My first cup of coffee in hand this morning, I opened up Jihad Watch as I usually do shortly upon arising, and began browsing from among the news stories documenting the typically horrific and/or insane sayings and doings of Muslims all over the world.
After a few minutes, I thought I'd dip into one particular thread of unusually burgeoning comments (over 160) where the other day I had posted a couple of very strong comments about Muslims. At first, completely unaware of its existence, I bypassed a comment by Marisol, Spencer's main editor and frequent presenter of stories at Jihad Watch -- a comment in which she informed me that I was banned. Meanwhile, I saw another comment I wanted to respond to, but every time I tried to finalize the "submit" process, I saw the message that I was "not permitted". I then scrolled back up and saw what had happened.
And I finished my coffee with a bitter gulp.
This isn't the first time I've been banned from Jihad Watch. Back in March of 2008, Robert Spencer wrote this to me in one of the comments fields of Jihad Watch (my nickname at the time there was “cantor”) he wrote:
You are an irritant, a poor thinker, and an unfair judge. I have banned you several times, and probably will soon do it again. Cordially Robert Spencer
In that same thread, he also called me “a relentless and indefatigable fault-finder” and someone who “spend[s] all his time sniping on false pretenses rather than doing something positive”.
At that time, I withdrew from the discussion (if you can call such an exchange -- where one of the interlocutors is irrationally prickly with his finger twitching on the trigger of your ejection seat from the exchange -- a "discussion"), reasonably concluding that Spencer would ban me if I pressed my point with fidelity to the logic and candor I was pursuing. Who knows, perhaps he may not have banned me had I trod on gingerly eggshells lest his royal pique not be unsettled; but I wasn't in the mood to creep around cringing on all fours.
He then had the gall to write:
Cantor has not yet been banned again. But apparently, in what is perhaps not a surprising move in light of his his mean-spiritedness and "Gotcha!" mentality, he has withdrawn when called out on what he is doing.
As I wrote on my now retired blog, Jihad Watch Watch not long after that:
That would be the mean-spirited and uncharitable way of interpreting why I left. Spencer seemed (and continues to seem) oblivious to the fact that, with his power to ban and his previous actual bannings of me for dubiously rational reasons, makes the atmosphere highly uncomfortable, if not hostile, for me to have a “good-faith discussion” with him in a free and open manner. Just because, while I maintained the discussion, I remained forthright and did not back down from my conviction with regard to the issue I was trying to probe, that is no reason to characterize me as “mean-spirited”. Rather than deal with the actual words and argument presented to him, Spencer immediately jumps the gun.
Indeed, his first words of response to me on that thread were:
"I know from experience that you are a relentless and indefatigable fault-finder. . ."
What kind of way is that to begin a discussion? Even if he thinks that is true about the past, what does that have to do with the argument I was presenting to him at that present time?
Two months later, Spencer in another thread added:
Oh, and by the way, I am told he keeps whining that he is banned here, but he is not banned. If he keeps up this sort of thing, he will gain a reputation for honest dealing to rival that of "An American." [the latter person being a Muslim troll at the time on Jihad Watch comments threads]
As I wrote, again on Jihad Watch Watch:
Spencer is being scrupulously careful to be technically correct. It may therefore be technically true for him to say about me that “he is not banned” . But this would be to ignore the context of trying to have a mature and intelligent discussion with someone who
1) has the power to ban you
2) by his own admission has banned you “several times” before
3) was, the last time I thought I got banned (as well as previous times when he actually did ban me), threatening to ban me yet again if I didn’t “behave” .
Is it any wonder that, at that point—with this threat looming over my head, and with the experience of actually being banned by him in the past for similarly prickly, paranoid and irrational reasons—, I felt increasingly nervous and uncomfortable about speaking my mind openly and freely and therefore soon thereafter decided to pack up and leave?
After that, I had posted one more comment on the first-mentioned thread above before I finally withdrew, to which Spencer replied in prickly hostile fashion, again threatening to ban me (and only serving to underscore my argument above explaining why I withdrew):
... are you really interested in truth here, or just in playing prosecutor? If the former, then answer my other questions first. If the latter, then go away, which, if you keep this up, you will be doing soon (again) anyway.
Fast-forward to the present: Marisol yesterday (Sept. 25) wrote a tart little post attempting to explain why she decided to ban me. First, after cherrypicking a phrase from one of my preceding comments --
"I have had the epiphany that they [Muslims] are not human"
-- she wrote:
Joint decision between Robert and me: this is enough. There are two issues here, Hesperado: your role as longtime sideline sniper, and posts like this that make you sound like a sociopath, playing into the hands of CAIR. Really, you're getting into Goebbels' territory here.
One wonders, were both "issues" required to justify the banning, or would either one by itself have done?
More importantly, Marisol is making an unfair judgment about my comments (two of them, which I will reproduce below in their entirety) in characterizing that phrase she cherrypicked from one of them -- "I have had the epiphany that they [Muslims] are not human" -- as sufficiently equivalent to Nazism. Two factors demonstrate the fallacy of that characterization:
1) Goebbels & Co. were dehumanizing and demonizing a people (the Jews) who had done nothing wrong. Muslims, on the contrary, as documented daily, weekly, monthly and yearly on Jihad Watch (and what Jihad Watch presents is only part of the full horror of Islam) are doing horrible, grotesque, ghoulish, gruesome, alarming, hateful, fanatical and lethal things all over the world -- including, as one of thousands of sordid things they have perpetrated in recent history, the ghastly public stoning of an adulteress which was the feature of the thread in which my supposedly banworthy comments appeared.
2) Did I advocate what the Nazis not only advocated, but actually proceeded to put into practice? Did I advocate genocide, or ethnic cleansing, or even localized lynching? No; I did not. Marisol's "territory" is in her anxiously cautious mind (and I am not disinclined to doubt that a good deal of asymptotic sentimentalism also informs her approach to the problem of Islam).
Marisol went on to write:
If what you've "adumbrated" above is the criterion for Approval by Hesperado, we're not buying.
The adumbration she refers to (in sneering quotes, as "adumbrate" is a term I have used a lot in comments over the years at Jihad Watch) is one of the two comments I wrote in that thread which pushed her (and apparently also Spencer) over the edge. In that comment, I listed six responses to the video of the public stoning in Pakistan which was the feature article of that thread, and I ranked them on a scale ranging from "Worst" to "Best". Nearly everyone (with the exception perhaps of congenitally super-mellow people or saintly swamis) has an opinion about what constitutes the best and worst (and in-between) responses to issues they find important. Neither my unremarkably ordinary opinion in this regard, thus, nor the disagreement of Marisol and others about the merits of my opinion is relevant to my banning (though one can never be sure what things factor into the prickly and testy whims of Marisol and Spencer).
Marisol's concluding retort was similarly impertinent, in both sense of the word -- i.e., not relevant, and rude:
That brings us to the great Office Space question: "What would you say... you do here?"
You have your own blog. Go "be the change you want to see in the world" there.
It's irrelevant because my ability to write on my own blog, and her opinion about the usefulness (or lack thereof) of my comments at Jihad Watch, have no bearing on the merits of banning me. As for its rudeness: need I explain? Well, perhaps I do need to explain, at least in terms of one detail...
It also involves an echo to another snippy remark by Marisol (quoted at the beginning of this section) in which she referred to my "longtime role as a sideline sniper". When we put that remark in the context of her impertinent closing quoted above, it is crystal clear that she is denigrating all my writings I have contributed to Jihad Watch threads over the months and years. There are two things about these writings of mine which would tend to contradict their arrogant dismissal by Marisol:
1) If they were examined collectively, one would see that most of them are not "sideline sniping" against Spencer and/or Jihad Watch, but are rather observations and analyses relevant to the threads in which they appear, and/or to comments made by other commenters.
So, if my writings on Jihad Watch comments fields mostly escape the charge of being "sideline sniping", what about them makes Marisol denigrate them? Were she to articulate an argument defending her denigration -- in which argument would be included, of course, extensive quotes from my comments over a long period of time -- she might begin to get close to having a case.
2) Not to toot my own horn, but I think anyone who reads through even just a few of my comments will see that they represent thoughtful, and thought-provoking, contributions to the general discussion of the problem of Islam and its particulars as featured on Jihad Watch. I invite my reader to take a look at a representative sampling (which I will try to link here soon) of the comments I have posted in various Jihad Watch comments fields over the past month or so, and to judge for himself whether they are so much useless crap as Marisol is so pungently implying. I would also urge the reader to plunge into the archives and see for themselves, guided by a search for "hesperado".
Beyond all this, there is the full context of what I had written, from which Marisol brutely plucked my cherry, in which I explained why I have come to the grim conclusion that Muslims are not human, and also was careful to note (twice, in two different comments) that my conclusion about Muslims is not intended as an ontological claim, but as a pragmatic (or phenomenological) claim:
... something has happened to me over the years of reviewing the mountain of ghastly ghoulish gruesome shit that Muslims have been churning out just in the last decade (of which this one video is but one instance out of literally thousands), let alone the last fourteen centuries: I feel no emotion about Muslims any longer -- no anger, no hatred. I suppose that is because anger and hatred is pertinent only against other humans whenever they might anger one, or make one hate them. Id est, Muslims have abdicated their humanity in my eyes. All I care about now is how to protect myself and my society from them. (This is not an ontological abdication: any Muslim may regain his humanity by abjuring Islam, the Koran, Mohammed and Allah, and by proving they have done so.)
I'm sorry. I have given up on Muslims. They have simply done too much horrific evil, and the ones who apparently are not sawing off heads, sawing off clitorises, torturing people, exploding in order to mass-murder, etc. ad bottomless nauseam, are countenancing and enabling those unspeakable evils and then adding insult to injury by tap-dancing and evading and tu-quoquing whenever we dare to condemn the "religion" they continue follow.
Any reader (or editor or writer) here who has not similarly given up on Muslims has simply not been really truly fully digesting the data churned out at this Mountain of Horror called Jihad Watch over the years. Even ... anger does not go far enough, and betrays a misplaced sentiment that misconstrues our enemy. At a pack of hyenas surrounding our farmhouse endangering our family, for example, or at a hurricane threatening to destroy our town, or at an army of robots, no one of us would feel "anger" or "hatred": we would only know they pose a danger, and we would try to stop them from killing us. That should be our sole concern. Fulminating in anger is as useless with regard to the danger Muslims pose as is sentimentality and hope. Only steely determined pragmatism, focused like a laser on the one thing that matters -- the safety and preservation of our societies -- is relevant.
... we can list on a scale all the possible reactions and rank them, from Worst to Best (as the numbers rise, they get better and better):
Worst: Islamic defense of stoning and support for the stoners of the video.
2: Disapproval of the stoning -- but identification of the stoners as motivated by "culture" and having nothing to do with Islam.
3: Disapproval of the stoning -- and grudging acceptance of something vaguely resembling Islam in the stoning, but only of the "tiny minority of extremists who are hijacking peaceful Islam" variety.
4: Repugnance and dismay at the stoning, and a growing sense that there is something seriously wrong with Islam -- but not with Muslims since, of course, most Muslims are still ordinary "moms and pops like the rest of us just trying to live daily life" and nice people.
5: Horror and repulsion at the stoning, with a redoubled sense that Islam is thoroughly evil -- but still, there are many nice Muslims out there who are either "secularized" or who are "ignorant" of their own faith.
6: Outrage and fury at the stoning (the reaction of FineLiving56) and for all things Islamic -- but... does there still linger here an unconditional granting of humanity to Muslims? As I claimed in my previous comment, to be angry at such Muslims is to implicitly expect that they could do otherwise. (And then we have the problem of all the Muslims around the world who are not stoning anyone: what do we think about them? That some/many/most of them are ordinary "moms and pops like the rest of us just trying to live daily life" and nice people?)
Best: I no longer feel anything about Muslims -- because I have had the epiphany that they are not human. It would be irrational to get angry at an inhuman maelstrom of evil, would it not? One simply seeks ways to protect oneself, and one's loved ones, from that maelstrom.(As I said in my previous comment, this is not an ontological judgment, but a pragmatic one: any given Muslim may reclaim and earn his humanity by abjuring Islam/Mohammed/Allah/the Koran -- though he should remain suspect even after that.)
I could have gone on to delve into the philosophical question surrounding the symbolisms "human" and "humanity", the historical and ethical importance of their ontological hypostatization, the arguably uniquely Western provenance of their development, and what sense -- and use -- can be made of their phenomenological interpretation. However, my failure to do so surely is not a fair cause to go the extreme measure of banning me; nor would supplying such an augmentation be required to render my argued self-defense herein valid.
Two commenters did go a little into this matter, and I appreciate their input. The first was a "Susanp", who wrote:
To Hesperado: I have often questioned the humanity of muslims myself. They lack certain basic characteristics found in most human beings, although anatomically they are human. There is more to being human than outward appearance and muslims are missing something crucial on the inside---love, compassion, empathy, the ability to discern good from evil? I have heard it said that 'human nature is universal' but muslims blew that theory to hell. Civilized human beings with a conscience and average IQ could not believe and practice the filth and perversions found in islam and consider these abominations the epitome of piety, the word and will of God, nor could they revere muhammad as a prophet and the 'perfect human'. Islam is evil any way you look at it; it has no redemptive qualities. But I think the most ironic aspect of islam/muslims is their certitude that they are superior because they believe this demonic heresy! The only thing extraordinary or unique about islam is its ability to inexorably brainwash people and turn many of them into homicidal drones for allah.
I particularly appreciate Susanp's trenchantly incisive cutting to the bone of the whole issue in this one pithy sentence:
I have heard it said that 'human nature is universal' but muslims blew that theory to hell.
Another commenter on that thread, one "Dalaran", made the interesting distinction between human and person (a comment deleted by Marisol, I now notice, but preserved by me in the link below to my companion blog, Resource for the Hesperado). Dalaran could have unpacked this a bit more and made it more cohesive, and toward the end he begins to veer off on a racial-theory tangent that I don't think is useful, which I did not reproduce here (though I wouldn't go to Marisol's excess and take the censor's blade to it were he to submit it as a comment on my blog). Nevertheless, it's worth noting:
I don't think he [Hesperado] means "human" in the genetic sense. I think he means more along the lines of "person" in the legal sense.
Not all persons are humans - corporations can be persons, too. There was a case in Germany a while ago, where a zoo that was shutting down was suing for personhood for a chimp, for rehoming reasons, but I don't know how that went. The chimp and his advocates most likely lost, unfortunately.
As not all persons have to be human, the converse can be true, too - a human needn't necessarly be considered a person.
And yeah, I would be all for classing chimps, gorillas, and orangs as persons, and removing Muslims from that class.
... the nature of humanity is universal - you just have to know what "universal" values to look for.
Islam celebrates what I consider to be the "natural human" - the natural human being nothing more than a killer ape.
This is why I distinguish between "human" (a strictly biological term), and "person". A person is one who has raised himself up from natural humanity.
So the question isn't "are Muslims human"* but rather, "must they continue to be considered persons"?
All these comments, and more, can be found on the thread in question -- except for the one Marisol deleted, and any others she may well see fit to slash. Early this morning, I copied all the comments from the point of my first one to the last one by "firstname.lastname@example.org" (as of early this morning) in a post I put up on my on my companion blog, Resource for the Hesperado.
On a side note: Only one commenter subsequent to Marisol's banning comment registered support and approval of my banning. Perhaps significantly, it's a relatively new commenter (or at least his nickname is new) -- "B" -- who to the best of my memory began his rather recent stint on Jihad Watch with some fishy comments and it is my suspicion that since then, he has been trying to pretend to be "one of the anti-Islam gang" under false pretenses, by trying to conceal his innate perhaps pro-Islamic (and/or anti-Western) fishiness. It would take quite a bit of digging from thread to thread to substantiate this, which I may well do in the days ahead. (The trick to searching for comments by "B" is to search for "b |" which always precedes his comments; otherwise, the searcher would be simply searching for the letter B, rendering the search virtually impracticable.)
I just saw this welcome comment from a Jihad Watch regular, "Denise", added to the already long list of comments on that thread:
Referring to Hesp as a sociopath is extremely harsh and unfair, and I think that Susanp more clearly defined the point that he was trying to make in her above response to what he stated. I mean of course muslims are human beings, and to state that they are not human - one is obviously speaking metaphorically, not literally. And with all due respect, since when do we care what *CAIR* thinks? Everyone knows that they have a propensity to twist the most mundane of comment(s) into whatever they choose.
This is a very sad day for freedom of speech, and what's even sadder - this is a win for CAIR.
If Marisol has been an attentive pupil of Spencer's, and if she deigns to respond at all Denise, she might well latch onto the sophistical distinction that she didn't precisely refer to me as a sociopath, but rather said that my posts "make me sound like" one. Either way, this distinction would do little to scrub away the odor of a brusque, if not downright insulting, smear.
As for the larger issue of the philosophical meaning of the symbolisms human and humanity and Mankind, and the related issue of when and whether -- and on what basis -- we can withhold those epithets from Muslims; I may well try to tackle that subject in the near future here.
In fact, I have just reached into the past from the future (November 2011) in order to provide links to several essays I wrote subsequent to this one in which do try to tackle that subject:
Four phases of Western universalism, and the humanity of Muslims
Wildersianism and the "inner Westerner" inside Muslims
Wildersianism (the new Wilsonianism) and the distinction between Islam and Muslims
Christian Wilsonianism at Jihad Watch
Correction: Christian Wildersianism at Jihad Watch
More on Christian Wilsonianism
"Christian Wilsonianism" continued...
Hesperado B.I.P.: Blog in Peace