I had to go away overnight on Thursday and for much of yesterday, and so missed an additional email from the Web Editor of Standpoint magazine. This message, which I didn’t read until late last night, exceeded the bounds of what I consider tolerable discourse, and I will forego any further correspondence with Standpoint. From my point of view, no useful function could be served by exchanging more emails with the Web Editor or anyone else at the magazine.
I have also discontinued my policy of redacting the Web Editor’s name from my posts, since it is, after all, a matter of public record, and features prominently at the magazine’s website. I had acceded to his request as a professional courtesy, from one colleague to another, and hoped for some sign of reciprocal good feeling. None was forthcoming, so Oliver Wiseman will simply have to accept that his name is now “associated” with a website he finds “repugnant and dangerous”.
Here’s the terse email that arrived from Mr. Wiseman on Thursday, but remained unread until late last night:
What good is removing my name if you simply link to my page on the Standpoint site? Please remove the link and my job title.
This was a bridge too far. I sent Mr. Wiseman the following reply:
I apologize for the delayed reply. I was away overnight visiting family.
This absurd business has gone far enough. I will no longer jump through any of your hoops.
I have nothing further to say to you. Any additional comment concerning our exchange of emails will be posted at Gates of Vienna.
I shall continue to link to your archive page whenever I find it convenient and useful to do so — as long as you choose to have it publicly posted on the Standpoint website.
Every attempt that I have made thus far to comply with your requests has been a matter of simple courtesy. But simple courtesy seems to be a one-way street in these exchanges between us, so my half of the correspondence is hereby terminated.
Despite the recent unpleasantness, my exchange with Standpoint has served a useful function, and provides ample food for thought. It highlights a core problem that exists among those who seek to halt the Islamization of the West.
Standpoint and Gates of Vienna are in basic agreement on the most important issue of our time, and agree on many other issues as well. Both organs should be part of an amicable coalition, together with all the other outlets that share the same general opinion about Islam. Yet no such coalition exists, and based on the evidence of the past few days, it cannot exist.
Why is this?
What consideration is so powerful that it overrides not only our common interests, but the very urge to survive?
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If you take a look around Standpoint magazine, you’ll find a wide range of opinions from a variety of authors. Besides Daniel Johnson (the editor) and Oliver Wiseman (the web editor), there are a number of other contributors, many of whose names are well known. They include:
As you can see, this is no roster of lefties. Standpoint’s escritorial stable includes representatives of the entire political spectrum, from left-liberal to conservative and all points in between.
This broad range of opinion is something I find admirable, and would love to see here at Gates of Vienna. Unfortunately, very few left-of-center writers are willing to be associated with a “repugnant and dangerous” website. A few years ago a Marxist writer contributed a useful piece about jihad in the Hindu Kush, and a while before that an Anarchist wrote a spirited polemic for us against Islamization. Generally speaking, however — and especially since Breivik — only “right-wing extremists” who have already been cast into the Outer Darkness are willing to allow their writings to appear here.
This is especially true in Britain, where the issue is complicated by class differences. Intuition would tell us that Mr. Wiseman’s sudden eruption of heartfelt sentiment — that we are “repugnant and dangerous” — must represent more than a mere distaste for our stance against Islamization.
So what else is going on here?
On the face of the matter, there should be no real issue. Based on the arguments used in his speech at the Oxford Union, Daniel Johnson is in essential agreement with us. If our ideology is in any way “repugnant”, then his should be, too.
Mind you, he does make that fine distinction between “Islam” and “Islamism”, which most of our contributors don’t share. In fact, his stance against “Islamism” is identical with that of Tommy Robinson, the leader of the English Defence League.
If Tommy’s speeches at EDL rallies were delivered with the perfect Oxonian cadences and mellifluous vowels with which Mr. Johnson is so fortunately gifted, his oratory and Tommy’s would be utterly indistinguishable.
Is this perhaps the heart of the problem?
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Let’s return to the words “dangerous” and “repugnant”.
Why is Gates of Vienna dangerous?
Two possibilities suggest themselves. The first is the obvious one: speaking out in the manner commonly seen at this site may result in the loss of employment, official harassment, intimidation, and/or arrest (at the hands of the civil authorities). It may also invite death threats, physical attacks, serious bodily injury, and/or death (at the hands of Muslims or the thugs of UAF and its ilk). So danger lurks on all sides for anyone who decides to publicly oppose the Islamization of Britain.
Yet there is another kind of danger in such activities for those who inhabit the privileged heights of British society: ostracism, loss of status, being dismissed from a lucrative sinecure and forced to take a lesser one, the contempt and mockery of one’s peers, etc. It takes a steel backbone to endure to this sort of treatment and remain upright.
Repugnant, on the other hand, is in the eye of the beholder. Who can argue with something that is entirely a matter of opinion? De gustibus non est disputandum, and our tastes here at Gates of Vienna obviously diverge from those at the offices of Standpoint.
Am I repugnant? Very well then, I am repugnant! I am large; I contain multitudes.
Under these circumstances, “dangerous” and “repugnant” correlate closely with “fear and loathing”: what is dangerous evokes fear, and what is repugnant induces loathing.
So what might be at stake here at Gates of Vienna that could bring on fear and loathing in Oliver Wiseman and his colleagues at Standpoint? The content of our published material — articles, essays, translations, and videos — is obviously not the issue, since it falls within the broad range of opinion considered acceptable in Standpoint’s little corner of the City of Westminster.
A clue may be found in the fact that the EDL linked approvingly to my first post about Standpoint. More than anything else, this must have been what Mr. Wiseman and his fellow editors feared, loathed, and wished to avoid.
Given the convergence between the position of the English Defence League and that of the editor of Standpoint, the only remaining issue that could account for all this fear and loathing is the class difference.
A well-educated man of sartorial distinction stands up at the Oxford Union and lays out the case against Islam with eloquence and verve, employing the distinctive dialect of the upper strata of British society while he makes his arguments.
A less well-educated man wearing a casual shirt and trainers stands up in a public square in Birmingham under dangerous conditions and expresses an identical opinion, using his native Lutonian variant of the English language.
The former is deemed acceptable, and even laudable. The latter is repugnant, and even dangerous. The difference is one of class: nothing else can account for the aversive reaction by the Standpoint cohort to Tommy Robinson and the EDL.
This absolute antipathy towards the lower classes is so deeply rooted that members of the upper middle class seem willing to accept the destruction of the society that sustains them rather than be associated in any way with the ill-spoken badly dressed lower orders.
To be forced to rub elbows with the common ruck is a fate worse than death. Therefore one has no choice but to risk death by the Islamic scimitar rather than express any solidarity whatsoever with the likes of the English Defence League. Even though one is entirely in agreement with the EDL’s public position on Islam.
The absolute disdain of the nobility for the commoner is not mutual. Not that there is no distaste for the upper classes among the stalwarts of the EDL; far from it. But, unlike their “betters”, the members of the EDL are willing to put aside their fear and loathing to present a united front in the common cause against a mortal threat to the ancient British nation. In this they display more flexibility and a healthier sense of social morality than those who look down on them.
How likely are the more refined elements of British society to change their minds and reach the same conclusion? Will they overcome their repugnance and recognize that Islam, and not the EDL, constitutes the greater danger to themselves and all they hold dear?
I wouldn’t count on it. The signs are not auspicious.
One can but hope.