Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What a tangled cobweb we weave: Let the sun shine in.









More thoughts on my last post:


The Anti-Islam Movement has developed a rather convoluted cat
s-cradle of gentlemens agreements to mutual silence.

Let us tease out some of the threads of this complex skein:


* Robert Spencer remains silent on Diana Wests support of Filip Dewinter and Vlaams Belang.

* GOV/Fjordman remain silent on Robert Spencer
s silence on Diana Wests support of Filip Dewinter and Vlaams Belang.

* Also, GOV/Fjordman remain silent on Spencer
s McCarthyesque insinuations of guilty-until-proven innocent fascist connections that keep him from supporting Filip Dewinter and Vlaams Belang and the pro-Cologne movement. And, of course, GOV/Fjordman continue to support Spencer.

* In addition, Diana West remains silent on Spencers betrayal of Filip Dewinter and Vlaams Belang and the pro-Cologne movement. And she too continues to support Spencer.

* Spencer on his side continues to support Diana West and Fjordman, yet remains silent on Charles Johnson
s egregious condemnations of Diana West and hostility towards Fjordman (not to mention his egregious condemnation of Filip Dewinter, Vlaams Belang, the pro-Cologne movement, and many others he has smeared with the label fascist).

* Meanwhile GOV/Fjordman for their part remain silent on Spencer
s silence on Charles Johnson.

What a tangled cobweb we weave! The Anti-Islam Movement seriously needs to pull back the drapes, open wide the bay windows, breathe deeply the fresh air coming in, and let the bright sunshine of frank, honest, clear and rational discussion shine on all these intricate cobwebs that have been festering and building up.

Update:

Some of the key players responded to a comment of mine on GOV from which the above was taken after a bit of polishing up:

A GOV reader and supporter, henrik r clausen, wrote:

Erich, I think the silences serve purposes. One is to abstain from potentially stupid personal squabbles. One is to be silent on issues where one does not have complete knowledge. And one is to focus on the real issues, facing up to totalitarian Islam.

I'm sick of little squabbles and prefer to get on with our job. Bigots like CJ can be left behind, as they contribute nothing of value, merely dissent.

Then perhaps the most doggedly single-minded supporter of Spencer, awake (with whom I have had innumerable exchanges, both in comments fields on my retired blog Jihad Watch Watch as well as in a private email blitz he created, enlisting the cooperation of Spencer himself, both of whom indulged in childish and torturous abuses of elementary logic that took me literally hours to unscramble patiently for them while avoiding the snippy insults and ad hominems they levelled at me), wrote:

Erich appears to be sowing the seeds of discontent between major players in the anti-Islam movement again, and also seems to insinuate that the movement is fractured in the absence of a monolithic mindset, namely his very own.

What he is attempting to achieve I still fail to realize, although I am quite confident to date that his results have been negligible.

Then the GOV head, baron bodissey, wrote

Erich --

Time to cool your jets, Flash.

You mistake tact for "silence". I don't fight publicly with that I consider to be basically on the same side as I am. Charles Johnson was an exception (and to a lesser extent, Pastorius) because he absolutely insisted on a fight. But even that was limited in scope and duration, on our end.

You don't know what goes on in private conversations, nor should you. Our cause is not served by public intramural squabbles, and I won't engage in any, if I have a choice.

Finally, Fjordman weighed in:

Awake: You are right, Erich doesn't achieve much. But that doesn't mean he isn't annoying.

I then responded to the only pertinent points from the aforementioned:

henrik clausen,

"One is to be silent on issues where one does not have complete knowledge."

Spencer is not following this piece of advice from you, since he pronounces upon Filip Dewinter and Vlaams Belang while obviously not having complete knowledge which is available (for example in the fine essays by Christine over at the 910 group).

And:

baron bodissey,

You confuse reasonable and mature criticism with "fighting" and "squabbles", as though there is no difference.

I am not calling on people to "fight" Spencer, nor to have "squabbles" with him. It is absurd to think that there should not be criticism of Spencer on certain points from within the Anti-Islam Movement. Not only does such absurdity demonstrate a childish fear of criticism, it serves to suppress one of the main virtues of Western civilization by which individuals, groups and ideas progress: the openness toward internal criticism.

10 comments:

awake said...

..."both of whom indulged in childish and torturous abuses of elementary logic that took me literally hours to unscramble patiently for them while avoiding the snippy insults and ad hominems they levelled at me"...


How fantastically Austeresque-like of you Erich! A declaration passed off as fact without a shred of proof to support it.

Auster has taught you well young padawan.

I see you are quite comfortable in the role of victim as well, another superb Auster trait that you share.

You will no doubt continue to comment about your perceived inadequacies of Spencer, Pipes, Baron, Fjordman, Geller and every other player who pales in comparison to yourself, Auster, a dead woman in Fallacci and "high-profile" Bill Warner.

Erich said...

awake,

"How fantastically Austeresque-like of you Erich! A declaration passed off as fact without a shred of proof to support it."

Well, more like an assertion (I don't think something stated as an aside within parentheses is, strictly speaking, a declaration); presented, as you so perspicaciously noticed, without any evidence. Even if I reproduced all the emails I saved from you guys, I suspect it probably wouldn't convince you of their character which in my reasonable estimation fits my asserted description, since I have doubts about your capacity to adjudge such a matter fairly.

Erich said...

awake,

"I see you are quite comfortable in the role of victim as well, another superb Auster trait that you share."

I wouldn't call being highly annoyed and baffled particularly "comfortable". I'd much rather that people in a common cause behave in less irrationally prickly ways when confronted with reasonably presented critiques and calls for explanations.

Erich said...

awake,

"You will no doubt continue to comment about your perceived inadequacies of Spencer, Pipes, Baron, Fjordman, Geller and every other player who pales in comparison to yourself, Auster, a dead woman in Fallacci and "high-profile" Bill Warner."

I will no doubt continue to comment about inadequacies I perceive in Spencer (though much less so than before). Pipes on the other hand, tremendously inadequate, doesn't require much analysis, as his inadequacies are basically simplex and boilerplate and boil down to the very elementary flaw of truncating the problem of Islam and Muslims into a problem with something else that has a tenuous claim on actuality (called "extremist Islam" and "extremist Muslims") -- which, furthermore, is such a common flaw nowadays he hardly merits distinction in this regard.

Baron and Fjordman are doing fine work and other than a relatively minor difference I have with Baron concerning his peculiar condemnation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's emergency economic measures in a time of unprecedented crisis and a looming world war, I have no problems -- except their irrational and childish aversion to criticize internally or even to support internal criticisms on an open-ended principle, which thus would have to include Spencer since Spencer, being human, should not be exempt from criticism, and criticism (that is reasonable and intelligent) is good for progress.

As for Geller, I've never criticized her, and I don't read her blog.

Auster is hardly my measure for perfection in this regard.

As for Warner and "a dead woman in Fallacci [sic]", I wouldn't put them on a pedestal beyond criticism either. I would welcome the sight of an individual or number of individuals bringing to the table criticisms that are robust, assertive, but reasonable and intelligent, of Auster, Geller, Warner, Fallaci, myself -- anybody under the sun.

awake said...

..."since I have doubts about your capacity to adjudge such a matter fairly."

Pot, meet kettle. I don't think anyone who has been following your year plus diatribe against Spencer, most specifically, assumes that have been just and fair at all regarding this vendetta you have.

I used Warner and Fallacci because they were the only examples, along with Auster, that you provided of people who take the anti-Islam stance far enough.

Regarding Baron and Fjordman, it seems clear to me that in their childish aversions they dont see the value in your robust, assertive, reasonable and intelligent criticisms within the movement.

There is plenty going on behind the scenes that you are not privy to, yet you attempt to speak from a position of authority and declare yourself the ultimate judge on other's words and actions and whether they are up to snuff in your estimation.

Erich said...

awake,

"Pot, meet kettle. I don't think anyone who has been following your year plus diatribe against Spencer, most specifically, assumes that have been just and fair at all regarding this vendetta you have."

You are expanding beyond your own opinion of my analyses (an opinion shared by a certain number of those you agree with (e.g., Spencer)), to everyone who has been reading my analyses. I know for a fact that is inaccurate, since two readers of mine have expressed support of the substance of my general viewpoint even though they more or less think I should not have engaged tactically the way I did. In addition, there were the three or four readers of Jihad Watch I quoted extensively on JWW from archived comments fields on Jihad Watch who had long and involved back-and-forth arguments with Spencer himself and who expressed a patient frustration similar to mine with his position: I think it would be safe to "assume" where they would fall on judging me fair or not if they read through my many JWW posts -- though again, they might express reservations about my procedural approach.

"I used Warner and Fallacci because they were the only examples, along with Auster, that you provided of people who take the anti-Islam stance far enough."

I have never defended Auster as an analyst who takes the anti-Islam stance sufficiently far (though I might have tentatively questioned one or more of his critics who claimed he was an unacceptably mild anti-Islam analyst -- as any claims can and should be questioned by anybody, and such questioning should not be begrudged by strangely prickly resentment or leapt upon as evidence substantiating one's paranoia about "enemies within"). All I did was for a brief while make common cause with him on the subject of pointing out Spencer's flaws which no one else of note seemed to be willing to do. And I didn't find Auster to be egregiously repellant in his various positions (though I disagree with some of them in varying degrees) to warrant not taking up a brief common cause with him. Again, nobody should be above criticism, and nobody should express prickly resentment at criticism when that criticism is reasonable and intelligent (yet at the same time might be robust) -- much less should that resentment morph into paranoia and unilateral ostracization of the critic.

Regarding Baron and Fjordman...

"There is plenty going on behind the scenes that you are not privy to, yet you attempt to speak from a position of authority and declare yourself the ultimate judge on other's words and actions and whether they are up to snuff in your estimation."

I only speak from a position of observing what is going on in the realm of public discussion & analysis. While sometimes what goes on "behind the scenes" has its function & value in a sociopolitical movement (such as the Anti-Islam Movement), there are some cases in a sociopolitical movement where that function & value should not trump the public realm: and one of those cases is the presentation of internal criticism of methodology and of stances for public contemplation and discussion.

Had you, Spencer, Bodissey and Fjordman maintained a predominantly mature manner throughout these discussions (both in public and the one private interchange I experienced, the email blitz with me which you and Spencer conducted), I would be more inclined to trust you all on the need for such a "behind-the-scenes" conversation to trump the public discussion. As it has turned out, you all have not, and so I am not so inclined.

Anonymous said...

What is interesting is that while Erich has been criticized for bringing up this issue and his motivations for doing so have been questioned, to my knowledge nobody has claimed that his overview of "gentlemen's agreements to mutual silence" itself is inaccurate, misleading or false. Indeed, one gets the impression that even his critics recognize the existence of these "gentlemen's agreements", even as they object to Erich actually pointing them out and asking "why?".

awake said...

"All I did was for a brief while make common cause with him on the subject of pointing out Spencer's flaws which no one else of note seemed to be willing to do. And I didn't find Auster to be egregiously repellant in his various positions (though I disagree with some of them in varying degrees) to warrant not taking up a brief common cause with him."

Exactly. The same can be said of you and Spencer although I am sure you would argue about the degree of disagreement, yet somehow you only managed to focus on Spencer, and from where I stand, primarily based on personal reasons alone.

I don't think that fact was missed by most people who have been a part of the numerous public exchanges.

So IP and anonymous support you? So what. You make valid arguments often but to the end result of doing more harm than good for the cause you proclaim to so desperately invest in. To me, it is wasted energy.

Your holistic approach, while it may be valid and required at some point is certainly not accepted in any mainstream forum at this point in time, regardless of whether the other approach is any more valid or effective. They are simply different approaches to the same end, relatively speaking, yet the latter, even though you cannot disprove it, is totally unacceptable to you, again on a highly personal level.

For you, constructive criticism, even in the light of the obvious backroom information you are not aware of, is simply your points of contention that you have with others who do not share your views in perfect lock-step.

That is the most unfortunate thing.

Erich said...

"...yet somehow you only managed to focus on Spencer..."

I can't focus on everybody. The Blogosphere is a realm of division of labor: one guy over here focuses on Spencer, another guy over there might focus on Auster, another guy elsewhere might focus on Charles Johnson, etc.

"...and from where I stand, primarily based on personal reasons alone..."

It was not "primarily" based on personal reasons, let alone "alone". The personal reason (fully disclosed in one of the initial essays on JWW) was secondary, even tertiary. At any rate, the personal nature of the reason is irrelevant to whether or not what I argued was cogent. This is the same point Spencer himself repeatedly reminds his Muslim apologist critics who keep going off on tangential "motivations" Spencer might have: whether or not Spencer has such motivations is irrelevant to whether or not what he argues is cogent -- and his Muslim apologist critics have never been able to refute his arguments, even though they regularly try to obfuscate and distract from their inability in various ways, including the logical fallacy of "motivation".

"Your holistic approach, while it may be valid and required at some point is certainly not accepted in any mainstream forum at this point in time"

Neither is the strong asymptotic approach of Spencer, Pipes, Gabriel, et al.

"They are simply different approaches to the same end, relatively speaking, yet the latter, even though you cannot disprove it, is totally unacceptable to you, again on a highly personal level."

They are different approaches, but the strong asymptotic approach I consider to be counter-productive because it tends to reinforce the PC MC paradigm, by basically agreeing with key premises of that paradigm. (And the PC MC people don't even show their gratitude -- instead they demonize the strong asymptotic analysts anyway and treat them as virtual holistic analysts!) My belief is that the more aggressive holistic paradigm should be pressed in order to undermine the PC MC paradigm. In order for this to have better effect, more people have to do it. This issue is "personal" to me only insofar as I take personally the danger of Islam and the most effective ways in my estimation to do something about that.

"For you, constructive criticism, even in the light of the obvious backroom information you are not aware of"

Actually, "backroom information" is by its nature NOT "obvious". It does me no good to tell me about some information which I cannot access and assess. And, as I said last time, I am not inclined to trust the assessment of that information by people who have been behaving immaturely and irrationally.

"your points of contention that you have with others who do not share your views in perfect lock-step."

While I would love it if everybody thought exactly like me, that's not what I am seeking to actualize, because I know that's impossible in the real world. I am seeking a culture of discussion that is reasonably open to internal criticism and does not bristle with hostility and snide remarks when such criticism is pursued intelligently, maturely, yet sometimes robustly. Any sociopolitical movement (such as the anti-Islam movement) that does not cultivate this kind of discussion and internal criticism, is demonstrating a remarkable weak spot -- and this weak spot is only exacerbated when there seems to exist a counter-culture of irrational, emotional hostility to probing and discussing weaknesses.

awake said...

Neither is the strong asymptotic approach of Spencer, Pipes, Gabriel, et al.

I would argue otherwise on this point, although the "strong" modifier seems misplaced here.