What’s going on in the anti-jihad movement?
Note: My quoting of Hesperado in this entry should not be taken as an expression of approval of him, or as acceptance of his past inappropriate behavior and attacks on me, some of which are referenced and discussed here. Also, the fact that he compliments me in the article and even presents me in part as his standard bearer means nothing to me and is not the reason I quote him. I quote him because he has raised valid and interesting questions about the anti-jihad movement that I myself have had. Blogger Hesperado (Erich) writes at length about the fact that Bruce Bawer, just weeks after Charles Johnson denounced as fascists and cut all his ties with the anti-jihad movement, wrote an article siding with Johnson’s position and denouncing the anti-jihadists as fascists and as “genuinely evil”; and yet, to Hesperado’s bemusement, none of the prominent anti-jihadists have responded to or even taken note of Bawer’s attack.
Hesperado says that I have been the only person to write about Bawer’s article (which I did, here), but since I am persona non grata in the “official” anti-jihad movement (by which Hesperado means basically Robert Spencer and his circle, leaving out other anti-jihadists who do not regard me as persona non grata), my writing on Bawer does not count as a response by the anti-jihad movement.
Hesperado raises a good question, and I’ll repeat it: Why the silence of the anti-jihadists (other than myself) with regard to Bawer’s attack on them as “genuinely evil”?
As a background to that question, Hesperado speaks at length about what he calls “The Gentleman’s Agreement” within the anti-jihad movement, one aspect of which is the strange arrangements he describes in the below passage (Hesperado throughout misspells Diana West’s name as Diane; I have corrected the spelling):
Another twist of the oddity of this phenomenon involves the strangely selective stances—or stances by default of not taking a stance—concerning various individuals of the still inchoate anti-Islam movement and the strange contortions these selective stances can take. To take one example of many: Diana West can support Vlaams Belang, Robert Spencer can support Diana West while treating Vlaams Belang like a leper colony, Diana West continues to support Robert Spencer, Charles Johnson vilifies Vlaams Belang, Robert Spencer chooses not to notice and comment on Charles Johnson (this was back over eight months ago, before Charles Johnson forced the issue through his brute behavior), Charles Johnson more or less condemns Diana West, Robert Spencer continues to look the other way; etc.I also have often observed and been puzzled by the strange group dynamics of which Hesperado speaks, for example, how Spencer remained friendly with Johnson even as Johnson was attacking Spencer’s friends Diana West and Andrew Bostom as fascist sympathizers and attaccking his contributor Fjordman as a racist, and how Spencer was never criticized for this; and many equally odd and inappropriate happenings. Yet, as Hesperado points out, when I made criticisms of Spencer that were vastly less serious and damaging than Johnson’s attacks on West, Bostom, and Fjordman, I was treated as a threat to the movement, Fjordman called me “immoral,” and Pamela Geller portrayed me as the equivalent of Charles Johnson—I, who had written many articles exposing Johnson’s false charges against Filip DeWinter, Paul Belien, and Diana West during the very period when Spencer was maintaining his palship with Johnson and calling him “illustrious.” A more recent example was Spencer’s truly odd and inexplicable behavior with regard to his withdrawal from the Pro-Cologne conference, which I’ve discussed here, and at more length here.
Let me add that I write the above not in a spirit of attacking anyone, but in a spirit of trying to understand. The Pro-Cologne business, for example, was a mystery calling out for explanation.
In the last part of the long blog entry, which I quote below in its entirety, Hesperado turns to his main subject, the mystery of the anti-jihadists’ non-response to Bawer’s assault on them:
The only person who has put forth a clear public notice of this Bawer problem and has offered an analysis of it has been Lawrence Auster on his blog, who posted his article about it on May 7, 12:45 p.m. Auster’s analysis is good within the confines of his delimitation of it (though here and there a bit tendentiously veering off onto his not entirely coherent anti-secular bias), but he misses the larger picture of the “Gentlemen’s Agreement of Silence” and its odd contortions. As Auster, however, has become a kind of persona non grata among the informal and unofficial elite leadership of the still inchoate anti-Islam movement, his public mention of this doesn’t really count as evidence that this movement has taken appropriate notice of Bawer.What to make of all this? First, let’s point out that Hesperado is rather overstating Bodissey’s suppoed rudenss toward him. Bodissey does not strike me as being particularly insulting, he just doesn’t want to tell Hesperado any more than he’s telling him. The issue is not discourtesy, the issue is the substantive behavior which Hesperado wants to know about: why is the movement ignoring Bawer’s attack, instead of exposing it, as they ought to be doing? It’s a legitimate question, And Bodissey refuses to answer, except to declare loftily that he doesn’t write about Bawer because he doesn’t write about him. Which is no answer at all. Which is what gets Hesperado riled up.
. Second, without going into details, because I don’t want to make this mainly a discussion about individuals, and also because I don’t have a full picture of it myself, I think the explanation is something as follows. The main figures in the anti-jihad movement have distinct personal flaws, quirks, and vanities, as all of us do. But these quirks and vanities are exacerbated by what seems to be the “prime directive” that is followed by the main figures of the movement, which is to maintain total, phalanx-like solidarity with each other and never criticize each other’s ideas, or each other. The prime directive may proceed from a system of common and mutual material benefits and favors in which the members (including Bawer) participate; it may proceed from a cult-like status that some of its figures enjoy; it may proceed from a shared sense of “us against the world”; it may proceed from other factors we don’t know about. Whatever the source or sources of the prime directive, its result is that the flaws and egoisms I’ve mentioned not only are never brought to light and criticized, they are entrenched and become the ruling factors in the movement. An example is Bodissey’s lofty response to Hesperado. You’d think that Bodissey actually was a European baron, instead of an American guy writing a blog.
As Hesperado said, some prominent bloggers start to think of themselves a kind of aristocracy, a favored class. I think there’s something to that.
I realize this is vague, even deliberately so. It is an outline without much content. But the outline may be enough to help us begin to explain the odd behaviors, the strange group dynamics, and the secrecy of which Hesperado complains.
Note: this entry was drafted over a week ago. However, a Google search done just before I posted the entry today does not reveal any newer articles concerning Bawer’s attack on the anti-jihad movement. So the mystery remains. The author of a noted book on the Islam threat in Europe has denounced essentially the entire anti-jihad movement as evil fascists, and there has been no response, except by me, and Hesperado.