Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Now I'm Hamas!

Lawrence Auster wrote: Calling [Conservative] Swede merely my "critic" is like calling the leader of Hamas a "critic" of Israel.

For someone who likes to dish out so much criticism to so many people, he sure can't take much criticism back.

The quote is hilarious of course, but also tragic. The man is unreliable. But still, many VFR readers really have a problem in seeing that Auster can be fully sensible in his articles, but equally haywire in his interaction with other people, and in his description of those interactions. If you have a critic that is asking you questions you are unable to answer, creating a scene and then breaking the communication is of course a way to escape the embarrassment. By labeling me "Hamas", Auster wants to declare me as not being a critic and that my questions therefore need not be answered. I wonder how many people buy that. It surely does not give the impression of being open for debate and willing to turn every stone.

In the same thread Sir Henry Morgan suggested to Auster:

Can't you [Auster and Spencer] just agree to differ, shake on it--metaphorically if necessary, physically if possible; and publicly (that's important)--and get back to the common cause? You have more important things to spend your time and effort on, and so does he.
But Auster does not have more important things to do, and here he explains why:
So, to repeat, when a screaming mob has falsely accused a man of lying, misrepresentation, character assassination, pursuing a personal vendetta, ignoring evidence because he's not interested in facts but rather is driven by unsavory, dishonest, or sick personal motives to demonize another person for the sake of demonizing him, to conclude that these accusations are nothing more than meaningless "bickering" and that the man should ignore it all and say, "peace, peace," is not realistic.
This is how Auster honestly and genuinely view the situation. And, mind you, this is Auster in the mode of getting the Spencer controversy in perspective, intending to put it behind him, as he says.

Nobody's describing Auster's intentions as he claims above. The disasters he creates do not stem from bad intentions, but serious flaws in his personality. There is certainly important and constructive criticism of Spencer to bring forward (an ongoing dialog within the anti-Jihad movement is key to our success). But the way Auster is conducting it, he messes up the whole thing. And he doesn't even understand it.

The quote above reveals a man who interprets disagreements in terms of personal dramas centered around himself; the poor victim. And a man who is simply devoid of the ability to back off. Many times this has a good outcome, such as when it is important to stand firm for a claim he has made. But Auster doesn't know the difference between being brave and when it's lunacy to continue. He's just literally unable to back off, the concept is unknown to him. He's not a normal person.

Earlier Auster wrote about me:
But Swede is the most extreme case by far. Other situations were not ongoing. Swede has been in psycho mode about me now for a whole year, and no one gainsays him.
He really has a problem with sticking to the simple truth, doesn't he? As I have already pointed out, there's not been anything "ongoing" for a "whole year". For the whole year that he's referring to I have simply ignored him (as so many other people do). I have not written about him in my blog or anywhere else. I have not sent him any emails. Nothing, nada, zilch. Exactly the opposite of what he claims!

But I think we have learned enough about Auster's emotional life by now, to understand that when I criticize him now, it feels to him as if it has been going on for a whole year. And it feels like "Hamas" and "psycho mode" and all those things he writes. But why doesn't he just drop this self-pity and noise-making and just address the questions I posed to him?

And the reason why "no one gainsays [me]", well go figure!

I have written elsewhere that Auster is a phenomenon in need of being explained (which is an interesting intellectual challenge). Another phenomenon in need of explanation is how otherwise intelligent people are prepared to accept his insane descriptions of his brawls with other people. What makes them buy Auster's premises entirely uncritically? (He surely doesn't foster the attitude of wanting to turn every stone.)

One example is from a year ago, after Auster had excommunicated me and declared to the VFR readers that I'm "rude" (along with a string of other adjectives). And some of them bought it to the degree when they started seeing things, imagining things (quite as Auster himself with his "Hamas" and "psycho mode").

So Vanishing American wrote to John Savage and complained about how rude I had been to her:
[Conservative Swede] visited my blog once and left a sort of snarky comment mentioning Christianity negatively; I don't remember the substance of it.
To which John Savage replies:
VA, I'm sorry that CS was rude to you. I understand why he probably would be, and I won't be surprised if he ends up doing the same to me
But let's have a look at what I actually wrote at Vanishing American's site. VA had published Fjordman's article "A Christian Background for Political Correctness?", where I was mentioned. And I made the following comment, and VA answered.
Conservative Swede:
For those interested in the discussions I had with Fjordman, about the role of Christian ethics, I invite you to read my blog: Conservative Swede. Is Christian ethics truly a major force behind the suicide of our civilization?

Vanishing American:
Conservative Swede, interesting blog. I agree with much of what you say.
However I think the problem is not Christianity per se but the modern, liberalized variation of it, [...]
Well, we sorted the whole thing out. But it still serves as a good example of how easily led people are, and how easily they are made to start imagining things. Also otherwise intelligent people.

[End of post]


Poster said...

Also, by drawing this analogy to Hamas, he tries to paint you as an anti-Semite among more politically sensitive ears.

Erich said...

"There is certainly important and constructive criticism of Spencer to bring forward (an ongoing dialog within the anti-Jihad movement is key to our success). But the way Auster is conducting it, he messes up the whole thing. And he doesn't even understand it."

For my persistent criticism of certain features of Spencer's analytical methodology, always couched in mature and intelligent manner, Spencer has routinely treated me with arrogant mocking, paranoid suspicions of me being a "saboteur", banning me from Jihad Watch comments (along with looming threats of banning me when I returned under a different name to persist in my questions/criticisms), and most recently -- after an email exchange in which we each wrote over 25 emails, anathematizing me. I am willing to see Spencer on the same side as me, in the larger struggle against jihad, despite our differences, and I told him so. In response, he twice told me "You are NOT on my side, you will NEVER be on my side" etc.

Spencer has some screws loose. Auster too, from my dealings with him, seems to have a hypersensitive penchant for personalizing critiques that have nothing to do with personal attacks, which seems to tend to escalate into a rather reckless use of exaggerated language describing those supposed personal attacks. I can see how Auster and Spencer would have gotten themselves mired in this hopeless imbroglio. I mean, if even I -- unfailingly couching all my questions/critiques in mature and intelligent language -- can arouse Spencer's irrational, bristly, prickly, paranoid hackles, then Auster all the more. Ditto for Conservative Swede and Auster.

Conservative Swede said...


As I've commented elsewhere:

People generally do not take it well when someone starts and xxx-watch of their site. I think you could imagine if someone started a VFR Watch and how Auster would react.

Erich said...

Conservative Swede:

"People generally do not take it well when someone starts and xxx-watch of their site. I think you could imagine if someone started a VFR Watch and how Auster would react."

Not taking a "watch" site well is one thing; but the treatment Spencer has meted out to me is quite another. Furthermore, he treated me that way before I ever started my site, as well as a couple of other commenters (whose comments I documented on my site) who never even had a "watch" site.

Secondly, if Auster might treat an "Auster Watch" blogger in an unacceptably poor way, that is irrelevant to whether Spencer also treats his critics in unacceptably poor ways.

Thirdly, if someone started an "Erich Watch" blog about me that subjected my writings to the same types of intelligent & mature critical arguments that I have employed on others, I might not like it, I might get annoyed, but I would overall welcome it and even try to contribute counter-arguments (rather than snippy barbs and paranoid accusations of the blogger's sabotaging motives, etc.) on it in the spirit of an overarching Discussion among people who are approximately on the same side of the anti-jihad movement.

Conservative Swede said...

Hey Erich,

You seem to be a good guy taking anti-Jihadism seriously in the right way. But there's only so much time in a row, that it is meaningful to poke Spencer or Auster with a stick, wouldn't you agree?

Most of my time I spend at Gates of Vienna. It's the best community for anti-Jihadism. Unlike the other sites Gates of Vienna is not just a therapy session, the bulk of the commenters there are taking real world action against Islamization (as member of CVF, SIOE or a political party or another organization). If you want you can be connected to people and take part. GoV/CVF organizes anti-Jihad conferences, etc. Some people don't however, which is respected. But even so it's an advantage to be in a place that is not a therapy session.

Browsing through the issues you bring up here
Overview of my critiques of Jihad Watch, I can tell you that Gates of Vienna is a place where you will feel at home. There is a wide range of opinions represented (and the ceiling is high), but the general awareness on the important issues is very high. Have a look!

Erich said...

Thanks for your invitation to Gates of Vienna. I have not spent enough time there as I should. I hope to more so in the future.

"But there's only so much time in a row, that it is meaningful to poke Spencer or Auster with a stick, wouldn't you agree?"

I could not more strongly disagree. At the very least, the target of those criticisms can just ignore them. I believe there should be no limit on criticisms accepted within the fold of a movement -- as long as the criticisms are not 1) vulgar & rude; 2) neurotically obsessed; or 3) attempts at sabotage. Of course, it's not an exact science to identify these exceptions, and some of it is subjective; but I believe we should bend over backwards to try to err on the side of more latitude for criticism, rather than less. Wouldn't it be grand if Spencer linked my JWW site on his JW site, and captioned it in one brief article with something like the following:

"Erich has a site called 'Jihad Watch Watch' on which he has already written over 100 articles levelling various criticisms of the approach and methodology of myself and Hugh Fitzgerald. I have not had the time to read through the vast majority of his essays, and I frankly admit I find Erich and his efforts to be annoying and counter-productive -- but that is only my opinion. Erich claims adamantly that he is part of the general anti-jihad movement and that his critiques are formulated in the interest of constructive, not destructive, criticism. In the interest of the virtues of freedom of expression and tolerance for criticism, and holding to the belief that self-criticism only makes a person, and a movement, stronger in the end, I refer JW readers to his site to draw your own conclusions about his usefulness or lack thereof."

Instead, Spencer blew it.

Conservative Swede said...


I don't know of any xxx-watch which is not meant to be antagonistic to its xxx. Therefore it's rather naive to expect the sort of caption you suggested. Have you seen it been published anywhere else regarding a xxx-watch site?

If you truly want to influence and change the ways of people, this is a failed concept (I guess you noticed that you have rather failed in influencing them). Better to keep good relations, and then push when a good opportunity appears. This requires patience, but is more effective. I have been quite successful with this regarding different anti-Jihadists. It's more constructive to have the whole group moving forward in the right direction.

In your first post at JWW you write "one significant motivating factor for the creation of this blog here has been my being banned [from JW] ... I’m pissed, and this blog here will help relieve some of my annoyance."

You set the tone already there. And already there you lost the ears of Spencer and Fitzgerald. Apparently, this happened already before. The matter here is not so much why that happened (back then in the comments of JW). The thing is, that if you want to be an exorcist, expelling the PC demon out of people, you cannot allow yourself to lose the contact with your subject. You must always keep them in session, even if it means periods of interruption.

You also wrote: "Third, the main motivating factor for the creation of this blog here, however, is my conviction that Robert Spencer and even more significantly his Number Two Man, Hugh Fitzgerald, continue to labor under a serious misapprehension and misunderstanding of the nature and scope of Political Correctness."

Yes, this is surely true since almost all Westerners fail to understand the nature and the scope of PC. This is my main theme myself. However, wouldn't it make more sense to address this more widely applied to a whole range of pundits? The reason why you have spent so much time regarding this for Spencer and Fitzgerald seems to have more to do with what you write above about how you are "pissed" than that these fellows would be especially bad off. To the contrary, Spencer and Fitzgerald are closer to the correct picture than other pundits of the same magnitude.

See you at Gates of Vienna!