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Little Green Lies

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Since my switch over to Blogcritics I have not thrown myself into a lot of overt political controversy. It’s been kind of a nice break, but to avoid this particular flap would be nothing less than cowardice.

Charles Johnson, who runs the exemplary and brave Little Green Footballs site is suffering for sins Islamic militants and their apologists simply cannot abide: honesty and success.

James Taranto of Best of the Web Today summarizes the situation well:

    Johnson, a Los Angeles-based Web designer, has one of the nicest-looking blogs around, and it’s packed with interesting information, mostly on the war and the barbarity of radical Islam.

    MSNBC.com has a feature called Weblog Central, apparently written by someone named Will Femia. On Friday Femina cited LGF in his “Best of Blogs” feature. But then on Sunday, Femina posted an update, saying he’d heard from LGF critics who object, in Femia’s words, to “the fact that LGF has, over time, increased its focus on militant Islam and terrorism.” Femia updated his original description of LGF to say the following:

      This site is the focus of considerable controversy for its focus (and particularly the focus of the constituents in its comments section) on Islamic culture and dogma as the source of Islamic terror. As a popular, active, and well presented site, it is worth checking out, but some may find its content hateful or even racist.

    This is an outrageous smear. The accusation of “racism” doesn’t even make sense; is anyone stupid enough to think Islam is a race? And while there’s plenty of hate on LGF, Charles Johnson isn’t the source of it. He is simply documenting the murderously hateful ideology of radical Islam. It makes no more sense to call Johnson “hateful” than it would make to call the Anti-Defamation League anti-Semitic.

    ….This isn’t the first time Johnson has been falsely accused of running a hate site. Back in August, the Arab News’s splenetic news editor, John Bradley, described LGF as “a hate-mail oriented, extreme right-wing website that acts as a kind of magnet for Arab-haters.” There are, of course, haters and racists on America’s far right–but for the most part they are making common cause with radical Islamists. The Arab News, for example, has published the works of David Duke and the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review, not to mention an article just last week that denounced the “subhuman Zionist lobby.”

    This is the real face of hate. Some people prefer to avert their gaze from such viciousness and barbarity, and that is their prerogative. They don’t have to log in to Little Green Footballs. But to call Johnson a racist and a hater is an outrageous smear, one that Femia repeated even if he didn’t endorse it. MSNBC owes Charles Johnson an apology

Thank you James, very nice summary.

But my interest in this scuffle goes further: I know Charles personally, have spoken with him at some length, and you will not meet a person less inclined toward rash or intemperate generalization. Charles is a musician and an inveterate computer freak who was – is – broadly liberal and nonjudgmental in a laid-back musicianly sort of way.

He described himself to me here:

    a think-for-yourself social liberal, leaning toward libertarianism, but without the loony stuff.

    Before 9/11, I wouldn’t have read one word of the National Review, for example. But the fall of the WTC had an extraordinary clarifying effect for me, and while I still consider myself basically liberal, many of the people most identified with that camp have behaved disgracefully since then.

And Charles has been relentlessly alert to hypocrisy, dissembling, euphemism, and the foul stench of hatred wherever it it has reared its ugly head ever since. He has not blinked; he has not yielded, and he has been tremendously successful. He is thus resented by targets of his vigilance: Islamic militants and their mealy-mouthed defenders, who see ANY accusation leveled at ANY Muslim as a general attack on Islam.

Another bastion of resistance to Johnson’s steely gaze are bloggers who resent Johnson’s wild success, his resistance to equivocation, his devoted, active, articulate readers.

Ironically, it is the very success, confidence and bravery LGF displays that most drives the Islamists themselves in their hatred of the West: Charles Johnson has unwittingly but fittingly become a synecdoche of the entire global struggle. I am proud to call him my friend.

UPDATE
There is a notable parallel between the political transformations of Christopher Hitchens and Charles Johnson since 9/11 (and many others including myself for that matter). Note Hitchens’ recent essay from the WaPo:

    The most depressing thing, for me at any rate, has been to see so much of the Left so determined to hamper this process, which is why, after 20 years, I have given up my column in the Nation magazine. The Left has employed arguments as contemptible as those on whose behalf they have been trotted out. It maintained that any resistance to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo would lead to a wider war, chaos and/or the rallying of the Serbs to Milosevic. It forecast massive quagmires and intolerable civilian casualties. If this sounds familiar, it may be because you are hearing it again now and heard it last year from those who thought the Taliban-al Qaeda base in Afghanistan was not worth fighting about.

    But the element of bad faith in the argument is far worse than the feeble-minded hysteria of its logic. In the Balkans, those on the Left and Right who favored intervention could not live with the idea that Europe would permit the extermination of its oldest Muslim minority. At that point, the sensibilities of Islam did not seem to matter to the Ramsey Clarks and Noam Chomskys, who thought and wrote of national-socialist and Orthodox Serbia as if it were mounting a gallant resistance to globalization. (Saddam, of course, took Milosevic’s side even though the Serb leader was destroying mosques and murdering Muslims.)

    Now, however, the same people are all frenzied about an American-led “attack on the Muslim world.” Are the Kurds not Muslims? Is the new Afghan government not Muslim? Will not the next Iraqi government be Muslim also? This meaningless demagogy among the peaceniks can only be explained by a masochistic refusal to admit that our own civil society has any merit, or by a nostalgia for Stalinism that I can sometimes actually taste as well as smell.

This from a former socialist, which Charles was not, but you get the point.

PS – Charles played guitar on the Stanley Clarke and George Duke records, among many others.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://thecr.blogspot.com Eric the CR

    Charles and Hitch – True, except for their views of Israel. Hitch is still in Lefty hateland on that issue.

  • Tom

    Agree, the parallels between Charles Johnson and Hitchens are clear. Hitchens has a book out right now about the significance of George Orwell. It is well worth studying since it sheds light on the mindset of the goons attacking Johnson.
    Keep well. Tom.

  • Eric Olsen

    Eric, You are completely right about Hitchens and Israel, although I noticed in this latest piece he glosses over Israel rather than attacking it. I would think (hope) that the disconnect between his general attitude toward Islamofascism and his attitude toward the Palestinians will eventually be a victim of his intellectual honesty.

    I’m guessing the pro-Palestinian stance is a remnant of his “revolutionary,” pro-underdog past.

  • http://ulmann.blogspot.com Cal Ulmann

    I didn’t like Best Of The Web’s article. The portion of the article where he says Islam is not a race made me think James Taranto was almost condoning bigotry.

  • George Brody

    Both sides should cool down and read this book.
    The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things by Barry Glassner

  • Eric Olsen

    I don’t get the “condoning bigotry” part at all: the “Islam is not a race” bit is merely a factual aside. Islam isn’t a race.

    The attitude of Taranto and Johnson isn’t one of bigotry: it’s the attitude that whole blocks of ideas have been given a free ride heretofore due to fears of violating political correctness. There is a substantial block of Islam that either directly ascribes to, or at least is sympathetic toward, an authoritarian, intolerant exceptionalism that is antithetical to Western ideas of democracy, tolerance, and civil society.

  • Mike G

    The “Islam is not a race” part is important. First, because it should remind us that it’s not synonymous with the most backward parts of the middle East; there’s still hope for countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, that they don’t have to become Iran or Yemen. But more importantly than that, Islam is a set of doctrines, radical Islam is a form of that doctrine, and thus it should be no more possible to see it as racist to attack those doctrines than to see an attack on, say, Freudianism or supply-side economics as racist. Adherents of this religious doctrine throw racism into the debate because they know it confuses us and we’re highly sensitive to it.

    So in no sense is LGF a racist site. But it is a hate site. For instance, it hates that 3000 people died for a stupid, racist, sexist reason– the indignity of American soldiers, especially women soldiers, especially Jewish American women on supposedly sacred Saudi soil. It hates that people were burned alive in a nightclub for having fun. It hates that the rich decadent Saudis pour money into spreading ascetic extremism while whoring and boozing it up around the world.

  • Merv Benson

    Little Green Footballs, what ever they are, is most devastating to radical islam when it quotes the radicals. I think what offends these people is open debate about their goals and objectives. Hate is calling fellow human beings the “sons and daughters of pigs and monkeys.” Hate is forcing “infidels” to a choice of conversion or death. Hate is calling for the murder of those who insult the “prophet.”

  • http://www.drizzten.com Charles Hueter

    I’ve been a LGF lurker for some months and I thouroughly enjoy the dirty and unspoken underbelly of militant Islam the site exposes. It must be done in order to “understand the root causes of why they hate us”…which is essentially that they completely disagree with the exponentially more freedom we enjoy in the West. The religious sermons from various Arab mosques are the most enlightening.

    Having said that, there are commenters on the site who go out of their way to slander and insult the religion as a single monolithic collective, along with the various peoples who subscribe to Islam, no matter what form it takes. This armchair stupidity is rightly condemned, I believe. Mr. Johnson runs a great site and I’ve never seen him engage in such mindless middler-finger-pointing. A blog as popular as his has attracted a very large following, and in any large following, you are bound to get your share of jackasses who air their views.

    The MSNBC article should have made it clear that it’s the repugnant minority of commentors make the racist and bigoted statements, not the site owner or his site as a whole.

    In other words, let the idiots have their say and keep LGF moving along.

  • http://www.planetpeschel.com Bill Peschel

    Both the MSNBC article and Taranto missed this very important fact: that Charles Johnson quotes the virulent hatred militant Islam espouses. He does not characterize them as evil bastards; they indict themselves.

    LGF is as racist a site as The Washington Post, The New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, and all the other major media outlets when they print what the Saudi-supported mullahs preach, when their government-supported newspapers reprint the usual blood libels about Jews.

    Oh, wait a minute, they DON’T do that, do they?

  • Eric Olsen

    Excellent points: part of the reason LGF can be so jarring is that we aren’t used to seeing the actual words of the hatemongers in the mainstream press. Charles simply hangs them with their own rhetoric.

    Charles also makes a good point about the commenters: some do go overboard and seem to have a broader agenda of prejudice against all things Islamic or Arab, but they, too, are hung by their own words.

  • mojo

    Well, well, a Stanley Clarke link – and to one of his better albums too. Impressive.

    Bass players don’t get enough respect.

  • Todd Melnick

    What bothers me about LGF is the way Charles tolerates some really vile stuff from at least a few of the posters. At the same time, he recently announced that he was changing his site so that older comments threads would be closed, because “trolls” would tend to leave hateful stuff there that he wouldn’t notice. There is clearly a double standard in play. And LGF would be more effective at exposing Islamist hatred and intolerance and “idiotarian” idiocy if it refrained from using labels like “freakazoid.” I know a number of the so-called “Euro-weenies” who are basically decent, fair-minded people. They simply do not know what the Jihadist-Salifists and their de facto apologists are all about, and they’ve been socialized into a, shall we say, incomplete view of the political world. It’s not easy or quick, but you can bring them around with reason and evidence. Unfortunately, I think that exposure to LGF would turn out to be highly counterproductive. It’s really just preaching to the converted.

    That said, it’s not fair to call it a hate site; it’s unfair to judge a blog by the comments on it, and a minority of the comments at that.

  • http://thecr.blogspot.com Eric the CR

    Eric,

    I noticed that too. But, I’ll wit until he clearly reverses himself before giving him any credit.

  • http://milblog.blogspot.com JLawson

    Take a look at http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=4466 – for his explanation of why he’s thinking about cutting off additional comments.

    But hey, who wouldn’t just love to have something like…

    Dear ignorants, i mean im thinkin, wastin my time talking to a group of pathetic mother fuckers.

    Jews must die . these snakes dont have the right to live because they always fuckup. I mean no body likes the jews, here in the UK the uk. people used to beat the shit out of them. they are the only people messing up this world. i think they should go back to their home lands, russia, poland and the rest of the garbage.
    by the way tell ur moms i said hi. jews……….
    Jeeeeeeeeeez

    tossed into a discussion that had been pretty well silent for a couple of months? That, to me, is vile stuff. Or should it be argued that it should be allowed if someone else refers to freakazoids and Euroweenies?

    I think Charles has the right to close off threads if he wants, if folks are going to be leaving little ‘presents’ like that in the abandoned ones.

    J.

  • Eric Olsen

    Any site that tackles real and emotional issues and gets big traffic and even bigger comment participation is going to get its share of nuts/haters in every direction. Charles should be allowed to set limits as he sees fit.

  • John Steppling

    I have found Johnson’s blog to be quite fair and mostly very good in terms of finding useful info on Islamic affairs……I mean he doesnt make this stuff up…….and while I may not agree with him politically — though on some things I do — to call him racist is simply absurd.

    Hitchens Washington Post article of last week was a bit of overreach….to say the least….I mean Ramsey Clark is the head of the anti-war movement? I dont think so, nor do I think any credible liberal or leftist would describe Saddam as a victim. This is intellectually dishonest and not worthy of a man who has been, for years, a fine critic and journalist.

  • jadester

    aye. I consider myself more left than right politically and i object to the accusation that “the left loves saddam!”, “The left loves al qaeda!” etc.
    what a load of baloney.

  • Dave Zalev

    Islam is not a race, but a religion. Charles dismisses a whole religion as violent evil and stupid. Jewish is not a race, but a religion. Were anyone to speak of Judaism like Charles speaks of Islam, they would be crucified. Charles should be reviled.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    Little Green Footballs is a racist blog. Though Arab/Muslim may not fit into the old tripartite racial classifications most people think of, the gist of racism is superiority/inferiority. The people at LGF definitely consider Jews superior to Arabs/Muslims, whom they barely consider human at all.

    Furthermore, LGF is often hateful. I will never forget the mockery they made of the death of a young peace worker in Israel. You would have thought she wasn’t a human being . . . and she was a white American. Merely working with Palestinians was enough to get her evicted from the human race in LGF’s opinion.

    Charles Johnson isn’t fooling anyone who cares about issues of racial (or if you prefer, ethnic) justice. He is a bigot in regard to people of Arab or Muslim descent, at the very least. The brown-nosing of him and his blog that some people in the blogosphere do out of cowardice should be grounds for shame. Way too much selling of souls for a lousy link or two goes on around here.

    In looking at the date of the initial post, it is interesting to note Johnson attacked Blogcritics after it and, I suspect, other efforts to win his favor. So much for, um, diplomacy.

  • Eric Olsen

    Although in the subsequent year I think things have drifted from exposing that which is vile about Islam, to something closer to a general contempt for Islam, I think tis still holds up rather well. Please recall what LGF was responding to in the first place, and the atmosphere of “Islam is a religion of peace” that even Bush mouthed immediately after 9/11. Charles said, “wait a minute, let’s look at what these people actually say.” If it has swung too far in the other direction, it has still served a valuable purpose.

    The “attack” on Blogcritics was an attack on a specific post by our possibly farthest-left contributor. It would seem that there was some misunderstanding of our posting policy, which that episode surely helped clear up and clarify internally and externally, and for that if nothing else, it served a purpose.

    I don’t believe there is a need to ascribe ulterior motives to any of this.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    When Charles condemns the Israeli government or the JDL for their excesses, then I will believe he is being fair. But, for now, he just appears to be a Zionist who could not care less about the rest of the human race.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Diva, you are SO wrong about Charles. “When Charles condemns the Israeli government or the JDL for their excesses, then I will believe he is being fair.”

    That implies a moral equivalence between the Israelis and the Palestinians that does not exist. The Israelis are right, and the Palestinians are pretty near totally wrong.

    The equivalent statement would be if you demanded that we should have criticized the Jews of 60 years ago for their offenses against the Nazis. The main difference between the two situations is simply that now the nazis are weaker and the Jews are strong enough to take care of themselves.

    The fact that the Palestinians are weak does not mean that they are automatically somehow morally superior. Based on their actions, they DESERVE to be downtrodden.

    Neither Charles nor the Israelis or I would say that Jews are inherently superior based on their genes. However, all cultures are NOT equally good. US good, Baathists BAD. Israel GOOD, Hamas and Hezbollah and Al Aqsa and the 70+ percent of Palestinians who express support for random massacres of Jews are BAD.

    You would say that the Yankees were better and morally superior to the Confederates, would you not?

    The lack of sympathy for the peace puke you mentioned in comment 20 is more evidence AGAINST calling Charles a “racist.” She was rightly condemned for her wicked ACTIONS, not her skin color.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    So, now Palestinian = Nazi? The Nazis were the majority in Germany, wielding power and able to completely oppress the Jewish population. There is nothing comparable about the status of Palestinians in Israel. The only weapons they have are those of the weak, refusal to cooperate and terrorism. Do I approve of the terroristic acts of some Palestinians? No. But, neither do I approve of many of the actions of the terroristic state of Israel. Yes, terrorist state. Like apartheid South Africa, Israel has built terrorism into its governing structure.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Yes Diva, Palestinians = Nazis on any moral level. The fact that they are not physically able to impose their wickedness upon the Jews with the full fury of the Third Reich does not mean that they are morally better. They hate Jews, want to kill them. They import bunches of translations of Mein Kampf and similar literature.

    The Israelis are not terrorists. They try to avoid killing non-combatants. If evil thugs kill some Israelis and then hide behind their women and children, and some of those women and children get killed- then the blood is on the hands of the Palestinians, not the Israelis.

    The only way you can begin to make ANY excuse for ANY of the Palestinians would be if you flatly deny the right of the state of Israel to exist, for they would do pretty nearly anything short of marching off into the sea to die like lemmings if they could get peace.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    MEGO! Hopefully, people with more patience than I have will address this awful assertion.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Simply declaring that I have made an “awful asssertion” does not constitute a legitimate counterargument.

  • Eric Olsen

    I am about 75% with Al on this one, the difference being that elements of Israeli society – which is as divided and at odds with itself as any other democracy – have sought to prevent peace with the Palestinians under any circumstances and have perpetuated provocative policies – such as the settlements – which pretty clearly have served no other purpose other than to provoke.

    That said, I do not in any way see Israel as a terrorist state, nor see their policies as the moral equivalent of terror, not do I place the Palestinian leadership and the 70% who see Jews as subhuman and worthy of death, in anything close to the same moral ground.

    And I will state emphatically, irrevocably and with zero margin of error that I have never written ANYTHING to “win anyone’s favor.” I say what I think when I think it for my own benefit, period.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Building houses does not constitute a provocation to terror and war, not at all. See, Israelis building settlements and doing other life enhancing things, Palestinians KILL.

  • Eric Olsen

    I beleive it is a bit disingenuous, however, to take those actions out of context, and in context they are directly provocative and not helpful.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    In what context, exactly, does building a house and moving your family in constitute a hostile, provocative act?

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com Craig Lyndall

    How about if I build it in your back yard?

  • Eric Olsen

    That’s actually quite a good answer Craig.

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