Some of my readers know that recently I snapped. It occurred Friday evening, November 13, the day of the Paris razzia. I won't go into the tedious details I already recounted in two previous essays -- Something snapped yesterday... and Why I snapped -- other than to note that it happened because I finally became fed up with two counter-jihad communities (Jihad Watch comments and Paltalk chat) which I thought, for over ten years, were in fact real communities.
After the Paris attacks, I realized I really need a counter-jihad community -- a real one, not the half-assed ones of Jihad Watch comments and Paltalk chat. I kept thinking over the years that they had more potential than they actually delivered. I finally snapped on Nov. 13 and saw that they don't, not by a long shot.
And after I snapped, I cut the cord. I stopped my habit of going into those two communities. I stopped cold turkey.
All this wouldn't be so bad, if there were some counter-jihad community out there, somewhere, to take their place. (Cue whistling winds and tumbleweeds rolling through a ghost town...)
Other than those two, there doesn't seem to be any venue large or seemingly vibrant and cohesive enough to even fool me into thinking it has potential. This past week plus, I have tentatively tried out FrontPageMag comments as well as a chat venue called Buzzen. Neither one offers anything in the way of hope for growing a community, from what I can see. The former I've written about many times in the past, noting how riddled & rife they are with asymptotic twitches & analysis (not to mention their shameful, shabby treatment of Diana West for her daring thesis on Communist infiltration into American government). This past week as I have dipped my toe into their comments threads, I've noted to my amusement how they have their own Phillip Jihadskis and Angemons -- i.e., seemingly tough, no-nonsense Counter-Jihadists who suddenly balk at any robust recommendations to treat all Muslims with zero tolerance, including the meme of total deportation (and of course, the usual gaggle of what I call the "Gung Ho Wing" of the Counter-Jihad -- text warriors who beat their chests in braggadocio against "those damned Muzzies and damned Leftists" but who otherwise have the subtlety and sophistication of a bag of household tools). Anywho, one can safely spend time there and at Buzzen chat without the threat of wasting time (as I did for years at Jihad Watch comments and Paltalk chat) looking for something deeper. Other candidates include comments fields at Gates of Vienna and at Debbie Schlussel's blog. Neither one of these really has the feel of a community nor the traction necessary to get one going. At best, in places like this one can occasionally bump into someone who's on the same wavelength and one can exchange some heartening, albeit ephemeral mutual support. In addition, Gates of Vienna (as I've mentioned a few times over the years) seems to have a subculture of point of view about the Problem of the Problem that veers damned close to conspiracy theory. While all Counter-Jihad forums have a bit of it, some have more of it than others; and for some reason it seems to thrive at Gates of Vienna more than at some other sites.
More broadly from a bird's-eye view, it's telling that any semblances of community in the Counter-Jihad seem forced to grow in unofficial places like the comments fields that attach to the sides of a blog or website -- almost like trying to start a garden on the sidewalk outside an office building. There should be a Counter-Jihad Central Community website, whose main focus and attention is on being a place where concerned civilians from all over the world wide web -- and from all over the world -- come together to talk about what they've learned elsewhere, as well as to vent, rant, commiserate, inform, enlighten, and over time build upon all this pent-up concern, frustration, alarm and civic duty we all feel to one degree or another. Of all the places I've run across these past 14 years, I really thought Jihad Watch comments -- and especially Paltalk chat with its features of real time conversation and voice chat -- presented a chance of this happening.
Lord knows this past nearly two weeks I've been tempted to go back to those two main haunts of mine. I continue to read Jihad Watch itself, for the useful reportage about the problem of Islam (and the Problem of the Problem -- the Western myopia to the problem of Islam) it offers. But it takes some discipline to resist plunging back into comments fields. It used to be my daily habit: I'd wake up, brew some coffee, open up Jihad Watch, see an article that seemed interesting (i.e., aggravating), and plunge into the comments to offer up my two cents. So since the night of November 13, I have checked in on it pretty much daily, and I see certain headlines that excite my trigger finger & mouse-clicker to want to join the comments and participate like the old days, like a bottle of fine Irish whiskey to an alcoholic -- example, Archbishop of Canterbury: The way Islamic State distorts Islam "one of the most desperate aspects of our world today" (97 comments) or Hillary: Muslims have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism (136 comments) -- but I have been strong in my resolve for rehab: I have resisted the temptation, because I know from years of bitter experience those comments fields will be filled with Counter-Jihad Softies who will attack me if I interject too much zero tolerance for all Muslims (or who will ignore those who are attacking me, or worse yet, chastise me for defending myself, instead of my attackers).
As for Paltalk chat, the other community I left unceremoniously on that Black Friday of Nov. 13, it's different. I don't have a daily reminder in the form of a website. I either have to go there, or restrain myself from going there. That makes it easier, I suppose. But I still miss the vague glimpses & resemblances of a community which for so long made me think an actual community could be grown there. Every time I feel tempted to go back, I remember all the years of shit I endured, and how so few of my supposed friends really had my back in a consistent and reliable way that mattered.
Again, as I said on the night of the Paris attacks: I snapped. I'm no longer going to accept anything that's half-ass.
That said, there were some good things I can say about my experience there.
In Paltalk chat, there were definitely glimmers of a potential I envisioned, which would appear now and then (which is probably why I kept staying on), in the fitful company of certain individuals. By the end of my disastrous career there, about four or five people came to be chat acquaintances who gave me hope that such a community could develop -- and while three of them seemed to rise above the general, pleasantly distracted inertia that seems to infect everyone there like an invisible gas (Godlessgirl, SamHuntington and Apologist), they didn't quite push through to the finish line, so to speak. Not for want of trying; all three of them devoted a lot of time and effort, but each had different limitations. Godlessgirl has a scintillating grasp of all three Problems, the best I've ever seen; but personal problems I won't go into here debilitated her ability to stay focused and reliable. SamHuntington has a deeply conscientious concern for the primary Problem that infuses his participation with a sense of civic duty; but in the end he had a blind spot for the secondary and tertiary Problems that at times bordered on naiveté. Apologist, meanwhile, is enormously energetic and knowledgeable about the primary Problem, but, as with Sam, she seemed to have a poor sense of, and little interest in, the other two Problems.
Perhaps more importantly than all this, these three (and a few others of somewhat lesser caliber) didn't quite seem to ever want to get serious about doing what it takes to forge a community-within-a-community. The first thing it takes is a willingness to spend hours together -- all of us -- having a discussion about what we're doing there and where we want to go as a community; something they never seemed to want to get around to doing, even though I kept nagging them about it. The fact that these three were so good is what makes our failure to grow a lasting community all the more disappointing.
As for the other community that failed me -- Jihad Watch comments -- I have even less of an excuse for sticking around that long. There was literally no one there I could count as a counter-jihad ally; and there were plenty who would come out of the woodwork to mock or attack me whenever I expressed my commitment, in various ways, to a Zero Tolerance for Islam and for all Muslims. Oh sure, now and then, slightly more often than once in a blue moon, a person would suddenly pop up to say something appreciative about some comment I wrote; but that wasn't nearly enough to satisfy my hunger for a genuine community. For the last two years there, I was mostly going in there like a scuba diver in a bathysphere, depositing commentary on the articles or on other comments I noticed among the coral reefs down there, avoiding the sharks (i.e., Counter-Jihad Softies who lunge and bite if you dare to criticize their softness on Muslims) that teem down there, and after swimming around an hour or two, I would surface again to do other things, ready to dive back in the next day. Increasingly, however, it was less of a pleasant underwater seascape than it was the wreckage of the H.M.S. P.C. M.C. -- and what made it worse were the affectations of counter-jihad street cred, followed by the prickly hypersensitivity to any observations that dared to notice how much squishy sea sponge they carried around in their underbelly, enough to sink a ship of fools.
Speaking of surfacing, I better do so now, before I get mired in a tangle of my own nautical metaphor...
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At any rate, as far as the Counter-Jihad family goes, I will be spending my time alone in the dark on Thanksgiving Thursday, nursing a bottle of Wild Turkey, thinking about what could have been, and what could be, but what ain't.