As someone who’s been wrong on nearly everything important I’m interested in the ethics and implications of political “conversions”. In this post I explored the risks inherent to changing one’s views: the danger of swapping opinions but maintaining thought processes that had led you to irrational ideas in the first place. That assumed the convert was sincere, though. How about the cynical turncoats – the revisionists.
Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs fame has trapped Pam “Atlas Shrugs” Geller in the act of sly revisionism. Several years ago she posted an email from a Norwegian reader, which she called “devastating in its matter-of-factness”. Actually, anyone with half a brain – whatever they believe – should have realised that it was a load of trash. Oslo was said to be 50% Muslim (actually, it’s under 10%); Muslim women were said to be churning out 1.2 babies a year – which would be an impressive reproductive feat if it was true; yet, of course, it’s not. Eerily, the reader went on to proclaim that they’d been “stockpiling and caching weapons, ammunition and equipment”. The obvious question is who this militant Norwegian correspondent is and whether he’s Breivik. Ms Shrugs, however, seems to have been keener to obscure the truth than expose it: the line about “stockpiling” has been quietly removed.
The idea that Geller holds influence in any movement is baffling. Her ideas are secondary; it’s her behaviour that should exclude her.
Yet I’m not going to let Johnson get away with the hypocrisy of his criticism. Years before he turned on the “counter-Jihad” movement he was among its most vociferous supporters. Fair enough, I guess – anyone can change their minds – except that he’s oddly unwilling to admit to the extent of his enthusiasm for its war-cheerin’, Islam bashin’, lib’rul mockin’ ways. In fact, he’s not above revisionism himself. Way back when Americans still cared about Iraq, the woman Johnson now decries posted a photograph of herself flipping off an unwitting Cindy Sheehan. The easily amused Johnson made it his picture of the day…
If you look back through his archives, though, you’ll see that “day” is suspiciously photo-less. The cheeky scamp has wiped it. Meanwhile, the traditional route to exposing such deletions, archive.org, which saves versions of websites, suggests that he’s excluded his blog from its records.
I hereby propose that the mark of a cynic – of someone who changes their opinions merely to advance themselves – is that they’re more concerned with hiding wrongs that righting them. I hope this isn’t true of me, though I must own up to making a few stylistic adjustments to posts in my archives. The idea that future scholars may become aware of my clumsy speeling, not great syntax and addiction to alliteration was too horrifying to bear.