Comments – an interview with the WashingtonPost and Boing Boing

January 26, 2006 at 9:06 pm | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

Great interview and discussion on the issues surrounding blog comments, over at the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. I listened to the podcast, but there is the transcript and video on the site also. The segment contains an interview and discussion with the Washington Post online editor and one of the folks over at BoingBoing!


Google policing

January 26, 2006 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

It seem that Google has the time and energy to do SOME policing of adsense. Specifically, it looks llike they are cracking down on people who encourage ad clicks.
So if they have an automated engine that looks for advertising abuses, why do they not have one that looks for hate speech, which also violates their TOS?

Another responsible act

January 19, 2006 at 11:46 pm | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

The Washington Post Blog is also turning off comments.

I’d really prefer moderated comments to this. But if you are too busy, or it takes too many resources, to moderate, then by all means shut down comments. Follow Totten’s and WaPo’s lead! It is better than letting some hateful idiots piggyback off of your hard work to spread their filth. It brings you down with them.

WaPo’s letter:

Comments Turned Off

As of 4:15 p.m. ET today, we have shut off comments on this blog indefinitely.

At its inception, the purpose of this blog was to open a dialogue about this site, the events of the day, the journalism of The Washington Post Company and other related issues. Among the things that we knew would be part of that discussion would be the news and opinion coming from the pages of The Washington Post and We knew a lot of that discussion would be critical in nature. And we were fine with that. Great journalism companies need feedback from readers to stay sharp.

But there are things that we said we would not allow, including personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech. Because a significant number of folks who have posted in this blog have refused to follow any of those relatively simple rules, we’ve decided not to allow comments for the time being. It’s a shame that it’s come to this. Transparency and reasoned debate are crucial parts of the Web culture, and it’s a disappointment to us that we have not been able to maintain a civil conversation, especially about issues that people feel strongly (and differently) about.

We’re not giving up on the concept of having a healthy public dialogue with our readers, but this experience shows that we need to think more carefully about how we do it. Any thoughtful feedback on that (or any other issue) is welcome, and you can send it to

Jim Brady
Executive Editor,

A pledge

January 19, 2006 at 10:01 pm | Posted in Taking Action | 2 Comments

I posed this question to Robert Spencer on JihadWatch, and now pose it to everyone operating a website that allows comments:

I pledge, unconditionally, that I am wholly against those who hold or practice hostility toward or discrimination against any religious, ethnic, or racial group, including Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists. I further pledge that I will promptly remove any and all comments and postings, of any sort, that promote such hostility and discrimination.

Please note the “unconditional” part of the statement. No self defense clause, no in some circumstances. Unconditional. This does not mean you cannot promote law enforcement action against groups of Muslims or Christians or whatever that are planning to or have broken the law. It does not mean that you cannot discuss the motivations of insurgents in Iraq or mullahs in Iran or rabbis in Israel. It means you cannot collectively hold a broad group responsible for the actions of a few. And you cannot discriminate against, or commit violence towards, a broad community in retribution for the actions of a few.

I encourage everyone to take this pledge, publicly post it, and contact your favorite internet companies and have them insist that participation in their revenue and lead gen programs is contingent on agreeing and enforcing this pledge.

The right way to deal with comments

January 19, 2006 at 6:27 pm | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

I recommended Michael Totten’s site a few days ago. Now, he has posted the following:

Comments are Closed

Due to a troll infestation, comments are closed until a subscription system is in place. I need to plan a trip to Iraq and have neither the time nor the inclination to babysit foul-mouthed psychotics. Thank you for understanding.

Finally, some responsible blogging! Well done, Mr. Totten!

Now if only his Pajamas Media colleages would follow suit…

Spencer’s reply, and mine

January 19, 2006 at 7:03 am | Posted in Hypocracy unmasked | Leave a comment

Apparently, my comments have made the front page of the JihadWatch – promoted from just the comments section. The comments are quite interesting, including assertions that I am someone known as “King Tolerance” (who was banned previously from JihadWatch, it would appear), “Yalto” (no, but as indicated on some earlier posts, I have corresponded with him), a Muslim (why relevant? but no), and perhaps most bizarrely “Ibrahim H” (anyone know what that refers to?). “Hugh”, in his infinite wisdom, said “Can’t decide if he is a devout Muslim in Christian drag, or just exceptionally stupid.” To which, Anne, of Wikipedia fame, said: “I’ll vote stupid.” Apparently, I hit a nerve. Name calling is about at the level of most JihadWatchers…

In fairness, here is Robert Spencer’s reply to my questions. The summary is he said yes, he agrees not to hate and discriminate against people, including Muslims, except when he feels it is necessary.

My dear “RickS”:

No need to email me. I have not read this whole thread but a reader alerted me to your questions.

Yes, Hugh is against Muslim immigration into Western lands. He opposes this because of the abundantly documented fact that violent jihadists operate within Western Muslim communities and that those communities have made little or no practical effort to root them out. Vague condemnations of “terrorism” that do nothing to address jihadist theological arguments not only do not cut it, but by their vagueness and obvious inadequacy raise suspicions as to their overall purpose.

As long as all that remains true, what natural right do Muslims have to settle into Western countries? Must Western governments cheerfully aid in the importation of large groups of people among whom are significant numbers who wish to remake their societies to the grave detriment of women and non-Muslims?

I personally am not in favor of ending Muslim immigration. But I believe that renunciation of any desire to implement Sharia and similar statements should be a condition of residency, and that the continuation of that residency should be contingent upon adherence to those statements. Just as former Nazis, when discovered, can be deported, no matter how long they have lived here.

This is a matter of defending universal human rights. You, on the other hand, decry it as “racist,” saying, “Robert Spencer said that ‘he bans’ the ‘racists’ who visit his site. Both quotes from him.”

Incomplete and inadequate quotes, indicative of the inadequacy of the whole article. As I have said many times here, comments are unmoderated. I never see 90% of them. Unless somebody brings a post to my attention, I probably will not delete it. If you wish not to be adversarial but to help in this work, send me notice of such posts, and I will delete them.

You continue: “Now, I know there are many among you who will say ‘Muslim’ is a not a race. Clearly true, but the quote was in the context of people who are bigoted against Muslims. (To put this in context, the definition of Anti-Semitism in the M-W dictionary is: ‘hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.’ I’ll assume good faith in your statement and assume you meant the same, just replacing the word ‘Jews’ with ‘Muslims’).”

I am one who will say that Islam is not a race. It isn’t. It is a religious ideology. People of any race can and do hold to it. I am not interested in keeping white jihadists here and deporting brown jihadists. That would be racism; it would also be asinine. To say, on the other hand, that I don’t want those who want to impose Sharia law, which violates norms of human rights that are otherwise universally accepted, to be here, and that as long as a larger group does nothing to stop such people from living and working within it, that larger group is under suspicion, that has nothing to do with racism or bigotry. Bigotry is an irrational hatred of a group. I don’t hate anyone; I simply oppose a murderous ideology of supremacism and oppression. Your analogy about the Jews founders on the fact that there is no global movement of Jews working to impose Jewish laws on the rest of us. Nazi Jew-hatred was essentially racial: the Nazis had all sorts of race laws to determine who was a Jew and who was not. That, sir, is racism.

If, on the other hand, the Muslim communities in the West today proclaimed their renunciation of Sharia now and forever, and acceptance of Western pluralism and peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims, and full genuine equality of rights for women, and began to manifest the truth of such statements by their actions, well, I would be the first to welcome them by the planeload into our nation. But to assume that all who arrive here have already done that when there is so much evidence to the contrary — that is just foolhardy. And it is in that context that I read Hugh’s statement that you quote: “as a group, the Moslems are a threat to me and those I love.” If you read his whole article (it is not on this site, but I’m sure you can find it), you will see that he explicitly says that all Muslims are not terrorists, etc. But the problem is, again, this business of distinguishing. I have said many times that it is virtually impossible to tell a moderate from a jihadist Muslim. Some have seized on that as some kind of statement of bigotry. I can’t see why it would be. It is simply a statement of fact, confirmed by the strange life paths of Maher Hawash, Fawaz Damra, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the Lackawanna Six, and so many others. Where is the firewall? If there is one, why is it so spectacularly ineffective on so many occasions?

So finally, I will not dismiss Hugh from his position here, because he is not a racist, and because I (and he also, I am sure) would happily make, as you bid us to, “an unconditional statement that [I am] against those who hold or practice ‘hostility toward or discrimination against any religious, ethnic, or racial group, including Muslims.'” Self-defense is not hostility or discrimination. Awareness of the facts of the case is not hostility or discrimination. Let the Muslims in America begin to expel and expose jihadists, working with law enforcement, and teaching pluralism and the equality of rights of all instead of the hatred of Jews and Christians that Freedom House discovered in so many mosques just last year, and I will welcome them happily. Let them stop opposing sensible measures like the monitoring of mosques for radiation, and I will applaud them.

You also say: “I also don’t think that what is in the Quran is any worse than what is found in the Bible (esp the Old Testament).” You are quite wrong in this. The Qur’an contains open-ended statements calling for Muslims to wage war against all unbelievers. The Old Testament does not. What’s more, traditional Islamic theology holds those statements to be valid for all time. No Jewish or Christian group teaches anything similar on the basis of the Old Testament.

And you add: “All Muslims that I know believe in the Quran literally, but also have a very strong grasp of the concept of context – that much of the Quran was day to day instruction at the time it was revealed, while other partss were eternal mandates. Almost all of the verses quoted by those who want to demonize it fall into the former. I do dispute the idea that the quoted constitute a majority of the verses, and I doubt the motives of people, like Spencer, who emphasize that without a single mention of the more positive, and common, elements of the Quran.”

If you had read my books you would know that I discuss all this at great length, particularly in “Onward Muslim Soldiers.” In that book I discuss the Qur’an’s relatively tolerant verses and how traditional Islamic theology holds them abrogated. I am not the originator of this perspective. I just report on it. Here is a Muslim explication of it:

But at this point I am not writing this to you, because I can tell that you are not disposed to think anything but ill of me. However, I am writing it for unbiased observers who may be reading this.

You say: “I also know, from first hand experience being in the Middle East, that Jihadist ideology is not widespread amongst Muslims.” That is, alas, changing.

You say: “But I strongly believe that people like Hugh, who would easily be counted as an Anti-Semite if he had written the stuff he publishes about Jews instead of Muslims, are bigots of the worst kind.”

If Hugh had written about Jews what he wrote about Muslims, he would not only be a bigot; he would be a liar. But the fact that what can be truthfully said about one group cannot be truthfully said about another does not make it untrue, or bigoted. Especially when the group in question exists as a group because of its shared ideology. If that ideology has abhorrent features, that is simply a matter of fact. It must be dealt with somehow, and not allowed to continue because of fear of “bigotry” or “racism.”

You say: “And I believe Robert Spencer is trying to have it both ways – operating what I do consider to be a thinly disguised hate site while providing what I also consider to be valuable news and information about a real threat.”

In this you are like those who decried anti-Nazi efforts as “hatred of Germans” or anti-Communist efforts as “hatred of Russians,” and you reveal yourself as just another one of those whom the ones who wish to destroy us find so useful.

Cordially Robert Spencer

Two comments. First, Spencer’s claim that he is not in favor of banning Muslim immigration is noteworthy and important. I congratulate him on that stance. Second, his “self defence” argument is, in his words, asinine. Hugh has made it abundantly clear in his articles that he views Muslims as a group as the problem. He says there are good Muslims and bad Muslims, but that as a whole they should be punished. Spencer has made no calls against this, and in fact echo’s many of the sentiments. My reply to this message is below:

My dear “JihadWatch” –

How, from two short comments, can you possibly claim to know “I can tell that you are not disposed to think anything but ill of me.”

And how dare you claim “you reveal yourself as just another one of those whom the ones who wish to destroy us find so useful”. I reveal myself only as a person with deep beliefs in the principles on which this country was founded – liberty, equality.

Disagreement with your methods, tactics, and hatemongering does not make me a friend, ally, or sympathizer with Jihadists.

Of course, Guilt by Association is the way JihadWatch works.

It is convenient that there is rarely (if ever) any mention of the positive contributions of, or positive viewpoints of Muslim-Americans, on your website. But let me give a few examples. Analyst Peter Bergen recently said, based on extensive interviews “the American Muslim community has rejected the Al-Qaeda philosophy almost entirely”. An editorial page writer from the WSJ has written “So does the U.S. have a “Muslim problem”? If the data above are accurate, they strongly suggest we do not; on the contrary, America’s Muslims tend to be role models both as Americans and as Muslims.” And CIA operative Gary Bernsten said in a recent interview that the support of Muslim Americans in the War on Terror has been invaluable. That from a person who has really been living and breathing the war.

Your attempts to paint Muslim Americans with a broad Jihadist brush is the real problem.

Could it have something to do with the fact that you even refuse to recognize Islam as a real religion? From one of your books, published I believe 2 years ago: “Islam itself is an incomplete, misleading, and often downright false revelation which, in many ways, directly contradicts what God has revealed through the prophets of the Old Testament and through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh”.

There is no disputing that there are problems. The Saudis, specifically, and their Wahhabist ideology, are the problems. And they must be dealt with forcefully. The Freedom House study you mention, for example, is entitled “Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques”. It reads in part: “Within worldwide Sunni Islam, followers of Wahhabism and other hardline or salafist… movements are a distinct minority. This is evident from the millions of Muslims who have chosen to make America their home and are upstanding, law abiding citizens and neighbors. In fact, it was just such concerned Muslims who first brought these publications to our attention. They decry the Wahhabi interpertation as being foreign to the toleration expressed in Islam and injunction against coercion in Religion. They… are grateful to the United States and other Western nations for granting them religious freedom.”

But you sir, and JihadWatch, have become part of the problem by making any serious conversation about these issues tainted by the evils of bigotry and hatred.

“If Hugh had written about Jews what he wrote about Muslims, he would not only be a bigot; he would be a liar.”

He, sir, is both. You defend him as a truth-teller. Intellectually dishonest presentation of selective facts and figures does not the truth make.

No reply from Robert Spencer has been made, as yet. Note, in particular, that there is no explanation of the JihadWatch refusal to acknowledge the positions of other recognized experts that I quote, about the positive impact and contributions of American Muslims. Not from a scholar who has spent 5 years writing about Islam – but from a professional, long time counter terrorism expert, a respected journalist, and a CIA operative who led the War on Terror. And, in fact, from the very report he quotes to rebut my arguments. His avoidance of the topic is interesting. But I them got promoted to a main article (for the 2nd time actually!). Just my initial response, with Spencer’s reply. No mention of my reply to Spencer’s. That article is also an entertaining and educational read. Let’s look at some of the comments, shall we?

Therefore, it is perfectly permissible to discriminate against those who hold death-cult type religious ideas, such as Mohammedans, but it is not permissible to discriminate against those of a darker skin hue than your own (or, indeed, discriminate using any of the attributes given to a person by virtue of the genetic mixing undertaken by his/her parents).

I believe my definition to be correct and it therefore follows that Mr. Fitzgerald cannot be a racist nor is it permissible to accuse him of being one.

I also endorse his idea about using Ralph-Nader-type consumer tactics against Mohammedans – something that I and my circle have been practising for some years. Stop trading with them and do not make them welcome in your communities on a social level.


RickS clearly has Jihad Watch on the brain, is working at the matter quite diligently (by no means only at this website, but at others as well, some of his own creation — oh, it’s quite an activity for him). Can’t decide if he is a devout Muslim in Christian drag, or just exceptionally stupid. You be the judge.

Anyway, he won’t be comin’ round our door to darken it again. At least not under that name. A foe’s by any other name is still the same damn foe.

Posted by Hugh. Does that mean I am banned? I can only hope…

You know, Rick, since you are the one who brought up the whole issue of race when we were all discussing religion, could it be that the racist you are looking for is with you right now?

Umm… no. Robert Spencer is the one who brought it up actually, as I mention in my original comment. In the St Pete Times, he said he bans “racists” who visit his site. His words…

RickS is probably a muslim – his reference to replacing “Jews” with “Muslims” to show that muslims are now subject to racist assault, falls in the category above.

Again that assertion! Why? What if I were?

To me what Hugh said is simply extreme. I can honestly say that I would rather risk terrorism than have a discriminatory policy toward a group based on their religion. That said I do think we need to allow things like monitoring mosques for radiation and implement measures that monitor closer but do not inflict harm on Muslims. However, there is no arguement that can convince me that we should allow a certain religion to be excluded entirely as Hugh proposes based on the fact that there are extremists within the religion who are not being exposed. Fortunately or unfortunately we are a free country and our founding fathers took a risk by making it so. So if you want to change to a police state contact your congressman.

Bravo, “Skeptic”. My point exactly. I have no problem with constitutional monitoring of anyone. Anyone at all. If you have the proper warrants, and it violates no law (as with the radiation monitoring) by all means.

By the way, in case you were curious, Rober Spencer and Hugh, both JihadWatch “officers”, responded to comments throughout the day. So the ones above, by not being removed even though they were seen, can be considered “approved”.

Questions for Robert Spencer

January 19, 2006 at 7:00 am | Posted in Hypocracy unmasked | Leave a comment

From Watching JihadWatch

Robert Spencer, on JihadWatch, again defended Hugh Fitzgerald (JW Board Member) and his assertions that we need:

“A complete ban on Muslim migration to the Western world (which needs to be undertaken in any case), and limits put on any contact between Muslims living in the West, who may already have obtained citizenship and — unless they are native-born converts — their countries of origin.”

“And the first way is to put a complete stop to Muslim immigration, and to find creative ways to deport all Muslim non-citizens. These two measures would be accompanied by the creation of an environment where the practice of Islam is made not easy but difficult.”

To “Understand how very useless is the concept of the “moderate” Muslim — because it is impossible to know when someone’s “moderation” is real or feigned”[5] and must take “specific moves to limit Muslim immigration. This can only take place if the Idols of the Age, about Diversity and Everyone Wants the Same Thing and Tolerance is Always the Only Conceivable Policy, are undermined, mocked, and shown up as the dangers they are.”

The defense? Well, he says, these were offered as an alternative to the “Nuke Mecca” suggestions by a certain Congressman. Oh! Well! That explains it! Ethnic cleansing and racial/religious discrimination is a better alternative! Of course. Why didn’t I think of that! That makes it all better! Here is my reply:

“Of course, there is always Hugh’s article “Islam for the Perplexed” – not written, as far as I can tell, as an “alternative” to Tancredo’s suggestion.”The second important goal is to stop all Moslem migration from Moslem lands, to the U.S., to Canada, to Western Europe. For obvious reasons, Moslems do not migrate to Eastern Europe and Russia. If possible, not only should migration be stopped, but life can be made more difficult, if not by the government, then by private individuals, so that Moslems will be discouraged from remaining. What do I mean? I mean that we, as private citizens, do not have to hire Moslems, we do not have to buy their goods, or make their lives, economically, more rewarding. It may seem mean, and many of you may be offended by it, and I am perfectly aware that there are nice Moslems, that there are those who simply ignore the main tenets of Islam. But as a group, the Moslems are a threat to me and those I love. Even the innocent ones, merely by being here, swell Moslem political power.”

In the St. Petersburg Times article that was recently linked to on JihadWatch, Robert Spencer said that “he bans” the “racists” who visit his site. Both quotes from him. Now, I know there are many among you who will say “Muslim” is a not a race. Clearly true, but the quote was in the context of people who are bigoted against Muslims. (To put this in context, the definition of Anti-Semitism in the M-W dictionary is: “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.” I’ll assume good faith in your statement and assume you meant the same, just replacing the word “Jews” with “Muslims”)

Seems that Hugh, “as a group, the Moslems are a threat to me and those I love”, qualifies.

Mr. Spencer: Will you a) clarify whether you also hold similar opinions to those above and b) ban Hugh from JihadWatch as one of the “racists” you claim to abhor?

Will you also make an unconditional statement that you are against those who hold or practice “hostility toward or discrimination against any religious, ethnic, or racial group, including Muslims”?

Thank you.”

I’ll keep you aware of any replies.

Free Jill Carroll

January 17, 2006 at 10:24 pm | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

See the Jill Carroll update at the Christian Science Monitor.

The kidnapping of journalists is just one of the travesties occuring in Iraq these days. I am not a naive peacenik, and I know we’re in a war there. But a 28 year old journalist is not a threat to anyone. And she is not some expendable pawn in a “great” game.

Everyone, pray for her release.

Google News

January 17, 2006 at 5:33 am | Posted in Hating Hate | Leave a comment

An article today on Guardian Unlimited discusses the inclusion of the British National party:

“As the leader of the British National party, Nick Griffin, appears on charges of inciting racial hatred after being secretly filmed by a BBC documentary team, the BNP’s news reports are being listed on Google News alongside those from organisations such as the BBC and Reuters.

But a spokeswoman for Google said today that its job was not to act as censor, and that its automated search services could not screen results.

The company acknowledges that a search may result in “link to sites that some people find objectionable, inappropriate, or offensive” but that it assumes no responsibility for the content of any site included in any search results.”

Thoughts? Should Google et al develop a sense of corporate responsibility? Or does anything go?

How to make an impact

January 17, 2006 at 2:36 am | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

I was just reading memeorandum and saw a pointer to the firedoglake blog.

The post talked about how they managed to bring down the sales of a book on Amazon by taking concerted action against it. Quoted in the post is an article from the WSJ’s Opinion Journal:

Amazon itself is another boon to conservatives, since the Internet giant betrays no ideological bias in selling books….”The rise of Amazon and the chain stores has been tremendously liberating for conservatives, because these stores are very much product-oriented businesses,” observes David Horowitz. “The independent bookstores are all controlled by leftists, and they’re totalitarians–they will not display conservative books, or if they do, they’ll hide them in the back.” Says Marji Ross: “We have experienced our books being buried or kept in the back room when a store manager or owner opposed their message.” She’s a big fan of Amazon and the chains.

Amazon’s Reader Reviews feature–where readers can post their opinions on books they’ve read and rate them–has helped diminish the authority of elite cultural guardians, too, by creating a truly democratic marketplace of ideas. “I don’t think there’s ever been a similar review medium–a really broad-based consumers’ guide for culture,” says 2blowhards blogger Michael. “I’ve read some stuff on Amazon that’s been as good as anything I’ve read in the real press.”

This is what we’re striving for – neutralize the elements of the Internet that promotes hate speech. It is possible, if we can build a large enough critical mass. It just requires us to speak up and make our opinions heard!

We can do this for books written by people like Robert Spencer and Serge Trifkovic. We can also write the companies directly and let them know the hate speech contained on the sites that they are funding. But we can only do it if we take action.

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