Conservative Swede on my “night-and-day” contradictions

From the moment he turned against me the other week (here and here), my erstwhile friendly and supportive correspondent Conservative Swede not only lost his accustomed amiability and began speaking in a hostile and insulting manner about me personally, but he stopped thinking clearly. As an instance of the latter, consider his latest critique of me for my sin of not attacking Jim Kalb’s statement on Islam with sufficient rigor—which of course was the thing that turned CS against me in the first place.

By way of demonstrating my “night and day” contradictions, CS compares my earlier response to a pro-Islam statement quoted by a VFR commenter and my response to Kalb’s three-year-old pro-Islam statement which CS had discovered at Kalb’s website.

Here was the first exchange. VFR reader Charlton G. had said:

An acquaintance of mine recently confided to me, “Frankly, I’d rather live as a God fearing Muslim than end up in the loony, secularist, multicultural hell-hole the liberals are preparing for me and my children.”

To which I had replied:

That’s horrific that anyone would say that.

Here is Kalb’s statement:

Naturally, like other people I have views about which understandings are best. For example, I consider Islam better than contemporary advanced liberalism, the individualistic, nondoctrinal and moralistic Protestantism traditional in America better than Islam, and Catholicism better than Protestantism.

In response to which I gave a “on one hand, and on the other hand” reply, giving my understanding of where Kalb might be coming from, but also disagreeing strongly with his conclusion.

CS says that “Charlton G’s acquaintance and Kalb’s position are identical,” and therefore the different temperatures of my respective responses to the two statements prove that “There is an unresolved contradiction within Lawrence Auster. When he independently consults his own brain he gets it right and has his heart in the right place, but when Jim Kalb is around Auster decides instead to comply with his group affiliation to Christianity, which weakens him and hampers his judgment.”

What CS has missed is that Charlton G.’s acquaintance’s statement and Kalb’s statement, far from being identical, are strikingly different. The former said, “I’d rather live as a God fearing Muslim” than under Western liberalism. Kalb by contrast said that Islam is better than contemporary liberalism, since liberalism in theory cannot tolerate Christianity at all, while Islam can. There was no question of Kalb’s becoming a Muslim, but rather an instrumental consideration of whether Islam or advanced liberalism would provide a better venue for the survival of Christianity. That is an interesting question and one worth thinking about, though, as I made clear, I thought Kalb’s conclusion was very wrong and I would resist living under Islam with all my might.

That CS missed the huge difference between Charlton G’s acquaintance’s professed desire to be an Allah-fearing Muslim and Jim Kalb’s theoretical discussion of whether Islam or liberalism would be friendlier to Christianity suggests to me that it is emotion that is driving CS in his recent campaign against me, not reason.

Let me add that if Jim Kalb had said that he’d rather be an Allah-fearing Muslim than live under modern liberalism I would have called that a horrific statement. But Kalb did not say that.

The same failure to see the differences between palpably different things was evidenced in CS’s earlier attack on my supposed hypocrisy for, on one hand, criticizing Powerline for failing to respond to President Bush’s attack on all critics of the immigration bill as nativists who “don’t want what’s right for America,” and my own failure to attack Jim Kalb with the stringency CS expected of me. CS didn’t see the obvious differences between the two situations. In the case of Powerline, Bush had gravely insulted the good faith, intelligence, and patriotism of all critics of the immigration bill including the Powerline guys who are Bush’s devoted followers. In my case, Jim Kalb had made a point about the nature of Islam in comparison with advanced liberalism. It is wildly off the mark to expect that Kalb’s statement about Islam and liberalism required the same type of response from me that I said Powerline ought to give to Bush’s grave personal insult to them.

This brings us, finally, to what CS sees as the deeper implications of my supposed contradictions: he suggests that in the future I may change my views on Islam in possibly sinister ways, because I am “not a constant.”

Excuse me, I don’t mean to draw undue attention to myself, but Me, not constant on the question of Islam? Whether people agree or disagree with me on that subject, I don’t think many would say that I am not constant about it, to the point of obsession.

- end of initial entry -

KPA, a Canadian citizen originally from Ethiopia who contibuted an article to VFR on the medieval Islamic jihad wars in Ethiopia, writes:

I am sorry to read about the reactions to Conservative Swede to some very salient points on Islam by Mr. Kalb.

Actually, I think Mr. Kalb is demonstrating the true Western way of thought, where theory and discussion are a healthy and necessary way to analyze our world, in order to come up with valid conclusions. It was an impressive train of thought by Mr. Kalb to put aside prejudice and write so objectively. Of course, it was that very dialectic tradition which allowed you to come up with the possible errors in the conclusion of that train of thought.

One thing I would like to ask Mr. Kalb, though, is where does Orthodoxy come in? By the logic of his discussion, Orthodoxy is better than Catholicism.

I tried to do a search of Conservative Swede’s comments on your website, and he seems to be an evolving individual. I wonder if he is the same poster as the one in Evolution of a European conservative, and later calls himself Mr. Particular Swede? If so, I think his entry into traditional conservatism is recent, and also a little isolated (out there in liberal Sweden), so he seems to still be on the evolutionary path. I notice especially the negative reaction he had to your denouncing of the Anti-Islam Manifesto of the Twelve, and later changed his mind.

I’m sure your writings will help Conservative Swede, in the long run, as they help me.

LA replies:

Thanks to KPA for these remarks. She may want to address her questions directly to Mr. Kalb, at his website, Turnabout, or I can give her his address.

Yes, Conservative Swede earlier called himself Mr. Particular Swede, and he certainly is an evolving figure.

David G. writes:

In an earlier entry to you I asked if Jim Kalb had defined himself as a fifth-columnist. You replied that this was somewhat unfair to Kalb and asked me to consider his position in greater depth. Your most recent post clarifies the issue for me and I understand clearly the distinction that you are drawing between Kalb and Conservative Swede.

While it’s a good rendering on your part I have to opt for the view of CS. Implicit in Kalb’s defense of Islam over advanced liberalism is the likelihood of Kalb ultimately embracing Islam. And, if not Kalb himself, I would conjecture that a good number of his adherents would.

Another way to view the dilemma might be: In the extreme, would Kalb (and his adherents) be willing to die a martyr or would he opt for Islam and its transcendent civilizing function that he deems to superior to advanced liberalism? In short, convert or die. Maybe he would be willing to die as such—but where would that get him except maybe a place in heaven? What about his children? How would they live? As Muslims probably. Checkmate.

In the hypothetical question that you posed –how would you or I respond to a siege by Muslims in a secular city where Christianity is banned?—I felt that I had answered the question in my initial post. I would tumble the dice in favor of Western, secular man any day. At least with that group we share a varied common history—Plato, Aristotle, the Greek city states, the Bible, the Magna Carta, Shakespeare, the Enlightenment, the Founding of the American nation, art, literature, rule of law, chivalry, romantic love, humor, ribaldry, satire, Mozart, Beethoven, the scientific method, etc. There is more fertile ground there for a Western revival than in any of the so-called transcendent impulses of Islam.

As I understand the CS, he has it right, that, at least for Kalb, the key question of existence has been reduced to “is this good for Christianity.” A reasonable question perhaps but one that is a failure of imagination when played out an apocalyptic level such as the one we are discussing here. I think that Jim Kalb’s view of advanced liberalism is fevered and it reveals him to be, if not a potential Islamic fifth columnist (opting for martyrdom instead), then surely a fellow-traveler with Islam until the day of reckoning arrives. Not good.

To further along, and ultimately embrace Islam or martyrdom, is the end of everything notwithstanding the adaptability of some mutated form of underground Christian worship. I that CS, despite his own knee-jerk categorization of your own views, has struck on a key point—namely, that a significant expression of traditional conservatism (Kalb’s) ultimately lacks an instinct for survival and proves to be to be just another dead-end when pushed to its logical conclusions.

LA replies:

These are cogent and reasonable comments by David G. and for all I know he may be right. My own objection to Conservative Swede’s statements was not the substance of what he said about the possible implications of Kalb’s position on Islam, which was arguable, but the impulsive way he treated Kalb as an enemy based on one brief statement; the ridiculous and baseless conclusions he jumped to regarding my own position on Islam; and the insulting rudeness with which he expressed them.

However, instead of speculating further on Jim Kalb’s views I think these questions ought to be addressed to him directly, and I am sending you his e-mail address for you to do that.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 02, 2007 09:03 PM | Send

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