Friday week, on May 4, the eminent Neue Zürcher Zeitung, one of the oldest newspapers still published, of the reputation of a world-class newspaper and with a small but influential circulation of 160,000 (Yes, we yawned too!) has taken notice of me. A guy who goes by the name of Heribert Seifert told the world what he thinks of the Islam-critics among us bloggers and the headline reveals the stance already: "The Battle Bloggers" (Die Kampf-Blogger).
My co-defendants have dealt pretty competently with the -- to put it politely -- philosophy behind Seifert's rant earlier, so let me add some thoughts in the spirit of Anton Kuh: Why getting even-handed when an ad hominem will do as well?
Just who is Heribert Seifert? A brief online search tells us that Seifert, born 1948 in Dorsten (Westphalia), a place that is lending new dimensions to the terms "provincial" and "in the sticks" (trust me, I am from that part of the world as well), read history, German philology, philosophy and education to become a grammar school teacher in Recklinghausen, which is just a stonethrow away from Dorsten. He then progressed to become a teacher of teachers in nearby Gelsenkirchen and his day job at a Studienseminar (a teacher training college) leaves him apparently enough time to write for the NZZ on a regular basis (and occasionally for other media as well).
As this blog entry is about understanding Heribert Seifert and what makes him tick, a closer look at the city of his ministry should be in order: Gelsenkirchen is a city in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, in the industrial Ruhr area. In the early 20th century, Gelsenkirchen was the most important coalmining town in Europe. Today, with the mines once and for all confined to history, Gelsenkirchen is lumbered for decades now with one of the highest unemployment rates in Germany. Gelsenkirchen is, too, the city where schools are facing serious intercultural trouble, for example by demands from Turkish parents not to teach the theory of evolution anymore and to include "more Islamic content".
A teacher at a Gelsenkirchen comprehensive informed the WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk, one of the public broadcasters) that he had been molested over a period of time by Turkish students on the grounds of his suspected Jewishness.
"I had mentiond during history classes that my great-grandmother had been Jewish", which had led, so the teacher, to verbal abuse as "son of a bitch (whore), miscreant and Jew." He was, too, asked several times whether he believed the lie that humans are derived from apes and why the students had to learn such a lie – even though the theory of evolution wasn't even part of the current curriculum.As it happened, it was in Gelsenkirchen, too, where a man was killed by his fellow-Muslims, which led the renowned journalists Dirk Maxeiner and Michael Miersch to the following comment in the newspaper DIE WELT:
When last week [end of January 2004] a Moslem shot dead two fellow Muslims in a mosque in Gelsenkirchen because out of a feeling of violated honour, it received only minor interest in most newspapers. One has simply gotten used to the fact that right in the middle of a liberal society the Middle Ages are being raised from the dead: Honour killings, forced marriages, deprivation of liberty with women and girls as victims, vigilante justice based on perceived "honour violations". "Should my sister have pre-marital sex, I'll cut her up, that's clear", a young Muslim told a taz-peporter unselfconsciously. Attacks on pedestrians who are perceived as gay or Jewish in the eyes of the militant protectors of the faith are increasing.No doubt, being a teacher in Gelsenkirchen is NOT nice.
Incidentally, Maxeiner und Miersch, together with the equally renowned journalist, writer and sometimes critic of Islam, Henryk M. Broder, are running the (sometimes Islam-critical) blog Die Achse des Guten, a (yes!) blog that conspiciously escaped Seifert's attention, while he is listing the blog Dhimmideutsch (or, as Seifert puts it so endearingly "Dhimideutsch" – don't they have proofreaders at the NZZ?) a blog with the whopping content of 33 posts.
Everywhere do «Akte Islam», «Politically Incorrect», «Fakten & Fiktionen», «Jihad Watch», «Daniel Pipes», «Gudrun Eussner», «Roncevalles», «Dhimideutsch» and their comrades in combat find proof of their suspicion that 'the' Islam and 'the' Muslims are working openly or clandestinely to take over the power. Whereas in the USA well-known publicists like Robert Spencer (Jihad Watch) and Daniel Pipes are running those blogs, in Germany and Switzerland they are, apart from a very few rare exceptions, strangers to the world of publishing.As links are notably absent, let me first introduce the "bloggers" Seifert mentions.
First there is Dr. Udo Ulfkotte, the man behind Akte Islam, a lawyer, political scientist and much-published author on, among other issues, secret services, white-collar crime and Islam in Europe. I am sure he knows about what he is talking, but I rarely visit his website on purely personal grounds. Gratuitiously rude people like Ulfkotte, who scour the Internet for little bloggers who happen to err in details, like Esther from the Islam in Europe blog, to then deliver a dressing down from a great height
...I am German. And I just read your article … I write books on that issue. And I really have problems if people like you say that the things that I quote are not true. So please be so kind and write a correction ! I would kindly welcome that...depress me.
But whatever. Ulfkotte's website Akte Islam is not a blog, which is not just a technical difference, and which seems to have escaped blogger-hunter Seifert's attention, as did the fact that the "stranger to the world of publishing" Ulfkotte is known roughly seven times better by Google than Seifert.
Politically Incorrect is number four of ALL (not just the political, as Seifert states) German blogs with 9908 unique visitors and 29914 clicks last Friday.
My personal opinion is that the PI team are doing a good job when it comes to information about Islam and they had very little to take back yet, which is quite an accomplishment in the face of the sheer volume of their published content. The comment section has some visitors I wouldn't let post at my blog, but then, my number of comments are a negligible fraction of theirs and I guess to make the comment section of a blog like PI watertight one would need the spare time a teacher at a Studienseminar probably has. Well, and for the "strangers to the world of publishing" bit: Google offers more than twice the number of hits for Stefan Herre, (PI's owner and founder) Heribert Seifert gets.
Kewil's Fakten&Fiktionen, a one-man-effort, can boast a respectable rank 27 among the German blogs. Kudos!
That said, Kewil is one of those bloggers that make me always cringe when I realise that we are on the same side of the criticising-Islam-issue (a feeling that is very probably mutual). But, interestingly and revealingly, it wasn't Kewil's Nazi-history-relativising or bordering on antisemitic content that got Seifert's attention, but this blogger's criticism of Islam.
Kewil's (a nom de plume) popularity-factor at Google is thrice that of Seifert's.
Gudrun Eussner's website, notably another non-blog, contains a wealth of articles, meticulously written and even better researched, on many issues, including, but not limited to, the threat of Islam to our Western culture.
Dr. Gudrun Eussner is a political scientist with Orientalism as minor subject who used to work for international organisations in the Middle East and Google mentions her ten times more frequently than -- you guessed it -- Heribert Seifert.
[Notabene that the "Heribert Seifert" hits include the mentionings of another chap similarly named (my condolences!) who is a proficient table-tennis player and that the recent blog-reactions to the NZZ-article boosted the results to boot.]
Much of what those blogs are publishing is without doubt unappetising, laden with resentment and no argument for their claim to counter the «cartel of silence of the mainstream-media» with truth. Because they do not offer own research. With the tunnel-vision of the Islam-hating zealot, those culture warriors are scouring the websites of the international media for the truth and they even pay attention to the local sections. Thus, an extremely biased selection is compiled, which is massively offered and allows for no distinction. There work is specifically geared at the knocking down of those boundaries, by which for example dailies are discriminating the important from the less important. Those bloggers are turning an act of abuse of Turkish youth, which was previously limited to the local section of a Bavarian daily into an event that can be noticed worldwide.That exactly those "boundaries by which… dailies are discriminating the important from the less important" can be -- and ARE -- used as a massive manipulation tool by those very dailies seems to escape our paragon of publishing accomplishment, expert usage of the tools of the trade and good journalistic practice, and the fact that he finds the above mentioned news report not noteworthy allows us to get a whiff of from where Seifert is coming.
Let me limit the rest of this post to Roncesvalles, not because I feel a necessity to justify myself, but because I know my own blog and work best.
On May 3, the day before the slanderous NZZ-article appeared, the start page of my blog contained the following posts:
"The Ugly Duck(ling) Narcissist Who Thinks He Is A Swan", "KAWOOOM QUACK QUACK", "Cross-post from badeagle.org", and "LOL ROFL ROFLMAO ROFLMAOPMP", all four about a petty private feud I am childishly cultivating, "Obituary for David Reimer" an anti-feminist topic, "On a completely different personal note", "on another personal note" and "on a personal note", all about, as indicated by the headers, personal matters, "It Stinks Where 'It' Thinks" is one of my frequent (and better ones, by the way) rants about German history, as is "The Perennial Wish to Kill Jews by Proxy". "Media Darlings of the Unenlightened Masses" is about the notorious German lack of discernment and has only a very peripheral connection with Islam, if any, "Happy Easter" just shows a picture of the pope, "A Well-Meaning Suggestion for American Homeschoolers" is one of those rants I usually deliver when I caught some culturally over-zealous American talking about things German he patently knows nothing about and "The Selective Approach of Breaking Taboos" is about a case of incest and its apoplogists in Germany.
"The Strange Effects of Mountain Air" is about a German politician who aspires to talk to "Taliban moderates" (probably accompanied by multipara virgins),"Some Facts about Leeds University" is about the curbing of academic freedom at an English university, "Guilt Is A Mighty Lever" is about a case of perversion of justice by a German court in a divorce suit, "The Fox, The Henhouse …" is about another case of perversion of justice in a different context, whereas "Fibonacci Series for Dhimmies" is about fashionable self-hating and cultural relativist media-drivel and "Ten Years of Innocence Abused" is a travesty about the endless patience the media is mustering up when it is about murdering Jews in the Middle East. All of those posts are NOT ABOUT Islam, but about reactions TO Islam, but I am not petty.
Doubtlessly about Islam is the entry "Islam is tolerance" -- about the imprisonment of a blogger in Egypt to be precise.
Interestingly, it escaped our master-researcher's attention that I, on the start page of my blog, questioned the source of a report of a Muslim atrocity, even to the extent of contacting Robert Spencer who had published it. Three posts, "Untruth does not go away just because it is buried in the blog bilges -- redux", "untruth does not go away just because it is buried in the blog bilges" and "The Sheer Monstrosity Defies Belief " are about it. But what the hell, a phrase like "the tunnel-vision of the Islam-hating zealot" HAD to come out not to cause Heribert mental flatulences.
I will even grant our teacher of teachers that he may not be able to see that I am performing a critical assessment of sources far beyond what journalists are usually doing or what would be necessary according to the standard of a blog that is not part of a post-doc project, or that I keep meticulously opinion and facts apart. Recognising that would be a matter of both, analytic skills and intellectual honesty, which is clearly not everybody's thing. However, master-researcher Seifert didn't even notice what was plainly in front of his nose: namely that I use exclusively major media like DER SPIEGEL (repeatedly), Reuters, International Herald Tribune, DIE ZEIT, Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History, Der Standard, DIE WELT, UPI, The Guardian, or the WDR-website. Not a single local paper or -section in sight. He ignored, too, that I am backing up the information and opinions I provide by in-depth links, and to a far greater extent any journalist in the print media would (and could) do.
I believe he didn't even bother to read my blog, or the others, for that. As well as he sold us the 33-entries-blog Dhimmideutsch as a "Battle-Blog", he just read Roncesvalles' sub-header and started to drool like a Pavlovian dog hearing the dinner bell. And he doesn't even know what a blog is or he wouldn't have included Eussner's and Ulfkotte's websites in his list.
And just when I was in such fine fettle, I discovered this at the political feature pages of Deutschland Radio:
Trade Union newspapers contain amazingly open descriptions of day-to-day multiculturalism at schools full of violence and racism, which, this time, is coming from the immigrant children. Teachers, some of whom are working for decades dedicatedly and ready for dialogue in "problem neighborhoods", are describing in detail their disappointments and failures.What remains of his beef with the "Battle-Bloggers" then? Does Heribert only trust trade union sources? Or do we have just a pedestrian hack here who makes up his shit as he goes along, depending on the current drool-factor of the topic and the lines he and the NZZ are needing?
And their shepherded "victims", the migrants, of all people are sometimes not as innocent as they's like to appear. There are annoying stories of brutality and neglect, of broken-down families, from the destruction of cultural certainties, which makes "integration" to a hardly reachable goal.
Get a blog, master researcher! I'll even explain to you what it is, and maybe, one day, you'll get at least THAT way recognition you clearly don't deserve.
Seifert closes his article with an appreciative nod towards a site with a less blunt assessment of Islam than the unloved "Battle-Bloggers", the Internet-portal Qantara ("Dialogue with the Islamic World"), whose intellectual dishonesty is of montrous proportions. Qantara is an effort of, among others, the Goethe-Institut, vanguard and flagship of German culture worldwide. That is the same Goethe-Institut, mind you, whose former director of the Ramallah office and then (January 2003) director of the Damaskus office (a Protestant pastor, which makes him automatically an expert of anything good and noble) dubbed Palestinian Arab terrorists "freedom fighters" and was, after a lot of soul-searching, harshly disciplined by a transfer to India, presumably because it's safely Jew-free. Not because anybody saw anything much wrong about his views, but because the cleric's selective liberation-geared ardour, which goes down so well at home in Germany, might cause some raised eyebrows abroad.
The Goethe-Institut, too, is the organisation who wiped Israel off their map. Everything not to offend the Arabs. They could get mad with us.
Or the Turks in Gelsenkirchen with Heribert, for that.