A Good Anti-Jihadist Is Hard To Find
David Wiegel has quite the interesting article over at The Washington Independent. It’s about Charles Johnson, who created Little Green Footballs, and a little tiff he is having with the lunatic fringe of the far right blogosphere.
I remember when I first started blogging, Little Green Footballs was famous for how right-wing it was. Charles Johnson was considered a nut. Lots of liberal bloggers who regularly linked to other conservative blogs would not link to LGF. The very name, Little Green Footballs, was a synonym for “vile.”
Now, Johnson is engaged in a war with former right-wing allies, over what he sees as a descent into racism, paranoia, and know-nothing ignorance. Well, yeah… but who ever thought it would be the owner of Little Green Footballs pointing this out?
Johnson’s beef is that the extremism of bloggers like Pam Geller (Atlas Shrugs) and Robert Spencer (Jihad Watch) is giving the important job of battling Islamic extremism a bad name:
Johnson supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008, but he spent some of the campaign attacking anti-Obama conspiracy theorists, and he rejected the idea designs were malicious, rather than merely naive. Johnson worries, in conversation and on his blog, that his old allies have been duped by far-right European political parties and have bought into wild attacks on the president that discredit their own causes.
“I don’t think there is an anti-jihadist movement anymore,” Johnson said. “It’s all a bunch of kooks. I’ve watch some people who I thought were reputable, and who I trusted, hook up with racists and Nazis. I see a lot of them promoting stories and causes that I think are completely nuts.”
Johnson’s disgust with the terrorism-focused conservative blogosphere has had a traumatic effect on a dogged and dogmatic community of bloggers and scholars. When Johnson began blogging about Islam and terrorism after 9/11, he inspired untold other supporters of an aggressive war on terror to start their own Websites, link up, and push back against “Dhimmitude” — organizations and foreign policy decision makers that were “soft” on terrorism. Now, some of his followers have started blogs that track Johnson’s “madness,” while a video that portrays Johnson as Adolf Hitler going mad in his bunker makes the rounds.
I have mixed feelings. I do think Johnson deserves credit for denouncing bloggers who associate with Nazis and racists (low standard, I know — this is the wingnutosphere we’re discussing). On the other hand, I think he kind of has no one to blame but himself — or not solely himself, but the demonization of an entire religion and all of its adherents after 9/11 was very much aided — and still is — by the obsession of people like Charles Johnson with just one source of extremism. Building an entire movement around “anti-jihadism” because of one horrendous terrorist attack that came from Islamic extremists — as opposed to taking a broader view of extremism as a societal dysfunction that can and does occur in any religion, ethnic grouping, or geographic location — was a recipe for craziness, and it seems to me if Johnson is so smart he should have known that.