Here is a silly and misleading piece in The Spectator by David Selbourne, “Apocalypse on the US blogosphere.” Selbourne has written some excellent pieces about the global jihad in the past; his book, The Losing Battle with Islam, while enlightening in many ways, manifests a similar inconsistency.
There is a world, increasingly driven by unreason, in which voices in the wilderness denounce each other as “˜traitors”, cry out that “˜all I want is no more Islam near me”, or allege that Prince Charles is “˜waiting in the wings to declare the UK a Muslim country the minute QEII dies”.
It is the world of the American blogosphere of the “˜left” and “˜right”; the world not of the lunatic fringe, though it may often seem so, but of vox pop. It is a world of which the “˜MSM”, or “˜mainstream media”, knows too little. Yet blog-site contributors” opinions, threats and predictions “” expressed in large volume on such sites as jihadwatch, littlegreenfootballs or Daily Kos “” merit increasing attention for what they reveal of the temper of our times.
“Blog-site contributors” opinions”? This is highly misleading terminology, and suggests that Jihad Watch staff writers are engaging in the lunatic-fringelike analysis “driven by unreason” that he so deplores. But in fact, of course, the only statements that he quotes were taken from the comments section, if they were made here at all and not at the other sites he mentions. And in this too his characterization amounts to little more than a caricature. Comments, of course, are unmoderated, and I don’t have time to read most of them. Certainly there are some that fit his description, but there are other comments that are intelligent, insightful, informative, and incisive. Yet Selbourne chooses to ignore those. It would be refreshing sometime to read about the high level of discourse, and knowledge of the jihad ideology, that prevails among many commenters here — and such a piece could just as easily have been written from the available data.
Roughly speaking, the blogging “˜right” is anti-Muslim (and not just anti-Islam), pro-gun and apple pie, anti-“˜big government” and “˜liberals” in DC, and generally pro-British, anti-European and pro-Israel; while the “˜left” is anti-“˜extremist”, anti-“˜racist”, pro-“˜human rights”, anti-militarist, anti-US support for Israel and anti-corporate “” the last a position sometimes to be found on the “˜right” also.
Here again, his characterization is fuzzy, as well as arrogant (“apple pie”). What “blogging ‘right'” does he mean? Charles Johnson and me? Unmoderated postings here? This isn’t quite as bad as Ralph Peters, who continues to flail away at enemies he for some reason lacks the courage to name, but it’s getting close.
Above all, for most of this “˜right”, all-out war has been declared on “˜the West” by Islam and its “˜terrorists”. But for most of the “˜left” and “˜liberals”, war is being imposed on parts of the Islamic world by the Americans, Israelis, and their rag-tag partners in geopolitical “˜crime”, and against whom Muslim “˜radicals” must be expected to strike back.
Seven uses of sneer quotes in one paragraph. And note that war has been declared on the West by Islam only by the “right.” Evidently it is the “right” that is behind Ahmadinejad’s warnings of the imminent destruction of Israel, the U.S., and the U.K. and predictions that Islam will soon dominate the world, and 9/11, and 7/11, and 3/11, and all the rest of it. If it weren’t for these overheated blogging nuts, you see, none of that would be happening.
The differences between these mutually hostile camps, judging by the blogosphere, are growing. Moreover, as Islam’s political fortunes have advanced, irrationality in response to this advance has spread also, to “˜right” and “˜left”. Some of it provides light relief. To bloggers on the “˜right”, the “˜left” are “˜moonbats”, Democrats are sell-out “˜Dhimmicrats”, Saddam Hussein is “˜Sodom Insane” and the ACLU is the “˜American Criminal Liberties Union”; the “˜left” describes President Bush as everything from a “˜traitor” to a “˜boil on the public butt”, and pro-Israel Christian evangelists as “˜fundie nutjobs”.
Other judgements are more serious in their portents. A blog-poster declares that the “˜left” and “˜liberals” have “˜done nothing but grovel at the feet of Islamofascists”; another that the entire American “˜left” “” who are no better than “˜tares in the midst of wheat” “” are “˜killing this country”. For their parts, “˜left” bloggers see the battles in Afghanistan and Iraq as “˜useless”, and the Bush “˜regime” as having “˜run amok”….
If Selbourne had actually read into the archives here a little, he would see that we have long advocated a position that doesn’t fit either existing “right” or “left” categories, and have criticized Bush along with Kerry, Rice along with Pelosi. But how could you use sneer quotes on that?
Paranoia and odium are on the increase. In the blogosphere, the word “˜fascist” is thus routinely used by the “˜left” to describe the “˜right” of all shades “” the White House, for example, is said to be “˜gripped by a fascist power lust”. The “˜right”, whose spelling is less good, not only regards Islamists as “˜facists” but also those on the “˜left” whom it accuses of sympathising with America’s foes.
Wow, David! No one on the “right” can spell “fascist”? The “right’s” spelling is “less good”? This is now bordering so closely on the risible that I am amazed that The Spectator printed it.
Selbourne then retails some unhinged comments, of the kind that I remove here when I see them, and which I have asked people here many time not to indulge in. Again he attributes them to the “right,” without ever clearly stating who wrote them or where they come from. This is highly irresponsible, as it leaves the impression that I wrote or endorse such perspectives. As I have written many times, if you think I endorse a comment here, substantiate that from my own writings.
In this war of words as well as of worlds, reason is under pressure on all sides. The true complexity of things is being given short shrift by “˜experts” and by vox pop alike: after all, London is no more “˜Londonistan” than Israel is a “˜cancer” and America the “˜Great Satan”. In particular, frustration at America’s reverses is driving many round the bend, if the torrent of opinion in the blogosphere is a guide. Or, as one poster demanded to know, “˜What the hell is our oil doing under their sand?”
All right. So London isn’t “Londonistan.” I’d like to know what that means in particular. Does Selbourne mean that there is no jihad threat in London? That there is not jihad recruitment in London? That the UK and the West in general faces no real threat from the jihad, both from without and from within?
A little “reason” from the “expert” would have been welcome. But in this piece it was not forthcoming. Instead, we get yet another example of the shoddy work that passes for analysis all too often in the mainstream media.