Cross posted from http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16505 with permission of the author.
The cover story of the September 24, 2009, issue of The New Statesman, the venerable left-leaning British magazine, was entitled The 50 People who Matter Today.(1) Any such list, necessarily reflecting the bias and limited awareness of the editors, would surely contain choices that readers would find surprising. That is true of this list which includes families as well as individuals. A good number of names are, to be sure, ones that would be contained in most such lists created by British, Canadian, or American political commentators, such as the Obamas, the Murdochs, Vladimir Putin, Osama bin Laden, Angela Merkel, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Pope Benedict XVI, and Gordon Brown. But about half of the names reflected choices that I, and probably most other readers, found surprising. One of these choices, however, is beyond surprising - it is astounding.
I refer to the person in the 41st position: David Ray Griffin, a retired professor of philosophy of religion and theology who, in 2003, started writing and lecturing about 9/11, pointing out problems in the official account of the events of that day. By the time the New Statesman article appeared, he had published 8 books, 50 articles, and several DVDs. Because of both the quantity and quality of his work, he became widely regarded as the chief spokesperson of what came to be called the 9/11 Truth Movement. It was because of this role that the New Statesman included him in its list, calling him the top truther (the conspiracy theorist title went to Dan Brown, who was placed in the 50th slot).
In saying Griffin matters, however, the New Statesman was not praising him. Here is how the magazine explained its choice:
Conspiracy theories are everywhere, and they always have been. In recent years, one of the most pernicious global myths has been that the US government carried out, or at least colluded in, the 11 September 2001 attacks as a pretext forgoing to war. David Ray Griffin, a retired professor of religion, is the high priest of the truther' movement. His books on the subject have lent a sheen of respectability that appeals to people at the highest levels of government - from Michael Meacher MP to Anthony Van' Jones, who was recently forced to resign as Barack Obama's green jobs' adviser after it emerged that he had signed a 9/11 truth petition in 2004.
I wish to raise two questions about the New Statesman's treatment of Griffin. First, is its evaluation of him as one of the most important people in the world today simply absurd, as it certainly seems at first glance, or is there a perspective from which it makes sense? Second on what basis could the editors justify their claim that the 9/11 truth movement is promoting a myth and a pernicious one at that?
The Inclusion of Griffin in the List: Does It Make Sense?
Why would Griffin's role as top truther as the intellectual leader of the 9/11 truth movement - lead the magazine's editors to consider him one of the 50 people who matter today? Unlike a president, a prime minister, or a pope, he has no political clout; unlike a billionaire, he has no financial clout; and his book sales do not begin to rival those of Dan Brown. Indeed, his books do not even get reviewed in the press. The idea that he is one of the 50 people who matter most in the world today is, as he himself has said, absurd at least from most angles.
There is, however, one angle from which it does make sense: Given the enormity of the 9/11 attacks and of the policies, both foreign and domestic, that have been justified as responses to those attacks, a movement challenging the official story of the attacks certainly could, in principle, become so influential that its intellectual leader would be a person of consequence.
And the movement has, in fact, grown enormously in both size and credibility since 2004 and 2005, when Griffin published his first two books on the subject The New Pearl Harbor and The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions and began working, with colleague Peter Dale Scott, on an edited volume that was published in 2006 as 9/11 and the American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out.
Due in large part to these volumes - plus the national exposure Griffin received when his 2005 lecture at the University of Wisconsin in Madison was carried by C-SPAN - a small group of academics formed Scholars for 9/11 Truth, which led in turn to the formation of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, the leaders of which launched the Journal of 9/11 Studies in 2006.
The existence of these scholarly organizations stimulated the creation of three professional organizations: Veterans for 9/11 Truth, Pilots for 9/11 Truth, and the destined giant of the movement, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, which was formed after architect Richard Gage, a conservative Republican, heard an interview with Professor Griffin on his car radio that would change his life. In it, Griffin was describing the newly released oral testimonies from the dozens of New York firefighters a who had heard booming explosions in the Twin Towers.(2) After looking into the evidence for himself and concluding that the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings could not have resulted from anything other than explosives, Gage formed his organization of architects and engineers, which now has almost 1000 licensed members.
While these developments were occurring, translations were made of some of Griffin's books, beginning with The New Pearl Harbor, which was published in Italian, Chinese, Danish, Czech, French, Dutch, Japanese, and Arabic. Thanks in part to these translations, a worldwide movement is now calling for 9/11 truth.
Also, this movement, which at one time was discounted as crazy conspiracy theorists playing around on the Internet, has now become widely professionalized, with Griffin again a critical influence in his consultant role to the emerging organizations of journalists, lawyers, medical professionals, religious leaders, and political leaders.
One of those organizations, Political Leaders for 9/11 Truth, includes in its membership British MP Michael Meacher, who has, according to the New Statesman, succumbed to the sheen of respectability given to the truther' movement by Griffin's books. The New Statesman would presumably look equally askance at other members of this organization, including Senator Yukihisa Fujita, one of the leading members of the new ruling party of Japan, who made a nationally televised presentation questioning the official account or 9/11, and Ferdinando Imposimato, a former Italian senator and judge who presided over the trial of the assassination of President Aldo Moro and the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II.