Friday, October 28, 2005

Follow-up to the Scott Ritter Inteview

A few words from Craig Rhodes:

As a follow up to Alison's excellent post, I've just finished with Scott's 3 day visit here. I was the primary organizer and contact within our peace group because of my past work with Scott so I had the advantage of spending a lot of time with him both in the past as well as now.

After having spent the last 3 days with Scott, I'm even more impressed with him than I was the first time he came to our area. Anyone here who has met him can attest to that fact. He is one of the most dynamic, convincing speakers I've ever heard. We are fortunate to have him on our side. I'm a retired teacher so my job required an ability to speak before large groups. I'm no slacker on this score but Scott has a unique talent in this regard that is inspiring. He is an orator of the old school.

During the last three days, he spoke to a dizzying number of groups and venues. I was with him at every speech and learned something new each time. I witnessed him speaking to college classes that numbered from 300+ to only 13 as well as large audiences of the general population. Classes that included journalism, senior sociology majors, political science, international law, middle eastern history etc. both grad and undergrad, and he tailored his message to the subject matter and age of each class but still within the context of his core message. His argument was cogent, fact, experience-based, and convincing. It was all done without notes and extemporaneously. His memory and command of the facts is prodigious as evidenced by Seymour Hersh who was going to write a book about him entitled "Scott Ritter is a Big Fat Liar" until he began to check Scott's facts. Hersh then asked to write the introduction to his new book and is now his friend. Scott has the ability to mesmerize an audience regardless of the age or demographic. It's quite a feat to be able to hold the rapt attention of a large class of undergraduate freshmen who might be otherwise bored and disengaged. I've never seen anything like it.

At the end of every speech he challenged the audience to challenge him, being deliberately provocative in order to gain credence for what he had said. There were many who took him up on the challenge and most who did were obviously well informed themselves. He was able to answer, refute or expand on their questions with knowledge of the most minute details that surpassed their own knowledge, and he did it without resorting to cheap shots. He answered every question. It was always with respect for the questioner. In every case, bar none, the questioner went away convinced of Scott's argument as well as his integrity. Moreove, Scott would have stayed until the last person or until I had to drag him away to arrive at the next scheduled venue. And he did so after being on the road and working without sleep for over 30 hours.

If you're wanting to make a difference in your area, you will have no better opportunity than to have Scott speak. A word of advice, he encourages you to have him there for more than one day in as many venues as possible. He is tireless. He is just as effective one on one as he is with a group. By having him there for a lengthy period his message is reinforced. His knowledge, experience and presentation is unassailable. We had him debate one of the most rabid pro-war spokespersons in our area on air twice. A man who is a retired CIA agent who himself has spent significant time in Iraq and Kurdistan. It was taped and is going to be rebroadcast over the local public access channel over the next month. He effectively defanged the spokesperson on both occasions and did so in such a way that his opponent is now somewhat sympathetic to what our peace group is doing. His efforts will be extremely effective and helpful regarding our activities.

I like to believe I'm a pretty good judge of character and it is my opinion that Scott Ritter is the real deal, especially after having been in his company, one on one for days at a time. We bonded. He and his family have suffered greatly, both financially and otherwise, for the fight he has chosen to take on but he continues on, which is inspiring in itself. If you have any connections with a college or similar organization in your area that would be interested in having him speak it would go a long way toward changing the minds of those who support the Iraq debacle and thus bring our troops home ASAP.

His contact email is WSRitter@aol.com. Tell him I sent you.

"Only when love and need are one
And the work is
play for mortal stakes
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the
future's sake."

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