. Now only the lamest of fools trusts the government.

    My guess is that at least one third of the American people, and people in Europe, and people in Africa, Asia and Latin America, know that there was some sort of ruling-class shenanigans involved in the 9/11 event. The belief of ruling-class involvement is on a continuum from the extreme, the Bush administration planned and executed to the belief that they let it happen because it served their interested to they were warned by the Clinton administration but their arrogance in not acting about total incompetents. We are still not over the attacks psychologically. The 9/11 Truth movement is about processing what happened to us.

    What the 9/11 Truth movement doesn’t seem to be about is action. So we know all of this stuff that the government is responsible in one way or another, what are we going to do about it? I personally have asked dozens of people from all over the country who believe in one part of the continuum or another “you know all of this stuff, what are you going to do about it?” Scared look and a mild shock is the usual answer. I continue, “are you going to call your politicians up and ask them to investigate? Are you going to protest? Know that this government is capable of sacrificing thousands of people in some nefarious scheme, will you become a revolutionary?” These questions usually end the conversation. Systemic Disorder is right when he points out that the discussion rarely leads to the role of imperialism in why people would want to attack the US.

    There is a truth about what happened on 9/11. People want to know. Most of it is presented as most conspiracy theories are, in such a way that it incapacitates any real political action. The “conspiracy” is presented as being done to us by some omnipotent clique that can never be defeated. Might as well just build your bomb shelter or develop your hide-out and hope they never catch you. Most of these conspiracy theorists just live their lives and repeat these conspiracy theories until no one wants to talk to them again, or the are reduced to the odd family member that is tolerated and even joked about.

    The trick about the 9/11 Truth movement is that somewhere in all the guess work there really is some government liability. Because in capitalism, the government represents the interests of the bourgeois, an amorphous class in which everybody is fighting for supremacy or at least survival, 9/11 means that there is a clique that is responsible. Clearly to gain and maintain power by any means necessary is a ruling-class dictum. Petty bourgeois generally don’t understand this. The Left proletariat does understand this. What happened on 9/11 is a function of capitalism. What happened on 9/11 adds to what is a already a huge list, one that grows longer every second, of crimes committed in the name of capitalism and is why capitalism must be overthrown.

    For Right-wingers, ruling-class tricks always get boiled down to some inner circle of some ethnic group, usually Jews, but sometimes the Pope, sometimes Blacks, sometimes Extra-terrestrials, the Queen of England, and lately sometimes Gays. Right-wingers never discuss things in terms of class. They discuss things in terms of a national identity that is corrupted by a cabal of power seekers (who are often into human sacrifices). The 9/11 Truth movement has not been immune to this. The crimes of capitalism are deflected into attacks on, in the case of 9/11, the Jews.

    And so, legitimate Left exposure of what happened in 9/11 get conflated with fascistic blaming of some ethnic group, the Jews in this case, and the whole 9/11 Truth movement is a mess. The owner of the Brooklyn Commons got caught up in this mess. Knowing her as I do, her intentions were not to spread right-wing propaganda, along with antisemitism. She like many of us wants to know what happened on 9/11. This discussion attracts all sorts of great people, along with all sorts of lunatic characters. Ultimately this mixture is why the 9/11 Truth movement hasn’t been effective in mobilizing the American people.

    One would think knowledge of such a big crime would lead the people into a revolutionary frenzy, or at least into a giant posse hunting down the perpetrators. At this point 9/11 Truth movement has just lead to a bunch of quibbling arguments. Since the only way we will ever get to the unvarnished bottom of 9/11 will be after the revolution when we can go into the files of the intelligence agencies, we might as well do what we can to point out the differences between Right-wing conspiracy theorists and Left-wing class politics, and not attack the owner of the Brooklyn Commons.

    • Alcuin says:

      Well said. Once the realization sinks in that the root cause is capitalism, all the rest sloughs off like a shed snake skin. “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” – Thoreau. The right-wing conspiracy theorists and the 9/11 Truthers are unwitting apologists for capitalism.

    • Absolutely brilliant, Paul. You have said it better than I have. May we have more success than we have heretofore when we explain “the differences between Right-wing conspiracy theorists and Left-wing class politics.”

      There is indeed a world of difference between those two, and if large numbers of people continue to obfuscate this crucial difference, we’re going nowhere.

  11. Tyler says:


    It’s amazing to me that fifteen years have passed since this world-changing event, yet you still haven’t done any more than the slightest research into it. It’s painful to read your attempt to explain away the Israeli operatives who were arrested.

    Five Dancing Israelis – 9/11 – “Our Purpose Was To Document The Event” https://youtu.be/09g5y2BhzCU

    I hope you’re never on a jury.

    • Au contraire, Tyler, you’d better hope I am on another jury. I once was, in a case where a young African-American man was on trial for allegedly being the person who fled from a police officer after a stop, leaving a gun behind in the car. The officer supposedly identified this person a month later. There was no physical evidence, only the officer’s insistence that this young man was the one he saw fleetingly a month earlier. It was 8-4 for conviction at one point, and I talked eight people out of voting guilty, one by one, until it was a unanimous acquittal. That was no easy task, especially since several of those eight readily accepted the police officer’s word without evidence.

      As to the five Israelis, I note that the source for your “Our Purpose Was To Document The Event” video is a promoter of the raving anti-Semite Bollyn, and the other video pushing this line is the aforementioned white-supremacist American Free Press. So we’re right back to the same completely discredited sources. I started to watch the video, but it’s a joke — innuendo and bold assertions with nothing concrete to back them up. I don’t know how many times I have to say that Holocaust deniers have zero credibility, and using them as sources only serves to embarrass you.

  12. Julie Weiner says:

    Hi, Pete –

    Pete – Ashamed to say I just now finally finished reading your essay.  Agree in general with the problem:  once she knew he was a Nazi sympathizer, she should not have let him in particular speak.  I think Joel would normally have been at the protest – he doesn’t believe in free speech for Nazis, and as you well know, he has many times in a lifelong commitment to social revolution demonstrated and helped hold the line against them – not just the verbal line.

    And I agree that, should I get involved in the 9/11 Truth movement beyond conversations with friends, listening to presentations and watching videos, I would have a responsibility to expose and argue with anti-Semitic tropes, and to support dissociation from people who blame “the Jews” – just as I do in the movement for Palestinian rights.  

    But – if you are going to argue that an idea makes no sense or is ridiculous, it would probably be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the sources it’s based on.  There were reports to the police of young men filming atop a van and jumping around on a rooftop when the towers went down; the van’s license plate numbers were taken by shocked witnesses, and the men were arrested and held.  The photos they had taken were confiscated, and released by the FBI, including one of a lit match in front of the tower coming down.  They were Israeli, ABC News and other outlets reported; and two of the five did announce on Israeli TV that they were intelligence agents.   Thus, their admitting that they were “documenting terrorism” – together with the celebrating – has a slightly different shade, suggesting a possibility they were carrying out a prior assignment, than it would had they been tourists innocently taking some snapshots after “reading about it on the internet.”

    There are several sources for the above summary, including news reports that the U.S. apparently had a campaign well before 9/11 of arresting Israeli men who were recruited through newspaper ads in Israel to work in the informal economy here.   ABC News and other outlets documented that the FBI suspected the company they worked for was part of a spy ring.


    Above story mentions the Forward reporting that the FBI had concluded that two of the men were Israeli spies.  As I don’t have a subscription to Haaretz, I can’t verify that an article on a right-wing website from 2001 is accurately reproduced from Haaretz, but if it is, then Haaretz on 9/17/01 (as well as, if I remember right, the Bergen Record) – reported that it was the FBI said local witnesses complained that the men were celebrating; the parents of the young men’s (they were in their 20s, had recently finished IDF service) complained of lack of support from the Israeli government in determining their whereabouts while they were interrogated by the FBI for weeks.  Here’s a recent article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recalling their reports on the FBI interrogations of Israelis:


    That there were Israeli young men who were seen jumping around, apparently gleefully (attributed by the Israeli government to their “immaturity”) and were for sure filming the towers coming down who were arrested on suspicion of being spies and held for over a month while the FBI investigated is not enough to tie Israel to 9/11.  Neither are the wishful predictions of the Project for the New American Century neocons that all happened to come true when they got power in a Bush administration I suppose some might consider it anti-Semitic to mention was disproportionately representative of Israeli-American dual citizens.  

    But, if one is willing to entertain the possibility that 9/11 was an inside job, those facts are enough to cast suspicion on those who had taken the trouble to write a whole political-military program based on the expectation of such an event – and then carry out the program when it became politically possible to do so as a result of the event they had hoped for.  Detectives and historians usually try to answer questions like who benefited from, and who had expressed a desire for, the outcome of a crime.  So I don’t think it’s anti-Semitic to suspect, or to demand further investigation.  Israel and the U.S., with the help of the substantially lapdog U.S. media, after all, collaborate – or you could say conspire – on a daily basis, to cover up torture, murder and weapons testing against their subject populations.   Neither country is any stranger to committing crimes against humanity and covering up various aspects of their crimes with layers and layers of lies.   (That cover-up is why I grew up never knowing about Deir Yassin and Israel’s other founding massacres that filled the refugee camps in Jordan and emptied Haifa’s Palestinian population into Gaza.)  

    And I have to also say – this is something I hadn’t really noticed before in your writing, though it is usually crudely present in the less sophisticated left press – but your rhetoric about blaming “capitalism” rings a bit hollow.  On the one hand, it’s a truism – of course, anything can be blamed on capitalism because it’s the world’s predominant economic and social system.  But if you don’t want there to be any further investigation of the exact dimensions and the particular people who carried out a crime, you are exonerating real actors, real murderers with a hand wave.  It’s all of us, it’s none of us. 

    F’rinstance:  You don’t think the specific tobacco companies – and if possible, the specific criminal executives – who conspired to cover up the facts should be prosecuted for lying about the tobacco-cancer connection?  That the oil companies, and their specific executives, who knew about global warming sixty years ago and conspired to dupe the public, should go unexposed and unpunished while the oceans overflow, the earth is scorched, and the rivers run dry?  That specific police, and specific police departments, should not be prosecuted for specific murders of specific people and forced to change their specific procedures?  It’s enough just to say “it’s capitalism”?  That’s not analysis, it’s empty rhetoric.  Overthrowing capitalism means taking over particular factories, particular governments, on particular issues and with particular groups of people.   It means winning over the unions, the students, the teachers, the nurses, the military, the police even, who have to see exactly who is the enemy and who is the friend of the people.   It means people have to become disillusioned with the actual people actually running actual, particular scams – they have to see through the specific manipulations of the specific men behind the specific curtain, and be educated and engaged enough not to be distracted by those pointing to scapegoats:  which means actually exposing the actual real culprits.   

    That’s why the work of reporters like Greg Palast, and of whistle blowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden is so valuable:  they do detailed investigative research and document specific crimes by specific players.   That’s why hearing about Deir Yassin when I was 18 shook me to the core, and reading years later about the 11/23/01 murder of Abu Hanoud by Israeli intelligence – Israel’s answer to the “gentlemen’s agreement” between Hamas and Fatah to prevent suicide bombings inside Israel proper – led to my current understanding that Israel’s leaders – Netanyahu in particular – have decided to carry out Jabotinsky’s prescripton for perennial war and humiliation until the Palestinians give up all hope – and to my decision to take a stand for equality and peace and against Israel’s intransigent war machine.

    The details matter.  


    • This argument is going in circles. The ABC news article does not prove anything about the five Israelis, as I have discussed in earlier comments, and in fact throws cold water on the idea that they were spies.

      As to the rest of your comment, you are making a crude cartoon out of what I have written. Nobody, certainly not I, have ever argued that 9/11 shouldn’t be investigated, and — I don’t know how many times I have to say this – there is a vast distance between the government version, which I don’t believe, and the more outlandish conspiracy theories out there. The difference between “truthers” and myself is that I admit I do not know what happened on 9/11 while “truthers” refuse to admit they, too, do not know.

      There are plenty of serious analyses by engineers who argue that, due to the style of construction, the World Trade Center towers could have come down by the planes crashing. There are other issues. These are discussed, with links, throughout the comments, but the reaction of “truthers” to any evidence contradicting their pet theories is to issue peremptory dismissals and make ad hominem attacks against the advocates. That is religious belief, not science.

      Again, 9/11 need not be an “inside job” for the Bush II/Cheney administration to take advantage. The Oklahoma City bombing was not an “inside job,” but the Clinton administration had no trouble taking advantage of it when the Effective Death Penalty and Antiterrorism Act was pulled off the shelf. Similarly, the Bush gang could pull existing proposed legislation off the shelf and re-package it as the USA Patriot Act.

      Moreover, there was no “coup” on 9/11. Social relations did not change an iota. The same class relationships that existed before still exist. The industrialists and financiers who dominate the world before 9/11 continue to do so, without a hiccup.

      Finally, I have not “blamed capitalism” for anything. What I do try to do is examine the material conditions and social forces that shape contemporary society and analyze these. We can usually find explanations for what is happening through this type of analysis; there is simply no need to indulge in conspiracy theories. It is far easier to point to some evil cabal out there (who frequently are Jewish bankers, surprise!) than to analyze material conditions.

      I hadn’t really though about this until this month, but I have noticed that no serious Marxist spends any time on 9/11, and that the most effective writings against 9/11 conspiracy theories are mostly written by them. I am not here to tell people what to do, but I do believe that chasing shadows down rabbit holes gets us nowhere.

      What do “truthers” think will happen if the uncover “The Truth” about 9/11? That people will rise up? That won’t happen. Most people already know the U.S. government is capable of bad things; we don’t need 9/11 to prove that. People organize when they have personal stakes in fighting something, not over abstract theories. My firm opinion is that we are far better off putting our energy into fighting the concrete actions that threaten us. The Trans-Pacific and Transatlantic trade partnerships and the Trade In Services Act are far greater global threats than legislation passed in the wake of 9/11; legislation passed in a single country that can be undone if we organize against that instead of playing at being amateur engineers. Global warming is a far greater threat.

      I do appreciate that you did actually write that “truthers” have a responsibility to combat anti-Semitism in their ranks. Others on your side of this issue not only refuse to do that, but deny such anti-Semitism exists. I was reluctant to write about the issue of the contested speaker because I thought it likely the intended topic would get submerged by people wanting to argue about 9/11 itself, which did indeed happen.

Comments are closed.