Monday, August 24, 2009

continuation of dialogue between awake and Hesperado

The dialogue thickens:

[awake's comments + his quotes of me from a previous comment in plain text; my new responses in bold indicated by the html codes ]

"For a sociopolitical movement that depends greatly upon ideas, history and research & presentation of texts, such disregard for veracity and exactness of important historical quotes is ludicrous and juvenile."

Assertion based on your opinion. You have not argued why it is ludicrous or juvenile, even though you admittted that in substance and import, it is not that big a deal.

As to the second part of your characterization of what I "admitted", I already explained above what I meant, and I made no such admission. As to the first part, first of all, what you are asking for is tantamount to challenging someone who makes the assertion that "pleasure is good" to explain it, as though it actually needs explaining. Such a request is so out of the norm as to be bizarre. I can't imagine anyone -- other than perhaps an Appalachian farmer or a glue-sniffing teenager or a ghetto rapper -- disputing that a sociopolitical movement needs to provide accurate quotations of the historical sources it uses for its war of ideas (of course, they wouldn't put their dispute that way: they'd just spurn it with a spit off to the side, thus perhaps more eloquently than your equivalent). As an abstract philosophical exercise, it has value, I suppose, in some remedial Socratic sense, but in this context, it is egregious. Nevertheless, I will try to accomodate you.

Consider the minimum standards for primary source quotes in scholarly journals, books, theses and other academic presentations. They require reference citations to the original -- primary sources, not secondary. They require complete citations, including title, publishers, editors, date, page and/or volume number. This is required so that if the wording is disputed, the person disputing it can go back and check to see if that really was the correct quote or not. Why is the wording important? Because historiography is built upon records and documents, mostly of what people wrote and what people were reported to have said. Historiography depends upon preserving the exact original wording, for if the tinkering and the negligent transcription and the faulty memory begins and no one is concerned about it, it will go on to escalate and more and more primary sources will be corrupted. What began as a possibly relatively minor difference in wording can morph into differences that actually change the meaning in serious ways, even reverse the meaning sometimes. This isn't merely a scholarly concern. Any good high school teacher wouldn't accept a history paper from a student where the student claimed to quote George Washington, but only guess at what Washington said, and then when asked where he got that quote would tell the teacher he got it from some blog on the Internet.

Now, a sociopolitical movement is different from Academe in many ways. And with regard to use of sources, there is no official arbiter of standards of a sociopolitical movement, as there is in Academe. Heck, a sociopolitical movement can do what it likes: its members could decide that the historical quotes it uses for its ongoing education of both members and the general public it is trying to persuade can be reproduced willy-nilly, with no care at all for their accuracy. "Just put in something about Jefferson hating Islam -- we know he did; I know I heard it from someone I trust that it's in some book somewhere. Who cares what Jefferson actually said about it?" Well, it matters if anyone comes along disputing that he did say that, or disputes that even if he said something that seems like hating Islam, that he really meant the same interpretation this movement is claiming he meant.

Interestingly, I noticed that you are highly concerned about challenging me for an argument about this particular opinion I have -- namely, that "disregard for veracity and exactness of important historical quotes is ludicrous and juvenile" -- but you seem completely unconcerned with challenging a closely related opinion I had -- namely, that "Although the variances do not terribly affect the substance and import, they do affect the veracity if no one cares to provide the actual citation of the correct version." In fact, apparently, you simply agree with that opinion and have found it very useful, though you misunderstand it, as I've already explained. In fact, I could be wrong -- maybe the meaning is changed by the variances. Who's going to check? Who cares? Now all of a sudden you guys are going to take my word on something?

Closely related to the above, we have the problem of a tendency to behave a certain way evidenced by the way this quote has been handled. Even if the variances pertaining to the Jefferson quote could be demonstrated to everyone's satisfaction to have zero effect on the substance and import, there will come along other quotes of similar importance which, when run through the mill of this sloppy transmission process, will not fare so well, and important meanings of phrases will be changed, if not sometimes reversed. If a very important quote by Thomas Jefferson that reveals a juicy admission by a Muslim ambassador is handled in this cavalier way, other quotes are likely to suffer as well. So, sure, any given sociopolitical movement can have lax standards about the quotes it uses in its pedagogy and persuasion, but that doesn't make that a good situation. At any rate, I'm not advocating some kind of herculean transformation of the Anti-Islam Movement that will bog everyone down with gigantic labors. At the very least, when somebody comes along like me who has taken the time and trouble to nail down this important historical quote, use me, for crying out loud! I won't even expect to get paid, nor even do I expect gratitude! Just use the damn quote! This will hardly put anyone's nose out of joint -- though apparently the gall of having to swallow one's pride amounts to an immense obstacle in this regard.

"There is absolutely no reason to resist accuracy with regard to the Anti-Islam Movement's use of historical texts -- and certainly no reason to get all piqued and huffy against someone who calls attention to any inaccuracies that may be perpetuated by one or more members of the Movement.

To have provided the actual quote, and to do so that is not consistent with your theme that, "Spencer should keep his day job" as far as an analyst of the solution to the Islam problem, as opposed to merely reporting on it as relayed through the hundreds of articles you wrote which are critical of him, is perfectly acceptable.

Huh? I read your paragraph above 3 times and couldn't understand it. You'll have to paraphrase it -- but remember to keep the substance and import approximately the same.

"The fact that I have to point this out once, let alone more than once, is screamingly insane."

Another assertion based on your original assertion without evidence. It is not in itself, insane, nor is it "screamingly" so.

Yes. Hopefully my attempt at an argument above will have clarified it.

Ironic it is, that you find specific egregious fault with Marisol, and by extension, Spencer on the exactitude of this Jefferson quote. It is ironic to criticize a person who has demonstrated over the years, arguments based meticulously on the accuracy of his statements from historical texts and statements, though he is routinely accused of taking these statements out of context by his detractors.

Well, the irony is more on the side of my accusers in this case, since they are the ones supposed to show concern for meticulousness, but here show no concern for it and even get mad at me for providing the information that meticulousness yields -- unless (and I wouldn't put it past you) you are trying to argue that if Spencer is meticulous about 10 different quotes, he doesn't need to be meticulous about the 11th quote and nobody dare point out that 11th quote!

"If there is a perception afoot that I occupy such a position (by self-promotion of course, in the terms of this perception, and not by merit nor need), it might well have something to do with the unfortunate, and rather strange, fact that no one else seems to care about these matters."

It may well be, but that is just another assertion. You have not argued why Spencer needs what you deem, your continuous corrective criticism...

Sure I have, dozens of times on my now retired blog, and at least a couple of times on my present blog. It's a simple principle really: if someone has constructive criticism, then that will help the object of that criticism if it's integrated. This is a separate issue from whether any particular constructive criticism really is constructive or not. The determination of that should have nothing to do with emotion, animosity, paranoia, and other extraneous factors. And, of course, the object of the criticism can also choose to just ignore the crticism -- perhaps he feels he doesn't have the time to read it to determine if it's useful; perhaps he doesn't like the guy giving it; whatever. But that doesn't mean the critic should stop criticizing. And it certainly doesn't substitute for actually making the determination of whether, or not, any given criticism proferred by the critic is, in fact, constructive and therefore beneficial. The attitude of you and some others in this regard is tantamount to saying: "We don't like the way your are criticizing us, and it smacks to us of destructive not constructive criticism -- therefore that's what it is: destructive criticism. Begone!" Ridiculous, when not indicative of a tyrannical spirit.

...nor why his refusal to hearken to you to date has adversely affected his position in the movement.

That would be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to prove. Too many variables. Also, his "position in the movement" is not the only concern. There is the continual refinement and betterment of various aspects of the movement -- and again the determination of whether any of my suggestions would conduce to that has to be made on the merits of their substance, not on extraneous matters.

You have also not explained this supposed unfortunate, rather strange behavior, which lead you to your unsubstantiated conclusion that in the absence of you holding this self-promotional perception, seemingly no one else cares about these matters.

The proof is in the pudding. As far as I know and if you know of one please enlighten me: Nobody else has shown that they were bothered by these discrepancies in the Jefferson quote in the first place. Nobody else has shown that they were inspired by this concern to take time and trouble to track down the original quote. Nobody else has shown the additional effort of publishing a meticulous analysis of their efforts. Nobody else has dared to poke their head into the lion's den at Jihad Watch to risk getting their head snapped off by Marisol shouting "How dare you presume to tell us what to do with your vile vinegar! Next time thou durst so, doest so on bended knee with a jar of honey! In the meantime, we shall ignore thy vinegary presumption!" [Slam door to end one-sided discussion on this subject for apparently ever; enter the court jester awake to take over from here.]

I will make a counter-argument that Spencer continuously refutes attacks upon him by specifically pointing out his words and the sources behind them with particular detail for their exactness in accuracy. There are hundreds upon hundres of articles here at JW validating that argument.

Yes he does indeed. So what's the argument: if Spencer does it 100 times, it's okay if he doesn't do it the 101st time? And the 102nd time (re: my repeated mentions in JW comments fields of the more crucial variance in the 'Umdat al-Salik, of course ignored from on high as though Zeus himself were non-existent)? And the 103rd time? Or perhaps we can make this easy with a simple rule: "Only ignore it when Hesperado pipes up with his hobbyhorses!"

"Any stance would require a majority at least (and unanimity of course best of all) to be successful."

If you acknowledge that your holistic position is in the minority "within the anti-Islam movement, woops, I mean anti-Jihad movement", then why not cease and desist the continuous criticism of the asymptotic analysts who make up the majority in the movement?

Because in certain instances, I think I have a better way, and it's my right to put my foot into the arena and articulate it. If I persuade some folks, great; if I don't, well, at least I tried. Why am I having to explain excruciatingly common-sensical bromides to you, anyway? Can't you figure some of this stuff out yourself?

"While I grant that in this particular instance, there cannot really be a synthesis of the two stances (holistic and asymptotic), and no real compromise that wouldn't cramp the style of either the one or the other stance, I do not hold the position, in general principle, that I or any other "holist" has to require of all asymptotics that they change, or else they are deemed to be excommunicated from the Movement."

You are entitled to your opinion about the superiority of your holistic stance, but you have not successfully argued and substantiated that assertion as superior in any way.

I have to one or two people. At any rate, a "successful" argument is not necessarily a good argument; nor is an "unsuccessful" argument necessarily a bad one.

Speaking of ex-communication, Spencer is firmly entrenched in the movement. You on the otherhand, are not, nor are any true holistic analysts. That is just a fact.

And therefore? I have a bigger car and a pretty wife, therefore I'm better than you? wonders from both you and Cornelius whether anonymity would be just fine with you guys as long as the anonymous person was.... in lockstep agreement with Spencer...?

No need to wonder. I assert that Spencer, because he is public, has a greater concern of and responsibility for his words and deeds that anonymous bloggers do not.

That can be a fact that can support an argument for the superiority of anonymous bloggers on one level at least -- they have the freedom to say things that a non-anonymous blogger is inhibited from saying.

I have disagreed with Robert in the past, and I believe Cornelius is in staunch disagreement with Hugh about Iraq, but there is a not so subtle distinction between respectful disagreement and petty, unyielding criticism.

I agree: there is a distinction between respectful disagreement and petty, unyielding criticism. The challenge then would be to demonstrate that my criticism is petty. I wouldn't fault unyielding criticism necessarily, though perhaps it's a semantic thing -- what one man calls persistent another might call unyielding.

Remember, you dedicated a full year plus criticizing Spencer, and JW, yet oddly, you are still here, criticizing Spencer on almost every thread...

That's an exaggeration. I just did a survey of the August archives (though I had to stop past halfway through due to the increased slowness of my computer dealing with such a massive page studded with YouTube videos):

Of the last 23 threads in which I had any comments at all, only two had directly critical things to say about Spencer, Jihad Watch itself, Marisol or Hugh -- this one, and the one where I posted a couple of comments wondering why Spencer has not yet integrated the crucial translation of the 'Umdat al-Salik with regard to clitorectomy. Otherwise, I did not count the "English pub" comment I made which did not mention Spencer, Jihad Watch itself, Marisol or Hugh, but only mentioned certain critiques about the conduct of the Anti-Islam Movement as reflected by the comment made by one of Spencer's hosts in England that reflected important "tensions" among the anti-jihadists behind the scenes to which we out-of-the-loopers seem never to be privy (certainly I've rarely seen anyone write up anything about them). I also did not count the recent thread where I very politely and obliquely registered my different view on whether Islam has, or has not, an "ethical dimension". Similarly, another thread I did not count was where I respectully offered a suggestion for Spencer to use in debates with Muslims like Bassouiani:

While Spencer's exchange with Bassiouni revealed that Bassiouni exposed himself to blatant inconsistency, I think Spencer could have skewered him with his own petard even more effectively had Spencer limited his first reply to the one point of the inconsistency itself and say nothing else, and in a final sentence say "Please answer this one point". With no other points from Spencer in view, Bassiouni would have no choice but to answer it or not answer it -- with the latter option more starkly exposed for being unresponsive.

Anyone who would construe that as anything but respectful and unpetty has their little heart monitor set on paranoid.

The "Comments Are Open!" thread involved a long exchange between myself and Cornelius which I tried to keep on the track of my initial criticism of his universal censure of the word "subhuman" but he steered it around to all my faults, including my criticisms of Spencer. I can hardly be faulted for standing up for myself there, and it certainly cannot be counted as one more example of me going into a thread mischievously to inject my little Spencer bombs.

At worst, if one insists on counting the "English pub" one, that would make 3 out of 23. It also needs to be mentioned that some of those 20 remaining have more than one comment by me, none of them jabs at Spencer, Jihad Watch itself, Marisol or Hugh. And furthermore, there are many threads among those 23 where I didn't register any comments at all. Thus your characterization -- "criticizing Spencer on almost every thread" -- seems to be grossly inaccurate.

"About #2, on one level you're right, I "accept nothing less than my personal view as acceptable" -- but only on the level on which anyone who has a stance about anything that they believe in does not "accept" the controversion of that stance."

That seems to contradict your previous statement about "asymptotic" analysts, their need to convert or else face excommunication...

I said the opposite. Go back and re-read.

"I was thinking more of your perception of me. I don't think Spencer lowers himself to that level, though he did once preposterously anathematize and excommunicate me, in so many words, from the Movement. As much as I have criticized this or that aspect of his methodology, I have never seen fit to anathematize and excommunicate him."

Simple answer, you cannot excommunicate Spencer.

That doesn't matter. If a person wants to kill someone, does it make it okay that he can't kill that person? Conversely, if someone wants to kill and actually does, is he better because he has the power to kill, better than the other person who neither has the power to kill, nor who wants to? If excommunication reflects poorly on the excommunicator (unless you revere power for the sake of power), then there's no way to salvage Spencer in this context.

When I spoke of you craving public recognition, I was referring to your vast archives complaining about the "gentleman's agreement" and how you are left out,

Show me one line from those essays that indicates I'm complaining about being left out personally in the way you are implying.

and referring to yourself as treated like a lesser paeon in the eyes of other larger luminaries in the movement.

Again, show me one line from those essays that indicates I am complaining personally about being a peon the way you are implying. All the concerns and complaints in those essays are couched in terms of the betterment of the overall movement. Your extrapolation from that to a merely personal ego problem on my part is pure conjecture, without evidence, and dripping with unfair malice.

And also, desiring that Spencer "deputize" and allow others to write at JW, like yourself. It doesn't take long to discover your personal frustration in this movement.

Again, I challenge you to produce any evidence from those essays that demonstrates these spins you have placed upon them -- namely, that what I "really" care about is one thing -- the egotistical pitiful personal resentment and assuaging that -- while what I am claiming to care about -- the betterment of the movement is pretense masking the lower motivations.

"At any rate, that bit of imaginative rendering of mine was hyperbole, and one needn't go comically down into the gutter to indulge in the freaking weird option of impugning someone's essence and character because you don't like their ideas, or fixating on their behavior, while spending less time, if any, on the actual ideas they are communicating."

Pot, meet kettle.

I don't impugn Spencer's essence or character. I criticize aspects of his approach, his methodology, his ideas. No pot here.

Anyway, you are a holist who believes all Muslims are potentially evil

I never put it that way. All Muslims who support Islam are evil. All Muslims who passively enable Islam by continuing to be Muslims are co-dependent enablers of the evil of Islam. Among the latter may be many who are harmless and more or less nice people, but we have the pragmatic problem (which Spencer has agreed several times is a major problem though he has not logically unfolded it) of not being able to distinguish with sufficient reliability the dangerous from the harmless. But you should remember this, from the 101 times I've told you this before.

and that Islam needs to be abolished in totality

I've never said Islam needs to be abolished in totality -- I've argued more than once at length for an indefinite co-existence structured by global quarantine militarily enforced, preceded by total deportation.

is irreformable and ultimately evil to the core, with the rounding up and expulsion of all Muslims from the West, a minimal pre-requisite, only inhibited by the malaise of PCMC currently.

This part is ok, with one major exception: the rounding up and expulsion of all Muslims I don't characterize as a "minimal" pre-requisite, but rather the maximum pre-requisite we can do. There are plenty of other more or less half-assed measures we can take short of that that may, or may not, help, though I continue to maintain they will in the end help less, and possibly cause much more of a mess than the holistic approach.

Did I miss anything?

Yeah, most of it.

A valid opinion, but not one warranting your continued criticism of Spencer, that's for sure.

That one opinion, concerning ultimate management of the problem of Islam, is only one facet of the many other different ongoing concerns and difficulties of the Anti-Islam Movement.


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