Wednesday, December 29, 2010
In the recent kerfufflish comments thread at Jihad Watch in which I was featured as an off topic, Robert Spencer quotes a Jihad Watch reader's verdict summing up the rhetorical question that supposedly settles the matter:
"Who gives a fuck what Spencer and Bostom think of one another? In the whole vast configuration of things, it's hardly important."
Then he notes, in emphatic italics:
The only problem is, my essays about the Spencer/Bostom affair have not been about what they "think of one another". Cornelius, yet again, is indulging a straw man and a red herring. And Spencer hopes the other Jihad Watch readers are as negligent as Cornelius is.
It's always a good idea, however, to actually read the person you are chiding.
The point of my essays is not what Spencer thinks of Bostom, or what Bostom thinks of Spencer. Nor, obviously, am I preoccupied about some personal matters unrelated to the anti-Islam movement.
The point is that the Spencer/Bostom rift impinges directly on the anti-Islam movement, in several ways.
Off the top of my head, I can think of two: It damages a formerly productive collaboration between two important individuals in that movement. Also, mutual information about each individual is suddenly interdicted for the audience of readers, such as the important compendium edited by Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Antisemitism, which Spencer in an unseemly petulance has tried to airbrush out of Jihad Watch existence (indeed, the loyalty he commands is so influential, it moved one long-time reader, "dumbledoresarmy", to actually censor herself and refrain from mentioning the name of Andrew Bostom in connection with that compendium).
Other ways such rifts Spencer has had which can impinge on the anti-Islam movement include the petulant withdrawal of blog links from the Jihad Watch blogroll (and the petulant counter-withdrawal on the part of the blogger in question): Diana West, Gates of Vienna, Andrew Bostom, Michelle Malkin, Debbie Schlussel -- all have been consigned to Jihad Watch blogroll oblivion. Even Hugh Fitzgerald's other blog, The New English Review, has vanished from the Jihad Watch blogroll, ever since Hugh left for reasons still unclear (indeed, Spencer could think of that as a twofer, as Andrew Bostom is also associated with that blog).
You would think that all these people could set aside their personal squabbles and compartmentalize their efforts as separate from their personal disagreements. Or are these merely "personal" squabbles that one could compartmentalize? Or are they even mutual disagreements? Could the one common denominator, Robert Spencer, be the one causing them all? One knows the old saw, when "everybody is out to get me", maybe I should take a look at myself and stop blaming others.
Or, could some of these disagreements be more substantive, directly related to various issues of procedure, methodology, ideology, and/or media personality within the anti-Islam movement? It seems unlikely that Spencer would have rifts with all these different people, all for merely personal reasons unrelated to the anti-Islam movement, though I suppose it's possible that over time he tends to alienate one after another person -- or, by a strange coincidence, all these different people tend to alienate him because, all these rifts must be their fault, not Spencer's...
We ordinary civilians deserve to know the answers to these questions, insofar as we have a stake in the health and productivity of the anti-Islam movement, and such childish behaviors are affecting that health and productivity.
We will never know the answers, if these Counter-Jihad Celebrities continue to choose to keep us in the dark. And so far, it's working: The vast majority of fans of Jihad Watch have convinced themselves that they must slavishly accept everything Spencer says and does, and to even raise an eyebrow otherwise (or Heaven forbid, to press a point conscientiously) is to "jeopardize" the Counter-Jihad Movement.
I.e., if you criticize Spencer, you are helping the terrorists. That's quite an airtight Catch-22 there. It is unhealthy in the extreme, for it powerfully inhibits criticism of any kind -- at least any kind that is substantive and doesn't back down like a stepnfetchit.