Thursday, December 23, 2010

Censorship, or Self-censorship, in Jihad Watch comments?

Today, I note this part of a
paragraph from a long-time Jihad Watch commenter, "dumbledoresarmy". In this particular comment, "dumbledoresarmy" is cautioning fellow Jihad Watch readers about an Islam apologist in their midst, one "motokosama":

... note the Muslim Motokosama's parallel claim that Muslims have treated Jews better than Christians...a claim that is pure nonsense to any person who has read Maimonides' letter to the Jews of Yemen, in which Maimonides states plainly that it is 'Ishmael', the Arabs, who have oppressed the Jews most cruelly of all; or who has read "The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism", or Bat Yeor's "the Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam", or who has read Martin Gilbert's new book, "In Ishmael's House". Or who knows how Jews were treated in Muslim Morocco right up until the 19th century and then again after the French left, in the 1950s, until they were all driven out (it is a similar story for Muslim Mesopotamia, and Egypt) or how Jews were always treated in Muslim Yemen (as chattel slaves), and how they were treated in Muslim Persia, except during a brief period of relaxation under the late Shah, and his father before him.

Notice anything odd in this excerpt?

What's odd is what is not there: While "dumbledoresarmy" dutifully mentions the names of authors Bat Yeor and Martin Gilbert, in the same passage and in the very same context she leaves the title "The Legacy of Antisemitism" strangely authorless. We all know (or should know) who the author and editor of that important compendium is -- Andrew Bostom, with whom Robert Spencer has had a rude falling out, even if much of the apparent rancor and motives of that falling out remain shrouded in the shadows of the Gentlemen's Club.

And indeed, some of the other details about Islamic antisemitism which "dumbledoresarmy" includes -- but leaves uncited -- in that paragraph quoted above may well owe a debt of gratitude to Bostom's book.

So, was this curious absence in this passage ensconced in a comments field at Jihad Watch airbrushed out of existence by the long arm of Spencer (perhaps Marisol doing the honors of the dirty work with her secretarial whiteout)? Or has "dumbledoresarmy" become such a loyal supporter of Jihad Watch over the years that she too has
gotten the memo, and thus has internalized the excommunication of Andrew Bostom?


In a later comment by
"dumbledoresarmy, she mentions the dreaded name of Andrew Bostom -- but in reference to a different writing, this time an article he published at Perhaps Spencer did not see fit to censor his name in this context, because a) through David Horowitz is formally allied with him, and b) the comment references simply an article by Bostom, not the dreaded compendium (The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism) which has been at the center of the still murky contention between Spencer and Bostom. The fact that "dumbledoresarmy" (who in my experience is scrupulous in general about citing references) saw fit to reference Bostom's name in this later comment only tends to underscore the oddity of her oversight in the previous comment.

Meanwhile, why Spencer's official ally and friend David Horowitz has not seen fit to excommunicate Bostom and delete all his articles from remains a puzzle (though a cursory attempt to find Bostom's articles there yielded, strangely, only two articles by him -- one in March of this year, another co-authored by Bat Ye'or from 2002).

Second Update:

A long-time reader and commenter at Jihad Watch, one "Cornelius", has developed a bee in his bonnet about this essay of mine -- a bee that is fast metamorphosing into a hobbyhorse. In at least two different comment threads at Jihad Watch, here and here, "Cornelius" has in hyperventilating manner alerted his fellow Jihad Watchers to my supposedly pernicious and deluded essay.
"Cornelius"also at some point deposited a comment here. Readers may see in my detailed responses (the third and fourth comments) to his comment below a persuasive defense of my original thesis -- a defense which shows that "Cornelius" apparently didn't carefully read my essay which so exercises him. I also added two points not contained in my original essay which bolster my argument. "Cornelius" has failed to respond thus far, some 24 hours later, to my responses. Knowing him from past experience on Jihad Watch comments threads, however, even if he does respond, I hold no high hopes of him rising to the unremarkably elementary level of an actual counter-argument.

Third Update: See my latest post on this.


Luddite said...

Hesp, your name is mentioned on JW:

Cornelius said...

HESPERADO: "The fact that "dumbledoresarmy" (who in my experience is scrupulous in general about citing references) saw fit to reference Bostom's name in this later comment only tends to underscore the oddity of her oversight in the previous comment."

RESPONSE: On the contrary, logical deduction would indicate that since Dumbledores was NOT reluctant to cite Bostom on the later comment, her earlier omission was quite obviously inadvertent. The fact that her later reference to Bostom was NOT censored by Spencer indicates again that the earlier omission wasn't censored either. To suggest that all this was instead part of a deliberate form of censorship on the part of Spencer....or self-censorship on the part of Dumbledores, defies all logic from a supposedly logical thinker.

Hesperado said...

Thanks Luddite.


Both in terms of logic and in terms of aspects of my argument laid out in my essay which you evidently did not read carefully, the later inclusion of Bostom's name supports my theory more than it supports yours. In addition, there is a further probability I hadn't even thought of at the time I wrote my essay (which I'll get to in a moment). And finally, I was told of some information which adds credence to my theory, but which I had not included in my essay.

I. Logic

First, the logical argument: It's simple really: When a writer shows signs of sloppiness, then we may reasonably assume one particular oversight in question -- and/or any and all oversights in his text -- is an innocent manifestation of sheer sloppiness (such as neglecting to cite an author).

When, however, a writer is generally punctilious and scrupulous, an oversight (such as neglecting to cite an author) becomes odd -- i.e., unlike that writer's normal behavior.

In the specific case then where such a writer who is normally punctilious and scrupulous mentions the name of an author in one place of their comment, but fails to mention him in another place of their comment, the inclusion of the author's name in the one place in fact reinforces the oddity of the absence of the name in the other place.

II. The Argument from my Essay

a) Furthermore, in my essay I referred to the presence of citations by author names in the very same sentence where she leaves the Bostom title curiously authorless. (Again, as mentioned in section I above, in a generally sloppy writer, this would be only slightly curious, but unremarkable.)

b) Also, the author she failed to cite in that one context has been the focus of a serious falling out involving Spencer, and that falling out specifically revolves around the work dumbledoresarmy failed to credit Bostom's name with.

c) Whereas, finally, the later crediting of Bostom's name regards an essay published at the site of one of Spencer's longest-lasting and closest professional friendships: the site of David Horowitz,

[Continued next comment]

Hesperado said...

[continued from previous comment]

III. The Additional Factor

The additional factor I left unmentioned in my essay, which I only just now noticed, is that dumbledoresarmy formally cites and quotes from at length the essay by Bostom from Even a sloppy writer would not fail to cite the author's name when formally referencing and quoting at length from an essay by that author. With a writer like dumbledoresarmy, it would be exceedingly curious had she left out Bostom's name in that second context -- and such an omission would have been more obvious to readers. This, along with point II.c above (and also factoring in the logical point from section I above), effectively takes care of the supposedly convincing (but inadequately defended) refutation by Cornelius.

IV. The Second Additional Factor

The second additional factor which I had known when I wrote my essay, but which I left out of its content, comes from a private communication by email with a long-time Jihad Watch reader and more or less frequent commenter, whom I shall here refer to as "Anon".

Anon told me about an incident in Jihad Watch comments back in September of this year, before I had been banned from there. In that comments field, a semi-off-topic dispute arose between myself and a long-time friend and fierce defender of Robert Spencer, a reader named "awake".

(I know that "awake" is a long-time friend and defender of Spencer not only because "awake" spent enormous amounts of time and virtual ink critiquing my essays at my former blog, Jihad Watch Watch, as well as generally condemning me and sometimes cussing me out -- but also because he, "awake", and Robert Spencer his own self once subjected me to a veritable snowstorm flurry & blitz of emails in which they accused me of every crime under the sun while they repeatedly misread my statements, mischaracterized my arguments, offered inadequate arguments as refutations, and generally behaved like junior high school students, while I steadfastly maintained my cool.)

Anyhow, during that dispute in that JW comments thread (approximately late September of this year) between myself and "awake", I once again maintained my cool while "awake" became shriller and shriller: one could almost see steam coming out of his ears as he was on his way to blow. My anonymous friend, "Anon", who was reading that thread more carefully than I was, told me that they saw "awake" going over the top in one particular comment with language against me -- then "Anon" saw subsequently that that same comment had been scrubbed -- not deleted, just cleaned up. As we all know, readers cannot go back and change or delete their own comments, once they are published. So it had to be either Marisol or Spencer who helped "awake" out. (As my friend "Anon" put it -- why couldn't Marisol have done ME the same favor, and simply scrubbed my putatively offensive remark that got me banned?)

At any rate, this incident of censorship of the comment by "awake" back in September shows that in fact Marisol and/or Robert do occasionally reach in and monkey with the comments.


In order to persuasively refute me, Cornelius will have to address points I-IV above (and by "address" I don't mean gloss breezily over them whilst indignantly trumpeting some ill-argued red herrings).