To be fair about the emails, I should point out — as a Forum board member informed me – that Ashley Abbott and Marcus Graetsch, who wrote the above emails, are not themselves board members. So they did not participate in the vote to accept or reject the 4 panels, and perhaps also were not privy to other, possible reasons for which the board might have rejected the 4 panels. If such reasons exist, I hope the Forum will one day share them with the public.
In any case, here is a detailed account of the affair, with the names of the banned panels and their presenters: http://dissidentvoice.org/2017/06/cancelled-left-forum-panels-to-appear-instead-at-left-out-forum-protest-event-on-left-forum-conferences-last-day/. Although it was written by one of the banned panelists, it is more informative, and seems closer to reality, than was my own account.
Disappointingly (and suprisingly, given the widespread interest generated by this affair), there has been no public clarification from the Left Forum. As I have already suggested to a board member, it would be a good idea for the Forum to issue one — not only for the sake of its own reputation, but because its supporters deserve no less. In fact, they would probably welcome anyexplanation that allows them to continue having faith in the Forum.
After all, only the CIA can expect to get away with an official policy of “no comment” when accused of bad behavior. That’s because the CIA doesn’t care what people think of it — it knows it can always get funding and political support, no matter what it is accused of. But the Left Forum must care what people think of it, because it can’t get funding and political support if people no longer respect it.
But – what if the Forum had been right? What if the banned panelists really were anti-Semitic or Holocaust deniers? Well, what of it? Neither anti-Semitism nor Holocaust denial was part of their panels. So why ban them? Richard Wagner was a howling anti-Semite, but the Met doesn’t ban performances of “Tristan und Isolde.” The only issue should have been whether the panelists had anything new, interesting, or thought provoking to say about “9/11” or “the Deep State” or “False Flag operations” or “Censorship” – which were among the the topics they promised to address.
Even if offensive anti-Semitic sentiments might be expressed during a panel, audiences are always free to picket, to protest from the floor, or to simply walk out. The Forum could then issue a a denunciation – afterwards — which would reaffirm its principles and at the same time honor the strong American tradition against pre-censorship.
Instead, the Forum caved under pressure from groups it evidently feared to offend, and thus prohibited reputably credentialed academics and scientists from presenting unorthodox views on subjects of great interest to a significant segment of attendees. To whatever extent my June 4 post misrepresented that fact, I apologize. It was a glaring example of “confirmation bias” – what psychologists define as “the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.”
Well, clearly I had a pre-existing belief (aka bias) in favor of the Left Forum. I wrote what I hoped was true, instead of searching for what was really true.
I expect to do better next time.