Howard Zinn Interview


David Slesinger February 2, 2009

For me the significance of this video includes:

1. Zinn is willing to support a place at the table for 9/11 truth advocates. He stated that as long as the conference has at least 22 presenters that we should be allowed to speak. Please contact me if you want to help make a list of such conferences and lobby for inclusion of our speakers. Big time left gatekeepers are likely to be less open minded than grassroots followers who would have no apologies to make. That is why we would go to these conferences.

2. Zinn asserts our case is too complicated. I urge us to discuss what single pieces of evidence standing alone are each sufficient to move us beyond whatever threshold we are seeking (real investigation, convictions, etc.)

3. All leftists should be susceptible to the argument that proof of inside job should undercut racist stereotypes of Muslim terrorists.

4. We should be able to find other major leftists who would agree to the importance of looking not just at civil liberties, but also resisting full blown police state with martial law. Truthers, leftists, and conservatives should be able to agree to work in coalition on this issue without getting bogged down in their disagreements.

Transcript of interview with Howard Zinn by David Slesinger, conducted at Busboys and Poets in Washington DC, February 2, 2009

Dave Slesinger (DS): The issue of race could really be addressed well by our (9/11 truth) investigations and let me raise three different possibilities: 1) If we were able to demonstrate it was a false flag operation and therefore Bin Laden shouldn’t be particularly blamed for 9/11 that would undercut the tend of Americans to have this image of the Muslim terrorists and could therefore undercut some of the racist feelings which support war in the Middle East in general.

Howard Zinn (HZ): Probably the more people take attention away from Osama Bin Laden and the connection with Islam and the Muslims the better, yeah. There’s no doubt that Osama Bin Laden being the central culprit has been an occasion for anti-Muslim racism; no question about that. So anything that diminishes him as a sort of central evil figure is, I think, a healthy thing to do.

DS: Recently, Project Censored–Peter Phillips–came out with a study showing that many of the major progressive journals have been unfair on the 9/11 truth issue. Some, like Matthew Rothschild or Chip Berlet, are very polite, and some like Alex Cockburn are not polite. What I’m seeking is a situation where–it’s not so much that all movement people have to drop what they’re doing and become 9/11 truthers or that Alex or those other folks have to change their positions–I’m just looking for a seat at the table at coalition events, rallies and conferences, for qualified truthers be allowed to have a seat at the table and discuss the evidence.

HZ: The truth people should have an opportunity to speak their mind and give their evidence. There’s always a question at all of these rallies and so on, there are 12 or 15 different groups that want to pursue their agenda. I think it’s a question of balance. I don’t mind if I’m at a meeting and in the question period somebody gets up and asks about 9/11. It happens almost all the time. I wouldn’t mind it if after I answer the question three other people didn’t get up–or that same person went on and on for 20 minutes like this Spartacists League used to do. So it’s a matter of proportion. Sure, I don’t want to spend my time pursuing 9/11, but if other people want to spend their time doing it, fine. But I’m not going to urge people to spend their time working on this project because I’ve always believed and I still believe that–certainly for me and for a lot people–it would be a diversion. I believe there are a lot of important things to do, and more important things to do than that. I’m not saying it’s totally unimportant. Let’s put it this way. There are things that happened which are so obviously proven. The 9/11 thing is not easy–I know the 9/11 people think it’s proven–but no, it’s not easy to prove. It’s very complicated. I know because I’ve looked a little into it and say, wow, you have to figure out… what was the debris like, and what was the hole in the Pentagon like, and what do the engineers … You know, this is much, much more complicated than saying airplanes went over this town, dropped bombs, and killed 25 civilians. There’s no doubt about that. It doesn’t waste any time. So it’s a matter of degree of certainty about something.

DS: Again, I’m not asking for people like you to drop what you’re doing to focus this way. What I’m asking for is a seat at the table, and we’re currently not allowed a seat at the table.

HZ: You’re not allowed…? I don’t even know what table it is.

DS: I mean we’re not allowed to speak from the stage … or give presentations at big conferences.

HZ: From the stage. Well, there too, I think it’s a matter of proportion. How many speakers are there? If 22, then someone speaking on 9/11, okay. If there are 5 speakers … you know what I mean?

DS: I’m very disappointed that the left has not stood against the war on terror as strongly as it could.

HZ: Really? Every time I speak I say the war on terror is a sham. The war on terror is ridiculous, that you can’t have a war on terror because war itself is terror and the whole business of using 9/11 as an excuse to create an absolute spurious, phony war on terror is something that should be exposed. I agree there has not been enough discussion of that–not enough challenging. For instance, Obama should not say ‘Well, I’ll pursue terrorism more effectively than my predecessor.’ He should say, ‘The war on terror is a sham.’ If we really wanted to really have a war on terror we should do away with war, which is the number one act of terror. And we should ask, if terrorists attacks occur–and they do, and 9/11 was one of them–we have to ask why do they occur, what’s the reason for it, what’s behind them? Why was the US singled out and not Sweden or New Zealand and so on? There are reasons for that having to do with foreign policy. That’s what we should be looking at.

DS: Your argument about the war on terror is based on definitional issues. Our argument against war on terror is that it exists because Bush and Cheney did 9/11 in order to have an excuse for the war on terror.

HZ: They wouldn’t need to do it themselves to have an excuse. No matter who did 9/11 they would use it as an excuse, and that’s what they did.

DS: Of course, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the evidence. I’m friends with Max Obuszewski who is very active in Baltimore and has been singled out by the Maryland police, which is totally absurd. When I’ve tried to ask him and others in his group to ask the liberals who claim they’re so concerned about civil liberties to look at the possible camps in Maryland where good pacifists like Max might be held in the case of martial law… He’s so worried about being tarred with the same brush as the 9/11 truth folks, he doesn’t even want to ask hard questions about possibilities of martial law, about loss of civil liberties, and it really worries me.

HZ: Those things should be questioned. Terrorism is being used like communism was used. It’s a word you throw around, it’s an excuse to put people in jail who dissent, and that should be exposed, yeah.

DS: One last thing… The great whistleblower of the 9/11 truth movement is an African-American named Barry Jennings and nobody in the movement is asking the hard questions about what happened to him. He’s dead. I assume he was murdered by whoever Bush and Cheney sent. But I have no evidence of even how he died. We need to look at the Barry Jennings situation and it shouldn’t be ignored by the movement and it is being ignored by the movement.

HZ: People in the movement don’t even know about it, most of them. I don’t know about it. If there’s some really terrible civil liberties situation, or somebody gets killed–Fred Hampton gets killed in December of 1969 and the movement knows about it–it brings it up. So it’s a matter of knowledge and ignorance.

Good luck, Dave.

Thanks to PDQ Word Services for this transcript.

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