Posted by: Doug Henwood | April 27, 2010

Idiocy at Pacifica

This piece of idiocy is about to be voted on by the Pacifica National Board. It’s only going to make me intensify my on-air criticisms of 9/11 nuttery and conspiracism in general.

Pacifica National Board Motion on 911 Programming and Mission Compliance

Proposed 4-25-10 by Pacifica Foundation member Christopher Condon

Except during fund drives, key public affairs programming throughout the Pacifica Network has appeared to overwhelmingly accept the Official Story of 911, arguing from its assumptions, asserting the theory assigning culpability for these tragic attacks to Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaida without question.

The Official Story of 911 is found by many Pacifica Foundation members to be a propaganda fabrication designed to provide a pretext for the unleashing of aggressive war in Afghanistan and Iraq, while hiding the activity of a private, extra-legal, and anti-constitutional network of officials in the United States government, high ranking military officers, and individuals within private corporations and political institutions, who actively prepared, promoted, organized, assisted, fomented, and/or passively enabled the September 11 attacks and the cover-up that followed.

Pacifica Foundation members have made repeated and long standing accusations of censorship of 911 Truth issues by programmers who have advanced the official propaganda fabrication, and against staff, management, and governance who support them. This has created an atmosphere of corrosive distrust, profoundly harmful to working together in a democratic and collaborative environment. Thousands of former Pacifica Foundation members have left over this issue.

An identical motion was passed by the KPFK LSB on February 9, 2008. No action by management has been taken to implement this motion, and most public affairs programmers are in ongoing defiance of its provisions. The Pacifica National Board is requested to intervene in this impasse and establish policy in this critical area.

1. This conflict is not in the interest of the Pacifica Foundation, programmers, staff, or governance. Management, staff, and programmers throughout the Pacifica network must explore ways of providing redress for these grievances of 911 Truth and allegations of censorship, and to initiate outreach strategies to reach those former listener/sponsors whom this conflict has alienated. This should include increasing support and air time for those programs which deal with this issue, and developing new programming for the specific purpose.

2. Programming which consistently and unquestioningly advances the “official story” of 911, by commission or omission, is not consistent with the Pacifica Mission and may be a breach of both the letter and spirit of the Mission.

3. The radio network of the Pacifica Foundation is an appropriate and important media for thorough examination of the 911 controversy. We must encourage good radio coverage by exploring comprehensively the many aspects of 911 with on-air voices expressing all sides (amendment by the late Don White).

Respectfully Submitted,

Christopher Bayard Condon

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Responses

  1. I think Lacan’s point that a paranoid’s disorder is to be found in the form of the illness and not in the content is applicable here. When a husband who is suspicious of a cheating wife fixates in such a way that the suspicion becomes a general attitude which thereafter conditions all incoming experience, he has developed a disorder regardless of whether or not his suspicions are founded or even fully corroborated. So when you grant a conspiracy theorist a suspension of disbelief and say “Ok I’ll follow, I accept your evidence… now what?” It has been my experience that they don’t use these “facts” to inform a program of action but, instead, as a justification for looking for more “facts” – so it functions like a drive. This is fine for the disenfranchised citizen trying to get at least a little surplus enjoyment from an alienated existence but it is pathological for a news organization. For me, this isn’t just idiocy, it is insanity.

  2. What next? Call on an end to “censorship” of “intelligent design” views? Equal airtime for the “Tea Party”?

  3. Conspiracy is the normal continuation of normal politics by normal means.

  4. I have no idea who Mr. Condon is, but—based on what I read here—his ideas would make Lew Hill cringe. It is inevitable that Pacifica stations attract such paranoid extremes, but it should also be a given that their management would reject attempts to air them for serious consideration.

  5. Let me start by saying that I subscribe to and thoroughly enjoy Henwood’s LBO.

    In a society that simultaneously has such huge disparities of power and wealth AND claims that it’s a democracy, conspiracies and lies will necessarily flourish. It’s a tool, like monetary policy, the war on drugs, housing policy, educational standards, etc. Anyone who has ever had a parent or a boss knows that people in charge do crappy things under false pretenses and then lie about it: it’s not ALL they do, or even MOST of what they do… but only a fool would deny that they DO it. While there are plenty of bogus conspiracy theories, the one about “19 Arabs with boxcutters” probably takes the cake in sheer stupidity, as it’s contrary to the known facts and even basic reasoning. Forgive my civil engineering education, but explosive demolition is the only reasonable explanation for the behavior of the three destroyed towers on 9/11/01. I figured that out before nanothermite had been discovered in the dust. The science is on the side of the responsible 9/11 “truthers”. That said, the politics aren’t on their side: they want the government to conduct a new investigation (’tis to laugh), many 9/11 truthers think govt repression just started on 9/11/01 (which makes sense since most truthers are white and male and have apparently never heard of capitalism), and they often gate-crash any peace-and-justice gathering with an insistence that 9/11 is the “key issue” to understanding everything else (which is preposterous and perilous for organizing). I honestly don’t care what people think of 9/11 (or anthrax, or Bali, or Madrid, or London, or JFK, RFK, etc) anymore… if Henwood, Chomsky, or provocateur Alex Cockburn were interested in organizing and movement-building, then they’d say – “Look, truthers, I don’t agree with you on 9/11, but we probably have other interests that we share – let’s build on what we have in common.” That’s my suggestion… I made it to Z Magazine’s Chomskybot Michael Albert years ago and he replied that the truthers had to be defeated. (Interesting. As if it’s a parlor game, not to mention one he was bound to lose.)

    But Pacifica’s problems go well beyond 9/11 disputes. Pacifica’s issues stem from control freaks hiding behind innumerable secret agendas and personality grudges. Any attempt to lend additional intellectual or moral heft to “either” side of the Pacifica struggles is laughable. There MAY have been bigger issues once upon a time, but it’s just a stupid slugfest between desperate middlebrow folks now.

    As for conspiracy nuts, let’s examine a vastly more devious and profiteering one. Doug Henwood’s name, face, and supportive statement appeared on Steve Brown’s WBAI election mailer. Steve and his buddy Mitch Cohen are disciples of HIV-denialist quack marketer Gary Null. Now, in terms of mass murdering evil and grandiosity of conspiracy-theorizing, Null trumps 9/11 truthers by a light year. I’ve attended too many funerals to debate that point. Now – you’d THINK that “Dr.” Null would be a delicious target for Henwood… Null is an obvious profit-seeking fraud. In fact, the whole lifestyle economics and politics behind Null would be a ripe topic for an economics and public affairs show – and a topic of central concern to Pacifica’s programming choices if Henwood wants to use his show to intervene in Pacifica politics. But go ahead and waste your time with the 9/11 truthers. Chris Condon’s current proposal is dumb for a lot of reasons (i.e., you can’t honestly mandate “open-mindedness”), but his original proposal to require programs like Amy Goodman’s to announce where they get their money was smart – no matter his 9/11 obsessions. Even NPR and the NYTimes tell the public where their money comes from. Hint: the best way to disarm a conspiracist is to act transparently. As for Pacificans, you’d better learn to start bringing people together because they’re aren’t enough of you to tear each other apart AND support a radio network. (I, for one, abandoned Pacifica as a worthwhile cause last year after volunteering and giving substantial dollars for a couple of years.)

  6. Brown used my name, picture, and words without permission, and I wouldn’t have given it to him had he asked. He got all pissy when I complained too – it really made me angry that he did that. I think Gary Null is a creep and have criticized him many times over the years. So don’t blame me for any of that.

  7. Well, Carl Oglesby, you were a big supporter of that ur-conspiracy, JFK nuttery, so I’m not surprised to hear this. The first part of the Yankee-Cowboy book was interesting, then you went completely off the rails.

  8. Absolutely fascinating here – the associations get infinitely complex and there is almost no one who emerges unscathed from their tacit or blatant alliances – Null is most definitely a corporate nut with a following, but Stephen gets in some good shots at Pacifica.
    I am willing to be entertained by consideration of conspiracism – so here are three important authors for me, perhaps for you. 1. Peter Dale Scott. 2. Russ Baker. 3. Peter Lance.
    Since we do have a world-wide military-industrial complex and a global financial oligopoly, where should we draw the line? The truth is most surely short of the state mass murder depicted by the 9-11 truth cultists, but who killed JFK? Your le
    ad, Mr. Henwood – it’s going to be good radio. I can always download Guns and Butter for some alien sex cult interview – but the one on the anthrax FBI conspiracy was persuasive to me, so where do I turn?

  9. I gota say the 9\11 truthers have a point. Much of the official 9\11 commission story doesn’t wash. For my part I believe there was plenty of time to respond to if not the second at the very least the third plane strike. None of this requires a conspiracy. In fact to assume a conspiracy of the scale credits the Bush administration with far more competence then it showed anywhere else. Never assume a conspiracy when incompetence will explain things when it comes to officialdom.

  10. Doug, is it your sense that this motion will pass? I am politically conservative, but I salute your stand against this idiocy, as I have saluted in the past Noam Chomsky, Bill Clinton, George Monbiot, Alexander Cockburn and others.

  11. I don’t understand the 9/11 “debate” on either side. The ridiculous invocation of everything from anti-freemasonry/anti-Catholicism to Lacanian analysis to Hofstader as “proof” that there was no malfeasance or cover-up, and that such things never happen, simply denies the prepoderance from history. Twenty years ago would you agitate against Iran-Contra hearings as “paranoid” lunacy? At the same time Iran-Contra points to something 9/11 isn’t. The absurd claims by the 9/11 Truth movement that opening up history for re-examination somehow has political significance w/r/t the world of policy-making also makes no sense when the valid criticisms that might emerge from that “movement” are valid without need to “investigate 9/11.”

  12. Dunno if it will pass. I hope not, but you never know.

    By the way, I approved some pro-conspiracy comments and trashed a few of the dumber ones. If you’re wondering why your comment didn’t appear, it’s because yours was one of the dumber ones.

  13. Just wanted to say that I was unaware – but am not surprised – that Doug’s face, name, and message was used on WBAI LSB campaign materials without his permission. Apologies for my ignorance.

  14. Steve Brown knew exactly what he was doing. Although he never came out and said it, he knew that everyone reading it would assume that I’d endorsed his slate. When I complained, he said he’d done nothing wrong. This is a guy who made a fortune selling crappy shit on late night TV.

  15. After reading the very interestomg posts so far, I find that I disagree with most. There is no question that the official 9/11 Commission explanation does not respresent the truth about what happened on 9/11. Philip Shenon’s The Commission: the Uncensored History of the 9/11 Commission makes it clear that the Commission was a political snow job for the Bush administration, meant to get him through 2004. Responsible critics like David Ray Griffin and an increasing host of engineers and architechs have raised questions about the conclusions in the official account about what caused the collapse of the three towers and the other crashes, pointing out inconsistencies, contradictions, omissions. Perfectly sane people would like to know the truth not be told that it’s “no use going there”, for various reasons. It is true that there are crazies foaming at the mouth about this or that explanation, providing all kinds of theories, but that doesn’t mean all the doubt and desire to get at the truth is crazy. It seems to me that the so-called gatekeepers on the left, whom I’m usually sympathetic to (The Nation, Cockburn, Chomsky) have simply decided that it’s best not to delve too deeply into all the contradictions, ommissions, etc., much like the Catholic Church reacted to Galileo: first, it’s impossible, a priori, for the earth to revolve around the sun, just too incredible despte the evididence, and second, even if you could prove it, it would be bad for the believers, upsetting their cozy view of the the universe with God and the Earth at the center. Critics of the “paranoid, consiratorial” truthers won’t even look at the evidence or arguments which breaks the official theory (or conspiracy by the Muslims unaided) apart, because there is no need to; they’ve already made up their mind that incompetence or simple impossibility of help from the “inside”, whatever that might turn out to be, allowed to happen what happened on 9/11. So, it’s the critics and “truthers” who are the empiricists and the gatekeeper intelllectuals on the left, mostly, who are the religious protectors of the faith, in my view. Strange, isn’t it?


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