Thursday, January 29, 2009

A primrose path of error

I've said before that I read the Spectator blogs. (RSS here.) Both Clive Davis and Alex Massie are excellent bloggers. I was thinking of linking to Clive Davis's post on Stephen Walt anyway. Now, he's received an email from David T "criticizing my posts on Israel, Hamas and Walt-Mearsheimer."

Since I'm here, Alex Massie's response to neo-con Bill Kristol's departure from the NYT was good too.

Update Fri 30 5:00 pm. The point I'm trying to make here is this: the Spectator publishes blogs by Clive Davis and Melanie Phillips. If you subscribe to the RSS feed, you get both. I can't see what David T is complaining about. It's not like the Speccy can be accused of one-sided Israel-bashing. The perfect example of this has arrived. Mad Mel, last Thursday on Geert Wilders: "So the inevitable has now come about in the teetering civilisation of Europe, and it has happened first in the Netherlands. One of the supposedly most liberal societies on the planet wants to criminalise someone for telling the truth." (She quotes the Beeb too; presumably they can be trusted ... sometimes.) Clive Davis is more of a link blogger; his Geert Wilders post today is just a link to and quote from Ian Buruma:

Whether Mr. Wilders has deliberately insulted Muslim people is for the judges to decide. But for a man who calls for a ban on the Koran to act as the champion of free speech is a bit rich...
The lawsuit against Mr. Wilders has been hailed in the Netherlands as a good thing for democracy. I am not so sure. It makes him look more important than he should be. In fact, the response of Dutch Muslims to his film last year was exemplary: most said nothing at all. And when a small Dutch Muslim TV station offered to broadcast the film, after all other stations had refused, the grand champion of free speech resolutely turned the offer down.

I think Buruma understands civilisation and democracy a lot better than Phillips does. We've discussed Buruma before. He has good enemies: Paul Berman and Nick Cohen. Nick hates Buruma for actually trying to engage Ayaan Hirsi Ali in debate as if she were a public intellectual or something rather than a figurehead.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't think that you're going to be moveable from these positions, so I won't try."

David Toube, there, making the inaccurate assumption that everyone else is as obstinate and blinkered as he is. You don't know what it was like in the Hackney swimming baths, man, you weren't there.

1/29/2009 11:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I read the Spectator blogs to watch Melanie Philips' continued descent into insanity.

1/30/2009 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Anon, well exactly. And I think Clive Davis is exceedingly reasonable in part to balance Melanie Phillips. I read (skim) her too, but not without cursing 'Care in the Community.' Where *are* the men in white coats?

1/30/2009 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Ah, Melanie; the world's highest documented Decent Delta-Vee. Makes the RB-545 look like a silly firework!

1/30/2009 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The prosecution of Wilders has not especially been hailed as a good thing in the corners of the Dutch public discourse that I hang around in. Given that the Openbare Ministerie (roughly, the Home Office) had already looked into prosecuting him and decided against it, having a court "suggest" that they should think again looks very much like a breach of the separation of powers.

Des von Bladet

1/31/2009 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Des, I'm sure you're right. What I found interesting is that Melanie Phillips claims that Wilders is being prosecuted for "telling the truth" while Clive Davis finds Ian Buruma (who's better qualified to comment on Wilders and Dutch Islamism than most) claiming that Wilders is a self-publicist and shit-stirrer.

I think there's some deliberate baiting going on. Really though, I find David T's position simply incredible. He seems to claim in that email that Davis believes what he does because he [Davis] is frightened. a) That's a misunderstanding of how Davis blogs. He links to and quotes from things or adds YouTube videos in a "you might like this" spirit; he's not setting out an ideology. b) That's always the Decents argument - you're all for concessions and diplomacy and tact and understanding (pretty much Enlightenment qualities in my book) because you're cowards. We are fearless guardians of truth.

I really wish the lot of them would affirm their masculinity by watching Jeremy Clarkson instead of all this silly willy waving.

1/31/2009 05:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that Alex Massie has replaced Pollard, Mel looks very out of place at the Speccie. Massie and Davis are both thoughtful and interesting, and Mel is... well... Mel. Does it make sense for them to keep her? Guess she will stay there as long as she keeps generating loads of comments...

2/07/2009 12:05:00 PM  

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