Monday, January 24, 2011

In defense of the Gates of Vienna blog

The problem with certain analysts in the S.I.A.I.M. (the still inchoate anti-Islam movement -- hopefully some day soon to be simply the A.I.M.) is that their locutions seem prone to rhetorical hyperbole and their logic, when they get involved in disagreements with other members of the S.I.A.I.M., is often not up to snuff. In addition, they tend to compound these flaws with an unnecessarily prickly dudgeon whenever someone disagrees with them, even when the disagreement is dispassionate. I have found both Baron Bodissey and Lawrence Auster (not to mention Robert Spencer and Hugh Fitzgerald) to suffer from these flaws.

That said, I have come to appreciate the Gates of Vienna blog as a copiously substantive treasure-trove of information about the problem of Islam, particularly in terms of its variegated impact in Europe, central Asia, and Australia, as well as other parts of the world. Baron Bodissey and his co-founder Dymphna obviously put a lot of work into maintaining it, and it shows. Gates of Vienna is not some little blog where its owners vent about their own personal ideas and opinions: it is a vast storehouse of important information from around the world pertinent to the problem of Islam.

Although I recently took issue with Baron Bodissey's language when he posted an uncharacteristic opinion piece on "Overselling the Meme", and though I got temporarily entangled in a sub-debate with him in the comments thread to that piece, I continue to appreciate his blog's eminent virtues. While that sub-debate revealed to me that his piece was fraught with rhetorical hyperbole and that he himself is not a sufficiently rigorous debater, these matter less than what evidently preoccupies most of his time: the project that is Gates of Vienna -- a project far more important than my perception of Baron Bodissey's own flaws.

Meanwhile, I found that Lawrence Auster's response to Baron Bodissey's piece was burdened with his own penchant for rhetorical hyperbole and misconstrual -- partially due to the apparent fact that he hadn't accounted for Baron Bodissey's similar character flaw.

At any rate, today Lawrence Auster quotes from another blog whose author dismisses Gates of Vienna for specious reasons. After quoting Baron Bodissey's words (the words most flamingly dripping with rhetorical hyperbole which, by the way, were addressed to me in the comments thread to his piece) --

It seems you have joined the ranks of Lawrence Auster, Robert Spencer, et alia, who would rather be right than effective. All of you will still be fine-tuning your message to make sure it is exactly, irrefutably correct, with footnotes and everything, t's crossed and i's dotted, even as the mujahid with the big knife ties up your hands and pins you down for the slaughter. As you drown in your own blood, with your last conscious thought you can reassure yourself that, despite the fact that you and your civilization had to die, you at least were never wrong.

-- he says that's why he "doesn't bother" to visit
Gates of Vienna; and he elaborates:

"I don't go to sites just to fill myself up with hate. I go to sites to get informed. If GoV is going to post any old thing, whether or not it is true, then I cannot have faith in what it reports."

That blogger evidently doesn't know that the opinion piece by Baron Bodissey is uncharacteristic of the vast majority of articles on Gates of Vienna and only reflects a microscopic fraction of its output -- most of which is richly informative about a whole spectrum of events and issues in the general constellation of the problem of Islam.

I.e., that blogger is an ignoramus, basing his decision and public opprobrium on his ignorance of the facts.

Auster's response to that blogger focuses on ostensibly refuting that blogger's ridiculous smear of Gates of Vienna as a "Nazi" site -- only to acquiesce to the spirit of that smear based on Baron Bodissey's supposed support of one commenter "Conservative Swede" (whom, by the way, I haven't seen there in months), as well as a link to one discussion thread on Gates of Vienna back in 2008.

Ironically, Auster's link takes the reader to a discussion thread on Gates of Vienna that demonstrates a high degree of robustly healthy discussion in terms of a wide variety of commenters presenting long, intelligently argued posts (most of them at least 500 words long) -- with Auster himself participating! Of course, the intelligence of all the comments represented there is not perfect and has flaws here and there, but on the whole it was a rich, multifarious, vibrant, stimulating, largely mature and respectful discussion, in which Auster himself was fully able to get his views in (and to indulge in his usual hyperbolic characterizations of the "attacks" of other people against him), and Baron Bodissey extended to him the courtesy of responding numerous times at length in a largely civil manner. Of the 204 comments on that thread (the commenter nicknamed "Erich" by the way was me), I counted that Auster weighed in with 16, on average 500 words long, with complete freedom to express his disagreements with the others. Furthermore, Auster never, in my estimation, responded with an adequate counter-argument to Zenster's response to his characterization of his supposed advocacy of the quasi-Hitlerian extermination of Muslims; nor did he ever answer Zenster's questions -- and it is Zenster's comment to which Auster's link now, two years later, zeroes in on as supposed evidence of what's wrong with Gates of Vienna.

For Auster now, two years later, to try to use that one discussion thread -- while, like the blogger Zimri whom he quotes, ignoring the content of the vast majority of output at Gates of Vienna -- as evidence that it may be reduced to a Leninesque or Hitleresque site that encourages the racist dehumanization of all Muslims is preposterous, and reflects an egregiously unfortunate indulgence in the sin of rhetorical hyperbole that tends to hurt, rather than help, the ongoing necessary evolution of the S.I.A.I.M. into a more workable and sociopolitically effective A.I.M.

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