Just to give full disclosure upfront, I used to consider Charles Johnson one of my “Idols” in the blogging world. He helped invent citizen Journalism. That was until banned from Little Green Footballs for one reason, refusing to give up my friendship with Pamela Geller (Atlas Shrugs) and Robert Spencer (Jihad Watch).
For the last two years Johnson has been like the crazy old man who tries to alienate his family, but in his case he has been throwing bloggers out of his site. For some of them like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer he not only cast them asunder, but he has continued to attack them.
The sad part of it is that he used to be a blogging giant, and when it comes to traffic, I am sure he still is. But with the growing list of people that he has banned from his site for the simple reason of disagreeing with his opinions or maintaining friendships with people he didn’t like, Charles is losing the respect of much of the community.
When I got banned, I was contacted by a slew of websites and clubs, just for ex-LGFers. The number of them was astounding.
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Charles latest attack was against Robert Spencer again, this is how Spencer described it on his site:
One must step back and wonder: what is this man’s game? Why would he make up lies, see them refuted by people who were present at the events he claims to know about, and then instead of backing down or at least falling silent, pile more lies upon his original ones? Inevitable questions arise about why he has embarked on this desperate smear campaign, intent on demonstrating that I and others are “fascists” or “fascist sympathizers,” without a shred of actual evidence that I sympathize with or agree with any positions that are fascist, racist, etc., associate with any people who really are those things, or hold any positions other than the ones I have publicly avowed.
In any case, he has just put this up:
Spencer claims he never met with the English Defense League (although he obviously can’t deny meeting with the extremists of the Christian Action Network), and it’s actually true — as far as it goes. But in reality, the only reason he didn’t meet with them is because he and the leaders of CAN were thrown out of the restaurant before the meeting could occur.
Nope. I did not go to England planning to meet with the EDL, I did not make such plans there, and I did not meet with them. Unfortunately for Johnson, Adrian Morgan of Family Security Matters was actually present on the evening in question, and tells what really happened, as I have previously posted here:
Robert is right. He did not meet with the EDL members – their arrival at the George coincided with the exodus of those who had been there earlier.
The EDL members did not attend the meal and left the vicinity of Crossharbour early and, like myself, they did not attend the dinner.
This “guilt by association” tactic, made by people who were not at the event, is insidious. I – on the other hand – did talk briefly with the EDL members, to try to find out what sort of people they were (rather than believing the hype put about on internet weblogs).
My conversation took place on a walkway beside one of the docks, with neither Robert Spencer nor Douglas Murray present. Does my talking to them make me a member of their group, in league with “forces of Evil”?
If one is invited to an event in good faith, one cannot be held responsible for the presence of other people on the host’s guest list.
I do not collude with or condone the EDL’s tactics of physical confrontation. I see such tactics as damaging – violence begets violence and benefits no-one, no matter how personally frustrated these EDL members may feel.
But I do believe in talking to people to try to find out who they are and what their viewpoints are.
I also discovered, in the course of the short discourse, that one of the three EDL members who had turned up had a black daughter.
Freedom of speech and freedom of association are fundamentals of a democracy. The British blog that Johnson quotes attacks the “association” of Martin Mawyer and the EDL. The EDL had been invited to the George pub (unbeknownst to Robert Spencer and other invitees) because Martin Mawyer had – the day before Robert Spencer arrived in Britain – been interviewing these individuals for a documentary.
If interviewing people is a crime, (it is a crime for those on the left, it seems) then journalism itself might as well be outlawed.
Maybe Charles Johnson should visit Britain and start talking to people who were eyewitnesses – as a true journalist should – rather than typing away in his ivory tower, gossiping about people he does not know and pretending to be an authority on situations he has not witnessed or properly examined.
I – unlike Johnson – was actually present on that Thursday in Docklands.
And if it came to a libel suit – I would willingly give evidence on Robert Spencer’s behalf. Robert is telling the truth.
I used to enjoy reading LGF a few years back as a source of news, not as a source of gossip and character assassination. But something has changed. Sneering insinuations are never an adequate substitute for the honest reporting that should exemplify good journalism.
I think many well-known people who set themselves up as messengers of “factual details” should own up and admit that they are just purveying “spin”, and not even doing that very well.
As for the CAN, I am working with them because of their excellent work on the documentary Homegrown Jihad. I do not feel myself bound to endorse every one of their other positions, or consider that I have done so, by working with them. In reality, I don’t make public statements on issues that are not jihad-related. In reality, I will not work with racists, fascists, neo-Nazis, etc. Those who are inclined to buy Johnson’s guilt-by-association smears are invited to prove that I actually believe the things he is trying to pin on me from what I have actually written, not from the words or deeds (actual or fabricated in Johnson’s defamation and lie factory) of others.
UPDATE: From the comments field below, remarks from someone I did actually meet in London, Paul Weston:
Unlike CJ I was also at the George Pub on the night in question.
Robert Spencer did not meet any of the English Defence League.
Douglas Murray, who was in close conversation with Robert also refused to be associated with them.
So Johnson loses all credibility, such as he had left.
But to make a further point – so what if Robert had met with the EDL?
They claim they are not racist, that they disagree with the BNP, that they have no truck with West Indians but they are (and indeed who isn’t) concerned about the rapid Islamisation of Luton.
What then, should they do?
Write articles on blogs? Attend conferences around the world mixing with the erudite and educated defenders of Judeo/Christianity?
Charles Johnson is clearly a tad snobbish. EDL supporters are working class chaps who have suffered greatly from a progressive education in Britain’s socialist schools.
Their justifiable anger and resentment cannot be salved by becoming members of the intelligentsia overnight.
They will do what the less well educated always do when confronted with potential aggression, they front up.
Fronting up is probably an alien act to Johnson, as apparently is backing down. In more ways than one I imagine.
SECOND UPDATE: Here is a statement from Jason Campbell of the Christian Action Network:
Charles Johnson’s ability to allow a good rumor and flat out lies to stand in the way of truth is just another example of his unprincipled journalistic rhetoric. As the Project Manager for Christian Action Network’s new documentary dealing with the radicalization of Europe we were elated to have had the opportunity in interviewing Robert Spencer in London. Being the individual responsible for Mr. Spencer’s schedule while in London, I can attest that Robert Spencer NEVER met with any members of the EDL, and never agreed to meet with any members of the EDL.
Two days prior to Spencer’s arrival in London, Martin Mawyer and myself did interview three members of the EDL – While Spencer was still sitting cozy in the United States. This false allegation is just a jealous attempt for Charles Johnson to demonstrate his continued ability to report inaccurate information.
THIRD UPDATE: Amid more of his now-customary lies, false charges and invective, Charles Johnson has just issued this mirth certifikit (thanks to James):
This is part of Robert Spencer’s latest rant against me:
I did not go to England planning to meet with the EDL, I did not make such plans there, and I did not meet with them.
Please note that I never accused Spencer of any of those things. It’s another very typical Spencer misdirection — he vehemently denies things no one accused him of.
Let’s go to the videotape, shall we? Here’s what Johnson wrote yesterday:
Spencer claims he never met with the English Defense League…But in reality, the only reason he didn’t meet with them is because he and the leaders of CAN were thrown out of the restaurant before the meeting could occur.
The “only reason.” So in other words, now Johnson would have us believe that the only reason why I didn’t meet with the EDL was because we were thrown out of a restaurant, and yet I had never planned to meet with them.
He’s a conscience-free smear merchant, a thuggish paranoid and a liar, but at least Charles Johnson is good for a few laughs.
When I see Charles attack other bloggers like this, it reminds me of when Willie Mays played for the Mets in 1973, just sad. Charles you were one of the reasons I started blogging. Stop all the vitriol and gather your senses. We miss You.