Turning Santayana’s Dictum on Its Head- Rejecting Appeals to Ad Hominem by Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri / September 17th, 2007


Turning Santayana’s Dictum on Its Head

Rejecting Appeals to Ad Hominem

by Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri / September 17th, 2007

With the exclusion 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 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 inconsistencies.

Because 9-11 is a pivotal event that re-introduced 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 this “certainty.”

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 thereof.

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.1


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.2

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 avalanche 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 proofs 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” 1991 prompted Saudi dissidents within the ruling family 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 States.

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 inkling on 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 rationalists 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 and fantasists.” 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 9-11.”

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 questioning 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 to support it? One conclusion: the argument is too structurally deficient to present without smearing those people who adhere to a different explanation.

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?3 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.4 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 says so.

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 investigation?

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.5

The same expert concedes that WYC 1 and 2 probably collapsed from being hit by planes on 9-11.6

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 country scared?

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 rightwing 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 un-attributed 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 driving a wedge in 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 on weakening the antiwar movement.

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 was 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 “truthers” racists!

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 7.

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. 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 others.

Analysis: This is a classic case of ad hominem. How much vitriolic name-calling before Garcia’s entire article collapses under the weight of ad hominem and innuendo? It is almost as if Garcia were calling upon a faith based upon his word to persuade readers.

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 to.”

2. Garcia warns that the 9-11 “wrangling” has caused 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 (will 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 Columbia, Philippines, and elsewhere. It just might be that 9-11 is the most colossal cover up of a false-flag operation in history.

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 does 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 co-operation. One day a revolution will come but only through coalescing among the antiwar movement can a large enough mass movement be built.

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 as argument insults not only the target of ad hominem but also the reader. Emphatically, since ad hominem demeans the person who resorts to it, one would think that at least out of self-respect, people would abandon this 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. ↑
4. “Zogby 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.” ↑
5. “9/11: Dutch demolition expert Danny Jowenko on WTC #7,” You Tube. ↑
6. “Controlled Demolition Expert on WTC1 and WTC2,” You Tube. ↑

Good reply to Garcia's idiotic hit piece

A good rebuttal of weapons-designer Garcia's inane 9/11 hit piece. It reveals just how far these gatekeepers will descend in their vapid and emotional attempts to defend the mass murderers of officialdom vis a vis 9/11. Truly, people like Garcia have made themselves into accomplices with this kind of scurrilous, irrational attack on people who ask rational questions about 9/11 and refuse to believe in fairy tales.

Will Dissident Voice be the only leftist zine that publishes this ? Garcia's garbage was published in Counterpunch and Common Dreams, if not other places.

Wish that I could give this another ten stars...

... but then that would be abusing a vote.

Many thanks to such effort and time spent dissecting the rotting mind of a sad folk like Garcia.

Cause of Death: Lack of humane oxygen, compounded by critical nutrient thinking deficiency.