What We Saw at the Truth Gathering
Dan LaLiberte and Rev. Ian Alterman contributed to this article
American politics are like a schizophrenic coquette, teasing the American people with promises of love and great sex and serious commitment. But she systematically and consistently delivers none of these.
And so it goes: we are seduced by the marketing machine that created Obama, then disappointed by his centrism. We are betrayed by his expansion of war and torture, and then even more frustrated when the right-wing surges at the mid-terms.
Looking back, how did Clinton's use of bombs in the former Yugoslavia differ that much from Bush's illegal war in Iraq? Both Clintons (Bill and Hillary) were involved in the black operations of Iran/Contra, as were all levels of the family Bush.
American politics seems locked in this pattern, two parties who stand mostly just to negate each other, passionate for nothing as much as the other's annihilation. Yet when you step outside their drama, you see their economic and foreign policies are almost identical. The loud rivalry is all sound and fury, signifying about as much as a feud between two egomaniac celebrities.
Who will break the pattern?
What ideas and practices are compelling enough to break us all out of this seductive trance?
The answer is a new politics that addresses the whole body politic. A comprehensive politics that is spiritual, that understands history. A spirit that understands the unique nature of the USA, that has empathy for both right and left, without being limited by either.
In mid August of this year, I started something called The Truth Gathering, an informal conference to do something practical around peace and truth. Since leaving the Green Party, I have been carefully creating the groundwork for something new: The Truth Party.
The ideas grew out of my life-long commitment to help end war, and the nine years I've spent questioning the Bush/Cheney story on 9/11. I have started a couple companies in my day, because I'm interested in publishing and producing alternative economic models of life. I'm a punk rocker from DC willing to do whatever it takes to fire the people up to stand up against the plastic death machine that is American life.
The Truth Gathering was a lot of fun. We had lefties and Constitutional conservatives. Christians and post-modernists. A bunch of people were spooked about the White House's Cass Sunstein's declaration to "infiltrate" and "disrupt" the 9/11 Truth Movement. And ironically enough, we also had a guy who had only read and admired Sunstein's work on how the internet can make knowledge more democratic, i.e. crowd-sourcing.
We were out in the middle of the Catskill Mountains, upstate NY, with only around 60 people. And yet, we all came away inspired, fired up. We saw something. We saw a future.
The New York Times noted how happy and united everyone seemed. Their blogger, Dr. Stanley Fish did a story that was interesting for its internal conflicts. It started out cynical like most mainstream reporting on the Truth Movement. But eventually, this writer had to recognize that in his own life, he was surrounded by truthers, good people who have the common sense to put no faith in another Bush/Cheney lie. This same paper that has never recognized the "9/11 Truth Movement" finally reported on this, the most novel part of the peace movement today.
I am a truther. It makes me a more able form of activist. I got up to the Catskills early and did four days of constant, mantra-like promotion of the Truth Gathering. The experience of marketing the event in small towns provided new insights.
I was able to connect to a soldier who had just done three tours in Afghanistan. I thanked him for risking his butt over there. Then I told him I was doing the same thing here at home. I told him I too loved the Bill of Rights, and that I needed his help now in this police state that rules by shock and awe.
I kept getting good responses from people when I told them the Gathering was all about "peace activism through 9/11 truth." If the U.S. government system can only go to war now through an artificial event, then this leads to a startling conclusion. If only a highly-charged emotive stimulus will get us to permit war, then that means the days of war itself are numbered.
What is the future of the USA, as a political influence on the world? Are we here, on this planet, to brutally display the same old enforcement of bloody empire? I say we are an original creation.
Recently in LA, talking to fellow activist Daniel Pinchbeck, I asked him what he thought about 9/11 truth activism. "9/11 is a black hole," he said.
I agree that this can be true. I have seen good people become obsessed with the minutia and the details. Sometimes it seems the more esoteric the theory, the better. Some of us get so excited by what we've found, we can't connect to other people. It seems that people in the peace movement are either passionate truthers, or they passionately hate the way truthers often talk about nothing else.
9/11 truth is only good as a path to go through the black hole. It's important to have the courage to confront the truth about the darkest evil of our day. The weakness of American culture is that we are raised on a diet of very little substance. We are not raised to respect truth. The facts that the Truth Movement calls attention to are a set of facts that many of us can't even bear to gaze upon. But the facts are indeed there: the CIA and Pentagon were in fact very close to the key "9/11 hijackers" and shepherded them through the USA before 9/11. It's never been proven who did 9/11, and the Bush/Cheney 9/11 Commission of DC insiders is today declaiming its own work. Laws of physics saw that those buildings could not have exploded the way they did. Jet fuel fires of 700 Fahrenheit can not melt steel to 2000 Fahrenheit. In 2009, high-end explosive "nano-thermite" showed up in scientific tests of four dust samples from the wreckage.
But if we go here, into the facts, only to stew here, in this soup, we risk stagnating in the "black hole." How can we come back out into a place of light, of peace-making, of understanding?
Well, now you know the wisdom of the founders of this country. The idea behind the First Amendment is that it is better to let a free-flow of information exist, so that the reason and light within us all can be allowed to be the supreme authority.
The U.S.A. was built to be a truth machine. We are a product of the Enlightenment. When you think of the history of the USA, don't just remember the crimes our country committed in its bloody birth (slavery, genocide of natives, Hiroshima, etc.) When you think of the USA's greatest legacy in the past 100 years, think Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, or Dorothy Day.
These are the real American heroes. Not theoreticians, but activists. They were prophets. They used a kinetic form of direct action non-violence to quickly win massive gains for justice. It's their legacy that is the future. Instead of a bloody empire, we need to become the country that is #1 at peaceful, enlightened conflict resolution. We can lead the world in what Gandhi called "truth-force." YES this is the hard road. YES this is going to take all of the blood, sweat and tears that we all can muster. But this is how we regain ourselves, our moral dignity. This is how we rip ourselves off the path of torture, secrets, and war. This is how we can create something for the USA to stand for, at home, and as an example to the world.
The Freedom of Religion clause in the First Amendment is a kind of anti-war document in itself. The interminable wars of post-Medieval Europe were largely based on the miscegenation of religion in a bad romance with state power. The first words of the First Amendment abjure the U.S. State's preference of any one religion. We see here the Founders setting us on a trajectory towards peace and freedom.
Out of these bold, liberating ideas, we were able to form a multi-ethnic democracy. We were a new country, but also a new kind of country. We weren't defined by a single national ethnic identity. Here, the people are sovereign, and the Republic rests on the consent of the governed. The Bill of Rights sought to limit state power so that democracy could begin to exist.
The only problem is that the money-power in this country has become so potent, the people don't know their rights, their freedoms, they don't know the truth about world events, and they don't know how to withdraw their consent. We have two political parties on the same side when it comes to all the key issues: war, torture, secrecy, Wall Street power, the Fed, 9/11 Official Story, etc.
Well, I can tell you one way you can begin to withdraw your consent. It's to read the U.S. Constitution. There you see a reasonable blueprint for a peaceful country. There, one crime and one crime only is deemed important enough to be defined: treason. The US Constitution defines treason as "levying war against the United States." After nine years of intense research, I can prove that 9/11 was an act of treason.
The reason this issue will not go away, and only becomes more relevant is that even in these times of confusion, in which a lack-of-truth is preached as a cultural gospel, the war machine in the USA thought it could rely on the American people's laziness. They thought we would ignore the artificially created justifications for their current wars. But they gravely miscalculated. Three different scientific polls show the country divided on the 9/11 issue.
And if you read the case law on exactly what the Founders meant by putting that stuff about treason in the Constitution, you get the message that fooling the people into war is one of the gravest mortal sins you can commit. If there is any question about a "cause of war" we Americans are ordered by our founding charter to treat the question with exquisite care, with scientific rigor. Because war is so terrible, treason is the creation of war, through false means.
But instead of 9/11 being questioned, our media and government have bent over backwards to attack and censure the grassroots movement that has not only asked the right questions about the War on Terror, it has influenced US and world opinion with its skepticism.
Over the course of nine years, I have seen the emergence of a new politics, inside the model of the 9/11 Truth Movement. The Truth Party is not something I "founded" so much as something that reflects an already-emerging political reality. The Truth Movement showed me that people on both the right and the left can and do unite against huge US government falsehoods. We have been inspired to take up the weapons of free speech against "State Crimes Against Democracy" a new term coined by sociologists. We have created the beginnings of a mass movement for peace, through truth. We have lived for freedom, through action.
Books on social organizing show that flat-hierarchy, grassroots movements are unstoppable. In Starfish and the Spider, the authors point out that people united around common values, are much harder to beat than movements or cultures reliant on lock-step authority. The ancient classic Art of War also says that a small organization will defeat a larger one if the smaller one has "the fullness" or the unity of spirit.
Let's return now to the Catskills. I want to hand the mike over to Daniel LaLiberte, an activist from Boston who was there. We are working on truthgathering.com together. Here are his thoughts on what the Truth Gathering was, and what it means for the future:
The Truth Gathering was a confluence of people with many different perspectives on all the problems of the world, shining a beacon of truth on everything that is happening, deep into our history, and far into the future, all focused through the lens of 9/11 truth. The image that is forming is how we, all of humanity, can imagine waking up not just about 9/11 truth, but how we can truly, finally, get our collective act together on a global scale.
What is already happening is an ever-increasing acceleration of communications between all peoples, locally and globally, people investigating and reporting, groups organizing and deploying. The evidence of what is happening is everywhere on the Internet, and spilling out into real life.
It's already happening, but the Truth Party can serve as an active catalyst to help move it along even faster. There is no time to lose. We should foster that same spirit of integrity and trust that we found at the Truth Gathering, growing thousands of Truth Gatherings at all scales around the world. We should certainly meet face to face, especially in our local communities. That is the foundation.
What we intend specifically is the first-ever global Truth Gathering, August 2011, with a two-way, global internet broadcast on TruthGathering.com, and real-space events as well. Using new online video communications, we can make the Truth Gathering bigger and better. The future is wide open and promising!
Are you wondering how we could actually unite people around peace and truth? Well, if you look at all the world's religions, they all advocate "truth." Even secular communities show that we seem to be created for truth; it's in our blood, a beauty that refers back to our Creator. This is what the Rev. Ian Alterman had to say, in his speech at the Truth Gathering:
It is instructive to note that every faith -- Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. -- and even non-believers are motivated by a seeking of, even a thirst for, "truth." In Exodus, God is described as "merciful, gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth." And "truth" is among the three most common words is Psalms and Proverbs.
In the Qur'an, adherents are admonished to "mix not truth with falsehood, [to] not conceal the truth." In the Yajurveda [that would be the third of four canonical texts of Hinduism, for all you pagans to Hinduism out there], we find, "I am renouncing untruth and embracing truth. One should accept truth, and should sacrifice their life to protect truth ... I take an oath that I shall always protect truth ... Unless we do not renounce our greed we cannot protect truth. Untruth inhibits self-development and physical, mental and spiritual growth. Therefore we should all adhere by truth."
John notes about Jesus "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us ... full of grace and truth." Jesus said of Himself that He was "The way, the truth and the life." And, of course, John also gave us one of our greatest quotes, cited by believers and non-believers alike: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." So in many senses, God is, indeed, truth.
Before he died earlier this year, historian Howard Zinn said he'd like to be remembered "for getting more people to realize that the power which rests so far in the hands of people with wealth and guns, ultimately rests in people themselves and that they can use it."
So, then, let's use it! But use it in ways that we have not yet dreamt of.
There are huge untapped powers of creativity in all of us, and in our collective democratic endeavors. We can tap back into our Country's founding principles. We can unite a mass movement for change, around the ideas of peace and truth. It's already underway.
Truth Party Google Group.
Do you code? Read about the new TruthGathering.com we are building, here.