The Gatekeepers of the So-Called Left
by Charles Shaw ©, May 16th, 2005
Last February United for Peace and Justice, the largest representative coalition within the American “anti-war movement”, emerged from their second annual Assembly with a 2005 “action plan” that effectively caged the “anti-war” debate exclusively within the Iraq conflict to achieve partisan ends on behalf of the pro-war Democratic Party and their Neoliberal corporate benefactors. Their “action plan” refused to address any of the core issues of US Foreign and Defense policy, which are the root causes of a pervading culture of war and militarism that has taken over the nation in the years since WWII.
These decisions are part of a larger pattern of “regulated resistance”, a system by which dissent is carefully managed and constrained by self, overt, or covert censorship; denial-based-psychology; fear of personal or professional criticism and reprisal; and pressure from powers above including elected officials and those establishment foundations which flood millions into the not-for-profit activist sector.
This establishment money, and the access it grants, has caused many ostensible resistance leaders to suddenly and dramatically abandon long-held ideological positions and shift their behavior towards doing what can clearly be seen as the bidding of those in power whose views and values are in direct contravention to the established mores of peace and justice movements throughout history.
These “resistance leaders” of the “Left” act as “Gatekeepers”—influential “progressive” figures who use their resources and visibility to regulate the debate, tactics, and rhetoric of the “anti-war” and other “progressive” movements.
The Gatekeepers of the So-Called “Left”
“The press is the hired agent of a moneyed system, set up for no other reason than to tell us lies where their interests are concerned.”– Henry Adams
In his shocking investigative report “The Left Gatekeepers”, journalist Bob Feldman researched purportedly “Left” activist and media organizations that receive substantial funding from large establishment foundations with known ties to the CIA, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and even the much-maligned Carlyle Group, the arms dealing “investment fund” featured in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, of which GHW Bush, the Saudi royal family, and, at one time, the Bin Laden family, are all equity partners.
The Foundation structure is used by these organizations to funnel corporate and personal wealth into the policy-making process. Foundations are tax-free, and contributions to foundations are deductible from federal corporate and individual income taxes. The Foundations themselves are not subject to federal income taxation, and they control hundreds of billions of dollars of money that would normally go to pay these necessary taxes.
Feldman asks, “Are the interests of the people being served by ‘dissidents’ who are being subsidized by the agencies of the ruling class whom they should be exposing? What does this say about the motivations behind the Left establishment’s ideological warfare against conspiracy researchers, and their adoption of an increasingly watered-down analytical view which fails to look closely at the inner power structures and conspiracies of the ruling elite?”
Many of these “dissidents” Feldman describes are members of the UFPJ Steering Committee, and he specifically cites prominent peace activist Medea Benjamin, and Leslie Cagan, the renowned anti-nuke activist who is now UFPJ’s National Director.
Disproportionate Influence and a Profound Conflict of Interest
Medea Benjamin and Kevin Danaher co-founded the international human rights organization Global Exchange 17 years ago. In that time they have been consistently clear and outspoken with their views on war and Neoliberalism—more commonly known as corporate globalization. Because of their combined intellectual acuity and renowned fearlessness, Benjamin’s media savvy, and the access they have been granted through some of their more prominent benefactors such as the MacArthur Foundation and billionaire financier George Soros, they have come to command a high level of visibility in progressive politics.
Benjamin has fast made a name for herself as a leading figure in the “anti-war movement” with well-publicized media stunts at the Republican and Democratic Conventions, disruptions of FCC and Congressional hearings, and frequent trips to the Middle East to showcase the suffering of the Iraqi and Afghani people. She also benefits from her proximity to well-known “progressive” leaders, celebrities, and journalists. Alongside her Code Pink Women for Peace, and Danaher’s Green Festivals, Global Exchange has come to command a significant market share in the larger peace and justice community, reaping enormous “street cred” within the activist world.
Benjamin also wields a disproportionate amount of weight within the Green Party of the United States, having run for Senator of California on their ticket in 2000, and within the anti-war umbrella group United for Peace and Justice, where she sits on their Steering Committee and is arguably their most influential member. As testament, Benjamin and her Global Exchange/Code Pink cadre were the authors of three of the five proposals passed by UFPJ at the February Assembly.
But during the 2004 Presidential campaign, Benjamin’s message and tone began to shift dramatically into what came to be known as the “ABB” movement—Anybody But Bush. She and eighty fellow prominent leaders who once formed the one hundred-thirteen member “Nader 2000 Citizens Committee” put forth a petition urging anti-war Nader not to run, and instead threw their support behind pro-war Democratic Party candidate John Kerry. At the Green Party National Convention in Milwaukee last June Benjamin campaigned heavily for “safe-state” candidate David Cobb, who was also unabashedly ABB and even initially pledged not to run in swing states, though he now denies it. Benjamin cajoled Greens into neither nominating Nader nor giving him the official endorsement he and running mate Peter Camejo had publicly sought from the party.
The pro and con arguments of ABB have been argued exhaustively, and many do not find the issue relevant any longer. But they are relevant when considering just how UFPJ became ABB and has since found itself embroiled in partisan politics working to attack exclusively the Bush Administration and their competing Neoconservative movement, despite the fact that American war policy is a bipartisan program.
Leslie Cagan’s Pacifica Foundation is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which was recently taken over by what has been described as a “Right Wing coup”), the Rockefeller-funded Working Assets group, and the ubiquitous George Soros. Like PBS, the Pacifica Network recently went through a takeover drama
where a cabal of Board members attempted to sell the station off to center-mainstream corporate interests. Cagan is also reportedly connected to the right-wing Ford Foundation, which funnels money to her through a Lesbian advocacy group known as Astraea.
Peace Action, which describes itself as “the nation’s largest grassroots peace group” that “gets results,” is funded in part by a Working Assets grant. Both Peace Action and Working Assets gave UFPJ a combined total of $45,000 for their 2003 operating budget (the last year UFPJ published their financial statements, something they are required by law to do annually). UFPJ also received a $151,000 grant from the Funding Exchange, a network of social justice foundations throughout the United States that gives money to progressive organizations.
What outrages many of those within the activist community who are aware of these funding sources is that these so-called “dissidents” would consent to take money from these foundations given the long and voluminous history they have as part of the war-making establishment.
In his book Trading with the Enemy, Charles Hingham documents how both the Rockefeller and Ford fortunes were enhanced in part through collaboration with Nazi Germany, the Rockefellers by selling the Nazis oil through the Standard Oil Company, and the Fords by selling the Nazis tanks through subsidiary corporations (note: the only industrial infrastructure spared in the Allied bombing of Germany was the Ford Motors plant near Cologne). Both Standard Oil (eventually Exxon, Mobil, and Amoco) and the Ford Motor Co. made huge profits from Defense contracts following WWII. Since 1950 a Rockefeller has held a prominent leadership position in the Council on Foreign Relations, and David Rockefeller was cofounder of the Trilateral Commission. Both organizations helped craft the “Carter Doctrine” of the late 1970s which stated that the US would heretofore intervene militarily to protect its oil supply from the Middle East.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has been the historical driving force behind such bedrock institutions of corporate globalization as the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization (WTO), and NATO, and which Esquire magazine referred to in 1962 as “that part of the Establishment that guides our destiny as a nation.” In 1950, the Chicago Tribune published a story on the CFR in which they stated, “[the members] have used the prestige that their wealth, their social position, and their education have given them to lead their country towards bankruptcy and military debacle. They should look at their hands. There is blood on them—the dried blood of the last war and the fresh blood of the present one.”
Billionaire George Soros, who refers to himself as a “progressive philanthropist”, has since 1995 been part of the arms-dealing Carlyle Group, in which he has invested a reported $100 Million, and has substantial stock holdings in weapons manufacturers Boeing and Lockheed-Martin. He is a member and former Director of the CFR, and is a member of the enigmatic Bilderberg Group, a collection of approximately 1300 of the world’s richest and most powerful figures in business, banking, media, military, and government, who meet once a year in extreme secrecy and under almost unfathomable security, and whose official purpose and actions remain a mystery, spurring a deluge of wide-ranging speculation.
The 353-member American contingent of Bilderberg is a bipartisan cavalcade that includes Paul Wolfowitz, David Rockefeller, Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Vernon Jordan, Melinda Gates, Bill Clinton, and Alan Greenspan. It is long argued and well documented that the mission of this organization, working in conjunction with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission, is to manipulate world governments and economies to promote a global, capitalist agenda commonly referred to as the “New World Order”. These supranational bodies seek to dismantle national sovereignty (through mechanisms such as “Free Trade” agreements) in favor of a one-world government which primarily upholds the rights of corporations and the wealthy over the people.
This connection begs the question: How much influence does Soros and his ilk have over Benjamin et al, and, by proxy, the “anti-war movement”? Is this relationship the reason Benjamin has dropped the anti-Globalization rhetoric and instead become immersed in partisan wrangling over the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq? Is this the reason she has adopted a “blowback” stance with regards to 9/11 and the resultant “War on Terror”? At the UFPJ Assembly, Benjamin abstained from voting on the 9/11 Truth proposal, and afterwards explained her abstention by claiming she was “afraid a vote for the proposal would mean that UFPJ would have to work with certain ‘difficult people’ involved in the 9/11 Truth movement.”
It is unfortunate Benjamin cannot bring herself to work with “difficult” people (even though it is doubtful she is even aware of just who is and is not a recognized credible member of 9/11 Truth). Because of the nature of 9/11 research, it sadly finds itself constantly infiltrated by the proverbial kook and various degrees of disinformation, but Benjamin and UFPJ have taken an all-inclusive, monolithic view of this very complex and diverse movement. It is even more unfortunate, and some might argue tragic, that personal foibles take priority over justice for the families of 3,000 people killed on that fateful day in September, and the hundreds of thousands killed in the name of the “War on Terror” as some form of retribution for 9/11. Unless, of course, it was not a personal foible that influenced her decision to abstain, but something more direct, such as a mandate from her funders, the threat of some form of professional backlash or reprisal, or simple peer disapproval.
And perhaps the greatest insult to injury is that she is now raising money for the (somewhat oxymoronic) Progressive Democrats of America. As Ralph Nader’s running mate Peter Camejo
wrote in an open letter to the Green Party, “In the fund appeal for the PDA [Benjamin] says the PDA is not the Democratic Party. It is like saying the Panama Canal is not Panama.”
The Failed Obligations and Inexcusable Denials of the “Left” Media
To offer a clear portrait of how “regulated resistance” works within the “Left” or “progressive” media, consider their steadfast refusal to report on or organize around two of the most important incidents in modern American history as pertains to our present situation—possible US government involvement in 9/11, and the relationship between the Bush family and the Nazi regime in Germany.
Sins of Omission and Distortion: 9/11, and the Rubber Stamp
As mentioned throughout this article, the first and perhaps greatest failure of the “anti-war movement” is the shameful irresponsibility the “Left” has shown by their refusal to challenge the “official” story behind 9/11.
Bob Feldman writes:
“Not surprisingly, the rank and file didn’t buy into the hype—nor were many convinced by the gatekeepers’ offhand, passionless calls for an official investigation. Interest in alternative 9/11 reporting continued to grow, and by the time that members of 9/11 victim’s families began publicly demanding an end to the government cover-up and even mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times were admitting that the lack of an independent investigatory commission was “extraordinary,” the Left media gatekeepers backed down and adopted a new tactic of silent stonewalling and tacit support for the official story.”
Despite widespread and well-documented critiques that even “War on Terror” apologists acknowledge, the corporate media has never once challenged the “official” story. Instead, they gleefully lapped up the Osama theory fed to it by the Bush Administration while the fires at Ground Zero were still burning, and in the 18 months between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq settled comfortably into its role as “Bush handmaiden and peace movement disciplinarian.”
But the absence of any challenge to this story from the “anti-war movement” is frankly disturbing on a level that supersedes even the craven behavior of the corporate media. Although the “Left” has no compunction attacking Bush and his Neoconservative cabal, it consistently fails to see how the ongoing bipartisan validation of the “official” story is the license the US Government takes to continue their imperial ambitions through the chimera known as the “War on Terror”, and by proxy, the corporate neocolonialism occurring across the globe.
The 9/11 Truth movement got a fledgling chance to make its case to the “Left” on May 26th, 2004, when, Amy Goodman, host of the flagship Progressive news source Democracy NOW!, agreed to host prominent theologian David Ray Griffin, author of The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11. Her decision followed a long and relentless “Waking Amy” campaign organized by Emanuel Sferios of the 9/11 Visibility Project.
However, at the last minute, Goodman abruptly and without explanation changed the format of the show from an interview to a “debate,” and brought in long-time “anti-conspiracist” Chip Berlet. Berlet is not an expert on 9/11 research, and his group, Political Research Associates, is an alleged “Left” organization that is funded in part by the Ford Foundation. (It is interesting to note that “Chip” Berlet’s full name is John Foster Berlet. He was named after John Foster Dulles who, with his brother Allen, designed the CIA for Harry Truman in 1947, and played a prominent role in smuggling Nazis into America to help build the post-WWII American “Defense” and Intelligence apparatus).
Despite their being a virtual laundry list of inconsistencies to the “official” story, and documented proof of government cover-up activity, the final product, “The New Pearl Harbor: A Debate On A New Book That Alleges The Bush Administration Was Behind The 9/11 Attacks,” focused almost exclusively on a handful of weak speculations made by French researcher Thierry Meyssan, not Griffin, about aspects of the Pentagon strike. This well-worn tactic known as the “straw man argument” is used by detractors to attack and undermine the weakest part of an alternative theory in order to dismiss it and alienate the public from the larger issue. If a journalist with otherwise flawless research happens to have one bad assertion, the 90 per cent he or she got right is generally ignored in favor of attaching the person to their one misstep. This tactic presupposes in a “deductive” argument that the theory is only as strong as the weakest link. Berlet tried to discredit Griffin by associating him with Meyssan, even though Griffin stated clearly on the show that his book merely compiled information from other researchers in order to raise questions that made a solid case that the “official” was simply implausible.
By only choosing to focus on the most difficult theories to believe—regardless of their potential merit—Goodman and Berlet completely missed the point. Griffin stated quite clearly on the program: “There are all sorts of possible theories as to what happened. You don’t have to come up with an alternative theory to show that the ‘official’ theory is very problematic.”
Berlet countered by saying, “It’s not good to believe in conspiracies that cannot be proven by available evidence.” But this principle does not take into account the prevalent role of cover-ups in these types of operations (such as this one being perpetrated by the US Government), which prevents potentially enlightening evidence from ever being examined. Some more notable examples include the total failure of air defenses and the role of hijack-based “war games” exercises taking place that morning, the admitted controlled-demolition of Building 7 which had to have been pre-wired, all the steel from the Twin Towers which was immediately shipped to China without being studied, all the video footage of the Pentagon strike which was promptly seized by the FBI (even though disclosure would have put an end to all the wild “no plane, missile strike” theories of Meyssan and others), and the notes from the now infamous closed-door Bush/Cheney “visit” with the 9/11 Commission, which were promptly confiscated.
Berlet’s approach to discrediting “conspiracy theory” reinforces what can be called the “disbelief” factor, as in “I just can’t believe that the Bush Administration/US Government/Americans/people would do such a thing!” Although this knee-jerk emotional response is understandable and easily explainable within the context of human psychology, it does not amount to a logical defense of the “official” story. In the absence of any substantive debate, another psychological factor operated alongside the “disbelief” factor: As Griffin states, “the Bush administration created a halo over 9/11, so it became not only unpatriotic, but almost sacrilegious to raise any questions.” The “anti-war movement” and “Left” media, ostensibly dissident by nature and thus obliged to question, instead pulled right into lockstep with the government and corporate media, rubber-stamping the “official” version of events.
Griffin did end up writing a lengthy response to Berlet’s misleading critique, but the damage had already been done. Goodman never really inquired beyond the “straw man” arguments Berlet kept pounding, and no other “Left” media outlet with the audience of Democracy NOW! has touched the story since.
It is important to note that Democracy NOW! was awarded a $75,000
Ford Foundation grant in 2002 “to continue incorporating the aftermath of the September 11th attack into future broadcasts,” and received a further $150,000 from Ford in 2004.
Emanuel Sferios says the Ford Foundation does not have to explicitly tell Democracy NOW! how they want 9/11 to be covered. He explains that “Democracy NOW! will simply self-censor, because they want future money from the Ford Foundation. It’s also important to note that Amy Goodman coined a new, pejorative phrase to dismiss the 9/11 Truth Movement. She is the first in history, as far as I know, to refer to us as a “conspiracy theory movement.”
The most glaring irony in all of this is that it was Goodman herself who uttered these words:
“I think the media has reached an all-time low in this country. And that is a terrible violation of what our profession is supposed to do. We are supposed to hold those in power accountable. We’re not supposed to cozy up to those in power, not supposed get the perks of the powerful. We are supposed to be there to, if not keep the politicians honest, show what’s going on. And it is very serious now because we’re talking about wartime… And when the media acts as a conveyer belt for the lies of the administration, we not only are violating our responsibility, but those lies take lives.”
Furthering these sins of omission regarding 9/11 is the “Left’s” refusal to address any of the voluminous evidence uncovered by controversial journalist Michael Ruppert in his book Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil.
Ruppert’s investigation, the most thorough of any effort thus far including the Kean Commission, has been publicly attacked more than any other independent effort, which for many is a testament to its effectiveness.
In what seemed like a coordinated effort, David Corn and Norman Solomon, purported “Left” journalists, through The Nation and Pacifica Radio, repeatedly pilloried Ruppert for almost two years before his book was released—without once addressing the evidence presented. The sum total of their response to Rubicon was to engage in a series of ad hominem
attacks portraying Ruppert as mentally unstable. Although Ruppert is an impassioned, domineering, even frequently alienating character with a classic type-A personality (perhaps he could be described as “difficult”?) who has very little patience for those who question his work, he is anything but insane, and his personality is not all that different from many of the personalities we have been discussing. What is never taken into consideration when discussing his “psychology”, however, is that Ruppert has a lot of reason to be sensitive about the issue of government corruption and malfeasance. Multiple attempts have been made on his life for trying to expose CIA and LAPD complicity in the South Central crack-cocaine trade. Anyone familiar with the history of disinformation tactics will recognize the Corn/Solomon attacks as a tried and true method of discrediting not only an author or researcher, but an entire line of investigation.
It should be noted that the MacArthur-funded Nation, for which Corn is a staff writer, has ties back to the CIA and its former director William Casey, and the Manhattan Institute, and Chief Editor Katrina vanden Heuval’s father was involved in
“Operation Mockingbird”, a CIA project originating in the early days of the Cold War to buy influence behind the scenes at major media outlets and put reporters on the CIA payroll. Solomon is the Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy in Washington and is the ostensible head of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting), funded by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, Working Assets group, and the Schumann Foundation.
A Story That Would Outrage Anyone—But No One Knows About
The “Left” has also consistently refused, on any level, to report or act on the established connection between the Bush Family and the Nazi Party during the 1930’s, 40’s, and early 50’s.
John Buchanan, the charismatic, relentless independent journalist from Miami wrote about his inability to get any mainstream media source to pick up his New Hampshire Gazette story, “Bush—Nazi Dealings Continued Until 1951” in his 2004 book, Fixing America: Breaking the Stranglehold of Corporate Rule, Big Media, and the Religious Right.
Even though Buchanan’s reporting was based on facts that came directly from declassified official documents currently in the National Archives, not one single mainstream news source agreed to even look at the government documents, which chronicled the long history of collaboration between Bush’s grandfathers Prescott Bush and George Herbert Walker, Prescott Bush’s employer A. Averell Harriman of Brown Brothers Harriman, and Nazi industrialist and financier Fritz Thyssen. Between 1942 and 1951, under the “Trading with the Enemy Act,” the US Government seized 33 Bush-Harriman-Nazi businesses and client assets. But instead of facing a firing squad for treason during war time, Prescott Bush pocketed $1.5 Million from the liquidation of the first and largest of the 33 businesses, the Union Banking Corporation, principle investor in the Silesian-American Corporation which used slave-labor from the Auschwitz concentration camp for mining in Poland. None of the principles in the deal were ever brought to justice.
This story should have resurfaced every time one of the Bush men ran for or was appointed to public office. Instead, it was spun relentlessly, and eventually buried. Only The Guardian of London eventually picked up on this story in one subsequent article nearly a year later titled, “How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power”.
Buchanan goes on to say:
“Perhaps more troubling, and certainly more surprising, not even left-leaning media, ‘alternative media’ outlets, or media watchdog groups would touch the story. The Bush-bashing editor of the Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, and her assistant Peggy Suttles, both declined to pursue the story… Don Hazen, a founder of alt-media online syndicate, Alternet, also refused to report the story… Norman Solomon, a regular op-ed contributor to The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post, initially agreed to help get the story out “to the world” until he discovered that his four bread-and-butter newspapers had all turned down the documents… Later, even the Center for American Progress, a George Soros-funded liberal think tank in Washington—headed by former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta—would refuse to acknowledge or help expose the Bush-Nazi connection.”
(Ed’s note: Alternet also refused to consider this article for publication).
Although history tends to ignore it, the United States’ rise to global dominance was largely made possible by former Nazis who were smuggled into the country during and after the war to work in secret weapons labs, and lay the foundation for what would become the controlled mass-media. Nazi scientists invented the technology for the jet engine, the ballistic missile, the nuclear bomb, and other classified weapons and surveillance technologies that both the Americans and the Soviets appropriated for use in the Cold War.
These parent companies of the Left Gatekeeper foundations became part of what Dwight D. Eisenhower coined in his farewell address the “Military-Industrial Complex,” which since the end of WWII has expropriated an estimated $15 Trillion in American taxpayer money for “Defense” spending. That, as author Joel Andreas notes, “is more than the amount of money spent on all the existing man-made wealth of the US: that is every building, highway, park, factory, car, and what have you.”
Conclusion: The Death of Authentic Resistance
Michael Novick of the Anti-Racist Action network has been around a long time, and has a list of bona fides pages long. He has seen many an organization come and go, and he believes that the 501(c)3/NGO/not-for-profit corporate model has been the death of popular movements and authentic resistance.
“Such organizations vacuumed up the flotsam and jetsam of the resistance movements of the 60s and 70s, gave them paid staff positions, and neutered them. This was true long before the emergence of the current round of the ‘anti-war movement’. It happened to the women’s movement and the Black and Chicano liberation struggles as far back as the 70s. In the late 80s, most of the anti-racist projects that sprung up to deal with the first wave of Neo-Nazism went the board and staff, grant-writing model, with the result that they lost both their militancy and their anti-establishment spark, making them politically irrelevant. Most went out of business as other vogues took precedence with funders.”
There is no doubt that this madness must stop, and yet, where is the “anti-war movement” here when we need them most? Not reading this article, for sure, even though it was written for those who would attack just-cause critics of the “anti-war movement”, those who lament that they have no other funding options and who can bring themselves to rationalize taking blood money, those who put their own names and careers ahead of the people they purportedly represent—and for all those who recognize this hypocrisy and want something more, something better. Though it is difficult and may require sacrifice and even dismantling this corrupted system, we must look at how our movements come to dance with the devil, and turn into the very things that we once so despised
To view the complete “Left Gatekeepers” chart go here.
Charles Shaw is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Newtopia, and has been deeply involved in the anti-war movement since the bombing of Afghanistan. Newtopia Magazine is a member group of United for Peace and Justice.