Let me preface this craptacular post by saying that I hate back-and-forth blog flame wars. They’re a total waste of energy and time. Let me also say that I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want to write this post. Dan Riehl’s a decent guy, a solid conservative, and all-around I’ve never had a personal issue with him.
Dan didn’t like my post today about the hijab. Fair enough; there’s ample room on the Right for disagreement in good faith. We’re not a bunch of Bushbots or clones, not by a long shot. But he called me a bigot over the course of disagreeing with me, or at least left the impression that he was calling me a bigot, which was out of bounds. I don’t like being called a bigot, at least by conservatives (liberals do it all the time, and I don’t care, because most of them just do it to shut down debate). It’s a smear to call someone a bigot if they’re not one, and I’m not one. I left a comment on that post of his, making sure that that’s what he intended to say; he didn’t reply there or in email. He chose to write another post and challenge me to a public debate instead, and emailed that post to me. He wants some kind of big ol’ back-n-forth. Yawn.
What’s to debate? Here’s what he wrote in his first post, which was his negative reaction to my post:
I don’t abide Christian, or Judeo-Christian bigotry any more than I do Muslim bigotry. I’m willing to call Muslim bigots, or radical sympathizers what they are when I see them. But I’m not going to shy away from calling out unproductive bigotry when I see it on the Right, either.
I don’t care that he disagrees with me. If he’d put up a good argument why, I might have changed my mind. I just hoped he wasn’t calling me a bigot, but there it is. He’s reacting to my post by “calling out unproductive bigotry on the Right.” (What would constitute “productive bigotry,” by the by? Is that the bigotry that Americans won’t do?) I’m on the Right. He’s reacting to my post. Looks like he’s calling me a bigot.
In his public debate post, he says “No, Bryan. I am not calling you a bigot.” But it finishes with “I don’t know if you’re a bigot or not.” In between, it’s full of fluffery about how bad it is to conflate Islam with terrorism, how that ignores the socio-economics of terrorism, et al. Dan doesn’t make a logical case that he didn’t call me a bigot. He just asserts that he didn’t, when it’s obvious that he did (intentionally or not, is hard to say) and bloviates.
He also added that I’m untalented in one of his emails, to which I plead “Guilty as charged!” What else ya got? Oh yeah, he said I might be ignorant too. Or that I might be a “Christian bigot,” a line that just might betray a trace of anti-Christian bigotry in Riehl’s world. Why bring up the Christian angle, Dan? I hadn’t, in this context, at all.
As to the quality of the posts, and why I didn’t want to debate, just look at how sloppy the thinking is. Dan said in that same paragraph that might be calling me a bigot that he doesn’t “abide Christian, or Judeo-Christian bigotry…Muslim bigotry” (making Dan Riehl Humanitarian of the Year, no doubt) but glosses right over bigotry that’s not religion-based. Does that mean that he does abide atheist bigotry or the soft bigotry of low expectations? Or that he thinks there is no bigotry outside religion? Now, I’m a charitable blogger and I don’t think that he meant that at all; I think he was just throwing something on the site without a whole lot of thought put into it. He didn’t like my post, and he was being sloppy in his reaction. Who among us bloggers hasn’t tossed up a sloppy post once or twice? That’s why I declined to debate. It wasn’t worth it and wouldn’t end well, in all likelihood. I planned to go on vacation and forget the whole thing. But Dan wants a debate. Well alrighty then, try and reconcile one post that obliquely calls me an unproductive bigot and the next one denying calling me a bigot at all, then saying that he doesn’t know whether I’m a bigot or not. Go debate yourself, in other words, Dan. You’re already on two or three sides of that issue. It ought to be a spirited exchange.
Look, I hate arguments like this. I’ve avoided them for years, because they’re pointless and counterproductive and turn nominal allies into armed camps against each other. They’re tedious for the readers. People start name-calling and no one really covers themselves in glory. I’d hoped to keep this one in email and then defuse it. But if Dan’s going to goad me on two sites and broadcast snippets of emails that I thought were a private discussion, he’s asked for a smackdown. And that’s all I have to say on the subject.