My colleague Pamela Geller has been nominated for the Most Influential Blogger award — and one of the rules is that each nominee in turn nominates someone else. She has kindly nominated me, and one of the other rules is that the nominator make up seven questions for the nominee. So here they are, with my answers:
1) Clearly the reality of where you are (where we all are) after 911 is not what you expected. Where did you imagine you would be 12 years after 911?
Driving a Lexus GS400. But Rauf got it.
2) You are far more than a blogger in so far as your books, articles and scholarship – what are your thoughts on blogging and do you find it demeaning when that is how you are referred to in news articles?
I don’t really mind, since technically I am a blogger, but I am aware that it is intended to demean. Roger Kimball put it well: “‘Blogger,’ you see, is an insinuating term. Not quite a term of abuse, but still a word that imparts diminishment. Who are you going to believe, asked Dan Rather when questioned about his “” as it turned out, fraudulent “” story about George W. Bush’s military service: me, Dan Rather of CBS, or some blogger sitting in front of his computer in his pajamas?” I have written twelve books, including two bestsellers, and have given training seminars for the FBI, the U.S. Army, and the intelligence community. But they never mention those things.
Anyway, as for “thoughts on blogging,” I don’t really have any. I am doing a job that I thought needed to be done and didn’t see anyone else doing the way I had in mind — that’s basically it.
3) I understand you were a jazz critic in a prior lifetime. Do you miss it? Are you still a jazz man?
I miss getting all kinds of new music in the mail all the time and discovering new and exciting artists. I miss going to jazz clubs and getting hearty greetings from the artists (one premier saxophonist even invited me to sit in one day, but to my everlasting regret I hadn’t brought along my sax). I still listen to the music (more or less constantly, as I work), but don’t much miss reviewing. After awhile it became difficult for me to find new things to say about music. It is always difficult to put feelings about music into words in the first place.
4) You are a writer. If you weren’t writing books dissecting Islam, what would you be writing about?
Jazz. Baseball. Jazz and baseball. Love. The Eastern Churches and the lost churches of central Asia. The decline of the U.S. and Western civilization. Tuvan throat singing. The 1972-4 Oakland Athletics. Eric Dolphy. Anthony Braxton. John Coltrane. Mingus.
5) You have been blogging for ten years. From your perch, what are your thoughts on the impact of the blogs? Did the blogosphere exceed your expectations or fall short of what it could have achieved?
Ten years — yikes. The blogs have had a great impact. They have shaken, albeit not broken, the stranglehold of the mainstream media on the way information is reported and presented. They gave an opportunity for those whose views differed from the dominant mainstream to make their case and defend it. But ultimately, I did think they would have accomplished more to break America out of its ideological straitjacket — the single point of view that is acceptable in government, media, education, the entertainment world, etc. Instead, that straitjacket is more firmly fastened than ever.
6) What advice would you give to new bloggers out to change the world?
Tell the truth. Accept no substitutes. Never give up.
7) I hear you’re a saxophonist. What is the saxophone solo worth saving the West for?
I wanted to pick Eric Dolphy’s bass clarinet solo on John Coltrane’s “Spiritual,” live at the Village Vanguard, November 5, 1961 — from the twenty-minute take of the song on disc four of the Coltrane Village Vanguard set. That one is worth saving the West for, as well as the East, North and South. But a bass clarinet is not a saxophone, so I will go with Steve Lacy’s drily understated but nonetheless utterly thrilling soprano saxophone solo, plus his trading fours with drummer John Betsch, on Thelonious Monk’s “Shuffle Boil,” from the cd The Rent. Lacy’s sound on soprano saxophone was so powerful to me that I took up the instrument to try to sound like that myself.
And now it is my turn to nominate someone as Most Influential Blogger — and I hereby nominate Blazing Cat Fur. Blazing Cat Fur is the intrepid Canadian blogger who does the work that Canadian journalists should be doing. With his wife, the incomparable Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet of Fury, he has uncovered numerous stories, and frequently skewers in riotous ways the self-righteous hypocrisy of the politically correct establishment. I wish we had 100 other felines like him. Here are his questions:
1. How do you think the situation regarding jihad and Islamic supremacism is different in Canada from how it is in the United States?
2. You have a wonderful sense of humor. How do you keep it in the face of the constant avalanche of bad news?
3. How many cats do you actually have?
4. Where is your favorite place to go to get away from all this madness for awhile?
5. Where do you think all this is going? What will the world look like in ten years’ time?
6. Who do you think is doing a great job in fighting against jihad and Islamic supremacism?
7. Who do you think are the chief obstacles today to people having a correct understanding of jihad and Islamic supremacism?