Friday, March 16, 2012

Robert Spencer's apparent rift with Diana West

As I reported back in May of 2010, concerning Robert Spencer's mysterious kerfuffle with his formerly close ally and friend in the anti-Islam movement (such as it is), Andrew Bostom:

About Diana West, and her apparent fall from Spencerian grace, I have written two or three essays -- all conjecture, since I had no solid evidence of a rift between her and Spencer (and she even implied, perhaps merely being the graciously diplomatic person she seems to be, that there was no rift in a private email to me last year).

Now, this week, we see Robert Spencer exhibiting the wounded reflex of lashing back at Diana West by
characterizing her sober analysis of the Bostom situation as a "vicious attack" and as a "smear campaign". Her sin, of course, was to disagree with Spencer. When we compare that petulantly hurt characterization of Diana West with all the praise Spencer heaped on her regularly and frequently in days of yore (as I documented in my essay The Persian Flu) --

"tell-it-like-it-is Diana West"

"Diana West has a superb column..."

"Diana West's superb proposal for recasting the "war on terror"..."

"West for President!"

"From the superb Diana West...

"With her usual acuity and perceptiveness, Diana West explains..."

"The ever-perceptive Diana West..."

"The ever-insightful Diana West..."

"One of the most clear-sighted and brave columnists on the scene today..."

-- and add to that the long-standing ignoring of Diana West by Spencer (as he had of late come to ignore Bostom, as well as Baron Bodissey and Bawer), it becomes clear that I was right all along: another falling out.
But the explanation for this falling out remains in the darkness behind the locked doors and velvet ropes of the Gentlemen's Club. With the exception, of course, of that comment by Spencer about West's "vicious attack" and "smear campaign" against him -- albeit a comment rather tucked away in a comments field to a thread already at that point teetering on the brink of falling into the Chasm of Archives.

I tend to think it's not a coincidence that during the time that Spencer grew unprecedently frosty to West, she wrote many essays taking a stance diametrically opposite his on two important issues: Vlaams Belang, and the Iranian demonstrations. Nor does it seem a coincidence that during approximately the same period of time Spencer found a new friend -- Pam Geller -- whose romanticized idealism of the Iranian "reformers" caused her to swoon regularly and dramatically with hope. If I'm right, this means that Spencer's personal rifts are having a concrete effect on his role as a reporter and analyst for the anti-Islam movement.

[End of excerpt]

Also (with some repetition of details), as I reported back in 2009, in the context of those in the anti-Islam movement (such as it is) who seemed to be afflicted with the "Persian Flu" (i.e., extending effusively magnanimous support for and placing strangely idealistic hope in the "Persian people" who were revolting not against Islam, but merely against their government (an early premonition of the "Arab Spring" that would later erupt, and about which Spencer and Geller have suddenly had no problem being rationally cynical and suspicious, unlike the way they were with the Iranian events):

...he [Robert Spencer] has been curiously silent about the essays Diana West has written about the Iran Crisis. This is curious because in the past, over the span of many years, Spencer has often published articles highlighting a Diana West essay about this, that and the other thing relating to ongoing issues of Islam. And he has always warmly and with high praise introduced her to his readers.

For example, last year about the Sherry Jones novel about Mohammed story, he began his piece introducing West’s article:

Tell-it-like-it-is Diana West puts this story in better context.

Or, when in 2003 he recommended West’s take on the Vatican and Islam, he wrote:

This morning Diana West has a superb column on the Vatican's extraordinary new statement on Islam and dhimmitude...

Or, in his introduction to her article in 2006 on Bush and the war on terror, he wrote:

Here is the continuation of Diana West's superb proposal for recasting the "war on terror." Part I is here. West for President!

Or, in introducing a review by West of Bat Yeor’s Eurabia in 2005, he wrote:

From the superb Diana West in the Washington Times...

Or, in 2004, when he published an article by West on France and the veil, he wrote:

With her usual acuity and perceptiveness, Diana West explains what is really going on in France's ongoing headscarf controversy...

And Googling only yields more and more:

The ever-perceptive Diana West...

The ever-insightful Diana West...

One of the most clear-sighted and brave columnists on the scene today, Diana West...

Diana West has some acute and perceptive insights on Sharia and Iraq...

The inestimable Diana West once again speaks truth to the dhimmis in power.

And so forth.

Her absence in the halls of Jihad Watch during this entire Iran Crisis therefore becomes highly curious. As we noted, Spencer has apparently chosen to take his fastidiously gingerly non-positional position on the question of whether or not the Iranian demonstrators are worth endowing with anything other than the eminently rational distrust that should be accorded any group of Muslims who do anything that seems good. Is he holding back on recommending to his readers “the inestimable” and “superb” and “ever-insightful” Diana West in this case because she, unlike him, is taking a bold stand in condemning the demonstrators, and he doesn’t want that point of view given any air time on his blog? Or have Spencer and West had a falling out that, like most important things that go on with our unofficial and unelected leadership in the Anti-Islam Movement, seems to go on behind the closed doors of its aristocratic Gentlemen
’s Club? If it is the latter, it would be most unfortunate for Spencer to translate some personal or moral or and/or ideological discord the two of them may have had into a stance that has the result of depriving his readership of, yes, in this case, the inestimable and superb Diana West.


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