After Cordoba Controversy, It’s Time To Look In The Mirror

Building off of Stephen’s post on Jon Stewart revisiting his past transgressions, I thought it would be worth exploring how my own previous writing and those of others across the political spectrum provided an opening for the pure ugliness of Newt Gingrich, Pam Geller, Michelle Bachmann and the like in the wake of the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

In 2006, we saw a similar explosion with the 2006 acquisition of several American ports by Dubai Ports World. Like the construction of Cordoba House, it was a normal occurrence that had the misfortune of coming after an explosive controversy in which the role of Islam in Western society was at question: the violent eruption in the wake of the Jyllands Posten Mohammed cartoons published in Denmark.

The controversy over Cordoba House has the misfortune of coming only months after a militant Islamist website posted that Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park, risked ending up “like Theo Van Gogh” after airing a very, very tame cartoon about the depiction of Mohammed which skewered the absurdity of the controversy more than anything to do with Islam itself.

Like the Danish cartoon controversy, the South Park controversy really irked people from across the political spectrum. Dan Savage, the uber-liberal gay rights activist from my hometown of Seattle, promoted “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” As much as I loved the concept when it first popped up, I have to admit that I’m rather ashamed of it now. Dan Savage may feel the same way, as the post is no longer available on The Stranger website where it was originally posted.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who I respect greatly and whose life story gives her every justification to hold her home religion in contempt, does exactly that. As much as I do respect her, her column on the South Park controversy retrospectively seems like an urging of precisely the reactionary fear mongering we’ve seen against Cordoba House:

Another idea is to do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.

I linked to Ali’s column when it was first written. If I had known that this mentality would have led to attacks on mosques throughout the country or modern day lynch mobs, I wouldn’t have done so. I’m not going to endorse such views in the future.

The same goes for this speech on Real Time by Bill Maher, which I cheered greatly when it aired but that I am now much more unsure of:

Muslims are a full 1% of the American population. Their beliefs range from secular traditionalism (observing Ramadan but infrequently attending mosque just as many Christians observe Easter and Christmas) to donning the nijab and living according to a rigid Koranic doctrine. In the last decade, we’ve seen a great level of intellectual output from Americans with Muslim backgrounds – Khaled Hosseini, Irshad Manji, the aforementioned Ali – and  unless we really want to completely alienate our Muslim fellow travellers, it would be best for all of us, including me, to rethink how we approach these issues.

In moderating his approach, Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs seems to be on the right path. A critic of jihadism during the Bush years, he broke from the right when he began to see people he respected joining up with Nazis and unapologetic racists. Having seen both sides, LGF is now a great staple in the building up of the pluralism necessary for a society in which we can all cohabitate. Let’s move away from the hate of the Pamela Gellers and into something more constructive.

  • 1389AD

    How ignorant and gullible you are!

    Islam is the single biggest enemy of freedom of religion. It is not even a religion at all, but an expansionist totalitarian political ideology that seeks to rid the world of everything but Islam. You and Charles Johnson are helping it do just that.

  • mjazz

    “he broke from the right when he began to see people he respected joining up with Nazis and unapologetic racists”
    The Right isn’t racists and Nazis.

  • lobo91

    How ironic that a site called “The Liberty Papers” would promote the expansion of an ideology that is so opposed to personal liberty…

  • doriangrey

    Michael O. Powell, do you also collect your flatulence in a wine glass and savor it’s baroque with reverence? Did your parent’s deprive you of oxygen and food as a child? Is that why you so obviously suffer such a profound degree of cerebral degradation.

  • possum

    At least at Little Green Footballs you can say what you believe in and the forum is open to new ideas.

    Places like you say something that is not part of the echo chamber and you get “Gang Raped”

  • Bunk Ten

    The only thing I agree with in your post is the Thomas Paine quote in the header, and it’s a non sequitur as far as your commentary goes.

  • Michael O. Powell

    doriangrey –

    Yes, yes and yes. It looks like you got me pinned down. Give yourself a pat.

  • doriangrey

    Michael O. Powell, well your utter lack of intellectual honesty and failure to grasp even the most basic fundamental precept of logic did kind of give you away.

    But hey on the other hand you just keep believing that the end will eventually justify the means and by god one day your actions will be justified.

    The single greatest advantage of having moral and ethical values based on relevant issues is that you never have to wonder where your moral or ethical values are actually valid.

  • possum

    Hey doriangrey, you think of all that yourself or did you cut and paste it frome somewhere else. I think Speranza is feeding you talking points.

  • possum

    “including a possum tantrum”

    You see it as that Bunk?

    I see it as an expression of my right to freedom of speech on a blog that the Blogmocracy decided to invade.

    I thank for the link to here.

  • 1389AD

    Possum, this isn’t about you. It’s about a tranzi-prog blogger who uses the cover of being pro-freedom in order to empower those who are working to use our system as a weapon to take our freedoms away from us.

  • possum

    Possum, this isn’t about you. It’s about a tranzi-prog blogger who uses the cover of being pro-freedom in order to empower those who are working to use our system as a weapon to take our freedoms away from us.

    You talking about my best buddy Chuck?

    Hey I would rather be in a bar getting drunk with Charles Foster Johnson than being on a blog with some of the really nasty two faced snakes you have over at

  • doriangrey

    possum, na, I didnt think that up myself, I copied it off the toilet paper in your bathroom. Opp’s sorry that wasn’t your toilet paper, that was your take out menu from yesterdays lunch special.

    I was one of the few people on your side, and still am, but make no mistake about it dude, fuck with me and I will give it back in spades.

  • Michael O. Powell

    To both sides of this little debate –

    Please battle it out elsewhere before we we end up having to police this thread. I don’t mind harsh critiques of what I wrote but I don’t want this place stunk up with personal beefs.

  • 1389AD

    Possum, please get a grip. I did not pick on you, and you know I didn’t.

  • possum

    *laughing* when the number of rapists outnumbers the anti rapists you get … well…


  • possum

    “I was one of the few people on your side, and still am, but make no mistake about it dude, fuck with me and I will give it back in spades.”

    I have never been fucked by a spade.

  • Grederick Michael

    What’s up with all the hostile comments? Michael, your piece was thoughtful. I can’t say I agree with every word. It had enough complexity to, I guess, confuse some folks. The issues aren’t all easy and looking in the mirror is often the right way to learn.

  • John Dodd

    Charles Johnson? Really? The guy a few years ago was calling Islam the “religion of peace” always in quotes and coined ROPma for religion of peace my ass. Now he’s done a complete 180. Why? If you think the man is principled and tolerant try disagreeing with him and pointing out his hypocrisy. Not to mention of his accusations of “outing” members of his site with their true names rather than pseudonyms.

  • possum

    “It just makes us look bad.” 1389AD you all were bad!

    Just because I have a different opinion of things and anm a drunk then certaimn people demanded I was banned.

    I left voluntarily. I know when I am not wanted.

    Now I am free to speak my mind.

  • possum

    “Relax possum, no hard feelings dude. It was a frank exchange of opinions, nothing more, nothing less.”

    No, you reading this right? Cross post it…

    posts of mine were thrown around, selective posts where I and Rodan and Eliana were having a real grown up discussion.

    The Jewish mafia used my posts against me yet again.

    That is what pissed me off.

  • 1389AD

    I have been blogging about Charles Johnson’s perfidy for a long time.

    We aren’t talking about some nuanced rethinking of past views here; we’re talking about somebody who viciously turned on everybody who made him what he once was.

  • Rick Martinez

    I miss being at Little Green Footballs and regret being banned for trolling.

  • Bunk Ten

    Michael O.–
    Enjoy the traffic. It’ll be gone tomorrow.

  • Bunk Ten

    Here come the LGF trolls!

  • Rick Martinez

    Michael O. Powell:

    Your Troll ourbreak came from a stalker hate blog. They have been stalking Charles Johnson for a couple years. Their blog is an insane asylum, you can find everything from advocating genocide against Muslims to promoting civil war.

    Be thankful that they are a temporary problem, you could be cursed like Johnson and have these jackals around 24/7

  • possum

    “Possum lobbed a hand grenade into a crowd of pro-Israeli netizens and then he bitches when a fragment blew back on him. Actions has consequences”

    No I died, I took the full force of the blast.

    I am no longer in the fight, the Jews are on their own over there now.

  • Calo

    Possum – STOP IT!

  • Dr. Bunson Honeydew

    Did you know that if you rearrange thhe letters in “Sarah Palin”, you get “Sharia Plan”? Why won’t she address allegations that she is secretly an agent of fundamentalist Islamists?

  • mfhorn


    Please ignore some of the idiots who were slamming your opinions.

    As far as the defenders of UpChuck Johnson, the man has lost his marbles. LGF is a joke of a site now, and isn’t worth the bandwidth it takes to download a page.

  • Calo
  • possum

    Possum – STOP IT!

    Comment by Calo — August 22, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

    No way!!!! I am having fun!

    Exposing bigots and bigotry and taking a sideways poke at Jews who gang raped me.

  • 1389AD
  • possum

    1389AD, So you telling us you are drunk and you may be back to post something worth reading?

    I have bookmarked you. I look forward to your inspiratinal post!

  • Locker

    Great article and it’s inspiring to see a person objectively review the cause and effect of their actions and make an informed correction.

    Much respect and keep your head up, the haters are just afraid of you.

  • jummy

    one can’t “moderate” something they are not in control of.

    evidence that charles at lgf has moderated his views would constitute some level of acknowledgment of his past views; something similar to, “i used to believe this thing, but now, after considering x, y and z, i believe the opposite”. charles would rather have it that he be permitted to pretend that he was never the lead figure in the anti-muslim hate movement while assailing old internet buddies in the manner of eternal enemies.

    in the course of reading charles’ diatribes about the cordoba project founder’s uprightness and sincerity, i find it hard to believe that no one’s thought to mention that charles once described rauf as an “islamic supremacist” who sought to “bring sharia law to britain.” or that charles actively discouraged attendance at the Free Muslems Against Terror rally by circulating smears of nefarious associations about it’s organizer, kamal nawash. when he claims that everything about the “wingnut” interpretation of “cordoba” as a symbol of islamic conquest of spain, i can’t believe that no one pipes up to note that “a href=””>charles basically invented the “al andalusia,” “cordoba means conquest” narrative.

    but then i realize that charles is never bedeviled with such reminders because he bans users from his own site who link back to his own archives before deleting their comments. and charles rarely strays from his fortress.

    what’s going on isn’t a “moderation” of his views of muslems, but a shift in context. a year or two ago charles hated two things with everything he had: the external enemies of israel and the domestic enemies of the standing u.s. president.

    do you see what’s changed? it isn’t charles or his website, which still resembles “a sort of controlled neuremburg rally.” the world just shifted around charles’ little snowglobe of hate.

  • Michael O. Powell

    Thanks, Locker. =D

    As for the “haters,” it seems most of them are Charles Johnson anti-groupies who follow around wherever he is mentioned. I’m worried about him more than myself on this one.

  • jummy

    At least at Little Green Footballs you can say what you believe in and the forum is open to new ideas.
    Comment by possum — August 22, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

    terrifically open exchanges of vast spectra of viewpoints like this:

    palin outs self as antisemite
    posted by charles

    sarah palin may have refused to date to condemn the holocaust, but she has endorsed the breakfast of nazis: (link to weinerschnitzel recipe featured in a user post at

    great catch, charles. not that we needed this, but one more brick in the wall she will eventually have to stand against.

    wow. just, … wow. i knew she was a creationist/birther/child-molesting fundamentalist shape-shifter from the kodan armada, but an anti-semite? the gop has really gone off the rails.

    nail, meet head. are there any sane republicans left? i want to believe there are – a nation cannot survive with only one viable party. but i fear there are not. btw, charles, i love the new technical feature. works great!

    cato the elder
    someone should cut this bitch’s face.

    kilgore trout
    over at this other site, they have nothing to say about palin’s antisemitic recipes, but they do have two posts dripping with praise for some other thing she did. it’s almost like they condone her blatant antisemitism. scratch that: i know that they condone it. plus, i just googled “charles mason” at open secrets and, wouldn’t ya know it? he donated to republicans.

    wow, …just wow, kilgore. i’ll make that the next post with a parenthetical h/t credit for you at the end.

    praise be upon charles!

    hypothetical dissenter
    charles, i agree with you 100% about 90% of the time, but is a weinerschitzel recipe really enough to call someone an antisemite?

    i smell troll meat marinated and ready to be cooked!

    i hope this (drops name of obscure microbrew) goes good with troll. i’ll wheel out the grill!

    excuse me if i misread your post, but did you really come in here and call charles a liar?

    RE: hypothetical dissenter
    bye now!

    cato the elder
    play with fire and get burned.

    hmmm-hmm. crispy troll pas thai.

    hypothetical dissenter, btw, had ninety sleeper accounts and my troll-sniffing algorithm positively identified him as pat buchannan.

    kilgore trout
    i knew it!!

    cato the elder
    good work, charles. they never learn, do they?

    thanks charles for keeping this place nut-free. sometimes i think it’s the last sane place on earth and i don’t know what i’d do without it.

  • Possum

    “I was one of the few people on your side, and still am, but make no mistake about it dude, fuck with me and I will give it back in spades.

    Comment by doriangrey — August 22, 2010 @ 8:28 pm”

    Oh, and I suppose THIS post was not you? Is this being on someone’s side?
    27 | August 21, 2010 15:06
    but I did go in and smack possum on the head a good one….”

    yeah, glad to have you on my team Dorian.

  • Bermanz

    Johnson and crew are nothing more than hypocrites. Aside from the 180 degree swing into leftist political correctness, they now trumpet their own version of hate.
    To read the comments there you would think that every person who does not either worship Obama or see Islam as the salvation of mankind is a “nazi”.
    They are obsessed with the demonization of anyone who does not follow their mantra. At LGF, the WTC mosque Imam is a saintly combination of Thomas Jefferson, Ghandi, and Mother Theresa, while anyone who is concerned about that mosque’s location is an evil bigot who deserves to be stripped of American citizenship.
    They don’t see their hate. They actually believe they are liberal in values, when what they now espouse is no different than the Islamist hate that Johnson used to expose, and now finds comeraderie with.

  • Obdicut

    Michael, I’m sorry posting this has led to the stalkers having one of their uber-bizarre meltdowns in the thread.

    It’s a well-reasoned piece. I too, as an atheist who is against extremist religion of all forms, including Islam, supported “Draw Mohammed Day”, and now, seeing the level that the anti-Muslim bigotry has risen to in the US, feel embarrassed that I didn’t see this coming.

    I would like to also note that Charles recently pointed out an old post of his, back in the ‘old days’ on LGF where it was definitely still mainly focused on being anti-Jihad, where he was very disturbed by some of those leading the anti-Jihad fight. Even though the commenters at that time mainly chose to ignore it, he was still, back then, warning that there were bigots and crazy people involved in the anti-Jihad campaign– for whom it wasn’t anti-Jihad, but rather anti-Muslim.

    I wasn’t a member of LGF back then. I only became one after the election, when Charles really started getting disgusted with the insanity breaking out on the right-wing, but the narrative he presents– someone shocked by 9/11, shocked by the spread and ferocity of Islamic extremism, casting about for sources and ideas in combating it, and then realizing that many of those sources and ideas have little to do with combating Islamic extremism and everything to do with combating everyone outside a narrow scope of white protestants– rings true for me.

    Islamic extremism is still a potent and deadly force in the world, but the main thing that this ‘controversy’ over the mosque has taught us is that those who have been, po-faced, claiming they just want moderate Muslims to speak up are utter liars. They do not even believe in the concept of moderate Muslims. They are anti-Muslim, and, in so being, are anti-American; thank god for the Constitution.

  • hash2

    OMG — I’m ROFL!
    The Blog Mockery folks are over here in force, like lemmings!

    The community center and mosque project is a local issue, nothing more. They have local approval to proceed.

    That should be the end of that. That this has become a national outrage is unbelievable.

  • hash2

    Also, I want to agree 100% with Obdicut’s assessment. Charles Johnson didn’t change. The readers were apparently paying zero attention to what he wrote, focused as they were on their own versions.

  • Windupbird

    Bummer that the kiddies decided to spam the comments, but this is a good post :)

  • Possum

    “”Michael, I’m sorry posting this has led to the stalkers having one of their uber-bizarre meltdowns in the thread.””

    Kiss ass!

  • John Dodd

    >>>Also, I want to agree 100% with Obdicut’s assessment. Charles Johnson didn’t change. The readers were apparently paying zero attention to what he wrote, focused as they were on their own versions.>>>

    Hash2 search for “ropma” on lgf and see some of Charles’ posts and tell me how that coincides with your opinion. There’s more as well, which I’m sure Charles has cleansed some of his archives.

  • Obdicut

    I think Charles’s opinions on Islam in general did change, in fact, as he realized how much anti-Muslim propaganda was bullshit, and as he realized how many of those in the anti-Islam camp were rather troubled.

    So what? Radical Islam does exist, and is a threat. All of the countries in the Middle East are plagued with radical Islam. That part hasn’t changed, and Charles was right to point it out.

    I’m really not getting how changing as he learned more is supposed to expose Charles as a bad guy.

  • Michael O. Powell

    Obdicut – If one’s ideology is consistently that change is bad, personal growth is a sign of a character flaw.

  • Lalaleader

    “Obdicut – If one’s ideology is consistently that change is bad, personal growth is a sign of a character flaw.”

    Huh? Changing one’s mind based on new facts is one thing, but changing 180 degrees on most things you supposedly believed in, is at best suspect.

    It’s also very hypocritical and also suspect to hate those that held your supposedly previously held beliefs and principles. I personally think Charles Johnson is crazy or has been bought off. If you followed his blog from 2002, “sudden enlightenment” doesn’t explain his transformation. He’s definitely still full of hate.

  • Obdicut

    Anyway, Michael, I’ve bookmarked this site now. I am not a big fan of states-rights libertarianism, but I am a big fan of well-thought out arguments presented in a civil manner.

  • JoePa

    Islam –“Religion of peace, my ass [ROPMA]” Charles Johnson, Little Green Footballs.

  • jummy


    charles was a source for anti-muslem bigotry.

    go back to those old posts: his sources were not wild anti-muslem sites. they were the new york times, ap, afp, washington post, etcetera, from who’s articles he created paranoid anti-muslem narratives.

    charles created the “cordoba means conquest” meme back in 2006. the first time charles mentioned abdel faisal rauf was back in 2007 when he was calling him an “islamic supremacist”. charles created jihad watch.

    charles even invented some of the stupidest anti-obama memes. he was the one who tied obama to farrakahn via a collage on a pamphlet cover. he stalked the obama for america site and “proved” that the obama camp was full of communists and antisemites. he developed the “obama is a seekret muslem” meme. here’s a sample:

    NY Times Admits Obama’s Muslim Birth
    After relentlessly labeling anyone who brings up the issue of Barack Obama’s Muslim origins as a bigot, a racist, or a lunatic, suddenly this morning the New York Times publishes an op-ed that actually admits Obama was born a Muslim—and that it might cause serious problems in an Obama presidency: President Apostate?

    I raised this issue back on February 11, just for the record.

    charles hasn’t recanted. i know it’s a popular myth within the cult that he has acknowledged his past views and come to his new views through a rigid socratic process, but it’s not true. on global warming? sure. but on the obama derangement syndrome? he fleated two contradictory dodges in the same – i don’t know what you’d call it – “me ex-culpa”: 1) the wingnut blogs manipulated me (a lie, considering that his sources for his wingnuttery were the nytimes and his own scoops), 2)i performed a valuable service because all angles need to be covered when examining a candidate for office.

    as far as charles’ stuff about how mosques should be treated as criminal enterprises which should be forced to submit to random inspections by the feds and his hectoring of the bush administration for believing the “myth of the moderate muslem”, he has never revisited these beliefs in any reasoned fashion. he just woke one morning and declared in day zero for the anti-jihad movement he was the ring-leader of the night before.

    it’s such that i have to assume extreme cynicism of the liberals who joined the site after his “parting ways” post. i still have to believe this is true of iceweasel, who seems to have fallen off now that it’s apparent that no one on the left of the blog-o-sphere wants charles playing in their sandbox. you, i wonder if you’re suffering from a huge blind spot, because the stuff you say about charles having adjusted his views in a reasonable fashion and in accordance with previously unknown facts is simply not true. it didn’t happen.

  • jummy

    michael o. powell, who’s ideology is that “change is bad”?

    “a nation which has no capacity to change has no capacity to preserve itself.” e. burke

    i figured i’d help you out with the actual conservative ethos rather than the lefty vandalism of it.

  • Obdicut


    I think that Charles did indeed go off the deep end on Obama, in a number of ways. Whether this was through bad information, his own logic, or what have you is besides the point. If I had been a member at that time, I certainly would have argued those points– as I would have argued against the AGW points, back when he was mistaken on that, as well.

    So what? What is your actual point? My point was that you can show, even back in the old days, that he was cautioning people about the racists and bigots that were getting involved with the anti-Jihad campaign.

    I also don’t think labels like ‘liberal’ are all that useful; can you explain what ‘cynical’ motive I’d have for joining LGF, please?

  • Danielle W

    I am at a loss for words Michael. I read the article last night. Though I did not agree 100%, I was very relieved to see a blogger tackle such a controversial topic in such a rational and civil manner. To come back & see you being attacked like this in the comments section is quite shocking! If this is what happens to someone just for mentioning that the anti-Muslim bigotry is getting out of control, there is little hope for this country. It saddens me to watch my nation descend into such lunacy.

  • Danielle W

    Michael I really appreciate you taking the time to blog on this subject. Holding your position is not easy at a time when Americans on both the Right and the Left are convinced there is some sinister Muslim Mafia running the US, and 18% of the populace truly believes Obama is some Muslim Manchurian candidate(SMH!). It takes courage to speak moderately in such a climate & I respect you for it.

  • jummy

    obdicut, a point you have to consider is, much as would the case be with a dissenting conservative commenter at lgf today, you would not have been allowed to register an argument.

    you would be flamed and then banned, and then charles would claim to know that you were a “sleeper” from dkos with ten aliases.

    i literally have to run out the door at this very second. if you’re still interested 8 hours from now, i’ll be back.

  • Obdicut

    Jummy, if all you have is untestable hypotheticals, there’s not a lot of point in listening to you.

    There are plenty of dissenting opinions at LGF that have not been banned. I have never seen anyone banned for anything other that severe, severe, severe misbehavior. One poster, for example, routinely and constantly posted AGW denial, for months on end. He wasn’t banned for that, even though his posts were basically lies, and also ‘dissenting’ in the extreme.

    He was banned, months and months later, for severely savage personal attacks. But not for dissenting opinions. Those he was allowed to post.

    So, given that I factually know that you’re wrong, and your only point appears to be one that wouldn’t be testable, I don’t really see any reason to give you one whit of credibility.

  • Michael O. Powell

    Obdicut – Thanks for bookmarking TLP.

    I would hesitate to label TLP as “state’s rights libertarian,” however. We had a big debate between I and Brad Warbiany on the issue. I contended that individual rights are primary and that “state’s rights” is a loaded term associated with Southern segregationists.

    I think you’ll enjoy it. Warbiany, the curator, is brilliant and recently did a pretty good overview of progressive, conservative and libertarian ideologies that seemed fairly fitting. I think you’ll enjoy it here.

  • elbruce

    here’s a sample:

    NY Times Admits Obama’s Muslim Birth
    After relentlessly labeling anyone who brings up the issue of Barack Obama’s Muslim origins as a bigot, a racist, or a lunatic, suddenly this morning the New York Times publishes an op-ed that actually admits Obama was born a Muslim—and that it might cause serious problems in an Obama presidency: President Apostate?

    After the NYT quote, he goes on to say:

    “I predict that even if the Islamic world does see Obama as an apostate, if he’s elected president it will not be an issue.

    Islamic prohibitions against apostasy are remarkably flexible when it comes to powerful people, and the sense of power Obama’s election would give the Islamic world would vastly outweigh the apostasy factor.”

  • Bermanz

    Johnson didn’t wake up one day and say “you know, all that stuff about Islam was just BS”. What happened was he had a personal falling out with a few bloggers and has chosen the route of being against anything they are for. In his vernacular “he’s gone off the rails”.
    He does this with out any real rationale insofar as it concerns Islam and Islamic imperialism. His route is the same as any hate blog. Search out some obscure bit on the internet to bolster your views. But he ignores the daily reality of the news emanating from the muslim world.
    What is truly distasteful is the way he has denigrated great thinkers he openly admired, like Victor Davis Hanson, and great persons like Ayan Hirsi Ali and Wafa Sultan who speak truth to power about Islam. Only Johnson finds that if he agrees with anything they say he might actually agree with his personal jihad against a few ex friends of his.
    You know why he has been unable to write a polemic on the virtues of Islam and how he was wrong for all those years? Because he can’t do it with any measure of truthfulness that could not be attacked with the facts. Not that he would allow that on his blog.
    It’s all so hypocritical.

  • John Dodd

    Is Obdicut related to Baghdad Bob? Excellent summaries of just some of Charles Johnson’s hypocrisy and sudden new beliefs (sudden Jihadism?). Yet even though this guy has only been on lgf since Obama’s election he’s “sure you’re wrong” and enjoys all the dissenting opinion on lgf (!).

  • Akston

    Great post Michael. As I hear more about the Islamic bogeyman, I can’t help but note that if we change the term “Islamic jihad” to “communist threat” we’re right back in the 50’s listening to Tail-gunner Joe.

    It’s easy to understand your original reaction. The crime committed by the 9/11 terrorists is obviously horrific and inexcusable. Generalizing their action out to include 24% of the world’s population is not as horrific, and easier to excuse. It’s more simple bigotry than evil. And some folks find bigotry less supportable over time than others.

    I respect your insight.

  • Ted

    What kind of idiot seriously argues that the GZ mosque isn’t a provocation? Just a cursory glance at islamic history and jihad ideology puts it all in context, but at lgf it’s all smears and straw-man BS. I can’t explain lgf, other than a case of a creep leading the insane.

  • jummy

    okay, i’m back. i have to note that i didn’t find obdicut’s immediate reply inviting. it suggested obdurateness. hopefully i’m wrong about that.

    in any case, i don’t think it’s a fair characterization of my comments here or elsewhere to say that “all (i) have are untestable hypotheticals,” when i entered the thread with testable arguments backed up by links to johnson’s statements.

    on a sidenote, elbruce’s comment perplexed me. i suppose he believed he found something mitigating in the rest of charles’ claim that the nyt had finally come to agreement with him that obama is a “seekrit muslem”. but the passage he quoted continues on to claim that obama, as a seekrit muslem, would not have to fear the same reprisals as other apostates supposedly must under islamic law, because islamic radicals would understand the strategic necessity of his apostasy. in other words, the part elbruce added reveals charles to be more paranoid and bigoted, not less. and it certainly doesn’t undermine the demonstrated fact that charles full-throatedly promoted the notion that obama is a “seekrit muslem.”

    you asked me what cynical motives a liberal might have had for joining lgf. i’m not sure when you joined. just after the election? just after the inauguration? just prior? during the creationism flap or before that, during the vlamms bellang thing? at any point in that timeline, you must have come to lgf from somewhere and known something about lgf. perhaps not every ugly thing charles had said about liberals as a class or muslems as a class, but lgf was rather famous as a “nazi-esque hate-site” within the left of the blog-o-sphere. thus, the portrayal of charles as a man of moral and epistemic consistency is implausible. either you don’t know lgf or charles and you’ve never been there or you know something of charles and lgf and you forgive him of his past as a raving, paranoid mccarthyite bigot based on an unprincipled exception.

    there is one third explanation: you enter the lgf community with designs. at this point, it’s clear that any effort to “concern troll” lgf into a left-o-sphere asset would have been moot in light of charles’ willingness to become one, but that might have been a plausible motive 12 months ago. not the only one; one might assume any kind of trolling. in any case, i’m certain i don’t need to explain this further as you are familiar with the current climate at lgf in which dissenters are immediately flamed with a variety of pejoratives for “troll” such as “concern troll,” “sleeper,” etc., by both the community and charles himself.

    i once witnessed a commenter enter an agw thread and argue an anti-agw position without uttering so much as a four-letter word, even as his opponents assailed him with empty ad hominem (“wingnut” and the like. the prohibition against incivility only runs one way at lgf, you see). he proceeded at length, providing sources which had not been previously addressed at lgf, and he refrained from impugning his opponents’ motives. eventually, charles entered the thread and banned him because, in his words, he had grown tired of reading his comments.

    this was not the only case i have witnessed which undercuts the popular cult myth that “no one ever got banned who war’nt askin’ fer it”. charles once threatened to ban mandymanners because she posted a video of supertramp’s “goodbye stranger” because he was ready to interpret anything from her, the last surviving conservative at lgf, as a “flounce”. and, really, this is not new behavior. charles was too ready to ban for the crime of heterodoxy when he was a raving, paranoid, mccarthyite bigot as well.

    on this, i must insist that you respect the fact that i have years more history at lgf than you. i was there during the period in which i staged my “untestable hypothetical”. i know you would have been banned for contradicting the party line. as i was.

    let me give you some background. i am not, nor have i ever been part of the blogmocracy crowd. unlike charles, i was never a birther or a “seekrit muslem” guy. unlike charles, i’ve never been an anti-immigration lunatic. i strongly dislike sarah palin and i am an atheist. it’s also important to keep in mind that i, like charles, was a mccain supporter and decidedly not a paleo-libertarian. and yet i was, as i remain to be today, a conservative back when charles ran a sometimes troubling but generally worthwhile blog. despite charles’ more extreme professions, i was able to tolerate him for his posts about the war on terror and the perfidy of the left. my posting account was -=@$$=-.

    during the time that charles was promoting the inductive fallacy that, because stormfront had a ron paul banner on their site, ron paul was a “seekrit neo-nazi”, i wrote a post which cut and pasted anti-jihad rhetoric from stormfront. the quotes i used could have easily been written by charles at the time. you see, while charles was still best buds with pam geller and robert spenser, i had already been aware that there was something about the direction of the anti-jihad movement which reeked of racial nationalism, and i was taking flack for saying so.

    i suppose if i wanted to remain part of the open, reasoned discourse at lgf, which values a vast array of opposing viewpoints, i should have waited a couple years. posting it when i did, in the vast unacknowledged period that was before obama’s inauguration, charles banned me – without a word. not even a “bye now!”

    that’s one of the things you have to consider when you try to float the claim that you’ve never seen someone be banned for simple disagreement. you may just have never seen it. because charles doesn’t have to show you.

    all of this leaves aside the serious question of whether a blog-owner who bans commenters for snarkiness or impolite disagreement isn’t violating the de facto ethical rules of the blog-o-sphere. for a blog which hates rand paul-style paleo-libertarianism so deeply, charles and his community do love the trope, “this is charles’ dime and he reserves the right to refuse service…”

    in any case, when i said i was taking flack for opposing robert spenser, it was at other sites, because i knew that saying so at lgf would mean the end of my user account there. back when charles never wrote the word “racism” without enclosing it in sneer-quotes, even the slightest suggestion that there may be a racist component to any part of anti-jihadism would get you banned. calls to “glass mecca” might, on occasion, cause charles to come into the thread to say “calm down. that kind of talk might make us look bad.” then, like today, charles pruned his commenting community with an intervening hand unequaled in the blog-o-sphere. he didn’t get around to banning iron fist until 2009. the reason is simple: he didn’t find anything wrong with it. then as it is now, charles has the commenting community he chose.

    so, keep that in mind. keep in mind that, when charles laments that the one cool thing about bush was that he didn’t pander to anti-muslem bigotry, in the actual time that bush was in office, charles was saying that the one terrible thing about bush was that he didn’t pander to anti-muslem bigotry. keep in mind that when he talks about how deranged and paranoid the crescent-shaped missile defense logo stuff was, he created the story that a crescent shaped flight 93 memorial was a conspiracy to erect an “islamist shrine”. keep in mind when charles talks about the bigotry of the arizona law, that he once argued that the u.s.-mexican border should be treated like the israel-gaza border.

    or, as an alternative, you can try this. the next time you discover that a republican or conservative or the like has, in his or her past, some kind of peccadillo, and you’re tempted to bring it to the fore, blow it out of proportion and use it to frame them as an eternal monster who should never be let within a mile of respectable discourse, consider that the unprincipled exception you make for charles johnson makes a hypocrite of you.

  • Obdicut


    The untested hypothetical is that if I had engaged Charles back in the day, I would have been banned. It is possibly true. It is untestable. Therefore, it’s an untestable hypothesis.

    What you are demonstrably wrong about is that people with dissenting opinions are banned. Given that I’ve seen people keep up ‘dissenting opinions’ for months on end, often to tiresome lengths– such as AGW denial– I am absolutely certain you are wrong. You don’t appear to care that you are wrong about this, or that you said something that’s been disproved. I have no particular reason to believe your story about your banning, when you’re saying something that I know to be false. One can indeed express dissenting opinions at LGF without being banned.

    You haven’t actually provided any actual reason why I’d cynically join LGF, except some bizarre attempt to turn it to the left. So what? What would that achieve?

    Your final point appears to be another hypothetical; if I ever should use past behavior of someone else against them, I have to be a hypocrite because I’m giving Charles a ‘pass’.

    The thing is, I’m not. I don’t approve of a lot of previous posts on LGF. I think he got swayed by bad information when he shouldn’t, and I think he supported things he shouldn’t have.

    I also think that I shouldn’t have, in the past, held a lot of views that I did, and that I should have known better. Hell, I believed the ACORN tapes when they first came out; I should have known better. I also believed pseudo-science on global warming before I learned more about it, I also flirting with Randian beliefs for a thankfully short while. I was a relatively absolute pacificst for a period of time, too, a position that I know find foolish and eye-rollingly unpragmatic.

    Since I don’t have a website that I make posts on, none of this is known or obvious to people. For Charles, all of his past mistaken views are there for anyone to see and use against him. Not so for you or I; and yet you’re content to use this past as ammunition against him, safe from anything of the sort yourself. I don’t find that useful way to behave. Furthermore, given that I am myself someone who now holds views very different from ones that I expressed in the past without having made any sort of public apology or acknowledgement, I’m sure that I deserve your contempt just as much as Charles does– which raises the question of why on earth you’re trying to convince me of whatever it is you’re trying to convince me of.

    Finally, if you can provide an example of a time I’ve said someone should never be allowed near respectable discourse after they’ve changed, feel free. The closest I can think is that I do not believe in the sincerity of Bob Barr, or at least do not believe he was the best choice of a candidate for the Libertarian party. But even that is rather far from saying he’s an eternal monster.

    So again, what we have is you engaging in a hypothetical situation to make your point. Your point appears to be that you think Charles was bad for posting some of the stuff that he did. I think some of the stuff that Charles posted was definitely bad. I think, as I said last thread, I was stupid to support Draw Mohammed Day. I think a lot of my past nose-tweaking of religion in general was stupid.

    But that doesn’t mean that any of my current stances or arguments are actually hypocritical.

    And again: You still appear to have no real point you’re attempting to make, since all you have is a hypothetical scenario where I’m a bad, hypocritical person. I think you might ask yourself whether emotion is driving your posts a lot more than rationality is.

  • Michael O. Powell

    “I think a lot of my past nose-tweaking of religion in general was stupid.

    But that doesn’t mean that any of my current stances or arguments are actually hypocritical.”

    It is if one goes by the ideology that what one may see as personal growth indicates some sort of personal character flaw, which is pretty widely held in all political corners, and that change is weakness. Despite the Edmund Burke quote that a reader wrote, this is a pretty strong element of alot of people.

  • Michael O. Powell

    I personally strongly question the character of people who are unwilling to question themselves.

  • Chriza

    “personal growth”

    “I personally question the character of people who are unwilling to question themselves”

    I love how Obdicut has supposedly only been a lgf and Charles follower for less than 2 years and is supposedly an expert on him, so much that he feels that he must take time to defend Charles.  

    Charles hasn’t changed his tactics, he’s only changed those at the receiving end of his invectives.  I know Jummy’s post was long, but did you guys read it?  

    In the past I supported Charles, but cringed at his “oil tick,” “religion of peace, my ass,” his Palestinian “car swarm” pictures, etc.  Charles is a bad person, not because of his desertion of the right, but because he’s a sensitive, crazy, nasty, hypocrite.  He turned on friends he met and worked with him, and then attacked those people.  Some “friend”  … Jummy’s summed up a lot of the evolution of lgf over the years, and anyone that’s followed that site knows that Charles is not credible when he said he’s looked at the facts and changed his mind.  Most of his conversion may be just pandering to his audience and the fools lavishly lap it up.  

    And show me where Charles has “questioned himself”?  Questioning himself doesn’t jibe with Jummy’s accurate post as someone who appears to know Charles better than most.  Charles is a fraud or crazy.  He’s definitely not a man of principle.  

  • Obdicut


    I’m not an expert on Charles, nor have I said that I am. I’ve given my impression and opinion of him.

    I did read Jummy’s post; you can tell by the way I responded to specific points he made. Did you read mine?

    I don’t cringe in the least at ‘Oil Tick’. The Saudi Princes really are scum.

    And again: If your only point is “Charles is a bad person”… I don’t even know what to say. Are you a good person? Can I see everything you wrote four years ago and check to see if it’s identical to what you say now, and if not, tell you that you’re pandering?

    The one way I can most directly see Charles having changed his mind is looking at AGW, where there is a huge amount of disinformation. I’m never surprised when a non-scientist (like my own father) falls for the propaganda. What is surprising, and nice, is when a non-scientist actually finds their way out of the propaganda.

    Charles did that. He started in a place where he was wrong, and, after time on the subject, realized he was wrong and came to– and championed– the factual point of view.

    That is a good thing. Not a bad one.

    You really appear to be working off of a rote script, and not actually engaging with what I’m writing. It’s rather disconcerting.

  • Michael

    Hey Obdicut,

    Have you ever done any blogging? I think we share some basic viewpoints. Message me on Twitter and I’ll give you my e-mail.

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