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.


1389 said...

This Ayman chucklehead is a troll who is supporting the Muslim agenda. He apparently got into Spencer's good graces by providing some assistance with blog material. But then, he turns backstabber by sowing dissention between Spencer and Trifkovic. In other words, Ayman is a troll, and it would be wise to ignore him from now on and to delete any of his comments that are obviously submitted in bad faith and with malevolent intentions.

Hesperado said...

1389, he may well be a troll, Muslim or Leftist, though he strikes me as simply a confused Iraqi "Assyrian" whose various views about many of the issues pertinent to the A.I.M. (Anti-Islam Movement) are so highly asymptotic (if not downright PC MC), he becomes a liability, not an asset. Were the A.I.M. an actual organization, I would favor refusing him any positions on that basis alone (even if he's not a troll); but since the A.I.M. is still inchoate, he obviously has the freedom to continue to write his sophomoric analyses -- and others have the freedom to either ignore him, or counter-argue him.

Thus, with regard to Spencer -- he should have simply ignored Aymenn, or he should have counter-argued Aymenn's main points. Instead, Spencer has behaved like a childish primadonna (even worse -- like a childish primadonna pretending to be a respectable mature gentleman). Spencer does this with everyone who criticizes him -- thus effectively imputing that anyone who criticizes him is ipso facto a troll who is aiding and abetting the enemy, and therefore undermining the "Counterjihad". Aymenn was right about one thing: namely, that Auster was right about one thing: namely, that Spencer has a serious case of narcissism whereby he feels his own persona is a direct and crucial extension of the Anti-Islam Movement.

Nobody said...

OK, I know that Spencer has had splits w/ Bostom, GoV, Schlussel, among others. Is he now also @ odds w/ Srdja Trifkovic? Looking @ the thread you referenced and the comments section, seemed like it to me.

Of the 5 presenters of the Islam video, I thought that Spencer, Trifkovic & Yeor were most convincing. Somehow, I cannot digest someone like Trifkovic being thrown under the bus.

Hesperado said...


So far, Spencer is giving Trifkovic the "Dewinter" treatment: not lashing out at him in so many words, as he does at certain others (Bostom, Diana West), but maintaining a ten-foot pole distance from Trifkovic, so as to keep his own white suit unsullied from the antisemitic cooties Trifkovic might have.

goethechosemercy said...

In other words, Ayman is a troll, and it would be wise to ignore him from now on and to delete any of his comments that are obviously submitted in bad faith and with malevolent intentions.
end quote.

Sounds like a devout worshipper of Allah to me.
I'm sure his Masjid has a little star beside his name.

goethechosemercy said...

For some time, particularly since the ESW trial, I've found Mr. Spencer's behavior difficult to understand.

Hesperado said...


I've had various phases of "problems" with Spencer:

1) the way he reacted, over a long period of time, to my criticisms of his methodology -- this revealed a person who can't simply see a critique, put up a rational rebuttal, and then pursue the debate if it continues until such time as both sides "agree to disagree" -- or until such time as he simply decides unilaterally he doesn't want to be bothered, doesn't have the time, etc. Instead, he has reacted by characterizing his critic as an "attacker" and proceeding from there to bristle with every response he makes to the points of his critic, generating more sparks & fire of misplaced paranoia, hyperbolic mischaracterizations of his opponent's terms, and needless ad hominems than actual light of talking points.

2) The road kill along the way of all the bridges he has burned with various colleagues. One or two, and I would charitably consider that it was not his fault, or perhaps it was a little of both. But when the body count racks up to such a high number as we have now, one begins to consider the wisdom of Alcoholic Anonymous -- you know, the part about acknowledging your own fault. One wonders if one shouldn't organize a meeting with Andrew Bostom, Diana West, Debbie Schlussel, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Fitzgerald, Serge Trifkovic, Filip Dewinter, Baron Bodissey and Dymphna (have I left anyone out?) -- sort of like a surprise birthday party: Spencer gets off the plane of one of his many jet-setting flights all over the world, checks in at the hotel, and turns on the light and sees them all there: however, not for his birthday, but for the surprise of what they call an intervention.

3) The way he treated Vlaams Belang and Filip Dewinter.

4) His strange bout of Persian Flu (i.e., the astounding naivete of his enthusiastic support of millions of Muslims in Iran who happen to be wearing blue jeans and agitating for "democracy").

Nobody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nobody said...

Looks like Spencer has clarified his stance on Trifkovic after all

Hesperado said...


It's not really a clarification. All Robert is doing there is posting an essay by someone named "Andy Wilcoxson" (whom I've never seen before on Jihad Watch) who 1) repeats Spencer's ridiculous characterization of Jawad's piece as an "attack on Jihad Watch" as well as an "attack" on Trifkovic's reportorial thesis about the guilt of the Bosnian Muslims. Thus, Spencer is -- by two removes: first, by not writing the essay himself, and secondly by exonerating not Trifkovic, but simply Trifkovic's thesis. That Spencer chose Wilcoxson to explain the thesis, rather than invite Trifkovic, is almost as rich as when Spencer hailed some new writer of a history of Islamic anti-semitism with an utter (and utterly conspicuous) absence of any mention of the pioneer of that important subtopic, Andrew Bostom.

Notice too in the comments section, where someone named "wild jew" is taking Spencer to task for his limp-wristedly mealy-mouthed kid-gloves treatment of a Middle Eastern patriarch who uttered far worse antisemitic things than Trifkovic did (and clearly, unlike Trifkovic's vague language) -- and as the discussion continues, with "wild jew" remaining firm but mature and polite, it doesn't take long for Spencer to complain on his high horse that "wild jew" is engaging in "calumny" and "defamation" of His Highness.

goethechosemercy said...

1) the way he reacted, over a long period of time, to my criticisms of his methodology
end quote.

Yes, I was aware that Spencer had been taken to task by people who agree with him and others who disagree with him over methodology.
I think the intervention idea is good, because the personalization of these conflicts really is needless.
There are many, many people who bother to read his website and works who, even though they respect him, want him to be more rational in responding to criticisms.