Apropos of my last essay about Robert Spencer's latest bridge-burning of a colleague (particularly its "Update" about Lawrence Auster), Auster has put up another analysis that requires massage.
First, while Auster implies that it would make a difference to have seen the original article by Aymenn al-Whatever which was apparently more critical than the current published version on American Thinker -- it makes no difference. Even if that article had been more critical -- even (gasp!) harshly critical -- Spencer still has no justification for behaving like an overgrown baby about it. Spencer should have simply written a rebuttal (which would have been readily published by the fair and reasonable editors there), and awaited al-Whatever's counter-rebuttal; at which time the debate would have proceeded -- until such time as they mutually agreed to "agree to disagree". That's how grown-ups do it.
Secondly, Auster, spends an inordinate amount of time taking Aymenn al-Whatever seriously; though I suppose someone has to do ditch-digging in the still-inchoate Anti-Islam Movement. It doesn't take much reading of al-Whatever to see he's a lightweight sophomore, and exceedingly (and on some points, rather eccentrically) asymptotic to boot. Were we to allow him into the Anti-Islam Movement, we could put him to use crunching numbers, doing light filing and answering phones, perhaps getting coffee for the staff. That's about it. (Surely there are others who can translate Spencer into Spanish, which is al-Whatever's claim to fame to date.)
Auster then does a fine job laying out the basics for the canard about the BNP and the EDL (no massage needed here).
However, he then falters significantly when it comes to Trifkovic. Here's how Auster sums up the one (and only) supposedly antisemitic paragraph ever written by Trifkovic:
A critic of Jews who treats Talmudic Judaism, the Frankfurt School, and the state of Israel as a single entity that is waging a war of "escalating ferocity" on the West, is a person who is treating the Jewish people as The Enemy.
But did Trifkovic write this?
No. He wrote:
"...since the late 1800’s the Jews have had a disproportionate impact on a host of intellectual trends and political movements which have..." [which culminates in a process that is acquiring, according to Trifkovic, an "escalating ferocity"]
Notice how Trifkovic's "have had a disproportionate impact on" slides into Auster's "waging a war of escalating ferocity".
Furthermore, as one reads Trifkovic's piece, it becomes clear that he expresses reasonable hope that Jews will recognize that they need to ally with "traditional Republicans" against the non-West, and that in their turn, "traditional Republicans" will welcome Jews as allies.
Auster in his analysis is either cleverly manipulating the source he is critiquing, or he has the reading comprehension of a freshman at a state college, or (to be generous) he was having a bad day the day he read Trifkovic's essay.
Notwithstanding the more reasonable and fair (not to mention elementary) reading of Trifkovic's putatively antisemitic paragraphs, they do still possess, for me, an uncomfortable hint of attaching too much Jewishness to the bad behaviors of certain modern Jews. Trifkovic calls it "disproportionate", but even if it could be proved that among the very small minority (comparatively) of Jews in the West, a high number did involve themselves in various "Gramscian"-type shenanigans (along with other murkier activities undermining society, like "Hollywood"), this still hasn't passed the test of being demonstrated to be due to the Jewishness of those Jews. Trifkovic in that infamous symposium even allowed for this -- if as fleetingly as a zooming car: "Spontaneously or deliberately..." But that, needless to say, is not quite good enough to allay our misgivings.
At any rate, after dialing down our discomfort with Trifkovic to a rational level below Auster's neurotic tendency to hyperventilate, I would certainly support expressing the desire to see Trifkovic further explain himself, but in no way should he be "put on notice" in any manner whatsoever (much less should he be inferentially smeared as Spencer has to date). Trifkovic remains a solid member of the still-inchoate Anti-Islam Movement -- even if its Emperor Spencer wants to publicly scold him (if not all but anathematize him).
Today, Auster published another article about this issue, after having received some email correspondence from Jawad (al-Whatever). Auster writes:
"Amazingly, Mr. Jawad, a citizen of Britain, is in fact 18 years old and a first year student at Oxford. Here is his website. Here are his articles at American Thinker. I told him that he writes much better than the average AT contributor."
Actually, that Jawad is 18 explains his sophomoric prose -- e.g.:
He describes Trifkovic's reception by others thusly:
[Trifkovic] is often upheld as a serious scholar with a genuine interest in promoting the cause of human rights in the face of jihadist ideology. For instance, he was interviewed in the documentary Islam: What the West Needs to Know and is described by Robert Spencer as having run "afoul" of the "busy propaganda arm" that forms part of the "jihad in the Balkans."
Unfortunately, however, such adulation...
The word "adulation" is wholly out of place here, particularly as the sole basis for such an adjective which he provides is Trifkovic's being interviewed in a documentary and then Spencer's description of Trifkovic as having been a victim of anti-Serbian pro-Balkan-Muslim propaganda-mongers. Using an inflated and exaggerated word like "adulation" in this context bespeaks an exceedingly immature writer -- either an 18-year-old (whether at Oxford or elsewhere); or someone who has a penchant for hyperbole (like Auster, or Spencer).
Another problem with Auster's latest update on the "Spencer-Jawad fight" is that he takes at face value Jawad's self-description:
Mr. Jawad informs me that his parents come from Iraq, and that he himself has no connection with Islam and does not identify as an Arab.
Auster would do well to read through the comments of that original Jihad Watch article where this first blew up, and pay attention to what Jawad says when one of his many hobbyhorses comes up -- the supposed "anti-Arab" bigotry of too many Jihad Watch readers. Jawad strikes me as one of these Middle Easterners who are purveying the "Assyrian" meme. While certainly there are non-Arab peoples in various parts of the Middle East, it is also reasonable to assume that after 1400 years of Arab-Islamic conquest, dhimmitude, kidnapping of little girls to "wed", and rapes, the ethnic composition of any non-Arabs in the region has become seriously compromised. Ironically, one motivation of this quasi-mythological exaggeration of "Assyrianism" in places like Iraq among mostly Christians is often an implicit anti-Arabism: and yet, Jawad in the Jihad Watch comments was condemning Jihad Watch readers for (among other things) precisely anti-Arabism (a charge, by the way, which, like his other charges that riddle that thread, is unfounded). This incoherence and gullibility for propagandizing mythic memes is another sign of immaturity on Jawad's part (though many older people exhibit those symptoms as well).
At any rate, Auster evidently hasn't combed through that comments thread and read all of Jawad's comments, because once one has digested them, no reasonable person who sincerely supports the anti-Islam movement (such as it is) would feel comfortable having such an asymptotically fussy ally as Jawad. Example: an 18-year "citizen" of the UK who hails from Iraq can't possibly know enough about the EDL (let alone the BNP) to so roundly and apodictically condemn them, as he does with that fresh certitude of which only the young freshman is capable.