‘Peace, War and 9/11’ Honors Late Peace Activist Graeme MacQueen

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 4 Sep 2023

Jeff Mahoney | The Hamilton Spectator - TRANSCEND Media Service

1 Sep 2023 – The Westdale cinema is hosting world premiere of “Peace, War and 9/11,” a movie about the late Graeme MacQueen, founder of Centre of Peace Studies at McMaster University and a member of the TRANSCEND Network.

The late Graeme MacQueen, left, with Ted Walter, director and producer of “Peace, War and 9/11,” a film about MacQueen, 9/11 and the “triggers” of war that is having its world premiere in Hamilton at the Westdale cinema on Sept. 6 2023.
Photo courtesy of Ted Walter

In April of this year Hamilton and the world lost a great champion of peace, a gimlet-eyed caller of war’s bluff and a richly mellow voice (literally) of intelligent inquiry.

It was a voice Graeme MacQueen shared with generations of appreciative students at McMaster University (in 1998-1999 he won the university’s Teacher of the Year Award) where he taught religious studies. And beyond that, it was a voice — in writing, speech, action and activism — he brought everywhere to the living symposium of a humanity in crisis, seeking a pathway to something better. For MacQueen, that would be the abolition of war, something that seems so impossible yet he had hope … and ideas.

What the world lost with MacQueen’s death from cancer, a new film has taken a step to partially recover. And watching and listening to MacQueen talk in “Peace, War and 9/11,” an hour-and-a-half long documentary dedicated to his memory, is to feel a presence.

His voice is trance-inducing in the best possible sense.

The film is being screened on Sept. 6 at the Westdale, its world premiere.

In Hamilton, MacQueen was familiar as a beloved and admired force for moral progress, celebrated for starting the Centre for Peace Studies at McMaster University. But his fame and influence were far broader and he led peace projects in many countries around the world beset by war.

In time, through the 2000s, he came to focus his research and activism on the “real” story behind the collapse of the World Trade Center, the “misinformation” and the ensuing so-called war on terror.

Ted Walter, the director and producer of “Peace, War and 9/11,” spent hours interviewing MacQueen in the months before he died, mostly on the stage at the Zoetic theatre on Concession Street in Hamilton.

“I interviewed him, but I’m not in it at all; it’s more like he’s narrating, intercut with a lot of archival material,” said Walter, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the executive director of the Internation Center for 9/11 Justice, which MacQueen helped found.

The archival footage is striking, startling. Not just the by-now famous, still horrific images of the planes flying into the towers and the aftermath, the buildings crumbling, people caked in dust, figures falling from the sky, but also the bizarre shifts in narrative, the changes in official explanations (on anthrax, for instance), the disregard for eyewitness accounts, the inexplicable gaps, the precipitous rush to judgment, to rash legislation, ultimately to war — two of them. Afghanistan. Iraq.

You don’t have to be a so-called “truther” or conspiracy theorist or even predisposed to skepticism to find yourself slack-jawed at the unanswered or badly answered questions that official front channels were juggling. So very much of that time still seems shrouded in billows of dust as thick as those that engulfed Manhattan that day.

As striking as the archival material is, MacQueen remains the most compelling sound and image on the screen. His steady, distinctively calming, flowing voice and his penetrating, composed visage.

MacQueen, in the film, recounts some details of his early life, which help put his later work in perspective. He runs through much of the copious research and evidence-gathering he compiled in his effort to fully understand 9/11.

“Graeme’s paper of 2006 was a bedrock of research,” says Walter. “He went through 118 eyewitness accounts (firefighters, police, first responders, bystanders) and oral histories describing the explosions in his research that was methodical and rigorous.”

The evidence is laid out clearly in the film. Some conspiracy theories have no evidentiary basis. But MacQueen is all about evidence and his far outweighs the evidence the administration produced to justify war.

Everywhere the eyes and ears turn there are eyewitnesses and news reporters, there on the day, describing what sound like bombs, time-controlled explosions of the kind one experiences in a planned demolition. And watching, the towers crumble, it’s hard to imagine any other explanation.

MacQueen read the entire 12,000-page “9/11 Commission Report,” which is notoriously thin, almost to the point of evasiveness, on the relevance of eyewitness accounts and on explanatory engineering findings to account for the strange nature of the collapses.

“The descent of the top of the towers never slows (as the towers go down)” as one would expect as the unit top of the building hurtled through the affected floors and then hit the unhit floors at the bottom, said Walter.

It all gets curiouser and curiouser as the film unfolds and MacQueen lays out his case.

But whether or not one believes in ideas about deep state collusion, there is still MacQueen’s analysis of war itself as a “system.” A parasitical system that depletes its hosts, the people who are worked into frenzies under the spell of its bluffs, fictions, red herrings and managed pretexts.

“Graeme talks about war ‘triggers’” and catalysts, said Walter. He talks about how wars move between cold to hot stages. As the film notes, by now there is so much evidence the American administration, looking for an excuse to get into the war, postured its way through the prelude, occurrence and aftermath of the “surprise” Pearl Harbor attack, few doubt it.

Much the same might be said for 9/11, the film argues. The neo-cons at the time were practically salivating to get military spending up.

MacQueen in several touching moments during the film talks about his “mission” in a life he knew was to end soon, perhaps deliberately playing on and recovering the word “mission” from its corruption as a military operation.

Agree with MacQueen or not, this film should convince you his was a life enviably well led, a life to shine under scrutiny, to serve as example and to leave us in its light.

“Peace, War and 9/11” is at the Westdale, 1014 King St. W., Hamilton, on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.

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Jeff Mahoney has been a reporter and columnist with The Spectator for 30 years, writing culture and lifestyle stories, commentary and humour. Now his column focuses on human interest, from personalities to twists in the social fabric and colourful echoes of local history. His passion is to capture this city’s flavour through its people and places; his conviction is their stories, opened forth in the right way, will wake up your hearts. 

Prof. Graeme MacQueen was co-editor of the Journal of 9/11 Studies and co-author, with Johan Galtung, of Globalizing God: Religion, Spirituality and Peace, TRANSCEND University Press, 2008. MacQueen was founding director of the Centre for Peace Studies at the McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, where he taught for 30 years. He held a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University and was a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. MacQueen was an organizer of the Toronto Hearings on 9/11, a member of the Consensus 9/11 Panel, and a former co-editor of the Journal of 9/11 Studies. RIP

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One Response to “‘Peace, War and 9/11’ Honors Late Peace Activist Graeme MacQueen”

  1. In what is essentially the late, great Professor Graeme MacQueen’s final message to humanity, viewers of the film might come to the conclusion the film possesses the very real potential for finally bringing the long-hidden truth about what happened on September 11, 2001, and – most importantly – spark a world paradigm-shifting positive perceptions-altering transformation of life on Earth.

    Ultimately, as a sufficient number of people watch and absorb the profound message delivered by the film featuring Professor MacQueen, the critical mass will have become reached. “Peace, War and 9/11” contains the spiritual/true artistry power necessary for bringing, for all intents and purpose, the historic ending to criminal wars of aggression – forever.

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