Sunday, March 06, 2011
Odd, but unsurprising, behavior from Robert Spencer
Perhaps I should emend, or at least tweak, my title; for can behavior on the part of a person be characterized as "odd" when it is unsurprising (and, therefore, one assumes, normal for him)? Well, let us leave it as is, and just say that the behavior is odd compared with normal people, but unsurprising compared with Robert Spencer.
The behavior to which our title refers is on display verbatim in this article put up by Robert Spencer on Jihad Watch (as well as in subsequent comments Spencer posted in the comments field to that same article). I won't go into the tedious details of the mess (replete with a stew of red herrings and straw men) which Robert Spencer and his "attacker" (everyone "attacks" critics of Spencer and Lawrence Auster; nobody ever apparently simply criticizes them), some exceedingly asymptotic analyst (considerably more so than Spencer, which is saying something) who goes by the name of "Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi", have together raveled like some grotesque parody of a wool sweater knitted by a pair of madwomen. It would take all day, and a team of logisticians, to unravel it (and if one added in the mostly inapposite and impertinent contributions of Jihad Watch readers, who to date have posted 123 comments there adding fuel to the virtually lightless fire, it would become a nearly hopeless task).
Speaking of Lawrence Auster, I'm surprised he hasn't picked up on this yet (he is mentioned in the comments -- quoted by the "attacker" and then obliquely jabbed at by Spencer in response). Perhaps he's currently too busy with Everything Else Under the Sun. (Update: The pot has noticed the kettle is black: Auster writes today: "I have repeatedly noted, and will continue to note, that Spencer does useful and important work, notwithstanding his overwrought and destructive responses to criticism and even non-criticism." One could say exactly the same thing about Auster. Okay, back to the other odd person in the still inchoate Anti-Islam Movement...)
At any rate, rather than delve into the thankless job of teasing out of the warp-and-woof of this mad sweater the proper delineation of all its multifarious yarn, I shall here simply describe what a normal person would have done in Robert Spencer's circumstance:
First, knowing that the editors of American Thinker are reasonable, fair and intelligent people (as becomes clear as one wades through the morass of irrelevant crap in the comments section to find the spare nuggets of relevant information, mainly provided by the "attacker" in the quoted words of Thomas Lifson), the normal person would have seen the article by what's his face, Aymenn Something al-Whatever -- whom one had deemed up till then (apparently, though one never knows all the ins and outs of the Gentlemen's Club) one's "counterjihad" supporter -- and would have seen it to be an article moderately and obliquely critical (albeit bandying impertinent adjectives around like a sophomore student's essay) of the normal person's methodology (among many others), in a broader context of criticizing putatively unsavory allies whom, according to al-Whatever, should be eschewed by the "counterjihad" movement -- but clearly exempting Yours Truly, the normal person, from such theoretical ostracization.
At this point, then, what does the normal person do? Does he bristle with pique and immediately sound the alarm bells of an "attack" on himself -- and by extension, upon the entire "Counterjihad" of which he has apparently become de facto head -- and then publish on his own blog a formal article going into OCD detail about all the minutiae that led to this ridiculously unnecessary impasse between supposed colleagues? Or does he calmly read the article, and then formulate a counter-argument which he knows will be published by the fair and reasonable editors of American Thinker? (Only odd people wouldn't know how to answer that without resuming their mad knitting of mad sweaters.)
So: Had Spencer simply done the latter, then al-Whatever could have responded with his own counter-counter-argument in a subsequent installment at American Thinker, and the discussion would proceed, at some reasonable point closed by mutual agreement to "agree to disagree". No need to burn bridges and ravel mad sweaters. Just continue the discussion, which will necessarily include at times mutual criticism (which, unless you're a big baby, you take without stalking out of the room in an indignant pique).
At least, that's what normal civilized people do.