Derbyshire, Separationism, and Jihad Watch: Conservative Swede’s theory

Conservative Swede has his own blog, where he writes:

In the U.S., the shallow conservative poseur John Derbyshire disingenuously links the term Separationism to the main page of Jihad Watch, with the intention of shaming Robert Spencer; a tactic worthy of a leftist commissar. Derbyshire explains part of the Separationism agenda as “bribing foreign Muslims to leave the U.S.A.” Once again Derbyshire shows his preference for leftist smearing tactics in his choice of the word “bribing.” Spencer calls the idea of “bribing” absurd, and writes “I have never heard of anyone advocating it, though someone may.” Even Hugh Fitzgerald crumbles in the face of leftist commissar Derbyshire’s shaming tactics, denying that he ever offered any “solution” to a “problem,” or ever suggested “bribing.” Such is the political climate in the U.S. today. Read about the whole thing here.

The following exchange ensued between us:

LA to Conservative Swede:

Well, it hadn’t occurred to me that Derbyshire was up to something deliberately mischievous, the whole exchange between Derbyshire and Spencer was so odd. Do you think that Derbyshire deliberately linked the word separationism to Jihad Watch in order to upset Spencer, sort of like this: Spencer himself avoids any separationist-type policies; but he features Fitzgerald, who does, yet Spencer never makes the connection, he never takes responsibility for the fact that he’s featuring at his site this guy who is much more radical and outspoken than himself; and so Derbyshire deliberately does this to tweak Spencer and see what comes out?

CS to LA:

I cannot think of any other explanation for Derbyshire’s behaviour. What would that have been? That he slipped with his fingers and the link appeared randomly? That he honestly thought that Jihad Watch and Robert Spencer was the most typical example of Separationism, and therefore considered Jihad Watch the most accurate and informative link from the word Separationism? Not very bloody likely, and furthermore his acts afterwards do not match this.

LA continues:

Also, that exchange spurred Rebecca Bynum at New English Review to affirm the “separationist” label for herself, which spurred Fitzgerald to come out with his bizarre and bitter attack on me for including him on my list of separationists and summarizing his ideas. It’s beyond strange. I’ll be posting more about it.

CS replies:

There you see the effects of the leftist hit artist Derbyshire’s shaming tactics. Right-wingers, such as Derbyshire, consider everything to the right of themselves as something evil, that must be denounced, exposed, ridiculed and shamed (look also at Derbyshire’s behaviour towards you). Right-wingers are no different from left-wingers, as we see. And in the other end, someone like Fitzgerald is very sensitive about being tainted with that brush.

LA replies:

While Derbyshire could not have foreseen the precise fallout from his linking “separationism” to Jihad Watch,—that Spencer would angrily reply to Derbyshire, that Bynum would post a separationist credo in response to the Derbyshire/Spencer exchange, and that Fitzgerald in response to Bynum would angrily dissociate himself from separationism—that is what happened. Which makes it a plausible theory that Derbyshire wanted something like this to happen. Calling him a “commissar” is wrong and exaggerated, but he is not on our side on the Islam issue, and it is a reasonable guess, though personally I doubt it, that he was trying to smoke out Fitzgerald as an Islamophobe.

But if that is what Derbyshire was doing, Fitzgerald fell for it perfectly. While Fitzgerald says he’s not a separationist and acts victimized that I described him as one, the fact is that he DOES speak of Islam as the absolute enemy, he DOES call for the end of all Muslim immigration, he DOES speak of the desirability of removing Muslims from the West, and he DOES call for confining Muslims within the Islamic world forcing them to give up Islam and Kemalize themselves. He may now contemptuously state that this is a mindless reductivist misappropriation of his ideas, but the fact remains that he has clearly said all these things. So for him now to claim that I am misrepresenting him, because I didn’t stress other ideas of his (such as his proposal to plant dissension between Shi’ites and Sunnis), is ludicrous, and, as I said, does make your theory possible (though no more than that) that this was a “smoking out” operation initiated by Derbyshire and it worked.

If Hugh Fitzgerald doesn’t like the label separationist he has the right to reject it (though this is the first he has mentioned it since my “Separationism” article was published six months ago). He doesn’t have the right to pretend that I in my brief summary and synthesis of his ideas have crushed and destroyed the entire edifice of his work. Believe it or not, that is what he claims. When it comes to what to do about Islam, he is as hardline as they come. But as soon as public attention was drawn to this, he felt compelled to dissociate himself from his own ideas by complaining that I, in some brutal act of intellectual aggrandisement, had distorted and misrepresented them, when, in reality, I was giving a respectful and cogent synthesis of them.

Another angle here is that Bynum, Derbyshire, and Fitzgerald are all listed as contributors at New English Review.

LA continues:

I was about to add that I think that it’s more likely that none of this was intentional on Derbyshire’s part, and that (as a correspondent just suggested to me) he linked the word separationism to Jihad Watch out of laziness, thinking of Jihad Watch as a hard-line anti-Islamic site. But that won’t fly. Derbyshire seems familiar with these issues, he knows that Jihad Watch is Spencer’s site, and that Jihad Watch as such has nothing to do with separationism. Which makes it impossible for me completely to reject Conservative Swede’s theory.

Conservative Swede replies:

You wrote:

“Calling him a ‘commissar’ is wrong and exaggerated, but he is not on our side on the Islam issue, and it is a reasonable guess, though personally I doubt it, that he was trying to smoke out Fitzgerald as an Islamophobe.”

I said he used a tactic worthy of a leftist commissar. and I stand by that.

But I do not mean that Derbyshire was aiming for Fitzgerald. He couldn’t have predicted that any more than al Qaida could have predicted that the WTC buildings would fall to the ground. No, he was aiming for Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch as a site. And more specifically at the discrepancy between Spencer’s position and Fitzgerald’s position, which has been pointed out by you many times. I have defended Spencer’s strategy in front of you many times, as a strategy that makes sense in the current political climate [Up until a certain point; which might have been reached now. More about that in a future comment.], but it has this glaring weakness. A weakness that can be exploited by the shaming tactic of a leftist hit artist. Compare it with the case of Horowitz, who also held a stance that made a lot of sense in the current political climate. But also that one with such a weakness, that could easily be abused by a leftist hit artist. In the Horowitz case, the Undercover Black Man, in Spencer/Fitzgerald’s case John Derbyshire. If you had denounced your “racism”, as Fitzgerald is now denouncing his “separationism”, I’m sure you would have been able to stay at FrontPageMag. [LA replies: But Horowitz never told me which of my statements were “racist” and why, so it was not possible for me to renounce my racist statements even if I had wanted to. That was a truly Stalinist-type move by Horowitz that he will have on his record forever. (Note: I said that it was a Stalinist-type move, not that Horowitz is a Stalinist.)]

If Derbyshire had aimed specifically for Fitzgerald he would also have linked specifically to the Hugh Fitzgerald section of Jihad Watch. But that would have thwarted the whole purpose. Compare it to: i) Undercover Black Man linking specifically to your site calling you a “racist”, or ii) Undercover Black Man involving Horowitz in the affair. In the first case the weakness of the discrepancy is not exploited, and nothing will happen. In the second case, the weakness is exploited, and the shaming tactic will have great effect. But the exact effects cannot be predicted, no more than when a kid throws a rock into an ants’ nest.

A correspondent of yours wrote: “I think CS has it wrong. John was simply linking to what he thought of as the hard core anti-Islam folks.”

Maybe Derbyshire is also under the illusion that FrontPageMag is the hard core anti-PC folks, and next time he will link the word “racists” to the main page of FrontPageMag?

If Derbyshire did the linking in all honesty, out of ignorance, how come then that he could pull Auster’s ur-text on Separationism out of his sleeve in less than two hours? Anyone having read that text would be fully informed of all positions of the people at hand. And having read this text, this would have been the only honest place to link the word “separationists” to, right?

If Derbyshire would have done this in honesty and out of ignorance or sloppiness, wouldn’t his answer to Spencer have been one acknowledging his mistake? A mistake as big as linking the word “racists” to the main page of FrontPageMag. But maybe Derbyshire was not at all acting disingenuously. He’s an honest man, and not at all a leftist hit artist. But his great flaw is that he cannot admit a mistake. He rather goes on, pretending that it’s raining. He browses the web fervidly, and within two hours he finds Auster’s text about separationism, which he had never read before. Read it and found the link to Jihad Watch in Fitzgerald. Relieved, he can now post something without having to admit a mistake. This is a really strained hypothesis. Anyone who believes in it?

No. His behaviour, in every single step, fits the one of a leftist hit artist, Undercover Black Man school. Auster’s ur-text on Separationism was of course known beforehand by Derbyshire. And he knew well the positions of all people involved: Spencer, Fitzgerald, Auster. And he decided to exploit that, using shaming tactic. Throwing a rock into the ants’ nest, by juxtaposing “separationists” with Robert Spencer’s site. The kind of juxtaposition that must be the oldest leftist shaming tactic in history.

Jonathan L. writes:

Since I haven’t yet seen you mention this explicitly, I’m wondering if you are aware that Rebecca Bynum is (or at least very recently was) News Editor at Jihad Watch. Google “ Rebecca Bynum” for several dozen articles under her byline, as well as this picture of her with Robert Spencer.

So to summarize just how bizarre this all is, first Spencer denounces Derbyshire for associating him with separatism, yet features as the most prominent personality on his site (more prominent even than himself, given that Fitzgerald’s name appears in the title of every 5th posting) a man who not only has called for the cessation of all Muslim immigration to the West, but also for even harsher measures, including the boycott of all Muslim immigrant-owned businesses and an embargo on Western technological exports to the Muslim world (including medicines). Fitzgerald has also suggested the progressive destruction, not of Mecca itself, but of all travel routes to it in response to terrorist attacks using weapons of mass destruction. Yet Bynum, an employee of Spencer’s, then comes out in support of separatism, at which point Fitzgerald, her obvious intellectual mentor, distances himself from her on some torturously minute pretext. (And then, only days later, Spencer reports that France in fact IS bribing its Muslim residents to leave.)

Nothing I have seen so far so clearly demonstrates the neurosis of contemporary conservatism, nor Derbyshire’s baleful influence within it, several times worse than Mark Steyn’s. While Steyn is happy to aspire to nothing larger than clown-princedom, Derbyshire baits Spencer with the obvious intent of either “outing” him—at which point Derbyshire can then muse on separatist solutions with Spencer as his beard—or else provoking Spencer into an embarrassing retreat from a position which he has given, and continues to give, such prominent institutional credence. I’m not sure if this was “The Derb’s” intention all along, but by letting Spencer twist in the wind like that, rather than immediately reassuring him that, whatever Derbyshire’s own reservations about the strategy, it is still an eminently respectable one, he is really no better than the provocateur and hit-artist Conservative Swede imagines him to be.

LA replies:

Jonathan L. details Fitzgerald’s strange behavior, then he declares that it is proof of Derbyshire’s “baleful” influence. Maybe I’m missing something here, but I’m starting to think that Conservative Swede and now Jonathan L. are getting carried away by their anti-Derbyshire analysis. I’ve just re-read the whole Derbyshire-Spencer exchange. As a frequent critic of Derbyshire’s, and moreover as someone who because of Derbyshire’s personally sleazy behavior toward me would have good reason never even to mention his name at this website, I see nothing malevolent or baleful in what he wrote (apart, of course, from his straightforward attempt to undermine the idea that we can protect our country from Islam). He said that there are homegrown Muslims, like the Nation of Islam, and that separationism, meaning stopping immigration or reversing immigration, won’t help us with them. He links Jihad Watch. Given Hugh Fitzgerald’s powerful separationist-type policies that have been published at Jihad Watch (though of course Fitzgerald is not a separationist, heaven forfend), it was not unreasonable for Derbyshire to link the word separationism to Jihad Watch. Then when Spencer said, why are you linking Jihad Watch, we have nothing to do with separationism, Derbyshire quite rightly quoted Fitzgerald’s statements and my summaries of his statements backing up the idea that Jihad Watch is a place where separationist ideas are expressed.

I cannot see truthful facts and arguments as being baleful or malevolent. Therefore I now disagree with Conservative Swede’s theory in this discussion. The odd or dishonest behavior was not Derbyshire’s but Spencer’s, who ignored Derbyshire’s presentation of Fitzgerald’s ideas, and just focused on the “bribery to make immigrants leave” idea.

Let us also remember that if Spencer had simply ignored Derbyshire’s link to Jihad Watch, nothing more would have been said about it. It was Spencer who, by insisting that there was no separationism at Jihad Watch, gave Derbyshire the opening to quote Fitzgerald.

Now maybe I’m blind to the truth here because, given my general outlook, I see nothing objectionable in Fitzgerald’s separationist-type ideas nor in Derbyshire’s truthful presentation of them. Maybe it is the case that Derbyshire in some Machiavellian way was thinking that Spencer would freak out when confronted with the fact that his website is rife with separationist and other hard-line proposals for dealing with Islam. Maybe Derbyshire was hoping that the whole discussion would embarrass Spencer and ultimately Fitzgerald too, and even get Fitzgerald to denounce me for misappropriating his ideas and, with my oh-so-crude separationist label, opening him to charges of being an apartheit supporter to boot (yes, folks, all that and more is in Fitzgerald’s frenzied comment about me at New English Review) . But if writer X in a panic denies and renounces his own ideas (or, to be more precise, if writer X attacks writer Y, who has accurately presented his ideas, as someone who has brutally and ignorantly distorted his ideas), that is not the fault of writer Y, who accurately and with good intent quoted writer X’s ideas, nor is it the fault of writer Z, who accurately and with allegedly mischievous intent quoted writer X’s ideas; it is the fault of writer X himself, who has shown that he lacks the courage to stand by his own ideas—and with his own allies and admirers.

I repeat my bottom line that I cannot see anything blameworthy in stating the truth as Derbyshire did here.

James S. writes:

I think Conservative Swede is too hard on Derb in calling the use of the word “bribing” to describe paying Muslims to emigrate a smear. Later, in Derbyshire’s reply to Robert Spencer, he describes the same thing thusly:

“Though if Auster is right about “Fitzgerald’s strategic ideas” including “reverse-immigration policies,” it seems to me they ought to include the most obvious and humane “reverse-immigration policy” of all—just paying people to go away.”

Given the above and that previously the first and only place I had ever read the idea was at John Derbyshire’s favorite gink’s site, Steve Sailer’s, the most parsimonious explanation to me is just that he was being blunt and lowbrow in his choice of words.

We should keep our attention on Robert Spencer though who continues to be dishonest about Muslim immigration and whether and why he’s for or against it. He thinks the idea of paying them to leave is “absurd”? He’s never heard someone propose it? Well what about France? According to the Der Spiegel article Sailer posted, they’ve been actually doing it since 2005. And yet somehow Americans aren’t ready yet to even hear the idea of reducing new Muslim immigration?

LA continues:

I wanted to add something more about this question of stating another person’s views accurately. The standard treatment the left gives a conservative is (1) to quote him directly but in a distorted context, or (2) to paraphrase him incorrectly without quoting him directly, or (3) to make up complete lies about what he said. It is extremely rare for liberals to do a conservative the simple courtesy of quoting accurately an extended passage of his. Yet that’s what Derbyshire (who in this thread has repeatedly been called a liberal) did. If we conservatives are going to denounce a liberal for quoting us correctly, then we don’t believe in our own ideas and are not prepared to defend and explain them when they are attacked or exposed. And if that’s the case, we need to withdraw from public debate for a while and do some serious thinking until we are ready to stand by our own ideas.

LA writes:

John Derbyshire has commented further about the separationist issue, underscoring his point that Hugh Fitzgerald’s articles at Jihad Watch are clearly separationist and making clear my above point that he was not trying to “set up” anybody.

Conservative Swede has written a letter to Derbyshire and posted it at his site. CS says he appreciates Derbyshire’s point that he has no agenda against separationism, but asks again why he linked the word separationsim to the main page of Jihad Watch, which would not be informative about separationism.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 28, 2007 11:19 AM | Send

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