Tuesday, September 23, 2008

One quick splash of Cologne is no substitute for a clean shower—but don't worry, we won't throw out the baby with the bathwater.



I
ve become a regular reader of the fine anti-Islam blog Gates of Vienna (GOV) over the past few months.

Their coverage over the past week of the recent political tragedy in Cologne, Germany, has been very good, including not only excerpts from European media (both mainstream and maverick) as well as many different dispatches from eyewitness participants, but also some insightful analyses, from the blogger Fjordman and others.


Today, I am only noting the irrational suspension, on the part of both the GOV staff and Fjordman (as well as what appears to be the majority of their supporters), of any critical faculties with regard to Robert Spencers culpable stance on Cologne and, closely related to that, on Filip Dewinter and the Flemish political party Vlaams Belang. (It goes without saying that the vast majority of Jihad Watch readers will be stubbornly irrational defenders of Spencer from any and all substantive criticism.)

I wasn
t necessarily planning on writing about this, but an essay by Fjordman the other day at GOV was the straw that broke the camels back.

The torturous oddity of the GOV/Fjordman stance on this unfolds from the following:

1) The judgement that Robert Spencer is so valuable to the anti-Islam cause, he is beyond substantive criticism.

2) Closely related to #1, the implication that any substantive criticism of Spencer would either undermine his otherwise stellar work, or would signify that his critics would, by their substantive criticism, have effectively ostracized him (or tried to ostracize him) from the anti-Islam community.

3) The fact that Spencer has consistently insinuated that Filip Dewinter, Vlaams Belang and now the pro-Cologne movement are guilty, until proven innocent, of fascism (though Spencer never stipulates exactly how they could completely wash away their fascist smear and exonerate themselves sufficiently for his moral purity such that he would unabashedly support them).

4) The fact that Spencer has consistently praised and supported Oriana Fallaci, Bat Yeor, Diana West and Fjordman.

5) The fact that Filip Dewinter recently received an honorary award from an Oriana Fallaci organization, and shared the podium with Bat Yeor—a fact that is strangely dissonant with facts #3 and #4 above, which I pointed out in at least two comments at GOV, only to be received with stony silence (save for one reader I have never seen before, who supported my stance).

6) The fact that Charles Johnson has

a) condemned Filip Dewinter, Vlaams Belang and Diana West


b) for practical purposes ostracized Fjordman

c) took down a formal tribute to Oriana Fallaci that had been on his site, apparently in response to the fact that Filip Dewinter received the above-mentioned Oriana Fallaci award, and has also maintained silence about that award event in general, in which Bat Yeor also participated

d) maintained an apparent blackout on coverage of the Cologne debacle.


7) The fact that Spencer continues to maintain amicable relations with Charles Johnson and, of course, tends to avoid discussing these sensitive, but most pertinent, issues with him.

8) The fact that Spencer has also maintained a virtual blackout on the Cologne debacle, only once posting an article about it, and embellishing it ornately with a long introductory commentary that maintained his fastidiously gingerly moral purity above the fray of the impurity of possible (but not proven)
fascist connections.

9) Finally, the fact that GOV/Fjordman regularly criticize Charles Johnson, but have carefully avoided criticizing Spencer (and rise to his defense whenever any peon, like me, dares to do so or, more often, just ignore me)
even knowing the facts under #3 through #8.

I have several times left comments at GOV pointing out these things in one way or another, particularly on stories relating to Filip Dewinter and the Cologne event, and I have only received one supportive comment from someone I do not know, while I received a couple of comments disagreeing with me from Fjordman, Baron Bodissey, and Conservative Swede. Otherwise, there has been silence on this.


Conclusion:


Nobody should be above criticism, not even Robert Spencer. For fellow members of the anti-Islam community to subject one or more of his positions to substantive criticism will not hurt him, nor will it undermine his work. Nor does criticizing Spencer mean that one is severing ties with him or banishing him from the anti-Islam community. It is childish and preposterous to continue nursing these crotchets. In fact, substantive criticism is more likely to be productive at best, or have negligible effect at worst.

Of course, Charles Johnson
s culpability on this is far more egregious than is Robert Spencers; but that is not an argument by which to let Spencer off the hook.

In sum, the tendency toward self-censorship in this regard among the Jihad Watch community and the GOV community just doesn
t smell right. Only a generous dose of Cologne, slapped on Spencers cheeks and dousing his three-piece suit, will cure it.

8 comments:

latté island said...

Last year, some of the GoV bloggers attended the Anti-Jihad conference in Europe. Robert Spencer also attended. It may be that they bonded socially and don't want to trash their friend. That's the only thing I can figure out. Or maybe it's something else.

Erich said...

latte island,

I tend to think it's explained by my reason #1 in my essay:

1) The judgement that Robert Spencer is so valuable to the anti-Islam cause, he is beyond substantive criticism.

Afonso Henriques said...

Erich,

While I am grossly ignorant of what happens in the United States over this "anti-jihad" movement I wanted to say that maybe you people valorise too much people like Robert Spencers and others like him (but not Fjordman) who are simple "virtual warriors".

While this is a precious help, what we lack is "real warriors" like Filip De Winter and others (the Dutch guy...).

All this - in my eyes - is not more than cheap hypocrisy: Virtual warriors wannabe(?) real warriors criticising to death real warriors.

In my eyes, at least in my eyes, that is what distinguish Gates of Vienna from other blogs. It apears that Baron/Fjordman and others (Conservative Swede / El Ingles, etc) will stick to real warriors and continue to support them even if things get ugly. I stop visiting Dihmi Watch and Jihad Watch because ... they are so empty man... I can only feel stability in the GoV site, which I feel has lost much audience due to these firm stands - audience that I think will only multiply if they continue doing the good work. However, I will continue to "troll" in Gates of Vienna in order to push those iluminati(ed) souls, the commenters and, especially, the readers, to more broader terms:

Not anti-jihad but, Pro-European like, Brussels Journal.

P.S. - The absense of posts in GoV concerning non-muslim multicultural problems in the U.S.A. - especially La Razza oriented - sometimes makes me think they are not protecting their American backs as they should... just like the multitude of posts condening Barak Obama for, well, things he should not be accused of like... being Arab (not muslim) instead of black...
Some excerpts of his book(s) would be much more effective.

Nobody said...

Alfonso

Robert isn't merely a 'virtual' warrior - within the US, he occasionally (often during a major Islamic outrage) appears on radio and on TV shows, and is in fact the only visible face critical of Islam.

Erich

I think one good way for GoV, Fjordman and others to criticize Spencer, if they don't want to do it directly, is to criticize his points and publicize the lacunae of those, without mentioning him by name. Spencer is constantly haranged by those in the Islamosphere, so I don't blame him for being a tad sensitive to criticism. While taking him on directly, as I did in the Cologne thread, is one way to do it, the other way is to simply take his arguments and point out their individual shortcomings without mentioning the source (which doesn't qualitatively impact the critique in and of itself), as opposed to mentioning him by name, which seems to (more often than not) start an internecine skirmish within the AIM.

One needs to remember that the targets of such posts aren't just opinion-makers such as Spencer, but other blog readers as well. Once the shortcomings of any stances of anybody are pointed out, other readers are left at liberty to come to their own conclusions. At the end of the day, the objective of the posters in question are accomplished.

Afonso Henriques said...

Nobody,

Thank you, I did not knew that (that explains a lot) but you see, he still has no power on the ground.

For instance, see what happens when a still-non-subject of the European Union gains a little bit of power: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N02M0NUjXxg&feature=related

By the way, and this is off topic but I am hearing TV while commenting and I just here the following: (about homossexual marriage, but it is telling)

"The majority cannot have a say in the affairs of the minorities. That is democracy. Democracy is not the rule of the majority but the respect towards the minorities."

It was said by a member of the Socialist Youth. The Socialist Party is the power on power by now.

Welcome to the European Union.

Erich said...

nobody,

"I think one good way for GoV, Fjordman and others to criticize Spencer, if they don't want to do it directly, is to criticize his points and publicize the lacunae of those, without mentioning him by name."

That could work fine for the most part with aspects of Spencer's analytical methodology (the Islam/Muslim distinction; the asymptomtic avoidance of condemnation of Islam, etc.), but would not work very well for Spencer's betrayal of Filip Dewinter, Vlaams Belang, and the pro-Cologne demonstration. With the latter case, we are not merely talking about methodology and analysis, but also about important points of principle and support which cannot be abstracted from the personal element of political movements -- particularly to the degree that Spencer is influential and well-known.

teacher.paris said...

Gates of Vienna opposes Islam only because it threatens Israel.
They do not mind the Africanization of Paris per se, only the immigration of Moslem from Africa.

Erich said...

teacher.paris,

I don't think the GOV community would say they "don't mind" the "Africanization of Paris". I think on this point they would agree with me that while a non-Islamic "Africanization" of France or any other part of the West presents sociopolitical problems (insofar as "Africanization" implies an inundation of another culture and not just a relatively minor influx of immigrants), those problems are far weaker in magnitude compared with problems attending an Islamicization of France or of any other part of the West.

Thus, in the interest of focusing attention on the worse problem, rather than the milder problem, GOV and most other wings of the Anti-Islam Movement are only being unremarkably rational.