Canadian Arab News
|Even those we admire can succumb to bias and cognitive dissonance
September 6, 2007
When Robert Fisk speaks, people listen. They should. This long-time Beirut-based reporter for The Independent has distinguished himself as a rare voice of integrity when mass-media Middle East reporting has become ever more reflexively pro-Israel, pro-war, anti-Arab and downright irrational.
Fisk’s accounts of Israeli atrocities in Lebanon, such as the 1996 and 2006 Qana massacres, cannot be praised highly enough. He wrote the following on April 19, 1996, the day after the first massacre:
“Not since Sabra and Chatila had I seen the innocent slaughtered like this. The Lebanese refugee women and children and men lay in heaps, their heads or arms or legs missing, beheaded or disemboweled. There were well over a hundred of them. A baby lay without a head. The Israeli shells had scythed through them as they lay in the United Nations shelter, believing that they were safe under the world’s protection. Like the Muslims of Srebrenica, the Muslims of Qana were wrong.”
Such straightforward, honest reporting about the Middle East and Israel’s sadism therein is rarely if ever found in the zionist-occupied North American media. Yes, indeed, when Fisk speaks—either in person or with his typewriter—people listen, and these people form a large, loyal following. Consequently, whether he likes it or not, Fisk has attained celebrity status and people put great store by what he says.
For that reason he should take greater care when he expresses an opinion on a subject outside of his field of expertise. I am speaking, of course, about the events of Sept. 11, 2001. To put it bluntly, Fisk is uninformed on the matter, and he does a great disservice to the spirit of open journalism and free enquiry when he flippantly dismisses those who are informed.
Just over 15 months ago, I went to hear Fisk speak in Vancouver as part of the promotional tour for his book The Great War for Civilization—The Conquest of the Middle East. I had long wanted to hear Fisk, since I had been following his dispatches for years and found him an excellent source for my own book on the Middle East and U.S. warmongering.
It was after a woman came down to the microphone next to the stage, though, that I saw Fisk in a new, dimmer light. The man I thought to be a courageous reporter who dared stand against the censorious tide of zionist disinformation, was himself not immune to censorship. The woman asked him about Israel’s role in the Sept. 11 attack and before she could finish, he shut her down. I was the next speaker at that microphone after her and I fared little better.
I didn’t mind so much that Fisk had a different opinion on the subject; what angered me was that he condescendingly denigrated the idea of Israeli involvement while protesting that he was not expert in the events of Sept. 11. For man whose life is synonymous with intrepid reporting and principled commitment to the facts, such arrogant disregard for contrary evidence seemed wholly out of character and unworthy of his reputation.
But that’s just the point. Fisk has a sterling reputation, and when someone with a sterling reputation behaves ignorantly and, frankly, dishonestly, the damage done is much worse than had such contemptuous behaviour come from the likes of Rudy Giuliani or Alan Dershowitz, whom we have all come to know and loathe.
In his latest foray into the minefield of the WTC bombing—(“Even I question the ‘truth’ about 9/11,” The Independent, Aug. 25, 2007)—Fisk adds a patina of humility to his otherwise patrician demeanour by declaring that he, yes he, has doubts about what happened that day. Unfortunately, he harbours no such doubt about the truth of his own prejudice:
“Usually, I have tried to tell the ‘truth’; that while there are unanswered questions about 9/11, I am the Middle East correspondent of The Independent, not the conspiracy correspondent; that I have quite enough real plots on my hands in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Iran, the Gulf, etc, to worry about imaginary ones in Manhattan.”
Notice how Fisk denigrates alternate theories about Sept. 11 as “conspiracies” or “imaginary plots,” yet at no time does he provide any evidence to convince us that such theories are “imaginary.” One example would have sufficed. Instead, the audience was supposed to take it on faith that the esteemed Robert Fisk had passed judgment on the falsity of controlled demolition and Israeli involvement, subjects in which, by his own admission, he is unqualified.
|Robert Fisk, speaking in Vancouver on June 4, 2006, demonstrated his peculiar bias against infomed dissent about the World Trade Centre collapse by refusing to entertain arguments that challenged the official “the planes did it” narrative. Those in the audience, including me, who asked about the role played by Israel and/or Israelis within the Bush junta, were dismissed out of hand, even though Fisk admitted to not being well-informed on the matter. To listen to the webcast, go to www.workingtv.com/fisk.html.
photo: Greg Felton
Fisk, like a lot of otherwise intelligent people, has not bothered to investigate the arguments of those he so freely disdains. He’s like the Medieval theologian who, looking up at the sky on a clear night, cannot in his wildest imagination believe that the Earth is not the centre of the universe. Any astronomical anomaly that challenged this geocentric cocoon had to be forced to fit into his preconceived ordered, biblical reality or else be denied as heretical nonsense.
If Fisk has doubts about the official narrative, as he claims to have, he must honestly follow them to their logical conclusions, even to the extent of abandoning his fallacious, though comforting, preconceptions. Let’s begin with the following epiphanies:
“If it is true, for example, that kerosene burns at 820 C under optimum conditions, how come the steel beams of the twin towers—whose melting point is supposed to be about 1,480C—would snap through at the same time? (They collapsed in 8.1 and 10 seconds.) What about the third tower —the so-called World Trade Centre Building 7…which collapsed in 6.6 seconds in [sic] its own footprint at 5.20 p.m. on 11 September? Why did it so neatly fall to the ground when no aircraft had hit it?”
One has to laugh at Fisk’s naïveté and propensity for self-delusion. On the one hand he is bothered by the thermal anomalies in the fires that are alleged to have brought down three steel-framed buildings—one without benefit of aircraft—yet on the other hand he ridicules the idea of deliberate demolition.
If the heat from the fire didn’t come from the aircraft, it had to come from somewhere else. That somewhere else, is internal explosives, and if Fisk opened the shutters of his mind a crack he would benefit immensely from the definitive work of physics professor Dr. Steven Jones, who was forced out of his teaching profession at Brigham Young University for having exploded the foundation of the junta’s preconceived “biblical” narrative.
From Jones’s research, Fisk would learn that the yellowish ejecta coming away from the buildings as they collapsed was thermate, a powerful commercial explosive.
From Appendix A to the fraudulent 9/11 Commission Report, he would learn that in two previous fires involving steel-framed buildings, the external walls maintained the buildings’ integrity.
From watching frame-by-frame video footage of the second plane, he would learn that explosions ripped through the tower before the nose of the aircraft made impact.
From my book The Host and the Parasite—How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America, he would learn that Israel had two hours warning before the first plane hit.
In fact, if Fisk had the inclination to do some basic research he could resolve many of his nagging doubts, like why no passenger jetliner debris was found at the Pentagon or at the Pennsylvania crash site. Instead, Fisk prefers to wait for The American National Institute of Standards and Technology to come out with its “official” analysis of the destruction of all three buildings. That won’t be biased, will it?
This slavish subservience to “science” and officialdom sets up a tautology. If, as critics argue, the Bush junta was responsible for the WTC collapse, then any official investigation is going to reflect the junta’s version of reality—Muslims did it. That’s why the corrupt 9/11 Commission Report and the pseudo-analysis from Popular Mechanics must be rejected as propaganda. Its chief researcher was none other than Benjamin Chertoff, cousin to Michael Chertoff, the Israeli head of the Department of Homeland Insecurity.
Seems to me, Mr. Fisk, that there might be good reason to investigate a zionist connection to the WTC collapse, but why investigate an uncomfortable truth when you have a handy intellectual disconnect at your disposal?:
“My final argument—a clincher, in my view—is that the Bush administration has screwed up everything—militarily, politically, diplomatically—it has tried to do in the Middle East; so how on earth could it successfully bring off the international crimes against humanity in the United States on 11 September 2001? Well, I still hold to that view.
Any proper investigation into the WTC attacks must include Israel and the Lobby, because Israel was the only political entity to benefit from it. If Fisk can’t see that, he could at least stop sabotaging the efforts of those who do.