Sunday, July 13, 2008

If I were Robert Spencer...

If I were Robert Spencer I would just ignore Lawrence Auster, quite as most other people of importance do. But since he's e-mailing, or rather cc-ing, him anyway, I have to say that what he writes is very good and to the point.

Here's what Spencer wrote to Erich, most of which applies to Auster too. Erich is the author of the site Jihadwatch Watch, and Auster describes him as someone that everybody "knows that he is rational and analytical in his writings and avoids personal attacks". This is VFR code language for saying that he does not criticize Auster. Here's Spencer e-mail (as presented at VFR):

Fact is, my boy, is that I said, many times, "Muslim immigration should be stopped." You charge me with unclarity on that, unjustly and falsely.

Fact is, my boy, that you started a website dedicated to showing that what I was doing was wrong, inadequate, misguided, whatever, without proposing a coherent alternative. That you would dedicate a whole website to this, when our movement is so small and embattled as it is, is to me a breathtaking display of poor judgment, sour grapes, and worse.

Fact is, my boy, that the list of people whom Auster has alienated would fill several phone books. That you dispute this contention only means that you haven't done adequate research, or are willfully blind, or both. And the fact is that I have not alienated anything like that number. I may be a far worse jerk than he is, that I will grant you, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and it is he who has the (well-deserved) reputation as someone who savages people on his side.

Of course, given your record, I can see why that would not seem like a big thing to you.

You are NOT on my side. You are NOT my ally. You are a HINDRANCE to the anti-jihad effort in general. You are a TOOL of those who would destroy us.

Face the facts.

Yes indeed, such are the facts. And the fact that Spencer refers to Erich as "my boy" and Auster as "honey", in e-mails, just show refreshing signs of humanity (not understood at VFR).

Auster is able to go on forever about the personal dramas he creates and the little details of them (and the past is always so much more important than the future, or even the present, to him). And when he says he's going to leave aside his attacks on Spencer, it just means that he's going to increase and magnify them, as we can see. Sure, Spencer didn't call for ending Muslim immigration two and a half years ago. But now he does. The question is how long it is constructive to whine about what happened two and a half years ago, in the context of this brawl created by Auster.

Auster misses the big picture. Spencer is down there fighting in the open hostile fields, spreading his message where it's most needed, among the uninitiated. While Auster is sitting safely in his tower philosophizing. And while it's true that we need both kinds, how come then that Auster is spending so much of his time throwing stones from his tower at Spencer, while he's taking the good fight in the battlefield? We surely do not need this kind of backstabbers.

[End of post]

12 comments:

El said...

conswede,

i have long admired your comments at GoV as displaying great intelligence, insight, and originality of thought. might i be so rude as to ask why one such as yourself is wasting so much time on this shit? naturally, you are free to spend your time as you deem appropriate. but for my part, i actually feel tainted by the undue attention i have already given this squabble.

why do so many people have such thin skins? i was excoriated as a nazi and a fascist for my essay at GoV, and actually rather enjoyed it. i only regret that i will almost certainly never reach such heady heights of infamy ever again. it's like selling 10 million copies of your second album. a terrible thing it is, to peak too soon.

Conservative Swede said...

El Ingles,

might i be so rude as to ask why one such as yourself is wasting so much time on this shit?

It's funny you should say so, since I have spent a minuscule fraction of the time on this compared to Auster, well even compared to Spencer. And that my point is exactly that I would like to see this "shit" ended. So would you please forward your rather inarticulate question to Auster (or to Spencer, whoever you prefer), where it applies. (You should also ask yourself why you end up posing this question of yours so inarticulately, and what's really your issues here.)

why do so many people have such thin skins?

People who go public under their real name are much more vulnerable. You will have to respect the difference.

El said...

hi swede,

for all your protests of the inarticulateness of the question, you seem to have understood it well enough. it is a peculiarity of the english language, that some of its crudest words can be its most expressive, at least in certain contexts. or so i feel, anyway. are you sure you thought it was inarticulate? you didn't just think it was blunt? if i'd said nonsense instead of shit, would it have been more articulate? easier to understand? what's in a syllable?

regardless, i am glad to hear that you have spent only a fraction of the time on this that spencer and auster have. i would fear for your mental health were it not so. but to reopen your blog to post seven or eight posts in quick succession, to parse in great detail a pissing (anglo-saxon alert!) match between two other people, well, i thought that was interesting. as you know, i am a reader of auster's site, and aware of his considerable intellectual gifts. but his ability to get under people's skin and stay there is truly breathtaking, as you clearly know far better than i ever will. i think i detect a certain angst in the way you write about him. for charles johnson, contempt, and understandably so. but you seem, conflicted, shall we say, on auster, like he's an itch you can't quite scratch. am i wrong?

you are quite correct in saying that people operating under their own names have, of necessity, different perspectives on personal criticism. but there is still the question of degree. you can hardly argue that there are no personality issues involved, or that there is a one-to-one mapping between people's responses to criticism and their degree of public exposure.

anyway, i will leave it at that for now. i am not sure what my 'issue' is, for what it's worth, or even sure that i have one. life would be terribly difficult if one had to analyze such things every time one posted a comment on something. perhaps you are more self-reflective than me in that regard.

El Ingles

PS hope you are enjoying the swedish summer, by the way. i've been to stockholm twice in march. nearly froze my balls off the first time, enjoyed beautiful sunshine the second. what's with that?

Conservative Swede said...

El Ingles,

like he's an itch you can't quite scratch. am i wrong?

I wouldn't say that. I have ignored him for a whole year.

I'm pretty lighthearted about this whole thing, and having a really good time writing it.

his ability to get under people's skin and stay there is truly breathtaking

Actually most people ignore him. And you haven't really considered what a thin skin he's got himself.

Anyway, my intention here is about "product declaration". Enough people really have a problem to see that Auster can be fully sensible in his articles, but equally haywire in his interaction with other people. It's worth writing about. He's a phenomenon that needs to be explained. It's an interesting intellectual challenge.

Anyway, from what you write here (and how emotional you are about it) you seem to have a problem in seeing these two sides at the same time. Can you see how you show to me that this is worthwhile and inspire me to write more?

hope you are enjoying the swedish summer, by the way

Thanks. Swedish summer has been great the last few weeks. How's the UK?

El said...

swede,

i suspect i may have misunderstood why you were writing this stuff. i take your point about you not having written about him for a while. yet i thought i detected a frustration in what you wrote, something that suggested that you regretted your falling out with him quite deeply. but it is difficult to make these guesses over the internet, especially with people you don't know. perhaps i am reading too much into what you have written.

if your interest in the topic is different to what i initially thought, i apologize for calling it shit. lawrence is, insofar as i am aware, a unique presence on the internet. he is an interesting character, and definitely worth explaining, as you suggest. more than once, i have found myself wondering what his personal situation is. for someone to say, under his own name, what he says, particularly on the subject of race, in 21st-century america, is quite astounding. now if he were a nazi and happy to live beyond the fringe, that would be one thing. but he is, of course, no nazi, and presumably enjoys normal social interaction as much as anyone. this makes his position all the more interesting. he has great intellectual integrity, whether one agrees with his positions or not. compare him with james watson, scurrying for cover after people 'misinterpreted' his comments on race a little way back, to see the difference.

by the way, you seem to have got on very well with lawrence before things blew up a bit between you. you obvious have great mutual regard for each other intellectually. is there really no element of regret there on your part? something that hasn't quite settled yet? i will believe what you say either way, but i thought i got a whiff of it.

i'm surprised i came across as being emotional about it. i have had no significant interaction with any of the parties, though i have exchanged a couple of e-mails with both of them. i'm still trying to decide whether the fight-picking aspect of lawrence's approach is a personality trait in its own right or simply a consequence of the insistent nature of his style of argumentation. he seems to be uncomprehending as to why he gets into these situations. perhaps that is genuine.

the weather here is iffy. but beautiful cirrostratus and a lack of wind tonight made up for it. a good cloud will always win me over.

Conservative Swede said...

something that suggested that you regretted your falling out with him quite deeply

Not really. I knew it wouldn't last. Still I was a bit astonished by the way he decided to break with me. But I cannot say I was completely surprised. Some things you know already from the start, even if you choose to overlook it.

he has great intellectual integrity, whether one agrees with his positions or not. compare him with james watson, scurrying for cover after people 'misinterpreted' his comments on race a little way back, to see the difference.

The thing with Auster is that he simply does not know how to back off. Whether it's good to stand firm, or lunacy to go on, he's not able to tell the difference. He's simply unable to back off; the concept is unknown to him. This of course leads to different and often interesting results.

by the way, you seem to have got on very well with lawrence before things blew up a bit between you. you obvious have great mutual regard for each other intellectually. is there really no element of regret there on your part?

Oh I was very disappointed a year a go, and did my best to calm the whole thing down. Impossible of course.

If you follow my intellectual development you can see how I have gone through periods. Nietzsche-period, Hoppe-period, Auster-period, and earlier on Ali Sina period, etc. I embrace a thinker by going into his world completely, in order to suck out the good stuff, while weeding out the junk and throwing it away. Then I'm finished with that thinker and already on the next project. The focus is on my own line of thinking. I take an interest in another thinker when a multitude of his ideas intersect with the ideas I have developed myself. I have quite a lot of material by now and should really be spending more time writing.

i'm still trying to decide whether the fight-picking aspect of lawrence's approach is a personality trait in its own right or simply a consequence of the insistent nature of his style of argumentation.

It's both of course. They are one and the same.

he seems to be uncomprehending as to why he gets into these situations. perhaps that is genuine.

Oh it's genuine alright.

Btw, I mentioned how Auster can be fully sensible in his articles, but equally haywire in his interaction with other people. Did you notice how he just compared me to "Hamas"?

Erich said...

Conservative Swede (CS) agrees that what Spencer characterizes as "facts" are, in fact, facts.

Here are some "facts" Spencer adduces (the email to me quoted by CS above):

Fact is, my boy, is that I said, many times, "Muslim immigration should be stopped." You charge me with unclarity on that, unjustly and falsely.

First, on my site Jihad Watch Watch, I never focused on Spencer's stance on immigration. I only lately adverted to it in the recent email exchange. I simply noted that the unclarity does not reside merely in the "fact" Spencer accurately reports above taken by itself, but in a separate fact considered in conjunction with the first fact -- namely that Spencer has made statements, explicitly or implicitly, that ostensibly contradict the first fact.

Explicit contradiction: "I personally am not in favor of ending Muslim immigration." (Spencer, from this Jihad Watch article of January 2006: http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/2006/01/009834print.html).

Implicit contradiction: In a recent frontpage symposium, when the ex-Muslim Abul Kasem articulated his position on Muslim immigration and limited stopping it only to "in-name-only Muslims and the diehard, jihad-infused, conniving, pan-Islamists", Spencer in his response on that symposium said "we need to take strong and decisive steps, such as Abul Kasem outlines, to protect ourselves" and Spencer never added the necessary corrective, "but in my opinion we need to stop all Muslim immigration". http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=3EBBF3CD-1F0C-4455-B2AD-E0C25C3AAEDC)

(These are not the only examples.)

It is the inconsistency of Spencer in this regard that displays unclarity.

2.
Fact is, my boy, that you started a website dedicated to showing that what I was doing was wrong, inadequate, misguided, whatever, without proposing a coherent alternative. That you would dedicate a whole website to this, when our movement is so small and embattled as it is, is to me a breathtaking display of poor judgment, sour grapes, and worse.

Here, there is a fact, followed by an interpretation of that fact. Spencer is roughly correct in his description of this fact -- though he implies that my critiques on JWW of his methodology were total, which they were not. I stated many times there that I highly esteem Spencer's work in certain areas of the anti-jihad effort.

The interpretation (and then conclusion) he draws from this fact is that by virtue of my criticisms on JWW, I was indulging in wholly destructive criticism. However, Spencer has never actually presented a detailed argument based upon anything I have written on JWW (or in comments at JW) that would even begin to make a case for supporting this interpretation of his. He expects his pro-Islamic critics to respect his arguments by mounting counter-arguments based upon what he has actually written; yet in this case, he behaves just like them.

3.
Fact is, my boy, that the list of people whom Auster has alienated would fill several phone books. That you dispute this contention only means that you haven't done adequate research, or are willfully blind, or both. And the fact is that I have not alienated anything like that number. I may be a far worse jerk than he is, that I will grant you, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and it is he who has the (well-deserved) reputation as someone who savages people on his side.

This particular "fact" is actually a messy bundle of factoids and interpretations of them. The first sentence is obvious hyperbole, basically asserting that Auster has a lot of people he has alienated, so many that they constitute too much. This is rather an irrelevant point, since a) the number of people a person alienates is not a reliable measure of whether that person's ideas are cogent, and b) the magic number that tips over into too many alienated people is subjective anyway.

Finally, at the end of Spencer's email to me, it culminates in an overarching conclusion based on his “facts”:

4.
You are NOT on my side. You are NOT my ally. You are a HINDRANCE to the anti-jihad effort in general. You are a TOOL of those who would destroy us.

Conservative Swede, after quoting all this, wrote:

"Yes indeed, such are the facts."

Has Conservative Swede bothered to read a sufficient portion from my JWW blog to verify whether these are "facts"? And if he has, or will do so, will he construct an argument based upon the evidence he gathers on doing so?

The larger issue here is the simultaneously silly and disturbing tendency of Spencer to anathematize someone who is merely -- albeit persistently and not deferentially with a limp wrist -- criticizing his methodology. In that same email exchange, I told him I still considered him to be on my side, even after all the mocking abuse, arrogant avoidance of my questions and points, and paranoid name-calling he directed at me. His response was to declare me an utter hindrance to the anti-jihad movement and to reiterate the anathema of me, quoted above. As I articulated in my latest essay on my other blog (The Hesperado), titled "False Unity", any movement that has this much irrational anger and fear at internal criticisms demonstrates weakness in its very obsession with strength, and this as a consequence does not bode well for its ability to weather the difficult years ahead in its career -- all the more so for a movement as externally beleaguered as the anti-jihad movement.

http://hesperado.blogspot.com/2008/07/false-unity.html

Conservative Swede said...

Erich,

No I have not followed your other exchanges with Spencer. I have only seen the parts where you are essentially following Auster's script. So what's your own issue with Spencer then?

Thusly I have no idea whether Spencer treated you unfairly or not. A reflection though is that people generally do not take it well when someone starts and xxx-watch of their site. Imagine if someone started a VFR Watch and how Auster would react. He would run berserk and lose much of his focus on other writings.

Regarding the other things you mention I have already covered it since before.

Erich said...

"I have only seen the parts where you are essentially following Auster's script."

You would have to delineate specifically where I followed Auster's script before that claim begins to have any significance. The only Austerian "script" I can think of that I have followed with relation to Spencer is the dogged spotlight on Spencer's inconsistencies with regard to being tough on Islam (oops, not Islam itself, but only, as Spencer has put it repeatedly, "elements of Islam").

Conservative Swede said...

OK Erich, my intention here was to pick up an example of an email, in order to illustrate a point regarding the Auster/Spencer brawl.

It was thoughtless of me to bring up an email that involved you. Because it was never my intention to put you under examen. I simply haven't followed the back-and-forth between you and Spencer, so I have no point to make about it.

My only general point is that I fail to see how it's constructive to spend so much time entirely devoted for criticizing Spencer. Surely you could use your good mind for better things in fighting Jihadism, at least some of your time.

Erich said...

"My only general point is that I fail to see how it's constructive to spend so much time entirely devoted for criticizing Spencer. Surely you could use your good mind for better things in fighting Jihadism, at least some of your time."

Spencer makes this same charge against me, ignoring at least the fact that I have a second blog that has occupied, overall, more of my time, The Hesperado, dealing with broader issues of Islam and the superiority of the West.

Conservative Swede said...

I refer to my answer here.