Finally Mr Spencer has answered my questions, of course in Spencer’s style, despite his traditional protestation and much crocodile tears, sees a great degree of victimization, demonization of the ‘enemy’, and manipulation of others’ viewpoints. Yet this post is not about Spencer’s answers, which in any case you can read and draw your own conclusions about. It is not about his lack of humour, and his self-centric business related, attitude. It is more about the kind of people who seem to orbit around him.
Indeed, due to such a reality, it becomes impossible to have any serious (or even humorous) discussion with him. You can read the slandering comments by his supporters posted on his post about me (with some comments lacking humour and sounding more like a jihadist-style rant), and the hundreds that I have received on my blog: some unpublished because of the vulgarity within them, and others which have even included, more or less serious death-threats.
I am an anthropologist, and as such I am fascinated by the situation. I may have discovered a new cult: Spencerdanism.
Go to the post in which Spencer has reacted to my discussion of Islamo-Fascism, read the supporters’ comments and Spencer’s answer to them. Analyse the comments through the available theories about cult formation and you can see that what Mr Spencer (consciously or unconsciously) has created is a new cult, of which he definitely is the much loved guru. And it is clear that, as any cult, you can accept it, you can reject it, but you cannot not discuss with it.
I leave aside psychological and psychoanalytical reasons for which Mr Spencer, (who I thought to be a commentator and a right-wing politician) has decided to move towards the formation of a sect, complete with a virtual (or at least so I hope) personal militia.
I can only observe that, while he has the time to reply to his worshipers, he leaves on his blog frantic, concerning, and often sinister comments about me and others (those of course he does not like). I am sure that Mr Spencer would never say the things that his adepts say about Muslims, Islam, and academics who disagree with him; but this is exactly what gurus do: let the others say and do what the guru cannot.
We have to admit that Mr Spencer, as well as his work, which I know and I have read, has changed a lot, as has JihadWatch. The new turn towards cult-movement can be understood if we think that Mr Spencer has to win his bread though popularity, politics and selective controversy. But a T-shirt – which he himself advertises on his own post, goes beyond any imagination. Is this serious, or a joke? Of course, I expect that he would say that he did not design the T-shirt, he only mentioned it (or at least I really hope so!)
Cults are serious things. Often gurus can lose control of them and the given cult can acquire a life of its own. Mr Spencer seems unaware of the danger related to his (wanted or unwanted) fanatic worshipers’ movement. I have written (seriously and humorously, since it is after all, only a blog) about BNP, fascist organizations, crazy Islamic movements, scholars, politicians, popes, religious leaders, critically and even sarcastically, but never have I witnessed such vitriolic and hateful reactions. All this only for expressing my own opinions and doubts about Mr Spencer’s views (and I am not the only one to see them as flawed!).
Yet I can understand that fanaticism, in particular when cults are involved, is very much the same: irrational emotion.
If a poor English teacher has recently experienced hatred and threats to her life from fanatics for innocently naming a teddy bear ‘Mohammed’, I can bear to be offended and death-threatened by Mr Spencer’s fanatic followers for daring to call him, with kind humour, a worshiped guru.
Happy New Year
UPDATE: I thank Robert Spencer for sending me as a gift ‘his’ T-shirt pictured above. It is very nice. If the US decides to lift the ban on our loved authentic haggis I will gift him with a real one. By the way, I have to notice that he has not autographed the T-shirt. So, I will keep it unused until the day we have an occasion to meet for a debate where I am sure he will be able to offer answers more sophisticated than “Some of ‘em. Not all of ‘em’” . I will not forget the pen.