Thursday, December 21, 2017
The Leadership and the Readership (part 1)
The "Leadership" and the "Readership" is a good way to describe the overall demographics of the Counter-Jihad. Because, however, the Counter-Jihad remains largely incoherent, there is often some crossover and a blurry line between those two categories -- not to mention that there are no formal "Leaders", even if there are individuals who function effectively as such in an ipso-facto-ish sort of way.
In a recent essay ("Let's Talk"), I set out my proposal that the #1 priority for the Counter-Jihad is to have a global virtual Town Hall Meeting -- to discuss what we are, what we are doing, what we are failing to do, whether we could be doing it better -- and I described that virtual discussion further:
"... it should be an open event, encouraging all Counter-Jihad Civilians to participate. The mechanics of the process should try to give voice to these Civilians, as prominently, if not more so, than to the Leadership; since the Leadership has enjoyed a virtual monopoly of communication thus far -- with virtually the only competition from the Civilians being in the form of comments submitted into comments threads of various discussion forums (the most vibrant one, perhaps, being the comments threads attached to articles on Jihad Watch), or blogs hardly anybody reads (like, you know, that blog, what's the name of it, by that guy, what's his name... The Desperado or something...)."
The "Civilians" of my quote are, of course, what I mean by the "Readership".
Let's explore a little more who these respective groups are, beginning with the Leadership. One useful way to see a list of likely candidates would be to trot out all the luminaries who have written encomiums for Robert Spencer's new book, Confessions of an Islamophobe -- Pam Geller, Michelle Malkin, Gavin McInnes, Bat Ye'or, David Horowitz, Ibn Warraq, Mark Steyn, Ann Coulter, Andrew McCarthy, Steve Bannon, Pat Condell, Bruce Bawer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Geert Wilders. (An interesting, if not amusing, thought comes to mind on scanning this list of names: some of them don't seem to be, strictly speaking, "in the Counter-Jihad", or at best seem to have one foot in it while the rest of their body, so to speak, inhabits the broader Western Mainstream -- such as Steve Bannon, Mark Steyn, Ann Coulter, and Andrew McCarthy; and other names come to mind as well in this regard, most notably perhaps, Sam Harris. This is a further wrinkle to the phenomenon we are exploring here, but which we won't get into until part 2.)
And speaking of luminaries, we include Robert Spencer himself, of course -- the éminence grise of the Counter-Jihad Mainstream. So much so, indeed, that some have assumed him to be, or have accused him of being, the titular Leader, the Grand Poobah of the whole Shebang (and of course Spencer has disingenuously deflected that with a grinning aww, shucks).
Not that I'm saying Spencer is in fact the Leader of the Counter-Jihad; though he is, in many ways, tantamount to it. One reason why he's not in any clear, coherent, official sense is because of the persisting incoherence of the Counter-Jihad itself -- "still inchoate" as I used to say (prompting Spencer once to jab me with a snarky retort in the comments field of Jihad Watch long ago, as though he couldn't understand what I was referring to, back when he was not so busy jet-setting around the world that he couldn't descend to hobnob with the hoi polloi of his fan base).
Another reason may be gleaned from who is not on the list of rave reviewers of his new book. As I've noted many times, Spencer has, over the years, burned many bridges (of course, it's always "their fault") with others who would be, or could be, or actually were, allies of his -- and of all of us who are concerned about the alarming danger of a global revival of Islam in our time. Baron Bodissey and Diana West come to mind (and one wonders if Frank Gaffney isn't included, for the crime of his continued support of Diana West).
To quote from another essay I wrote, longer ago, nearly 10 years ago (!) -- "Leadership in the Anti-Islam Movement: Addendum 2 to the Prospectus":
"Individuals such as Robert Spencer, David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, Brigitte Gabriel, Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, Ibn Warraq, Ali Sina, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Geert Wilders, and—until recently—Charles Johnson, come to mind. What makes these individuals “leaders”?
"First, it must be pointed out that not all of them manifest the qualities of “leadership” equally in degree or style. This is to a great extent a function of the movement’s lack of structure and protocol, by which such a definition would be more explicitly determined and implemented.
"Aside from evident talents and skills they all possess in varying degrees and flavors, the most general quality that embraces all the names listed above (and others that can be added to that list) is that they have a high degree (relatively speaking) of fame and influence. Using this criterion alone, we can say that leadership is not a simplex category or office held by one homogeneous class of individuals, to be contrasted with a second class designated as members who are non-leaders, but rather that there are levels or degrees of “leaders”. I.e., in this scheme, Spencer would exercise more of a leadership role than, say, Nonie Darwish, who in turn would be more of a leader than, say, Jamie Glazov of FrontPage Magazine. As we approach the low end of this spectrum, we shade off into individuals who are somewhat well-known in the Blogosphere (such as Fjordman and Lawrence Auster), and further down the food chain we have individuals who are virtually completely unknown (such as myself) who nevertheless maintain blogs on the issue and/or who otherwise try to engage in some form of activism of various degrees of significance and influence."
That descent down the food chain, as it were, harks back to a line I quoted previously, above:
...blogs hardly anybody reads (like, you know, that blog, what's the name of it, by that guy, what's his name... The Desperado or something...)."
Already, with the allusion there to that damned Hesperado, we have left the sphere of the amorphous Leadership zone and find ourselves suddenly in the more questionable neighborhood of the Great Unwashed -- the Readership.
The Readership, as distinguished from the Leadership, are in the eyes of some impatient cynics, not really "doing" anything; their highest activity, perhaps (setting the bar appropriately low in order to understand this demographic), consisting in blogging. In this regard, I quote further from that essay:
Below this level, as it were, are innumerable individuals who are as yet passive consumers of the movement, perhaps offering comments here and there on discussion forums and blogs, perhaps writing a letter to the editor or to their Congressman once in a while, but otherwise not actually doing anything. If the movement were crystallized into an organization, this last class, as well as those slightly above them who yet retain relative degrees of passivity, would be able to be utilized for the movement: this would help the movement, and it would give people who feel they don’t have any role some concrete significance.
I can offhand think of degrees of Readership activism higher, in the pragmatic sense, than blogging: One longtime veteran commenter in Jihad Watch comments fields I recall had made it an ongoing project of his to research, organize and print out concise brochures to pass out to various people out in the "non-virtual world". Another longtime veteran I featured in an essay here on The Hesperado many moons ago -- one "CGW" who has done quite a bit to try to wake up fellow citizens and authorities in his home state of Minnesota to the disturbing increase of female genital mutilation practices introduced by Muslim presence there. That said, the activity of blogging is not insignificant, and has its useful place, since our current phase of this war remains largely a war of ideas which involves a subtler, more complicated process than -- as most in the Counter-Jihad seem to think -- merely trying to get Information About Islam from the Counter-Jihad to the Vast Unawakened throughout the West who, once acquainted with that data, will have the scales fall from their eyes and be suddenly cured of their Politically Correct Multi-Culturalist bias.
More generally, I note a caveat from my essay I've been quoting:
This extrapolation of leadership degrees and the plotting of various individuals along its spectrum is not meant to be presented here and now as a definitive science; the placement of many individuals above or below others is to a great extent a subjective process, and people would reasonably disagree here and there.
This ends part 1. In part 2, I will get more into the juicy meat of both categories, the Leadership and the Readership.