I am reluctant to post this. It will not make me many friends and possibly antagonize a couple of people I hold in esteem. But I do want to state my views. That’s why I became a blogger in the first place: To bother all of you with my (questionable) wisdom. That, for better or for worse, is the kind of person I am.
Veterans of the counter-jihadist part of the blogosphere are undoubtedly familiar with the storm cause by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs (LGF). Back then LGF was a leading blog in the counter-jihad, until Johnson, for reasons best known to himself, started throwing all and sundry under the bus, accusing them of Nazi sympathies and other forms of human depravity. The end result, fortunately, resulted in a complete marginalization of LGF and left the counter-jihad (mostly) in tact.
Three years on, and yet again the counter-jihad blogosphere is wracked by a storm of in-fighting. Pamela Geller, of Atlas Shrugs, initially withdrew her support for the English Defence League (EDL) after some vague and unsubstantiated claims the top of the EDL had been infiltrated by ‘neo-fascists’, turning the EDL into an anti-semitic Nazi party.
The EDL has a Jewish Division, led by a Roberta Moore, who sought active co-operation with the Jewish Task Force. The latter is described as a far-right American group, whose leader Victor Vancier has been imprisoned for terrorism offences. Not wanting to be associated with terrorism, the leadership of the EDL openly distanced itself from the Jewish Division, stating “If they [the Jewish EDL] continue with their plans to forge links with the terrorist JTF, the EDL will have no option but to sever its links with the Jewish division as we cannot support terrorist sympathisers”. Mrs. Moore refused to sever links with the JFT, which eventually let to her leaving the EDL (or was she thrown out, after all?). This seems to be the proximate cause of the current rift.
Ms. Geller (and in her wake: Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch) initially denounced the EDL for distancing themselves from Roberta Moore, seeing in it a sign of increasing anti-semitism and fascism within the inner circles of the EDL. In turn, this forced Tony Robinson, leader of the EDL, to publish a statement affirming the EDL’s support of Israel as the only free and democratic nation in the Middle East. Moreover, the statement emphasized that extremist ideas, whatever their origin, will not be tolerated.
Gates of Vienna and others published an open letter, challenging Ms. Geller to put up concrete evidence of anti-semitism in the EDL’s leadership, or, failing to come up with such evidence, apologize and (re)state her support for the EDL. Ms. Geller, evidently realizing she jumped the gun dramatically, has done the latter, but refuses to do the former, insisting that she didn’t really withdraw her support for the EDL, called them anti-semitic fascists or called upon ‘genuine anti-jihadists’ (1) to leave the EDL. And to put insult to injury, she referred to those taking her to task over her hysterical overreaction as “bottomfeeders [who] just bang keyboards and jockey for position on the bottom of the food chain”. By which she evidently referred to the camp led by GoV.
In the mean time the ‘recent unpleasantness‘ (the slightly coy term used by Baron and Dymphna of GoV) has descended into some pretty petty squabbling. As happens so often, the original cause is all but forgotten. What is left is a rather tedious ‘he said – she said’ back and forth, completely divorced from the issue that started all this. Neither side seems to be willing to give the other the benefit of the doubt, increasing the acromony on both sides. Which is why I initially didn’t want to get involved. My dad taught me early on not to step into a dogfight, unless you want to get mauled. Additionally, there are aspects to the whole situation that make picking a side and sticking with it a bit of an iffy proposition.
The fact is: Ms. Geller did initially, and completely prematurely, withdraw her support for the EDL. In subsequent posts she conveniently forgot about that little outburst, making us believe her withdrawal of support was meant as a conditional. This is not what her initial post said. In her initial post, Ms Geller stated: “Now that the person whom I most trusted in the EDL, Roberta Moore, has resigned, as she was increasingly uncomfortable with the neo-fascists that had infiltrated the administration of the group, I too am withdrawing my support from the EDL“. And with that she caused the EDL substantial and, as it turns out, unwarranted harm.
To err is human, and this would seem to be a case where personal preferences got in the way of an objective appraisal of the situation. Ms. Geller could have said so, telling the EDL she had it wrong. But that is apparently asking a tad too much of Ms. Geller.
However, her weariness of GoV and affiliates is, if slightly hysterical, not completely unfounded. There exists an unfortunate tendency over at GoV (and elsewhere) to cast the counter-jihad, or the merits of Western civilizations, in racial terms. As just one example I give you a Fjordman essay published on GoV. In an otherwise excellent recent essay, ‘When Treason Becomes The Norm: Why The Proposition Nation, Not Islam, Is Our Primary Enemy‘, Fjordman concludes: “The only way to restore sanity to our countries is to restore the concept that a country is the homeland of a nation of closely related people with a shared heritage” (2).
As far as I’m concerned that is the wrong conclusion (correlation is not equal to causation, I believe. But I’ll leave that for another post). It defines a country in terms of blood-ties, of ethnicity, of race. It is a rather exclusive definition that denies or ignores the groups of immigrants that have settled in European countries throughout history and have become an integral part of many societies. In the case of Holland I will only have to point to the relatively large numbers of Portuguese Jews or French Huguenots that settled in the Netherlands during the 16th and 17th century. Over the last century Holland has seen influxes of Chinese, Malukkan, Syrian Orthodox Turks and Vietnamese refugees (in roughly chronological order) who have all nestled in Dutch society and have become valued parts of it.
If determining whether anyone belongs anywhere is based exclusively on pedigree, as Fjordman seems to suggest, these groups are not Dutch and, more importantly, will not be allowed ever to be viewed as Dutch, no matter how much they integrate and/or assimilate. I know I am going to sound like a left-wing liberal here, but: That is unjustified, unjust, narrow-minded and downright xenophobic. And completely counter-productive: it will breed a lot of (understandable) resentment in groups that do try to fit in, while doing exactly nothing to remedy the problems with groups that reject Dutch/Western society to begin with.
Being part of a ethnicity that has been historically on the receiving end of this type of thinking, Ms. Geller is quite understandably allergic to such thinking. Which might explain her rather prickly reaction to the GoV open letter. For that one cannot blame her. I find the idea to pass judgement over fellow humans, based on ethnicity, race or pedigree, without taking any account of the personal, individual merits of a person, to be repulsive. And it is diametrically in opposition to the paleo-conservative idea of personal liberty, personal responsibility and personal accountability, principles I hold inviolable if we are to promote real freedom.
So you see, both sides have their faults, while equally both have proven their considerable merits in the past. Entering the fray will run the risk of alienating one or both sides (as this post undoubtedly will. So be it) and be left friendless. So best not to get involved, other then as a spectator, right?
But then I read the “bottomfeeders” remark made by Ms. Geller.
This comment (as the entire post) leaves the impression of being shot from the hip. Ms. Geller was evidently irritated by the response her premature condemnation caused. It would have been for the best if Ms. Geller has waited to cool off some, before taking to the (digital) pen. But she didn’t. Crying. Spilt milk. No use.
There is a whole host of blogs, large and small, good and not so good, that grapple with contemporary issues, like the counter-jihad. All of them contribute their bit, and as far as any attempt at sincere analysis, contemplation and discussion is involved all of them deserve a little acknowledgement for their bit. That Ms. Geller sees fit to dismiss a goodly portion of them as ‘bottomfeeders’, jockeying for position ‘on the bottom of the food chain’, speaks to an incredible arrogance and lack of humility.
It may well be true (and it is) that Atlas Shrugs is one of the big fish in the counter-jihad. But the fact that it is, is only half by the design and efforts of Ms. Geller. The other half is mere chance. Not many bloggers have the time or resources to devote to their blog the way Ms. Geller does. She is extremely fortunate that she is. Granted, she makes the best of both, and she is to be commended for the hard work she has put in. But the fact remains, that she finds herself in circumstances, not all of her own making, that allow her to do what she does. That is where ‘dumb luck’ comes in.
That she fails to remember this, but goes on to dismiss a whole set of bloggers, doing their bit with what they have, is as graceless as it is petty. That she dismisses bloggers on the basis just of disagreeing with her, is pretty damn vindictive as well. She may well be the queen of the counter-jihad. But she shows herself a cold-hearted, arrogant sovereign who apparently believes she must be served, rather then serving her constituency (there’s a lesson here, I guess).
In turn this suggests that Atlas Shrugged is no longer devoted to the anti-jihad per se, but is now entirely devoted to the inflated sense of self of Ms. Geller. As the Charles Johnson saga showed: That way madness (and ruin) lies.
I have no dog in this race. The counter-jihad is a minor (though not irrelevant) part of KV’s stated aim: To preserve my country as a free, just and sovereign nation. As such I am not a hard-core counter-jihadist. At best, KV could be described as the silent outsider watching the action around the bar. On matters anti-jihad I think both Gov and Pamela Geller are important resources. Neither is perfect, both have considerable merits.
But there’s no denying a couple of items: Ms. Geller refuses to admit she made a boo-boo. And she, rather mean-spirited, dismissed as irrelevant and pointless those bloggers that take her to task. This state of affairs leaves me with more sympathy for GoV, warts and all, then for Atlas Shrugs. Ms. Geller has done the entire movement a great disservice. First by smearing the EDL, then by unnecessarily antagonizing what could/should be natural allies, fracturing the resistance to islamisation in the process. And all because she could not find the grace and magnanimity to own up to a mistake.
Yes, the recent unpleasantness is most unpleasant. Let us hope the damage will not be permanent.
(1) By implication, she seems to say the EDL (and its supporters) is hence NOT genuinely anti-jihadist. As Vox Day is fond of saying: The adjective modifies the noun.What is special about a anti-jihadist to make him/her genuinely so? By what standard is that adjudicated. And by whom? Ms. Geller?
(2) Be sure to read the comments as well, to get a feel for the sometimes quite uncomfortable turns the discussion takes.