What I Wish David Ray Griffin
had said to Amy Goodman
In May of 2004, Amy Goodman had David Ray Griffin on DemocracyNOW! to discuss his book The New Pearl Harbor.
Also on the show was Chip Berlet, a political analyst who had written a critique of the book. Berlet doesn’t manage to do much damage to Griffin. In fact, Goodman herself stings Berlet early on by asking him why fighter planes either weren’t ready to scramble or weren’t scrambled. Berlet is caught off-guard and has to invent the ridiculous answer that fighter jets were hours late because they can’t hit top speed instantly.
But the turning point of the show was when Goodman asked Griffin if any experts in structural engineering agreed with him, concerning the collapse of WTC. Like Berlet, Griffin was caught off-guard by Goodman, and he couldn’t name a single name.
Now, I don’t mean to criticize Griffin here. Live interviews are difficult. I wouldn’t want to have been there, trapped between two opponents. We all make mistakes and sometimes things are not going to go well. However, situations like that are the perfect opportunity to learn, and we need to learn how to debate each issue in this battle.
At first I thought the solution to this was to collect the names of experts and have all our interviewees memorize them, to answer this question in the future. But that isn’t the rational answer here. This is the rational answer:
GOODMAN: Can you name an expert you have relied on, for example on the issue of the world trade center towers going down, an expert in structural engineering who has said it is impossible for the explanation to be the planes hit, and the fires caused the towers to go down?
GRIFFIN [hypothetical]: Are you implying that these questions should be decided by expert testimony, Amy? I had thought that, as citizens in a democracy, we were all presumed to be capable of reviewing evidence and making decisions. If not, then our jury system is highly flawed, not to mention our voting system. People who are prepared to accept expert testimony because it is from an expert don't need to read my book, or any book.
GOODMAN [hypothetical]: Well, but in instances like this, where much of the evidence is so technical. I mean, who of us knows what a 110-story building collapse should look like, with fires and planes?
GRIFFIN: Are you seriously suggesting that there are experts somewhere who have seen a lot of 110-story buildings collapse, after being hit by planes and engulfed by fires?
GOODMAN: I suppose not. But I think it is generally agreed that some people are more qualified than others to judge these matters. I wouldn’t mind admitting that someone with a PhD in structural engineering knew more than me about buildings.
GRIFFIN: I don’t mind admitting that either. But that is not the question. We are all on the same basic learning curve with this one, since all the PhD’s in structural engineering are also out of their specialty and their depth here. They have to look at the same evidence we should be looking at, if all the evidence were on the table. Only a handful of people have actually built skyscrapers, and an even smaller handful have built structures that are anything like WTC 1 and 2. But these handful of people are not the ones making the official reports. The NIST and FEMA people are experts of a sort, but they have not built 110-story buildings any more than I have, or flown planes into them, or set them on fire. Besides that, a lot of these questions we are talking about are not in fact highly technical. They are evidential and logical. You don’t have to know big equations to address them. You just have to be able to sort sense from nonsense.
This dodge into expert testimony is just that. A dodge. A lot of you guys and gals at DemocracyNOW! have bumperstickers that say “Question Authority!” Well, are we supposed to question the President’s authority but accept the authority of NIST and FEMA without blinking an eye? Are we supposed to let experts in structural engineering tell us what to think on this one?
In fact, you don’t get to be an expert in structural engineering by questioning authority. You earn the title “expert” by joining the status quo, going to work for the big companies and the big universities. Independent experts just don’t exist anymore. There are independent scholars, but none of them are called experts in the mainstream. It is not hard to figure out why. So it really shouldn’t be a big surprise that most “experts” are either accepting the official line or keeping quiet. Only experts in other countries are speaking out on 911, since they are shielded from our institutional hegemony. They are not put in the position of questioning their own government or their own employers.
GOODMAN: Could you name one of these foreign experts?
GRIFFIN: I could, but I am not going to. If the question really interests you, you can do a quick websearch and get thousands of hits. But if I did it for you, I would be undercutting my whole thesis here, which is that you are just as capable of viewing evidence as any experts, foreign or domestic. You would better spend your time by doing a websearch on a subject directly, rather than looking for some expert to explain that subject to you.
GOODMAN: But with the absence of much evidence, or its secrecy, it is difficult for most people to come to any conclusions without the use of expert testimony and official investigations. If we don’t accept the published conclusions, where does that leave us?
GRIFFIN: That is
good point, and it is one of the main points of the Truth Movement. But rather than fall back on the easy
answer, which is to allow ourselves to be spoonfed nonsensical information from
the current administration and the stooges it hires, we should proceed to do
the necessary investigation ourselves.
You are right that a high percentage of the evidence has been destroyed
or hidden or corrupted. But a
surprisingly large amount of real information has survived, by oversight or
incompetence. And we do have some real
whistleblowers, some very brave people.
That is where we have started.
The JFK assassination had the Zapruder film and a pile of other evidence
and anomalies. But 911 has a mountain
of existing evidence, much of it irrefutable.
You simply have to look at it for yourself. The Truth movement has been saying that from the beginning. We aren’t warning off anyone or telling them
to trust us based on authority. We are
saying, look at it and make your own decision.
You are the authority. You have
the right and the responsibility to see this information and judge it. Without looking at this information and digesting
it and making a decision, you cannot hope to make an informed vote in the
future, or to make any claim to being a useful democratic citizen. If you are going to let experts tell you
what to think, just because they are labeled experts by other experts,you might
as well live in a de facto dictatorship—which is precisely where we are
heading—or already are.
A long list of structural engineers and other experts now exists: you can go here to read it.