Spencer: ally of Charles Johnson
During the controversy last fall set off by Charles Johnson’s jackboot-style attack on the Flemish party Vlaams Belang and the Brussels Journal, I was not aware of Robert Spencer’s playing any particular role in the matter. The only Spencer participation I saw came much later, when, on January 20, 2008, responding with unseemly alacrity to a false report that Vlaams Belang had allied itself with the British National Party, Spencer denounced Vlaams Belang and explained why he thought any association with any party that cares about the survival of the white race is out of the question. I wrote at the time that Spencer’s position on race was wrong, though reasonably argued; I did not see it as a Charles Johnson-type imputation of guilt by association, or (Johnson’s specialty) guilt by association with Celtic cross bookend on bookshelf.
Later, people who had been involved in the affair told me of that Spencer had sided with Johnson through the whole business, but I do not remember having seen, then or later, anything of Spencer’s that convinced me that this was true. Today, however, I read an article by Spencer posted November 15, 2007 in which, airily claiming not to be taking sides or to be pronouncing anathemas on anyone, he fully endorses Johnson, whom he calls his friend, whom he describes (sounding like a courtier addressing a prince) as “illustrious,” and of whom he utters not a word of criticism, even as he repeatedly demands that Vlaams Belang and the Swedish Democrats take special steps to show they have “made a complete break” from any possible association with Nazi-like positions—an association which, of course, neither Johnson nor anyone else had successfully shown to exist. To the contrary, Johnson’s charges had been repeatedly exposed, by many including myself (see my articles linked below), as unsustainable and based on absurd inferences.
Spencer’s article indicated either complete obliviousness to or approval of Johnson’s techniques of character assassination. So I went back and looked up my main article on the subject, “The method of Charles Johnson.” I saw that it was posted November 3. Now by November 3 the debate had been going on for some time and much of the conservative blogosphere was aware of Johnson’s methods and had denounced him for them. Yet two weeks later, on November 15, well after Johnson’s campaign of vilification had been aired and discredited, Spencer was still behaving as though there was nothing objectionable about Johnson’s thuggish attacks, and he was putting the entire burden on Johnson’s targets to clear themselves of charges that had already been shown to be false, malicious, and unsupported by evidence.
Also troubling is Spencer’s treatment of the substantive issue, in which he elides any concern for the survival of European man with Nazism. He writes:
Fjordman argues that the indigenous peoples of Europe are being overwhelmed by an elite-driven attempt to render them minorities in their own countries, and that is a point well taken also. But there is cultural defense and then there is a white supremacism that is based on some idea of racial superiority and inferiority, and has via Hitler a historical link to genocide. They are not the same thing, and a distinction needs to be made between the two. If VB and SD have really made a clean break with the past, make it a complete one: let them deal with the ties to Le Pen and Haider, and make a distinction between cultural defense and white supremacism that is completely clear and distinguishes their position from the neo-fascists.Notice how Spencer sets up a false choice between “cultural defense” and “a white supremacism that is based on some idea of racial superiority and inferiority, and has via Hitler a historical link to genocide.” For Spencer, any solicitude for white peoples as white peoples is by definition “white supremacism” which in turn is inseparable from Nazi genocide. For Spencer, there is and can be no such thing as concern for the white race that is not tending toward Auschwitz. Meaning, among other things, that virtually all leading figures in American history until the mid twentieth century, who as a matter of course identified with the white race and saw America as a white man’s country, were proto-Nazis.
Spencer’s doctrinaire liberal view of race illuminates his troubling failure or refusal to see anything objectionable about Johnson. As far as Spencer is concerned, it doesn’t matter that Johnson’s methods are deplorable; it doesn’t matter that the parties Johnson attacked have no association with Nazi-like groups or policies. If those parties have a smidgeon of a thought that Europe ought to remain racially white, if they desire that any historically white country maintain its majority ethnicity, or (as in Spencer’s January 20 article responding to the false report linking Vlaams Belang with the BNP) if they even associate with another party in another country that wants to preserve the historic racial make-up of its country, that is enough to mark them down as neo-Nazis and place them beyond the pale of decent society.
Finally, summing up the method of Robert Spencer, look at how, in a single sentence, he claims to be irenically above the fray even as he takes sides in it:
I am pronouncing no anathemas, although I repeat: I completely disavow and repudiate any neo-Nazi or white supremacist individual or group.
Here are my articles on Johnson’s’ attacks on VB and Brussels Journal:
Charles Johnson calls Brussels Journal “repugnant”
Adela G. writes:
Spencer writes: “Fjordman argues that the indigenous peoples of Europe are being overwhelmed by an elite-driven attempt to render them minorities in their own countries, and that is a point well taken also. But there is cultural defense and then there is a white supremacism that is based on some idea of racial superiority and inferiority, and has via Hitler a historical link to genocide. They are not the same thing, and a distinction needs to be made between the two…”LA replies;
I want in particular to underscore this comment of Adela’s:Janna K. writes from Finland:
Having followed the Jihad Watch website for roughly two years I definitely agree that Spencer and Charles Johnson are allies, which basically means that Johnson has helped Spencer in the past and therefore Spencer feels loyalty towards Johnson.LA writes:
Here, sent by a reader, is an entry at Little Green Footballs in 2003 announcing the inauguration of Jihad Watch and the fact that JW was designed by LGF, meaning Charles Johnson.Fjordman writes:
For the record, I do still publish at Jihad Watch every now and then, and I think you are being too hard on Robert Spencer. I respect your blog for saying that Islam isn’t reformable, which is undoubtedly correct. Your basic policy of separating infidels from the Islamic world as much as possible is in line with my own. I disagree with you on some issues, but to be quite honest, what I dislike the most is how much time you spend on criticizing Spencer. He’s a good guy. Melanie Phillips is undoubtedly wrong if she believes in a moderate Islam, but she is improving. I heard her speak during a conference recently, and she was good. I’m not saying that we should never criticize those who believe in a mythical “moderate Islam” (I do so myself), but we should save most of our firepower for the real bad guys. And by the way, I seriously doubt whether Spencer believes in a moderate Islam.LA replies:
Thank you for frankly sharing your views with me, including what you disapprove about my site.A reader from Belgium writes:
Your reader Janna K. from Finland hits the nail on the head:RB writes:
In response to Spencer’s column, “Why the anti jihad resistance is not about race,” I posed the following questions. These were designed to make Jihad watchers who might not be concerned with mass third world immigration consider what the consequences of such would be for the struggle against jihad. I also noted that many of the posters following the column were critical of Spencer’s position:LA replies:
RB has gotten to an essential point that is missed by “single-issue” people, such as those who care only about the Islam threat. There is a total attack on the West, coming from all directions, made possible by the Western nation’s own deconstruction of their own legitimacy and historic identity. Part of that historic identity is their white majority character. Once the idea is established that the historic majorty people of a country is illegitimate, it becomes, as a practical matter, impossible to preserve any aspect of that country’s majority culture. Therefore, those who oppose Islamization need to recognize the necessity of recovering the fundamental legitimacy of the Western countries. As long as those countries are illegitimate in their own eyes, they have no solid basis on which to oppose Islam. A universal liberal abstraction cannot successfully oppose a concrete, particular, and militantly and universally expansive Other.Howard Sutherland writes:
You are critical, and rightly so, of Robert Spencer’s refusal to recommend the actions (end Moslem immigration to the West; remove Moslems from the West) that are the inevitable conclusions from Spencer’s many warnings about Islam and jihad. I respect Spencer for his courage in taking on the difficult role of warning Westerners about a threat most simply don’t want to perceive (i.e., Islam itself as taught by the Koran and Hadiths; not “extremist terrorists” somehow “perverting” Islam). Like you, though, I wish he would follow through. He has a growing audience and its hearing a presentation from Spencer of the virtues of separation would be an enormous advance.LA replies:
Some might say that Mr. Sutherland’s point is prejudicial against Spencer. I would say that his point goes beyond Spencer to a general point that is legitimate and important. It is a well established fact that many Jews automatically oppose any immigration restriction, because they think that it is or will be directed against them. Further, even when Jews want to restrict Muslim or other immigration, the fact that many of them have a consciousness of themselves as distinct from the American majority, whether that majority is defined religiously or ethnically, tends to make it difficult for them to stand whole heartedly and without inner psychological conflict for such a position. So they go back and forth, torn by a conflict which they cannot resolve and which in most cases they have not even articulated to themselves.Howard Sutherland replies:
That’s exactly what I was trying to get at. In Spencer’s case, because he is obviously a brave man, I think his unwillingness ultimately to call for restricting Moslem immigration must come from a reservation like that, rather than simply from fear of being branded anti-immigrant or racist. In his own case, it’s probably exacerbated because he as someone “from the Muslim world,” as he puts it, is uncomfortable with the idea of banning people from the “Muslim world.”LA writes:
There are readers who feel that I am wasting my time attacking individuals and allies rather than working together with them on a positive agenda to defend the West. I would ask them to consider this.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 24, 2008 08:34 PM | Send