Say It Ain’t So, Howard Zinn! by Richard C. Cook

by Richard C. Cook
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
May 1, 2009

Howard Zinn, 86-year old folk hero, activist, professor, historian, and author of one of the great books of American popular literature, A People’s History of the United States, is telling people that searching for the truth about what really happened on 9/11 “is a diversion.”

Say it ain’t so, Howard Zinn!

He used the word “diversion” several times during an interview on The Real News Network with senior editor Paul Jay. Zinn on investigating 9/11

Here are some excerpts:

“There are some issues that are interesting but are diversions from what we really have to do. This is one of them.”

“Maybe there was a conspiracy. Who knows?”

“It’ll go on and on and on and people will write books and talk about it; it’ll be an enormous waste of good energy….I just don’t think that it leads anywhere.”

In the interview, Paul Jay points out to Zinn that much of current U.S. foreign policy, such as the Afghan War, “still has its roots in 9/11.” Making it clear that no matter what we may think about conspiracies, Jay states that peculiarities about 9/11 are part of the historical record.

For instance, he cites the fact that then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice acknowledged to the 9/11 Commission that she had been warned about an attack by Osama bin Laden during the summer of 2001 but that she did nothing about it. Jay also points out that “hundreds of thousands or even millions of Americans” question the official version.

Zinn: “It will never be clear. It will be one of those situations where nobody will ever be able to prove anything, and it will lead us nowhere.”

To be fair to Zinn, he also states that “9/11 was used as an excuse by the Bush administration to go to war,” but adds that what should be investigated is, “Why are there people in the world who want to blow up our buildings, who want to scare the American people, who want to do terrorist [things],” and who “are enraged by American foreign policy.”

He says, “We should be concentrating on in what way is American foreign policy responsible for the terrorism that exist in the minds and hearts of so many people in the world and which in a small number of them results in violent acts.”

It reminds me of another famous 9/11 conspiracy debunker, Professor Noam Chomsky. On October 6, 2006, Chomsky said on ZNet:

“One of the major consequences of the 9/11 movement has been to draw enormous amounts of energy and effort away from activism directed to real and ongoing crimes of state, and their institutional background, crimes that are far more serious than blowing up the WTC would be, if there were any credibility to that thesis.”

It would be easy to criticize Zinn for failing to be consistent. He knows how important the study and writing of history really is. In his People’s History of the United States he set out to correct the record about the role of the labor movement, U.S. imperialism in Latin America and around the world, the violence of our culture, and many other issues.

Zinn knows, as we all do who have worked in the genre, that the writing of history is about discovering the truth. We know that absolute truth about the past is an impossibility. But we can try to get close, because the truth matters. A good historian is a scientist, attempting to draw conclusions from factual data. A good historian knows that even small discoveries, properly validated, can change the way we view the past and make decisions in the present.

But doesn’t what Zinn is saying about 9/11 go beyond the writing of history? Isn’t he suggesting by talking about “the people who want to blow up our buildings” that it is probable that those who carried out the 9/11 attacks really were a few angry Arabs with box-cutters, just like the Bush administration told us? Isn’t he asking us to buy into the government’s own flawed conspiracy theory regardless of whether we think the World Trade Center towers were brought down by controlled demolition or the Pentagon was attacked by a missile rather than an airliner, or whatever?

It doesn’t seem to me Howard Zinn really is saying we’ll never know what actually happened on 9/11 or that trying to find out is a “diversion.” It seems to me that what he is saying is itself a diversion. Please correct me, Mr. Zinn, if I am wrong.

Richard C. Cook is a former federal analyst who writes on public policy issues. His book “We Hold These Truths: the Hope of Monetary Reform” is now available at His website is


Zinn on investigating 9/11

9/11 on Dandelion Salad

6 thoughts on “Say It Ain’t So, Howard Zinn! by Richard C. Cook

  1. Pingback: Rep. Wexler Announces Legislation for Select Committee to Investigate Bush Abuses—A Real Investigation or a Waste of Time? By Richard C. Cook « Dandelion Salad

  2. I agree with Zinn. Just as was the case with the Lincoln and JFK assassinations, the real truth may never be known, and if it is, then it will probably become known regardless of the activities and energies of 9-11 truth-seekers.

    I especially agree with Zinn on the main point, that activists would be far better off, and more productive, focusing on making positive changes that WILL have positive impacts on our future and destiny as a nation, or a civilization.

    We have CRUCIAL problems that need fixing now. Richard C Cook writes extensively about the highest priority tier of those issues that demand immediate and drastic reforms – our monetary and economic systems.

    As long as the most sovereign of powers – the money power – remains under private, and not public, control, democracy in any real sense is burnt toast. It is a dead issue without sovereignty over our money supply.

    That is THE number one issue in the entire world at this time, perhaps along with the rampant spiritual, moral, and ethical vacuum we seem to be locked into – especially our financial, business and economic leaders. When then president Andrew Jackson said 180 years ago, “You are a den of thieves…”, he was speaking euphemistically. They are far worse than that.

    We are at a “crossroads of crisis” of a kind the world has never before faced, and the enemy’s triple threats of dissension, division, and diversion are his main weapons. The people cannot win the coming battles unless they are focused on who an what the “enemy” is: unfettered, unchecked and unlimited PRIVATE & CORPORATE POWER. This is primarily the money powers – the international central bankers and largest multinational conglomerates that have usurped our governments, and pull the strings of manipulation from behind the curtain.

    The evidence that the September Financial Collapse of 2008 was deliberate and arranged is far more overwhelming than the evidence taht 9-11 was an inside job. (and I believe that to a great extent it was) But nobody is looking at the financial collapse that way, because it is too complex, and too abstract. But believe me when I say that the private usurpation of the issuing and control of our money is infinitely more important to understand and correct than 9-11. It is as a mammoth compared to a flea.

    Zinn is not saying the truth about 9-11 does not matter; he is saying there are more important concerns for us. We are sliding ever further into the quicksand of economic slavery, and our would-be masters are not nice people. There is very little time left to wake up and direct our energies and actions toward the real problems.

    That is what I think Howard Zinn is saying. I know that is what I am saying. Please read Ellen Brown’s book, “Web of Debt”, if you haven’t already done so. It will open closed eyes. O go to Google and search for videos by Adrian Salbuchi, a brilliant teacher who has it together and knows how to explain it in simple terms.

  3. I agree with Zinn. The real 9/11 cover-up is not who was behind the attacks but rather why the attacks happened. We were not attacked because of our freedoms or because the government was behind it. We were attacked because of our foreign policy and namely for what is perceived in the Muslim world as biased support of Israel, a fact the 9/11 commission deliberately suppressed.

  4. Smoking memos have come out on torture. It only seems logical that smoking memos exist on 9/11.

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