Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Whatever happened to careful reading?

The amusing little fracas generated by
my little essay that raised the question of censorship, or self-censorship, in Jihad Watch comments demonstrated, unsurprisingly, the difficulty some people have with reading carefully.

One can see the difficulty in the long-time reader and commenter at Jihad Watch, "Cornelius", in his hyperventilating alerts to fellow Jihad Watch readers, in his subsequent comments there (particularly this one), and through my detailed refutation in two parts of his flimsy and agitated mush of claims in the comments section of my little essay in question.

This difficulty in elementary reading comprehension is not limited to "Cornelius": Robert Spencer himself, in weighing in to the little fracas, demonstrated at least one fundamental misapprehension. After describing at length how the falling out between himself and Andrew Bostom was all completely Bostom's fault (other than Jimmy Buffet in Margaritaville, has anyone ever known anyone who admits that a falling out could have been their own fault, or at least partly their own fault?), Spencer then writes of the omission of Bostom's name from a Jihad Watch comment:

Hesperado, who knows none of this, just assumes that it must be some sinister action on my part. Again: the guy is nuts.

And later mentioning me again:

Assuming sinister or self-serving motives on my part...

The tangential misapprehension on Spencer's part aside (that I ever claimed his fallings out with colleagues over the years were completely his fault), had Spencer read my essay carefully, he would have noted

a) that I only raise the question of official tampering with reader comments; I did not "assume" anything "must be" the case


b) that I also raise the possibility of self-censorship -- that, in other words, the Jihad Watch commenter in question, "dumbledoresarmy", censored herself because she had "gotten the memo". Indeed, that was emblazoned in my essay's title itself; hard to overlook. And the essay in turn noted a recent article on Jihad Watch by the new kid on the block, "Roland Shirk", where Bostom's name was again conspicuously absent; as well as a notice on Jihad Watch by Spencer himself in which, again, the absence of Bostom was conspicuously absent. In this kind of a climate where Bostom seems to have become persona non grata to the extent that his name is left umentioned even in contexts where at the very least a hat tip would be de rigueur, it then becomes questionable -- for the reasons I argued both in my essay and in detail in my two comments (linked above) to "Cornelius" -- why Bostom's name was strangely missing from the comment of the normally scrupulous and meticulous Jihad Watch commenter "dumbledoresarmy".

And lo and behold. Scrolling along down that thread, what did I come upon, but "dumbledoresarmy" all but admitting that in fact she had, in so many words, censored herself, just as my essay had conjectured as one possibility:

In the particular posting that Hesperado cited I must confess I did hesitate to name Bostom, being aware of the falling-out.

In the later posting where I did name him, it was because I had thought some more about the matter and decided that, well, free speech is free speech...

P.S.: There is also the matter, as I noted in the second part of my comment to "Cornelius" linked above, of a trustworthy source (a long-time reader, commenter and supporter of Jihad Watch) telling me in an email of having seen a comment by another Jihad Watch supporter (a particularly avid if not rabid one) altered in order to clean up both its foul invectives and its hostile language apparently almost tantamount to threats against me. If this is true (and I have no reason to disbelieve in my source), then Spencer's claim that "I don't edit comments that are posted here" is either a lie, or a cleverly worded way of skirting around the question of whether not he, but Marisol, sometimes edits comments at Jihad Watch.


Ghostrider said...

Hello, Hesperado - This is just a test. It's late in the evening here. I started commenting at JW a few weeks ago, buhave been a reader there, off and on for better than two years. Happy New Year.

Ghostrider said...

Hesperado - What was the content of the disagreement between Spencer and Dr. Bostom?

Hesperado said...

Hi Ghostrider,

You ask what was the content of the disagreement between Spencer and Bostom. That's part of the problem; nobody knows for sure except for Spencer and Bostom (and perhaps a select elite).

Ostensibly, it revolved around an incident where Spencer published a notice on Jihad Watch referring to the problem of Islamic antisemitism, but he did not mention Bostom at all, not even with a hat tip (as he usually used to do before that) -- for Bostom had edited one of the most important compendiums about that subject. Not only did Spencer not mention Bostom, he had the gall to present historical evidence that comes from Bostom's compendium, without crediting Bostom.

Bostom took umbrage, and recklessly called Spencer a "plagiarist" in an article.

The rest is history. Full details here:

Cracks in the Gentlemen's Club: the Bostom Incident

My point (which I just finished articulating in a new post, The Point) is that we civilians in the anti-Islam movement deserve to know what causes fallings out amongst major influential (and book-selling) figures in the movement, because we all have a stake in the health and productivity of the movement, and that health and productivity can be adversely affected by such childish spats, squabbles, or whatever might have happened.

Particularly, we deserve to know whether such fallings out were related to the movement in terms of procedure, methodology, ideology, media personality, money, etc.

In the Spencer/Bostom case, their falling out has had at least three effects:

1) a mutual acrimony which spiralled out of control and has solidified

2) Spencer withholding information from his readers about Bostom's compendium (whereas before he was praising him to the skies), and Spencer's removal of Bostom's blog link from the Jihad Watch blogroll (Spencer has done the same with several other important writers in the anti-Islam movement -- Debbie Schlussel, Diana West, Michelle Malkin, Baron Bodissey and Dymphna of Gates of Vienna, and perhaps also even Hugh Fitzgerald).

3) An obvious problem with their continued mutual collaboration.

If the movement were an organization, and we were all shareholders, we wouldn't put up with this. In a way, we are shareholders, in that we help to maintain Spencer's notoriety, which helps his money-making enterprises (including sales of books).

Ghostrider said...

Thanks for your reply. I'm visiting here because I'm interested in devising a way to eradicate Islam. I think it can be done, and I think it will be done, although it won't be easy.
I've been a commenter on JW for a few weeks, under a different name. Before commenting there I was a frequenter of JW for a couple years. The name Hesperado is familiar to me, therefore, but I wasn't tuned in during the time the split occurred. I've read your account of it, and that suffices for me. (I don't have personal difficulties with Spencer and Marisol). I'm very serious about eradicating Islam More later.

Ghostrider said...

Similar to cell differentiation in the earliest stage of the growth of an organism, these split-offs and mutual alienations will result in a division of labor, a specializing of functions -- which can be a healthy thing. But then again, some form of umbrella coordinating organization would help too.
The jihadwatch is good for watching jihad, but not much else. A year or so ago that wasn't so, but certainly nowadays it's so. The commenters there are paranoid or something. So many of them deliberately misconstrue what others say in order to start stupid fights amongst themselves for no good purpose. When a seriously important subject is broached, most of them avoid it like the plague.

Hesperado said...


"So many of them [Jihad Watch commenters] deliberately misconstrue what others say in order to start stupid fights amongst themselves for no good purpose. When a seriously important subject is broached, most of them avoid it like the plague."

I think the latter observation of yours is an exaggeration: I've seen many Jihad Watch commenters get into interesting and even controversial debates on sub- or off-topics.

However, generally speaking, I think you're correct. One particular angle of it concerns me: there is cultivated there a kind of phobia of mutual disagreement (or worse, disagreement with their Leader), basically along the lines of "If we disagree amongst ourselves, we are giving ammunition to the Enemy". I propose that this is poppycock, and my detailed argument is here:

Healthy disagreement

As for "eradicating" Islam, I don't think that's possible. To think it's possible is to sorely underestimate the depth and breadth of Islamic history, culture and psychology. What we can do, however, and what the West has not yet done as Islam begins its unprecedented revival in our era, is to manage it with adequate rationality and ruthlessness, which I argue must include the goal of total deportation of all Muslims followed by their quarantine within the lands designated "the Muslim world" (roughly, from Indonesia to Morocco).

For more on that, see:

An Iron Veil

Hesperado said...

As for the usefulness of Jihad Watch, I do agree that by its very nature, it is now, and has been for some time, repeating itself (if only because Muslims and their apologists keep repeating themselves, the former with gruesome violence and grotesque hatred, the latter with stupidity and/or lies).

However, there remains a pedagogically salutary -- because grimly sobering and appalling -- effect of that relentless reiteration: an effect that really cannot be conveyed any other way than by attentively submitting to it. I.e., a person can know abstractly that Muslims are beheading and ghoulishly torturing people in the name of their deranged fanaticism in various parts of the world; one may have even read about it, or seen one of those Satanic videos once. But the daily reminder with a daily diet of ever new and ever fresh carnage from the world of Muslims -- along with a daily diet of unconscionable lies and/or stupidity from our PC MC idiots among us -- does have a singular value.

The PC MC psychology must not be underestimated, however: One could take a PC MC friend, for example, strap him or her down in a chair and force-feed him or her a daily ticker-tape of the horrible data about Muslims for weeks, even months, and many of them would continue to find a way to re-process that data with a complex of various "explanations" such that somehow Islam and most Muslims come out smelling like a rose, while that TMOE (Tiny Minority of Extremists) serves as the scapegoat; along with, of course, the West culpable by its "meddling" geopolitics in "radicalizing" sectors of the Muslim world; etc., ad nauseam.

Ghostrider said...

It is appreciated that you understand the intended sense of my saying that most of them avoid off topic/subtopic discussion as an exageration for effect. Yes, indeed, there are a few there who love to talk about off topic (but actually very relevant to the whole subject) topics. In my mind those are normal people like I know in real (off website) life. There are a few commenters at JW who aren't normal people, who could benefit from psychiatric counselling, seriously.
The quarantine, the cordon sanitaire, could have its first approximation from Morocco to Indonesia designated Muslim lands. Then at the appropriate time a pre-scheduled redesignition into a smaller Muslim area, and so on, squeezing it tighter together step by step, from all four directions. As Islam is forced to retreat panic in their ranks will probably occur.
It's a principle of war that it's usually best to strike the enemy at their weakest point. Islam's weak point is around the periphery of the ummah, where the ummah is not yet well ensconced and established. "Striking" them can mean legally with a Constitutional Amendment, for instance. But in northeast Africa it would include military force.