To remind my readers, the “Gentlemen’s Club” of my title refers to the privileged society of illustrious leaders—unofficial, functional leaders, that is—of the anti-Islam movement. Because these leaders seem to keep many things about their mutual relations and overall plans for the movement secret from the common laypersons who more or less comprise the general membership of the anti-Islam movement—or, at least, these leaders seem loath to discuss certain issues about the movement out in the air and sunshine of public discourse—I have tended, playfully yet seriously, to conjure up the image of a “smoke-filled back room” in this “Gentlemen’s Club” where aristocrats smoking pipes and cigars and drinking brandies discuss matters which the common rabble, the hoi ochloi, supposedly can’t handle.
The “glimpse” my title refers to is more of a telescoping of a few things over time:
1) First, we have the not unremarkable fact that formerly, Robert Spencer lauded Diana West and on his site Jihad Watch (as well as its companion site at the time, Dhimmi Watch) regularly featured her observations about this, that and the other thing related to the problem of Islam (for just a limited sample of those formerly sung praises, see here and scroll down). In latter days (approximately over the past several months), however, Jihad Watch has become completely Diana-Westless, neither citing her nor lavishing her with praise as it was formerly.
2) Second, we have seen the diametrically diverging positions Spencer and West have had about the still nascent, percolating revolution in Iran—his position basically being one of sentimentalist romanticism about the “Iranian People”; hers being a more reasonable skepticism about all these millions of Iranian Muslims whose stripes do not change, even if they wear blue jeans. One wonders if Spencer and West drifted apart over this issue?
3) Third, we have their diverging views on Vlaams Belang and its head, Filip Dewinter. More accurately, we have a contrast between Diana West’s clear and bold support of Vlaams Belang and Filip Dewinter, on the one hand, and Robert Spencer’s weaselly waffling on whether he is able, or unable, to take a stand of support (or condemnation) of Vlaams Belang and Filip Dewinter—a waffling tantamount and analogous to saying of a man accused of wifebeating, “I don’t know if he beats his wife or not, and I resent being associated with him, but I didn’t say I’m against him. . .”
And Diana West’s support of Vlaams Belang is no late-blooming fancy: back in August of 2007, she wrote:
I refer to the very upsetting and undeserved Internet attacks—mainly being lent credence by the blog Little Green Footballs—on Vlaams Belang, the Flemish secessionist party in Belgium. The attacks allege that Vlaams Belang has ties and allegiance to Nazi-type ideologies and organizations. I find these attacks both sloppy and unconvincing. Vlaams Belang is not only the most stalwart, resolutely anti-jihad party in Europe that I know of, but also—and, not at all incidentally—the most pro-Israel party in Europe that I know of.
(Fascinatingly, she wrote that in August of 2007—which means that Charles Johnson was vilifying Vlaams Belang as far back as then. This indicates that his Leftist tendency to wield the epithet of “fascist” against the diametrically wrong target long precedes his attacks on Spencer. Very interesting.)
And she has remained a loyal supporter of both Vlaams Belang and Filip Dewinter right up to the present. Indeed, in an essay she posted on her blog just a week or so ago, she concludes with an indirect but unmistakable dig at Robert Spencer’s continuing weaseling waffling on that brave anti-Islam movement and its leader. After quoting from the same New York Times piece on Charles Johnson and the Blogger Wars that Spencer featured just a couple of days ago here (to which he links in the above article)—
“Filip Dewinter has said some things I deplore,” [Robert] Spencer says. “But I don’t consider myself responsible for him just because I was at this conference and he was, too. That’s an outrageous kind of guilt by association. Let me ask you this: a few years ago I spoke at a Yom Kippur service, and one of the other speakers was Hillary Clinton. Does that make me a supporter or her work, or her of mine?”
—Diana West remarked with moral and intellectual integrity at once scintillating and wry :
Me, personally? I’ll take all the "guilt by association" with Filip Dewinter I can get.Conclusion:
My bet is on this latter issue being the matter that has caused Spencer to drift away from Diana West (or perhaps vice-versa, as I have noticed West no longer has a link to Jihad Watch on her blog, and her blog list does not, apparently, include blogs inimical to her position, as does Spencer’s blog list -- hence his continuing to list her blog doesn’t necessarily indicate support).
But apparently we peons in the still inchoate anti-Islam movement will never know why two very important people in that movement have seen fit to drift apart, instead of continuing to stand together on the overarching issue that should unite them. Or, if there is a disagreement that one or both of them in good conscience believes cannot be bridged, then it should be aired out in the sunshine of public discourse, so that we civilians can see whether we agree or not. Such matters should not be hidden away in the smoky recesses of their private club: the substance and import of these matters involves issues of vital concern to all of us.
Just today, February 3, Robert Spencer put up a story from the Telegraph about how American soldiers in Afghanistan feel their proper military conduct in pursuit of fighting the enemy—not to mention their own safety—is being hampered by our reigning rules of engagement. Meanwhile, the day before, Diana West had posted the same story, and offered trenchant, searing commentary along with it. Example:
After quoting from the story—
One corporal stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). Military intelligence officials say that it is possible that 90 per cent of foreign soldiers' lives are currently being lost in this way.
The corporal's legs were blown off and he was thrown metres into the air.
—Diana West remarked with restrained yet noble fury:
“The whole of Afghanistan (and you can throw in Iraq) aren't worth those two legs.”
But did Spencer give a hat tip to Diana West for featuring this story? Nope—and missing as well, of course, were some epithets of high and well-deserved praise to her, as he was wont to do in the old days. Instead, he notes “thanks to herr Oyal” (whoever that is).
I also noticed today that Diana West has noted many times how the blog Gates of Vienna has been covering the Geert Wilders trial more comprehensively and with more copious translations into English from Dutch sources than most any other website. And yet, in all of Spencer’s posts about the Wilders trial, I have not seen one mention of Gates of Vienna. Could their warmer inclination to favor Vlaams Belang and Filip Dewinter have something to do with that? (I also see that Spencer’s blogroll no longer has the Gates of Vienna link: have they gone beyond the pale in their support of Vlaams Belang for his gingerly taste. . .?) We peons will never know, standing in the snow outside the glowing, deep burgundy curtain-covered windows of the Gentlemen’s Club from which we are excluded. . .