Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Big Tent

First of all, of course, there is no anti-Islam movement yet.  

There only exists an amorphous movement with many disparate groups and many disaffected, troubled individuals, profoundly disturbed and concered by the metastasizing problem of Islam, spread out over the world internationally. (Part of the reason why they remain disorganized may reflect the fact that, relatively, they are few in number, compared with their pleasantly myopic fellow Westerners; but that is a somewhat tangential problem.)

One important part of this amorphous movement exists, or at least has its intellectual center, in the Blogosphere.

In this far-flung, amorphous context, there are certain individuals who are like cream that rise to the top, and have more influence, by virtue of their talented skills in communication and activism (Spencer, Geller, Wilders, and many others).  In this context, there are motions made now and then in the direction of forging a unity; but thus far, no unity has been forged yet.

Also in this context, almost precisely because it is not yet organized in any systematic way but remains amorphous, the intellectual dimension -- the "war of ideas" -- remains a crucial part of the process.

As long as this is our situation ("our" meaning those of us who are fed up with Muslims, and fed up with our West for bending over backwards in defense of Muslims), we have an interest in quality control in terms of our agenda.

Certainly, this concern for quality control is less pressing in our amorphous situation, than it would be if we had an actual organization getting things done in a concerted, official capacity.

(Why am I articulating unremarkably obvious things...? Sigh...)

However, it is also important in our amorphous situation -- perhaps even more important; to, so to say, get our shit together as we anticipate a major paradigm shift in our West in the coming decades.

Okay, in these terms, and considering, again, the important Blogospheric component of the situation, we have to think about the concept of the "Big Tent".

This concept concerns who rightfully belongs with us, and who does not.  Certainly, this concept itself is not flawed.  Every movement, every group, has a right to determine who should be a member and who should not, and what ideas or positions make or break such a determination.  It's not the concept itself that is in question; but only the criteria, and whether or not the criteria are unreasonable.

And of course, the Tent is "Big" because ideally we want to have as many people with us as we possibly can, because we operate in a beleaguered context, where we need numbers to help tip the balance with a West still idiotically laggard in its recognition of the problem of Islam.  However, our concern for "Bigness" should not trump any concerns for acceptable ideology among members.  I mean, we don't want Nazis, or antisemites, or unreconstructed PC MCs (let alone Leftists), or conspiracy theorists, or flabby softies hobnobbing with us and rubbing our elbows, do we?

Anyway, when I have brought this up in Jihad Watch comments over the years, and when I have pointed out that certain ideas or positions should be considered outside the bounds of the "Big Tent", more often than not I seem to elicit prickly reactions from those in the Counter-Jihad, as though my concern is threatening the Tent itself.

But if the Tent is so Big it includes people who are really not anti-Islam -- and whose positions and ideas actually tend to enable Islam rather than fight against it -- then is that a Tent we would want to call our own?

So, again; the question is not: Should we have standards that exclude certain types of ideas from the Big Tent?  But rather:  What should be our standards by which we do exclude certain types of ideas from the Big Tent?

Why this distinction seems lost on so many Jihad Watchers, I remain baffled.


Anonymous said...

Too early for a tent. The movement hasn't even defined itself for the most part. It's just vaguely anti-Islamic and then gets messy after that.

Once the movement defines what it wants to accomplish it will attract the people that are congruent with it's mission.

That is also the hardest part given the egos, purges and hidden agendas involved.

Anonymous said...

Hi, It's Bradamante from over at JW. I'm too new to all this to have much of an opinion, but nonetheless I want to comment that however this shapes up, I think it'll be important to decide who to work with based on whether their thinking on Islam and Islamization is sound, as opposed to labels or past affiliations. Case in point -- I voted for Obama. I knew less than nothing about jihad at that point. These days, I'm horrified and disgusted at what the Obama Administration is doing to empower and embolden the Islamists. But back before the election, that issue wasn't anywhere near my radar. So that's an example of a past action that I wouldn't hold against someone (if the person were full of praise for what the Administration is doing, that would be another story).

Or on the MC front -- I used to see no problem with the idea of multiculturalism, because I thought it meant something very benign like "My friends can be Jews, Buddhists, Protestants, Catholics, etc., and we're all still Americans and we all get along. And people from other countries can be proud to be Americans but also take pride in their heritage from elsewhere." I had no idea that MC often means tolerating people who want to destroy the fabric of our nation -- people who place no value on loyalty to America or loyalty to Western Civilization. I don't know which definition of MC is more common but now I would never apply the label to myself, lest people think I mean the no-loyalty-to-our-shared-American-heritage interpretation. There may be other people who apply the label MC without any commitment to the obnoxious, nation-destroying version of it. So I'd want to get some clarity about "Just what do you mean? You do still assume that people are going to be loyal to the United States, speak English, defend our shared civilization, respect our shared values, etc., right? You just mean that some people celebrate Christmas and some celebrate Hanukkah and some are proud to be of Irish or Chinese or African descent, but we're all still patriots and we all fight for American values -- right??"

As you know from JW, I'm new to all this, so feel free to let me know if you think my thinking is still way too fuzzy here. But that's where I'm at right now.

Anonymous said...

p.s. I now see that you've written voluminously explaining the history of PC MC, what it means, etc. I need to read all that -- I've just started. All I meant was that some people don't even know what the terms mean and might mean something else.

I want to find an entry you mentioned on the difference between a liberal and a leftist. I'm pretty sure I was a liberal, not a leftist. I say "was" because my thinking is changing very fast; these days I'm becoming a centrist, I think -- I don't know with great certainty where the lines are drawn, but I know that whenever I read things explaining point by point what's wrong with some of the thinking on the left, I have a huge sense of relief, like "Oh! I have heard people talking like that on the blogs I used to spend time on, and something always felt very wrong about it, but I couldn't put my finger on what was bothering me..." So now I want to read your analysis of liberals and leftists.

Hesperado said...

Hi Bradamante, thanks for reading. I took a few minutes to look for an essay where I specifically focused on "Left" and "liberal" and could not find the one I know I wrote; but I do have a couple that touch on it, and which most certainly talk about Leftism.

The issue that has most interested me in the past few years has been how it is that so many Conservatives and Centrists (and a distinct category that I think is more common than we think, the "Comfortably Apolitical" -- sort of a political cousin to the religious category of the "Lackadaisacal Agnostic") throughout the West remain myopic to the problem of islam, and pretty much parrot the same axioms as does the Left on that one issue, even though they remain different on other sociopolitical issues.

I realized a few years ago that we need a new term that embraces all points on the political spectrum -- since so many people throughout the West on all points all agree on one thing: that we need to "respect" Islam and that "most Muslims are decent moms and pops like the rest of us", blah blah blah.

So anyway, if you're interested in delving further, here are a couple of essays on these matters:

Neither Right nor Left but Ambidextrous

Left / Right / East / West / North / South

Hesperado said...

"I realized a few years ago that we need a new term that embraces all points on the political spectrum..."

And that term is (for want of a better one), Politically Correct Multiculturalism (PC MC).

Anonymous said...

It's me, Bradamante. Thank you! Sorry I was rudely quiet. Just internet overwhelm. Anyway, I'm fast hitting the point of thinking that I don't even know what term to apply to my political orientation -- now I'm just thinking of it in terms of where I stand on which issues, and on some issues, I'm getting disgusted with both the left and the right, for exactly the reason that you summed up as PC MC. When I first began to freak out about the problem of jihad, I wondered whether my changing awareness would mean that I would have to -- horrors!! -- become a Republican. Then I found out large numbers of Republicans are totally out of it on this issue too. Ye gods. I don't know what to do in terms of which party or candidates to support -- off the top of my head, I'd say we need to try to educate all of 'em. Anyway, I'll read your essays. I did read the one on liberals vs. leftists and decided that I was never a leftist. Still working to understand more...

Hesperado said...


I just found that old essay I posted here in 2006 on Leftism and Liberalism, in case you haven't seen it:

As for which politicians to support, the best we can do is try to notice which ones make the best decisions on various aspects of the problem of Islam, even if they may show big gaps in their knowledge. Michelle Bachmann and Allen West come to mind.

A few of my essays examine lists of American politicians and the way they voted on a key issue or two:

Also, it's important to rule out certain people for unforgiveable mistakes (e.g., Governor Perry of Texas, whose support of a Muslim school curriculum in parts of Texas (and support of a Muslim activist, Aga Khan) was exposed by Robert Spencer and Pam Geller many moons ago.)