Dave Lindorff, one of America’s best investigative journalists, just responded to an absurdly mendacious letter from Stephen Brown concerning the banned panels at the Left Forum. Brown’s letter, mass-emailed to many people, is appended below. -Kevin Barrett
Let me start by saying that I am an award-winning investigative jouralist with 43 years’ experience (Village Voice, Business Week, Minneapolis Tribune, Los Angeles Daily News, KCET-TV, Mother Jones, WhoWhatWhy, the Nation, etc.). I’m also married (47 years!) to a non-Zionist Jewish woman, and have two kids, one by birth and an adopted Chinese son, both of whom we sent to Jewish school while living in HK, and then to the Philadelphia Jewish Folkshul (purely secular Jewish cultural education). While of German/Irish/Scottish/Native American ancestry myself, I am clearly no anti-semite.
Having established that, let me say that I was on the panel on False Flags. My topic, about which I wrote a number of major investigative articles, was the Boston Marathon bombing. I have no idea what that was all about, but I made the point, with plenty of evidence, that whatever it was, it could not have been the official version of the story, namely that two frustrated Chechin-American Americanized young men decided suddenly to blow up some runners and spectators to protest US military actions against Islamic people. My evidence against this ranges from having bought the exact pressure cooker said to have been their weapon of choice, filled it with nails and some weights equivalent to the black powder and shrapnel they were said to have filled them with, and placed them in two backpacks similar to the ones the two Tsarnaev brothers were filmed wearing. It becomes obvious comparing the images that Dzohkar and Tamerlan could not have been carrying those heavy pots in their backpacks, which hung limply on their coat shoulders. I went on to note that the exploded pack shown by the FBI actually most closely resembled one of the black packs worn by the guys in black who were all over the finish line wearing emblems of Chris Kyle’s mercenary outfit, Craft International. I went on to tell how I found that no responsible party — not the race organizers, not the Boston cops, not the state’s national guard, and not the FBI, would say they had hired Craft, though when I called the FBI and asked, the woman at the FBI’s Boston office said, “Just a minute, and then, through her muffled hand, I heard, “Some reporter from WhoWhatWhy is asking who hired the Craft guys. What should I tell him?” After a pause, she came back on and said, “We don’t know anything about that.” To which I replied, “Oh, is that what they said you should tell me?”
You might have actually enjoyed my presentation had you attended. It is what I do: present the facts as I find them. I said at the outset that I don’t connect dots and come up with a conspiracy theory. I just punch holes where they need to be punched. Others can take it from there if they like.
By the way — I sat through all the four banned — and they were banned and cancelled — it’s even in written emails from the co-director of the Left Forum Marcus Graetsch — and was prepared to denounce or call out any anti-semitism I heard — and there was none. None. Nor did anyone “deny the holocaust,” though I know at least one speaker, Tony Hall, has been called a denier because he refuses to allow Jews to claim that word as their own property, saying — and as a part Native American I completely agree with him on this — that there have been many holocausts, including a current one of Arab peoples at the hands of the US military and US policymakers, who have also been responsible for a holocaust of Native Americans, a holocaust of Filipinos, a Holocaust of Japanese people, a holocaust of Germans — both residents of firebombed German cities like Bremen, Dresden and Darmstadt (where I lived for a year in 1965 and saw the two mountains outside of town made of the rubble that had been a city of 200,000, burned to the ground in one night’s raid), and POWs at the end of the war.
Thankfully, your trashy and ignorant report on the Left Out Forum failed to impact attendance, which was standing room only by the end. There were some obviously Jewish observers at the panels, as evident from their clothing and in one case heir, but in fact, there was nothing for them (or me) to object to during the entire time.
In my considered view, the Left Forum made a huge mistake in banning these panels, which would have been excellent additions to the three-day event. Instead of looking like censorious jerks and chicken shits afraid of losing a few Euros from some group in Germany that threatened a pull-out, the Forum Board would have looked like the true endorsers of open debate and discussion that they claim to be.
I’m frankly disgusted by both the Board and by your poor excuse for a “journalistic” report on the dispute.
The folks who put together the five Deep State panels and the panelists who came in some cases across the continent despite the Left Form’s pathetic attempt to shut them down, were in the end far better and bigger people than all of you.
Shande! Shame on you.
Dear Pacifica Supporter —
Yesterday I received an alert from several friends in California and New York claiming that Left Forum 2017 had “banned” 4 panels that dealt with the “deep state.”
Wow, banning and censorship! How could the Left Forum do such a thing? But was it true? Well, lots of people were ready to believe it. In fact, later that day, emails suddenly started to appear (some of them from people I knew) condemning the Left Forum for censoring — for banning — 4 “deep state” panels.
But the email writers didn’t say where they got their information, or why they beleived it was true. They were just repeating what they heard from their friends. But the emails said that “to learn more,” I should go to a site called www.noliesradio.org. But that site only repeated the same charges, without offering any evidence of “banning.”
So how did these accusation get such currency? Who was spreading them? I assume the accusations came from those who organized the 4 (allegedly) “banned” panels. And indeed, at the Saturday Left Forum session, they or their representatives were passing out flyers with the headline “Left Forum BANS 4 Panels on the Deep State.”
The flyers claimed that the panels were banned because the Left Forum beleived the “speakers are so dangerous [that] … you should be prevented from hearing them” and that “the Left Forum is dictating what ideas you can be exposed to.”
The flyer also implied that the 4 panels had been falsely accused of anti-Semitism by “Zionist elements to shut down free speech,” and that the Left Forum’s cowardly board members had presumably knuckled under to the Zionist demands (which the flyers characterized as “Left Forum capitulation to shadowy pressure [that is] part of a brazen repression of thoughts that challenge official versions of controversial events”).
For good measure, the flyers also threw in charges of “neo-McCarthy witch hunts,” “thought policing,” and “organized meta strategy to oppose any criticism of Israel.”
In short, the flyers deployed all the tried and true buzz-words guaranteed to whip honorable knee-jerk free-speech leftie junkies like us into a frenzy of righteous indignation. The flyers did everything but offer us torches and pitchforks (or maybe I missed that paragraph).
I know I sound like I’m sneering at anyone foolish enough to believe that stuff about the Left Forum (the Left Forum, for Pete’s sake). But I’m not sneering, really, because, for a while, I wondered if it really might be true. Could the Left Forum have left its principles behind? Many of my friends seemed to think the answer was yes.
To find out, I did something that (I know, I know) must seem pretty naive. I looked for some actual evidence. Doing my best Seymour Hersh impersonation, I buttoholed one of the Left Forum board members, the Marxist economist Richard D Wolff.
I showed him the flyer and asked him if it was true. He was astonished when he saw the flyer. He had not seen it before, or even heard the allegations. He said they were preposterous. Hundreds of panels are proposed every year, and it was impossible to accomodate them all, given the limitations of time and facilities.
As for banning “deep state” discussions, Wolff pointed out that those same 4 panels had been accepted at last year’s Left Forum. The board felt there was no need to repeat them, given the large number of new panels asking for time.
When I asked Wolf if someone named Spencer Sunshine had written to accuse the 4 panels of being anti-Semitic, he said yes. The board members had read and considered Sunshine’s letters, as they read and consider everything they receive. But Sunshine’s letters had nothing at all to do with not accepting those 4 panels for this year’s forum.
So it all comes down to whom one believes. For my part, I know the Left Forum, and the principles it espouses. I feel it has always lived up to those principles. I also know Richard Wolff, and I believe what he says.
My personal feeling, therefore, is that the allegations are false. Worse, I think they are the result of sour grapes on the part of the organizers of those 4 panels, who have cynically manufactured a campaign of false news worthy of Roger Stone, Fox News, Hill+Knowlton, or any of the other devious “deep state” twisters of public opinion for private gain.
The 4 panels themselves look interesting. I might have made a point of attending them, since I missed them last year. But on second thought, although the subject of the “deep state” certainly deserves critical attention, I would not trust anything said by the people responsible for the fake news campaign described above.