How Little Green Footballs Reminds Me Of The Korean War
If you were reading the right side of the blogosphere yesterday, you probably noticed someone commenting on the fact that Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs finally made his break with the Right official with a post.
It was a silly little missive that essentially amounted to: “Everyone I used to think was good is bad now! I don’t know how I missed it before!” Go read it if you like, but you won’t learn much from it. It’s mostly standard lefty boilerplate like:
3. Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism (see: Operation Rescue, anti-abortion groups, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, the entire religious right, etc.)
So, did the entire religious Right just join with the GOP last week or something? How does Sarah Palin fit in with that whole “throwing women back into the Dark Ages” idea?
Like I said, it’s a silly little missive.
In any case, I was reading a response to the piece by Robert Stacy McCain. He has been turned into one of the hate objects over at Little Green Footballs and Charles Johnson has been falsely, dishonestly, and relentlessly smearing him as a racist –: despite the fact that McCain has a blog and Johnson doesn’t seem to be able to point to any actual racism on it. Personally, I’d think that if he were this seething racist who despised black people and wrote multiple articles per day, it might actually seep into his writing — but looking for that kind of evidence might spoil the whole narrative, right? McCain’s a racist without writing racist things while Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer are fascists, despite the fact that they don’t advocate fascism, yada, yada, yada. Using Charles Johnson’s own hyped up guilt-by-association logic, he’s a racist fascist, since he used to freely associate with those people, but whatever, I’m getting off track here.
There was a particular part of Robert Stacy McCain’s piece about Charles Johnson that produced an ah-ha moment for me:
Exactly what prompted this? Why this? Why now? Your guess is as good as mine.
No, that’s wrong. My guess is probably much better than yours, because I followed the whole thing — LGF and the Madness of King Charles — back to its roots. So far as can be determined, CJ’s descent into madness began when Johnson attacked Pamela Geller for her attendance at the October 2007 Brussels conference.
CJ kept up the attacks, which expanded to include Jihad Watch, Gates of Vienna, Diana West and others — serially throwing them under his Little Green Bus — but the rest of the conservative blogosphere tried to ignore it. Shortly before the 2008 election, CJ declared Robert Spencer of JihadWatch unlinkable:
Paul Belien of Brussels Journal is deeply connected with the Vlaams Belang, and Robert knows this. The fact that he’s put them back in his blogroll speaks volumes about the choice he’s made.
And Gates of Vienna has turned into a reeking sewer of racism. I’m done with Robert Spencer. And very, very disappointed in him.
You see the control-freak method here: CJ declares that a list of people and groups (in this case, Brussels Journal, Paul Belien, Vlaams Belang, Gates of Vienna) are unacceptable. Anyone who doesn’t accept CJ’s categorization is a “sympathizer” and therefore also unacceptable. Gates of Vienna quipped:
As the arbiter of membership in the Counterjihad, Charles Johnson has finally made it official: he’s a Counterjihad of One.
All of that happened before Election Day 2008. It wasn’t until after Election Day that I finally spoke out:
Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has apparently decided that the problem with the conservative movement is that it needs more purges, and Pam Geller at Atlas Shrugs seems to be his designated scapegoat. . . .
Pam is a good person and I would suggest that this guilt-by-association “urge to purge” is antithetical to the best interests of conservatism. You can’t build a movement by the process of subtraction.
That was Nov. 5, 2008. In February of this year, I spoke out again when CJ attacked Ann Coulter and spoke out again in April when Johnson smeared Pamela Geller as a “Poster Girl for Eurofascists.” Two days later, after CJ threatened Michelle Malkin (!) because she continued linking JihadWatch, I wrote:
Is there someone — anyone — who can stop this madness?
Apparently not. If the conservative movement would not acknowledge Charles Johnson’s authority to decide who was and was not acceptable as a member of the conservative movement, then Johnson would not be a member of the conservative movement.
Do you know what this reminded me of? This is going to sound a little loopy — it reminded me of Chinese brainwashing techniques that were used during the Korean War. Now don’t get the wrong idea: Any brainwashing done here was done by Charles himself, but let me explain how it worked in Korea and I think you’ll see the connection.
When the Chinese took American prisoners, they would mistreat and torture them, get them alone, and say something like, “Look, we’d like you to write something negative about your country. Anything negative.” After the prisoner complied, the Chinese would read it to his fellow prisoners, who would then treat him like garbage.
This would reduce the prisoner’s bond with his fellow prisoners, increase his like for the Chinese who gave him better treatment for writing the letter, and they would repeat the exercise.
After doing it enough times, they would show the prisoner all these negative things he had written about his own country, without being forced, and they’d tell him that maybe his country wasn’t so great after all. By this point, his fellow prisoners didn’t like him and he felt a great need to keep identity consistent. Didn’t he write all those negative things? Didn’t he believe what he wrote? So, to be consistent, didn’t he need to admit that his country was a pretty lousy place?
How well did the brainwashing actually work? That’s debatable:
According to Jeffrey K. Hadden, the concept of brainwashing first came into public use during the Korean War in the 1950s as an explanation for why a few American GIs appeared to defect to the Communists. Brainwashing consisted of the notion that the Chinese communists had discovered a mysterious and effective method of causing deep and permanent behavioral changes in prisoners of war.
The idea was central to the 1962 movie The Manchurian Candidate in which a soldier was turned into an assassin through brainwashing. It is also central to The Ipcress File, where Michael Cain tries to resist being re-programmed.
Two studies of the Korean War defections by Robert Lifton and Edgar Schein concluded that “brainwashing” was an inappropriate concept to account for this renunciation of U.S. citizenship. They found that the Chinese did not engage in any systematic re-education. The Chinese were, however, able to get some of them to make anti-American statements by placing the prisoners under harsh conditions of deprivation and then by offering them more comfortable situations such as better sleeping quarters, better food, warmer clothes or blankets. Nevertheless, the psychiatrists noted that even these were quite ineffective at changing basic attitudes for most people. In essence, the prisoners did not actually convert to Communism. Rather many of them behaved as though they did in order to avoid the plausible threat of extreme physical coercion. Moreover the few prisoners that were influenced by Communist indoctrination did so as a result of motives and personality characteristics that existed before imprisonment.
Now, let’s look at Charles Johnson. He was an extremely well read, influential blogger on the Right who essentially declared his competitors, Pamela Gellar and Robert Spencer, to be these horrible, beyond the pale monsters — and the response was crickets chirping. Pamela has told me that it actually hurt her traffic quite a bit at the time, but I never heard a single negative comment about her or Spencer in relation to anything Charles Johnson said.
So, Charles Johnson who thinks he’s the big important person on the Right, makes this pronouncement, it seems to have no effect, and worse yet, he catches flack for it from many of the people who were his strongest supporters.
He starts to think, Gee, maybe these people I’ve been friendly with for years aren’t so great after all. Then Charles, who was probably holding his tongue about a number of things in the first place because he was to the left-of-center, starts to branch out and each new topic produces a similar effect.
He attacks Christians. He loses readers. He gets attacked by his former friends. He likes them a little less and gets a bit more alienated.
He buys into global warming. He loses readers. He gets attacked by his former friends. He likes them a little less and gets a bit more alienated.
He attacks Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. He loses readers. He gets attacked by his former friends. He likes them a little less and gets a bit more alienated.
He decides the Tea Party movement is bad news. He loses readers. He gets attacked by his former friends. He likes them a little less and gets a bit more alienated.
Now, to keep his identity consistent after all the things he has written, he has to be Andrew Sullivan — except without the big media resume and the ability to write. Enjoy the head pats and belly scratches you’ll get from the Left while you can, son. The anti-Jihadists don’t trust you, the Right won’t forget the betrayal, and the liberals will use you and spit you out without ever accepting you. It’s a terrible shame that someone who had the sort of success most bloggers could only dream of, crumpled it up and tossed it away.