Visibility 9-11 Exclusive
A 9/11 Blogger, Researcher, and Activist, Arabesque is a frequent contributor to 911blogger.com and has had articles published in the Journal of 9/11 Studies.
The subject of this essay is divisive. In fact, it’s about divisiveness. In response to the problem of divisive posts at 911blogger, Reprehensor wrote:
Why do people attack each other? There are many reasons, and most of them are irrational. Others attack deliberately. Does this happen in the 9/11 truth movement? In fact, divide and conquer was an intentional strategy used by the OSS during World War II:
“Psychological warfare, as the term is used by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff ... comprises all moral and physical means other than orthodox military operations which tend to destroy the will and ability of the enemy to resist, to deprive him of support of allies or neutrals and to increase in our own troops and allies the will to victory. The implements of psychological warfare are: open propaganda, subversion, special operations (sabotage, guerrilla warfare, espionage), political and cultural pressures, economic pressures. The principal effects sought are persuasion, sympathy, terrorization, confusion, division and physical interference.”
From historical examples and COINTELPRO, we should not rule out the possibility that this tactic could be used against current day activists. Having this problem in mind, Barrie Zwicker commented about possible disinformation and infiltration within the 9/11 truth movement:
“What’s needed is politically relevant education. Education about agents of all kinds, especially agents provocateurs, their history, who employs them, their tactics… While educating ourselves and others we can simultaneously actively combat agents of the state by refraining from engaging in the types of behaviour they employ to sow dissention: name-calling, rumour-mongering, insinuation. Especially specific name-calling. Refraining from this does not stifle vigorous discussion and debate, based on observable facts, statements and patterns. Education drains the swamp. Most of agents will stand out. It’s happening already. Other agents are deeper. Understanding their purposes and identifying them and dealing with them depends on more education yet.”
What is an agent provocateur?
According to Wikipedia:
“An agent provocateur (plural: agents provocateurs, French for "inciting agent") is a person who secretly disrupts a group's activities from within the group. Agents provocateurs typically represent the interests of another group, or are agents directly assigned to provoke unrest, violence, debate, or argument by or within a group while acting as a member of the group.”
Provocateurs “try to disrupt a group by creating discord between group members” in a deliberate attempt to get the targeted group to fight between themselves, rather than their intended opponent. This is divide and conquer.
What causes divisiveness within the 9/11 truth movement? We can summarize it in one word: Ad-hominem. This is how it works:
The “attack” can come in the form of insult, accusation, or irrelevant commentary. In fact, one does not need to hurl insults to commit ad-hominem. Any commentary that distracts attention away from an argument to an individual belongs to this fallacy:
“So here we have Cosmos who shows you he looks like he's trying to imitate Che Guavara or a member of the Sons of David baseball team. He's hiding behind a huge beard, looks like the Italian aviators in A Night at the Opera… Michael Wolsey, Visibility 9/11. He appears of course in shades, he's got some cool shades on, he doesn’t want you to see him.”
It can be observed that the ad-hominem is one of the most effective forms of disinformation because it engages at the emotional level. While anyone can engage in ad-hominem commentary, the 9/11 truth movement is especially noteworthy for its usage:
“Another important aspect of how disinformation in the 9/11 Truth Movement functions is through the use of attack and vitriol. While all types of people—professionals, academics and average people—can resort to nasty or inappropriate personal attacks when defending or promoting theories which conflict, the 9/11 Truth Movement has been packed with such attacks.”
Agent Provocateurs emphasize:
In short, an Agent Provocateur is an expert in ad-hominem:
Divisive Labels and Issues
Divisive labels function as ad-hominem when they are used for the purpose of attacking your opponent and intentionally creating divisiveness. Examples include: “Conspiracy theorist”, “Agent”, “LIHOP”, “MIHOP”, “Limited Hangout”, “Plane Hugger”, etc.
While these labels may or may not provide an understanding of the events of 9/11, they are also primarily used to create division by labeling individuals. When this happens, their function shifts from their original meaning to divisiveness and ad-hominem. For instance, when used to label an individual, LIHOP is no longer a critical understanding of what happened on 9/11—it’s a divisive label to start infighting: “Don’t listen to what he says—he promotes LIHOP”.
Even with the assumption that LIHOP is not what happened on 9/11, does that mean that we should personally attack or start fights with people who believe in it, or variants of it? There is nothing wrong with disagreement if civil critique and dialog is allowed. On the other hand, divisive and overly-simplistic labels are frequently used to avoid civility and to create division.
Divisive Labels and Issues as Straw-man
Divisive topics abound in the 9/11 truth movement. The single most notable and divisive issue is the Pentagon. Many will agree to disagree with what happened at the Pentagon. Does this mean that we should fight about it? No, it means we should discuss it in a civil and respectful manner, without personal attacks or labeling individuals as “agents” or “supporting the official story”.
For example, to say that a 9/11 activist “supports the official story” at the Pentagon is a divisive straw-man label given to those who believe it was hit by a 757. There are many 9/11 activists who believe that the “official story” of what happened at the Pentagon is absurd enough as it is—no missiles, global hawks, or unnoticed flyovers required. Hanni Hanjour? Almost two hours without interception? The Pentagon of all places? Norman Mineta? Saying that 9/11 activists “support” the official story because they believe it was hit by a 757 is a divisive straw-man. It’s an attempt to get activists to fight with each other instead of focusing on our agreement that the official story at the Pentagon has enough problems on its own, and that we need another investigation to prove exactly what happened.
Another example would be to label someone who believes that the Pentagon was hit by a 757 as “LIHOP”, while ignoring the fact that elsewhere they argued that Building 7 was destroyed by controlled demolition. This is how divisive and overly-simplistic labels are effectively used by agent provocateurs.
An agent provocateur likes straw-men assertions and to accuse you of things that you do not even believe (i.e. “support the official story”) because they will make you defensive and engage in pointless arguments and infighting. If that fails, the provocateur hopes that perhaps someone else will agree and take the bait and attack you as well. On the other hand, if a response is given, the provocateur has a ready supply of sarcasm, insults, and accusations to follow up with his initial bait.
What makes these tactics even more successful is when the individual being targeted starts throwing divisive language and labels back at the instigator; this is an excellent opportunity for to others to join the attacks. Often, those who join in are just simply offended by how someone responded to the divisive language in the first place. Divide and conquer has commenced.
Dialog and Critique versus Ad-hominem
“In our movement there has to be a sphere of theoretical discussion, which has to be done in a business-like and respectful manner, without slander, without defamation, without ad hominem attacks on every page.” Webster Tarpley
There is a distinct difference between ad-hominem and respectful discourse. The latter is emphasized in the Journal of 9/11 Studies by Kevin Ryan:
“[We] hope to emphasize the importance of legitimate scientific discussion (which the Journal welcomes), as opposed to inappropriate personal attacks (which we do not publish).”
There is nothing wrong with disagreement. However, we will never advance our knowledge and understanding if we are focused on attacking each other. Because personal attacks work at an emotional level, they are very effective at poisoning the well and shifting the debate away from 9/11 to essentially a mudslinging contest.
Although critique and dialog are essential for advancing our understanding of 9/11, it can also be observed that is impossible to have dialog with those who refuse to answer critique:
“I do not find it necessary to respond directly to the interview criticism in either its original content or in the further criticism in the new letter. My line of research in furtherance of DEW causal theory has taken a different direction that neither benefits nor suffers from public criticism of the theory. Opinions on the matter differ and I respect those who have differing opinions.”
Unity is not achieved through ignoring disruption and disrupters. In fact, ignoring destructive behavior is exactly what allows it to be successful and continue without interruption. Activist Ginetta Sagan says, “silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.”
Let’s take the example of 9/11. If you believed that there was insider complicity for the events of 9/11 and did nothing about it, would that fix anything? Ignoring a problem rarely results in a solution. Michael Wolsey comments on the problem of disruption:
“In the past, and using the mantra ‘for the sake of the movement’, it has been the practice to ignore these disruptors. What has ignoring these people done? Have things got better as a result of ignoring them? Have they gone away? On the contrary, like busy little termites, the have been slowly eating away at the foundations of our movement… We as a movement need to come together on how we handle such disruptors and re-evaluate the unwritten, failed policy of ignoring them and hoping they will just go away.”
Approaching a problem with the wrong solution doesn’t work either. If the problem is divisiveness, you do not counter it with more divisiveness. What are some possible strategies for combating this behavior?
Understanding the psychology of disruption
While it is human to be upset or angry, those who disrupt intentionally want you to ignore their destructive behavior so that they can keep doing it. They want to fight you—they do not want to have dialog. Their only purpose is to disrupt. Their chief weapons are divisive labels, controversial issues, and ad-hominem.
The 9/11 truth movement is what its members make it to be. Either we can work together by critiquing each other in a civil and respectful manner, or we can fight with ourselves until the end of time while the crimes of 9/11 go unanswered. Staying silent on this problem will not provide a solution. The disrupters are here, and they are not going away.
The agent provocateur is as virulent a form of disinformation that exists within the 9/11 truth movement. Whether by intent or ego, those who emphasize attacking individuals rather than critiquing ideas in a respectful manner are working against the 9/11 truth movement, not for it.
David Ray Griffin is Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology, Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, where he remains a co-director of the Center for Process Studies.
A Message From David Ray Griffin
Dear Fellow 9/11 Truth Seekers,
— David Ray Griffin
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