Rejecting ad hominem attacks and arguments
By Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri
Online Journal Contributing Writers
Sep 18, 2007, 01:40
With the exception of his closing remark, ��Our way of life�
has caused a holocaust of unspeakable pain and suffering in much of the world,
and for generations,� Manuel Garcia�s article, �Forgetting 9-11,�
is an exercise in intellectual censorship, investigative debate, and the
imposition of rigid ideological patterns under the pretense of achieved
scientific and self-sustained epistemological verities.
Debating an article that is replete with ad hominem attacks
and arguments is not something that we aspire to do. Nor is Garcia�s
dialectically flawed article of such a clear-cut scientific relevance or
factual compactness that makes it a model for rebuttal or debate. Nonetheless,
the body of ideas that Garcia is advocating, which is to move beyond the 9-11
debate and accept the state�s version of it, is critically unacceptable in view
of the countless holes in the Bush administration�s account of the event.
Simply, Garcia�s tendentious approach not only damages the
research on the making of the ultra-fascist American state, but it also sets
the trend for replacing the real physical mechanics of 9-11 with dubious facts
that still -- six years after the attack -- fail to pass the test of reasoned
acceptability because of a host of unresolved contradictions and
Because 9-11 is a pivotal event that reintroduced defunct
Euro-American colonialist conquests into our present time and glorifies
genocidal violence under the guise of fighting so-called Islamic terrorism and
counter-insurgency in U.S.-occupied Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, accepting
the official theories as an emotional placebo to unanswered questions -- thus
far -- does not sit well with reasonable and responsible minds.
Consequently, and leaving the physics of the attack out of
our debate, a rebuttal to Garcia�s intellectual model of 9-11 is mandatory,
seeing that he elevates his disparagement of different views to an emphatic
level of certainty but without providing any substantive validation to uphold
Yes, we might never find the truth about 9-11 since the
American state can bury the naked truth about it under a zillion tons of state
secrecy, deception, and lies. Still, we can argue that the plethora of
alternative evidence and logical inferences from the events that surround pre-
and post-9-11 are sufficient to contradict and, to a certain extent, dismantle
the official theory and shed light on the Zionist Israeli-American scheme to
militarily control resource-rich, non-nuclear, strategic nations consequent to
a cataclysmic event, whether engineered or not.
Considering, therefore, the immense importance of the debate
on the universal significance of 9-11, we cannot but challenge Garcia�s basic
theses and conclusions regarding how one should behave in debating 9-11 or when
discussing the physical aspects of the attack. Primarily, we reject the
name-calling, since neither Garcia nor any one else has the exclusive right to
dissect 9-11 according to personal convictions and issue peremptory conclusions
How should one respond to name-calling? Noam Chomsky,
institute professor at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology saw no way to respond:
"There�s no way of responding to it. If someone calls you an anti-Semite,
what can you say? I�m not an anti-Semite? If someone says you�re a racist,
you�re a Nazi or something, you always lose. The person who throws the mud
always wins because there is no way of responding to such charges." 
Garcia: Because 9/11 happened a long time ago, as
time is now experienced by the now-now no-history-cache wireless-wired over-caffeinated
infotainment public mind, people have solidified their views on the subject,
and new commentary is unnecessary.
Analysis: First, we have no idea as why the passage
of time after an event must be a factor in deciding its preponderance or
irrelevance in history. If that were the case, then why do world cultures and
societies still deal with eon-old superstitions, beliefs, dogmas, and events!
Second, it is hard to know what to make of Garcia�s sentence, �now-now
no-history-cache wireless-wired over-caffeinated infotainment public mind,
people have solidified their views on the subject.� Was that an insult,
derision, mockery, vapid witticism, or what?
Among the public, mud slinging is, maybe, effective. But
among people interested in open and intelligent dialogue, mud slinging speaks
more to the slinger than the object of slinging.
By these comments, does Garcia imply that people who
consider themselves part of a 9-11 �truth� movement are stubborn and unwilling
to consider other viewpoints? David Ray Griffin, for one, demonstrated the
incorrectness of such a position in his response to critics who support the
�official� theory of 9-11 -- impossible if one was unwilling to consider what
the other side had said. 
Garcia: Those who have moved beyond 9/11 see it as
blowback from decades of inhuman US foreign policy.
Analysis: Garcia�s position in this regard is
untenable because of unsubstantiated postulation. Before everything, by stating
that 9-11 was �blowback from decades of inhuman US foreign policy� means that
he reached the categorical conclusion that the attack was executed by citizens
or organizations of regions (Arab is implied) that were exacting revenge on the
United States because of its imperialistic policies and interventions.
However, there were many inconsistencies in the story
telling that purports to identify the perpetrators or their motives. Indeed,
despite avalanches of speculations, analyses, and reports, we still do not know
who was behind 9-11. From the first instance, the Bush administration and
media, controlled by Zionist conglomerates, accused al-Qaeda without any proof
except disputable �evidence� fabricated by U.S. intelligence, such as
ATM-captured photographs, manipulated passenger lists, a passport of one the
perpetrators found six blocks away from the flaming infernos, and a laughable
letter attributed to the lead perpetrator of the attack.
Most importantly, stating that the attack could be because
of �decades of inhuman US foreign policy� is false. First, granting credence to
US government allegations, the American-founded al-Qaeda and its leader Osama
bin Laden were American allies who never protested the �inhuman foreign policy�
of the United States in Palestine or Iraq during all the period from the end of
the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan until the invasion of Iraq. In particular,
bin Laden never issued any condemnation of the U.S. strangling and starving of
Iraq during the entire 1990s and beyond because Wahabi Saudis considered the
Iraqi government secular and, thus, heathen.
If, but only at face value, it was al-Qaeda that attacked the United States, the motive for
such an attack could be only one: the de facto military occupation of Saudi
Arabia after the end of the Gulf �War� of 1991 prompted Saudi dissidents within
the ruling family and connected factions to declare war against the United
States to dislodge them from the Arabic Peninsula. To defeat those who opposed
its presence and military bases, the United States reacted by declaring war
against it erstwhile anti-Soviet occupation allies. From that moment on, it was
war and counter-war between the Saudi organization of bin Laden and the United
Garcia: Those who cannot accept the realization that
�the natives� successfully struck back will instead find comfort in the
hypothesis that 9-11 was an engineered catastrophe, and the ultimate puppeteers
were those who pull the strings of the US government.
Analysis: Tautologically, a banal language cannot be
but a banal language. For instance, Garcia�s word, �natives,� is utterly
equivocal and decidedly derogatory as is the rest of this specific quote. Does
he mean �natives� as domestic forces within the United States or �alien
natives� outside the United States?
In addition to this gelatinous insinuation, the phrase
�successfully struck back� lacks specific reference to a precise objective;
does he mean retaliation, and if so, in retaliation for what, by whom, and who
are the �ultimate puppeteers who pull the strings of the US government�? Why
did not Garcia name names so the readers can have an inkling of the
econo-political forces that have such capacity to pull those strings? Or does
he want us to guess?
Garcia: I consider the first school of thought to be
of rationalists and realists and the second school to be of irrationalists and
fantasists. �Faith-based� is a synonym for irrational, and a strong belief in
conspiracies -- with insufficient evidence -- is an irrational expression of
fear. And it is fear, ultimately, which is at the root of the obsession by so
many with 9-11.
Analysis: Uncritically and based on flimsy arguments,
Garcia begins classifying two camps in the debate on 9-11 with such an ease and
ideological alacrity. Garcia labels those people who accept the 9-11
Commission�s version of the events as �rationalists and realists� and the
detractors of the 9-11 commission�s version of the events as �irrationalists
But even more puzzling than this shallow classification is
his characterization of that debate in religious terms as when he states that
��Faith-based� belief is a synonym for irrational, and a strong belief in
conspiracies with insufficient evidence is an irrational expression of fear.
And it is fear, ultimately, which is at the root of the obsession by so many with
In truth, to open oneself to such invective and other
fallout -- such as loss of job, for example, physicist Steven Jones -- seems to
indicate that the 9-11 �truthers� are far more courageous than fearful.
Why is it that some persons consider questioning a
historical event in a way that does not conform to official theories as
�conspiratorial�? For instance, during the Inquisition, the Church considered
questioning the deity of the Christ or the Immaculate Conception of Mary a
blasphemy punishable by death. Why then insult the people who dare question the
�official� version of 9-11?
Yet, ironically, some people tout the supremacy of their
arguments as relying on scientific evidence. The question is, if such evidence
is impregnable and facts are solid, why then the need to resort to ad
hominem attacks to support it? One conclusion: the argument is too
structurally deficient to present without smearing those people who adhere to a
Garcia seems to call the 9-11 �truth� movement a religion
driven by fear. But is it not fear that many pundits contend the US regime is
effectively instilling in the American public?  After all, who depicted
Osama bin Laden as bogeyman so the U.S. could wage war against him? This
argument seems to work better the other way around? The 9-11 �truthers� are a
movement against fear.
Garcia: In our commercialized world, the infotainment
produced for this purpose is now a torrent. One of the mantras of the faith (of
a US government conspiracy to engineer 9/11 and its subsequent perceptions in
the public mind) is that �we need an �independent� investigation� to expose the
inner workings of the presupposed conspiracy, thus �awakening� the American
people to popular unanimity in toppling the Bush administration and punishing
all its associated hench-people. After this, nirvana supposedly. Much of the
mail I get from conspiracists (my term for school #2) takes me to task for
failing to support the idea of the desired investigation.
Analysis: In the end, why is it a �mantra of faith�?
His say-so? Over half the people polled seem to agree with this mantra of
wanting a proper, open investigation.  Nonetheless, Garcia persists in his
demonization of the 9-11 �truth� movement as a religion.
While name-calling tactics used by supporters of the
Bush-regime version of 9-11 may work with some people, it has obviously not
cowered masses of Americans from doubting the �official� 9-11 theory.�
Garcia: The psychology of fear is involved, but I am
impatient with it, thus �unsympathetic.� The presence of a large population of
fearful people creates opportunities for alert charismatic opportunists to
profit, by resonating with the archetypes of the shared mass-mindedness and
stroking it to spasms of �comfort� -- as the fictional Elmer Gantry did.
Analysis: Garcia finds �the psychology of fear�
trying his patience and making him �unsympathetic.� One wonders whereby Garcia
makes his assertion of an involved psychology of fear. Is this a scientifically
driven claim or emotional appraisal toward a political position? Can he point
to data or evidence that indicates that �fear� drives the 9-11 �truth�
movement? If not, why should readers give his claim any credence?
Garcia then enters into the wide and complex realm of mass
psychoanalysis. He states, �The presence of a large population of fearful
people creates opportunities for alert charismatic opportunists to profit, by
resonating with the archetypes of the shared mass-mindedness and stroking it to
spasms of �comfort� as the fictional Elmer Gantry did.�
We would rebut this type of pretentious analysis as such:
Garcia depicts the people in the 9-11 �truth� movement as �charismatic
opportunists to profit�? It seems that Garcia is improvising as psychoanalysis
expert although nothing of what he said gives the impression of any possessed
expertise in the matter, especially where �mass-mindedness� is involved. We,
certainly, do not see the need to possess a PhD in psychology to be
knowledgeable on psychological matters, but note that a leading writer
debunking the �official� 9-11 theory is often criticized for being a doctor of
theology rather than a doctor of engineering.
Garcia offers no references to buttress his claims of
�mass-mindedness,� so apparently readers should second his claim because he
Garcia: For the record, I am in favor of further
investigation. . . . I encourage all conspiracists to investigate to their
heart�s content (in fact, why don�t they?). I am sure this investigatory frenzy
will thrash out like that of the Kennedy assassination, and in 40 years we�ll
finally know for sure: it was airplanes crashing into the buildings (1),
insulation knocked off steel, fire, metal creep, and a massive oil-fed fire in
WTC 7 (2).
Analysis: With this statement Garcia is incurring a
patent contradiction: Since he encourages all �conspiracists� to continue
investigating 9-11, then why does he feel the need to trash the 9-11 �truthers�
as �conspiracists� and� irrationalists�?
Why ask an inane question like why aren�t they
investigating? Does not their pouring over videos, digging into the probability
of perfect demolitions occurring in three buildings on the same day,
determining who was or was not on board the ill-fated flights, etc. constitute
And, just why is it that a huge crime isn�t investigated by
the government as a normal course of events? Why does he shift the onus to
investigate 9-11 from the government to the citizens? Do citizens normally
investigate crimes? But the 9-11 �truth� movement would likely readily snap up
the offer made by Garcia, if he had the authority to grant the right to
investigate 9-11 properly.
If the 9-11 �truthers� were to fully investigate what
happened, would, for example, the government turn over all evidence and open itself
to full questioning by the 9-11 �truth� movement?
Garcia claims to know the �truth�: �in 40 years we�ll
finally know for sure: it was airplanes crashing into the buildings (1),
insulation knocked off steel, fire, metal creep, and a massive oil-fed fire in
WTC 7 (2).� Our question is: how will we know for sure in 40 years when Garcia
tells people to forget 9-11 now?
Regardless, Garcia appears to have faith that the truth will
be clear in the future. He still, obviously, holds to the theory that a Mousetrap�
like chain-of-events resulted in the simultaneous knocking out of all the
support structures of WTC 7 such that the building would fall straight down
demolition-style into its footprint� even though it was not hit by an airplane!
What are the mathematically calculated odds of
something-that-had-never-happened-before ever happening?
A top Dutch demolition expert averred on Dutch TV that WTC 7
was definitely brought down by a group of demolition experts. 
The same expert concedes that WTC 1 and 2 probably collapsed
from being hit by planes on 9-11. 
Garcia: Isn�t it amazing, that non-white �natives�
from far away can make so many white people in the most powerful white people�s
Analysis: It is redundant to state the implied chauvinist
racism although he puts some contentious terms between quotations marks. In
reverse psychoanalysis, such terms never appeared in the neocon literature, in
the annals of Bush administration, or in right-wing theories, so necessarily
they were the brainchild of Garcia himself.
One wonders, therefore, at the peculiar language, in that
�native� is often pejorative, coming from a progressive even when, as we
stated, offset by unattributed quotation marks. In so stating this, Garcia is
buying wholly into the political duopoly�s version that sustains the so-called
�war on terrorism.�
Is this furthering the antiwar cause? Is demonizing the 9-11
�truth� movement furthering the antiwar cause? Yet, those antiwar types who
disparage the 9-11 �truth� movement for distracting people from, what they
assert, really matters, are in fact, dividing the antiwar movement. So not only
are the critics of the 9-11 �truth� movement supporting the duopoly�s version
of 9-11, but they are, arguably, doing a hatchet job in weakening the antiwar
Garcia: Are we really to believe that a small band of
swarthy raiders from Islamic lands could possess the imagination, the cunning,
the determination, the ruthlessness, the grit and the courage to scare the
living hell out of the superpower populace? How is it possible for these
�nobodies� to have a greater impact over us than our own powerful lords? Are we
to believe that �the natives� smote us?
Analysis: Again, it is beside the point to state that
Garcia descended irreparably into the terrain of racial discrimination, and his
stratagem in obvious circumlocution is to make what he said appear to be as if
he were translating thoughts by others. It is of no use, since his intent is
transparent. Why the fixation on skin pigmentation? Ann Coulter was pilloried
for referring to Arabs as �swarthy males,� and fired from her job at the National
Review not so long ago, and yet Garcia calls the Arabs �swarthy raiders,�
though he might argue that it is tongue-in-cheek.
What Garcia is attempting to do, by dipping into the
language of ethnic prejudice, is to smear the 9-11 �truth� movement as racist
through insinuation and without providing an iota of evidence that Arabs were
behind the attack on the United States. It is a strange inversion of usually
defined prejudice. Exculpating Arabs as the criminal perpetrators makes 9-11
Garcia: Reality can present us with �an obvious� that
our racist thinking is blinded by: �Dick Cheney,� �Project for a New American
Century,� �controlled demolition� (3); inhale, �connect the dots,� regain your
equilibrium, now you see that the world is as it SHOULD be.
Analysis: What dots are there to connect? Garcia has
only asserted racist prejudice among the 9-11 �truth� movement (and society as
a whole) without citing one actual instance of such prejudice! Yet, Garcia�s
own name-calling and insinuations against the 9-11 �truth� movement expose his
own prejudice against the 9-11 �truth� movement.
Garcia: Why is it so imperative to the conspiracists
to convert everybody else?
Analysis: Why is it that skepticism to stories
emerging from a serially prevaricating regime, presenting an alternative view,
or asking questions makes one a �conspiracist�? Where is the evidence that the
9-11 �truth� movement seeks to convert anyone? Of course, Garcia used the word
�convert� to debase the 9-11 �truth� movement as a faith-based movement.
The movement is, by no means, monolithic, and, as far as we
can ascertain, the movement is calling for a proper open investigation.
Supposedly, then people would be able to scrutinize the evidence and arrive at
their own conclusions. Apparently, Garcia is satisfied with the result of the
9-11 inquiry report that did not initially try to explain the collapse of WTC
Garcia: No one prevents them from �investigating,� no
one prevents them from running engineering simulations of the Towers' collapses
to demonstrate their claims �scientifically� (commercial software is available
to do this, and various universities, like Purdue, are touting their research
software by applying it to the 9/11 events). Why the missionary zeal to infect
me with their disease?
Analysis: This is patently false and Garcia should
know much better. If anyone tried to access government files, police evidence,
go the site and carry out testing, etc. they would be prohibited and probably
much worse. A proper forensic investigation, in the case of 9-11, is not done
solely by computer simulations, and computer simulations are only as good as
the number of variables entered into the calculations. On-site inspections
would be necessary and so would access to the forensic evidence.
Consequently, to speak of an investigation without all the
variables and all the evidence is an affront to forensic scientists. Also,
�missionary zeal� is clearly another attempt by Garcia to paint the 9-11
�truth� movement as akin to a faith-based religion. They merely believe what
they want. It is an attempt to ignore solid questions that they raise without
dealing with them.
Garcia: Next there is a �virus; it propagates by
corrupting consciousness� like the invasion of the body snatchers� so the new
human carrier is propelled into a rabid invasion of the consciousness of
Analysis: This is a classic case of ad hominem argument. How much vitriolic name-calling before
Garcia�s entire article collapses under the weight of ad hominem
argument and innuendo? It is almost as if Garcia were calling upon his word to
We cannot give an exhaustive conclusion to such an article.
However, the following is a synopsis:
1. Garcia denies that the �zombies� in the 9-11 �truth�
movement are interested in discussion. This ignores their calls for a full and
open inquiry. He tarnishes the 9-11 �truth� movement in the same manner as the
US and Israeli establishment tarnish the Palestinians: �there is no one to talk
2. Garcia warns that the 9-11 �wrangling� has cause us to
forget the �holocaust of unspeakable pain and suffering in much of the world,
and for generations� wrought by �our way of life� and has wasted the �anguish
of the victims and the sacrifices of the rescuers . . . if we fail to recognize
the universality of human anguish and our direct contributions to it.
3. As support for his view of the collapse of WTC 7, Garcia
offers an email account of the great heat felt from the building. Is that
scientific evidence? No one disputes there was a fire in WTC 7. Some dispute
the intensity of the fire, but what causes many heads to turn askew is the
notion that every steel support beam collapsed simultaneously throughout the
building so that it could fall straight into its footprint. Then the steel
remnants were carted off overseas before a forensic examination could be
undertaken that would have conclusively revealed whether explosives had been
used or not.
4. Garcia�s article was an attack upon a group of people
concerned about a murderous crime. He asks people to forget. It is a risible
response to Spanish philosopher George Santayana�s oft quoted dictum: �Those
who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.�
If people do not know what happened, then the past is doomed
to repeat itself. According to Santayana�s dictum, cataclysmic crimes must be
solved and/or understood in order to prevent their reoccurrence. History is
perpetually unfolding. Even now the Bush regime (with Democrats in tow) is
scheming to attack Iran; standing by while Israel aggresses Palestine, Lebanon,
and Syria; increasing the carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti; and undermining
resistance to oppression in Colombia, the Philippines, and elsewhere. It just
might be that 9-11 is the most colossal cover up of a false-flag operation in
Furthermore, whereby do some people arrogate the right or
authority to determine for other people what they should forget or what they
may investigate? Garcia�s essay comes with a title implying that people should
forget 9-11. Yet, he graciously accepts that people have the right to
investigate 9-11 if they so choose, and he even suggests ways in which they
might do so.
But, if this is so, why then does he castigate the 9-11
�truth� movement with a series of slurs? Is this a scientific rebuttal of
queries or arguments that the 9-11 �truth� movement raises? Do slurs deserve
credence within civilized discourse among progressives?
Garcia has written many thoughtful articles, especially
making scientific matters digestible for lay readers, from a progressivist
standpoint. However, in �Forgetting 9/11,� there are no scientific points or
points of evidence to rebut. The article falls on its own words. Ad hominem
attacks do not make for worthy argumentation. Progressives should rightly
reject any appeals to prejudice, especially appeals that invoke divisiveness
among the ranks.
Now, it is important to unite all opponents of
state-sanctioned murder and prevent an attack on Iran and work to achieve the
withdrawal of the invader-occupiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. It is only
rational to conclude that for the antiwar movement to prevail, the �rationalists�
and the �irrationalists� need to work together. Name-calling does little to
achieve this requisite cooperation. One day a revolution will come but only
through coalescing among the antiwar movement can a large enough mass movement
We suggest that people who want their arguments to be taken
seriously drop the ad hominem baggage and deal solely with facts and
logic to make their case. To present ad hominem attacks as argument
insults not only the target but also the reader. Emphatically, since ad
hominem attacks demeans the persons who resorts to it, one would think that
at least out of self-respect, people would abandon this unseemly tactic.
1. Quoted in Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the
Media (National Film Board of Canada, 1992).
2. David Ray Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer
to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory (Olive
Branch Press, 2007).
3. Widespread fear (91 %) of another terrorist attack on US
soil exists. �Zogby
Poll: Six Years Later, 81% Still See 9/11 Terrorist Attacks As Most Significant
Historical Event of their Lives,� Zogby International, 9 September 2007.
Poll: 51% of Americans Want Congress to Probe Bush/Cheney Regarding 9/11
Attacks; Over 30% Seek Immediate Impeachment,� Zogby International, 6
September 2007. The subheadline reads: �67% also fault 9/11 Commission for not
investigating anomalous collapse of World Trade Center 7.�
Dutch demolition expert Danny Jowenko on WTC #7,� You Tube.
Demolition Expert on WTC1 and WTC2,� You Tube.
Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice.org and B. J. Sabri is an
Iraq-American antiwar activist. Email: Petersen_sabri@yahoo.com.
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