By Matthew Rothschild on January 29, 2011

Professor Richard Falk of Princeton has long been a thorn in the side of the U.S. foreign policy establishment because he has been an outspoken critic of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.

Currently, he serves as U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Palestinians.

But what’s raised the ire of the State Department this time has nothing to do with his views on the Palestinians but rather on 9/11.

For some time now, Falk has been skeptical of the official story around 9/11 and has blurbed the writings of David Ray Griffin, one of the leading critics.

On a long blog posting on January 11 concerning the Tucson shootings, Falk briefly discussed the 9/11 controversy. He wrote that there is an “apparent cover-up,” and he also condemned “the eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events.”

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice seized on these comments as a means for ousting Falk.

“Mr. Falk’s comments are despicable and deeply offensive, and I condemn them in the strongest terms,” she said in a statement on Jan. 25.

She added: “Mr. Falk’s latest commentary is so noxious that it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position on behalf of the UN.”

In response, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned Falk for his “inflammatory rhetoric,” and called it “preposterous” and “an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic attack.”

Ban did not, however, remove Falk from his position.

Falk answered on his blog on Jan. 27.

“I certainly meant no disrespect toward the collective memory of 9/11 in the country and elsewhere,” he wrote. “On the contrary, my intention was to encourage an investigation that might finally achieve closure with respect to doubts that remain prevalent among important sectors of the public, including among some 9/11 families.”

Here’s my take on all this: While I wrote a critique of Griffin’s work many years ago and don’t put any stock in the 9/11 Truth movement, another investigation wouldn’t hurt. And what’s crucially important is this: Falk shouldn’t be punished for a thought crime.

As he himself wrote: “What seems apparent from this incident, which is itself disturbing, is that any acknowledgement of doubt about the validity of the official version of the 9/11 events, while enjoying the legal protection of free speech, is denied the political and moral protection that are essential if an atmosphere of free speech worthy of a democracy is to be maintained.”

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his other "McCarthyism Watch" pieces by clicking here.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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