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A Blast from Charles Johnson’s Past

My story about Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs turning on the more extreme members of the right-wing anti-terrorism blogosphere is prompting commentary from other “warbloggers” who have worried about their fringes and done occasional “purges” from their movements. Joshua Trevino comments that “lost in the shrill din of the anti-jihadists is the woeful truth that there is such a thing as jihad, and it does demand a policy response.”

Charles Johnson’s disenchantment with a movement he did much to create is more likely a function of his contrary nature than his active conscience, but it would be ungracious to pry overmuch. The sad truth is that the self-proclaimed anti-jihadists, as a group, have done a great deal to discredit themselves in the past decade.

One thing I left on the cutting room floor, but tried to imply with some context and references, was just how comfortable Johnson was back in 2004, 2005 and 2006 with the people he is now crusading against.

It made sense, and to an extent it was the function of the “everybody on board” mentality that gripped the political blogospheres before the collapse of the Bush presidency. But it’s striking reading Johnson’s old posts now. From November 9, 2004, reacting to the banning of far-right Belgian party Vlaams Blok:

While it’s hard to approve of every one of Vlaams Blok’s policies, there’s also no denying that this is very much a victory for European Islamic supremacist groups such as the openly radical, terror-supporting Arab-European League—because almost no one else opposes them.

From February 11, 2006:

Atlas Shrugs is a year old today! Happy blogoversary, Pamela.

From July 17, 2006:

Atlas Shrugs has great coverage and lots of photographs of the Stand With Israel Rally in New York City.

From November 18, 2007:

Tonight’s recommended book is Robert Spencer’s detailed, relentlessly factual comparison of Islam and Christianity, examining the history and the ideologies behind the question: Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.

UPDATE: Johnson links, and points out one error (which I’ve corrected) while arguing that his friendly comments about some people he’s now shunned were “from a different time” and fairly innocuous. All the same, it’s interesting to read those old posts and get a sense of how much that side of the blogosphere has changed.

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