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Has the National Post declared a fatwa on 9/11 studies?

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On Nov. 24, 2010 I received notification that I was to be the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship after being nominated by the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Lethbridge. I was jubilated to be awarded such a prestigious scholarship which has helped to fund my M.A. thesis research, the working title of which is The Origins of the Global War on Terror: Academic Debates and Interpretive Controversies. By Nov. 25, the National Post's editor Jonathan Kay was whipping up vigilantism against my funding calling on "the taxpayers of Alberta" to recognize this gross injustice.

Mr. Kay also admonished my thesis supervisor Professor Anthony Hall, stating: "as long as he keeps it [9/11 Studies] out of the classroom, he's free to believe in whatever [. . .] he likes." This was a curious decree from the editorial offices of the National Post; if the conflicting interpretations of the most seminal event in contemporary history are not to be broached in the classrooms of Canadian universities, where can they be?

History departments dedicate much time and energy to analyzing the origins of historic wars such as WWI and WWII. Why should we shy away from questioning the origins of the Global War on Terror? Mr. Kay's article backfired. I was actually quite pleased that Mr. Kay cited the passage from my letter of intent which legitimizes rather than discredits the academic field of 9/11 studies.

I don't think any serious intellectual would join Mr. Kay and his co-thinkers at Maclean's On Campus -- the latter of whom used my scholarship as a case study to argue that universities should be fully privatized -- and designate my research proposal unworthy of modest public funding. A key flaw in Mr. Kay's hit-piece on 9/11 studies was his failure to distinguish between being skeptical about the official story of 9/11 and positing speculative alternative theories -- two wholly disparate undertakings. After quoting from my letter of intent, Mr. Kay spread the falsehood that I had already come to the conclusion that "the 9/11 attacks were staged by Washington."

To be sure, I could speculate about what I think might have transpired on 9/11, but I would do so outside the parameters of my rather circumscribed graduate thesis and would not invoke "Washington" as the generalized culprit. I think it is more constructive to identify individuals such as Richard Cheney or Larry Silverstein who ought to be brought before a court of law and asked some hard and probing questions.

John Farmer, senior council to the 9/11 Commission stated in his book The Ground Truth that "At some level of the government, at some point in time [. . .] there was a decision not to tell the truth about what happened [on 9/11]." If even the senior council to the 9/11 Commission doesn't purport that we have an authoritative account of what happened on 9/11 one becomes anxious to fathom exactly which narrative of 9/11 Jonathan Kay and the National Post are the custodians of.

Most significantly, Mr. Kay failed to disclose in his attack on my 9/11 studies that he himself is being externally-funded to pursue 9/11 research and is about to publish a book entitled Among the Truthers. One can surmise that Mr. Kay is getting paid more than $7,714 to pursue his 9/11 research. If Mr. Kay was a sincere 9/11 researcher, interested in the triumph of fact over fiction, he would relish the prospect of academics playing devil's advocate by attempting to confute the U.S. government's claims which he, unlike the senior council to the 9/11 Commission, so vociferously defends.

Instead, he propounds that 9/11 skepticism be kept out of the classroom and suggests that public money should not be channeled towards such research. Mr. Kay's attempt to delegitimate 9/11 studies, sending the message to Canadian academics that they will be chastised in the public square if they dare to participate in such research, could be conceived of as a kind of fatwa. Where are the Salman Rushdie supporters now? Or do such individuals only endorse free speech when it is used to indict rather than exculpate Muslims?

Interestingly, Mr. Kay is associated with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies which was described by journalist Jeffrey Blankfort as "One of the most influential and powerful of the Zionist lobbies which changed its name and sprung into action immediately after 9/11." Furthermore, Among the Truthers is published by HarperCollins, which is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's empire.

Is Mr. Kay being sponsored to attempt to discredit and diminish the findings of the ballooning groups of citizen and professional investigators who are aware that the official story of 9/11 doesn't stand up to evidence-based scrutiny? How will Mr. Kay reconcile the implausible official story with the scientific evidence brought forth by the more than 1,200 architects and engineers who have been drawing attention particularly to the collapse of WTC Building seven which collapsed at near freefall speed having been hit by no plane on 9/11? Is the peer-reviewed scholarship contained for example in the Journal of 9/11 Studies to be dismissed merely as the crazed postulations of "conspiracy theorists" who need to be put in their place by Mr. Kay and his colleagues at the National Post -- the personifications of impartiality, reason and empiricism?

In Mr. Kay's other book The Volunteer: A Canadian's Secret Life in the Mossad we are offered the following psychobabble in which Westerners' "instinct," rather than their subjection to propaganda and psyops, is invoked to explain their support for the unlawful 9/11 wars:

"The worldwide awakening of militant Islam [. . .] explains the intense devotion exhibited by many Westerners [. . .] to Israel's cause: they instinctively see in the state a microcosm of the civilized world's struggle against a murderous ideology and the men who embrace it [. . . such] nihilistic killers struck the United States on 9/11."

If it is the case that "militant Islam [. . .] struck the United States on 9/11," the burden of proof rests with Mr. Kay who owes it to his readership to provide evidence that the 19 alleged hijackers were fuelled by a devotion to the tenets of the holy Quran and that they actually boarded the planes on 9/11.

As many involved in genuine 9/11 studies have noted, there were many reliable reports of the alleged hijackers engaging in un-Islamic activities prior to 9/11. Moreover, when the flight manifests were released indicating the names of the passengers on the four hijacked planes, none of the alleged hijackers' names were listed. Moreover, a number of the alleged hijackers turned up alive. The U.K.'s Telegraph made contact with two of the alleged hijackers and published interviews with them post-9/11.

If Mr. Kay wishes to propagate a theory about 19 conspiratorial adherents to "militant Islam" striking the United States he should demonstrate that such individuals were indeed Islamist militants and that they boarded the planes on 9/11. In his tenth 9/11-related book Cognitive Infiltration Professor David Ray Griffin opines: "Besides not being devout Muslims, the "hijackers" were evidently not even on the airliners [. . .] if the alleged hijackers had purchased tickets and boarded the flights, as the official story has it, their names would have been on the manifests."

Albert Einstein once said "condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance." Just as it took supporters of truth and justice to defend Jennifer Peto's acclaimed thesis on hegemonic Nazi holocaust education and Zionist racism from those who besmirched her as an anti-Semite without investigating her claims first, so it will take such supporters of evidence-based research to push back against the inevitable disinformation and smear campaign my thesis will command once it is published.

Although the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Lethbridge seems to be supportive of my thesis -- as it was them who nominated me for the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship -- it is undoubtedly the case that some, maybe a majority, condemn without investigation skepticism about the official story of 9/11. In this vein, one professor at my university implied I was an "asshole" when I asked a critical question at a lecture delivered by pseudo-skeptic Michael Shermer who had spuriously compared 9/11 skeptics to Nazi holocaust deniers and UFO spotters. Having said this, I am fortunate enough to have allies within the University of Lethbridge who do not condemn without investigation and who are themselves highly indisposed to believe the state-sponsored version of history vis-à-vis 9/11.

Professor Anthony Hall, my graduate studies supervisor has recently written an encyclopedic peer-reviewed text entitled Earth into Property in which he examines the intellectual debates surrounding 9/11, situating them within the broader context of global history. Professor Hall's and the other 9/11 scholars' formidable and principled research is resilient enough to weather Mr. Kay's Fox-news style evangelism against those heretics who display skepticism towards the 9/11 sacred myth.

I suspect Mr. Kay's angst with the vast 9/11 scholarship stems from its potential to demystify the propaganda encouraging Canadians to risk their lives and limbs for what Mr. Kay calls "Israel's cause" as microcosm of the supposed "civilized world's struggle" against the largely imagined threat posed by "militant Islam."

Mr. Kay proselytizes for a kind of modern day "white man's burden" based as much on mythology and fantastic claims as that advocated by Rudyard Kipling towards the end of the 19th century. I hope my forthcoming M.A. thesis will contribute to countering this nefarious project.

Joshua Blakeney is a freelance journalist and activist originally from Surrey, U.K. living in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Joshua was the Media Coordinator of Globalization Studies at the University of Lethbridge from September 2009 to October 2010. Joshua earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Lethbridge, graduating with distinction in April 2010. He is currently studying for a M.A. at the University of Lethbridge.

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