Whatever happened to healthy disagreement?

by 1389 on July 5, 2011

in blogging, counterjihad, cyberwars, flame war, Hesperado (team member), Spencer and Geller

healthy disagreement

By Hesperado

The blogger “Jewish Odysseus” recently wrote a well-reasoned defense of refraining from the “Open Letter”, on the grounds (to summarize somewhat simplistically) that bringing this out into the open is divisive, and therefore deleterious, for the Anti-Islam Movement.

I disagreed with him, and articulated it thusly:

“If you intend to be including in your argument an appeal for all potentially disagreeing individuals within the anti-Islam movement to refrain from disagreement as a general principle, on the basis that any kind of disagreement can undermine solidarity, I must respectfully and strenuously… disagree.

“Most people who eschew disagreement as a general principle (rather than on a case-by-case basis) I find have a simplistic monolithic view of disagreement. They seem to think it must always be bad, and cannot ever be good or constructive (at least, they consistently seem to recoil from it in aversion every time it comes up in a substantial way).

“I think, however, that there are two kinds of disagreement: healthy and unhealthy. There’s no need to run to the hills or shrink timidly back into a hole of a show of anxiously maintained unanimity any time disagreement, or circumstances that portend it, pop up.

“If disagreement is pursued in a healthy manner, there’s no need to squelch it or sweep it under the rug, for fear that it might morph into some dangerously divisive force. Since disagreement is inevitable (as Dymphna of Gates of Vienna has rightly said more than once), and if there is a form of doing it that is healthy and mature, then we have no choice, sometimes (not necessarily any and every time), but to “let it all hang out” — and in doing so, try to do that in a healthy and mature way.

“This particular case (the Pam Geller-EDL Affair) I believe warrants the expression of disagreement out in the open sunshine and breezy air of open discussion.

“The introduction to, and the content of, the Open Letter (as well as Lawrence Auster’s analysis included in this ancillary post (also useful) which Baron Bodissey at Gates of Vienna put up more recently), altogether present the case for it well enough, and I have nothing to add.”


And I added, finally:

“If Westerners are that frail, that they cannot sustain healthy, yet vigorous, disagreement when it’s called for, then I’m not sure they’ll be up for the broader more daunting task of fighting Islam in the decades ahead.”


Just because individuals on one side of a dispute demonstrate an inability to be rational (let alone fair and mature) as the disagreement unfolds, does not ipso facto support the suppression of any and all disagreements. Sometimes — as with the Pam Geller-EDL Affair — it is salutary for a movement to have such unfairness and irrationality exposed. Do we really want people in quasi-leadership positions (as Pam Geller and Robert Spencer undeniably are, even if to a degree perhaps less substantial than, say, Geert Wilders or… Tommy Robinson) to possess potentially damaging, or self-destructive, flaws?

If not for the principle of this issue (= “Don’t accuse a valiant anti-Islam group of serious charges before you have and show evidence”), then at least for the flaws it reveals in people in whom we would put our trust to guide and manage various aspects of the anti-Islam cause in which we all — superstar bloggers, “independent” bloggers, peon bloggers, non-bloggers whose lives are too full (of the joys and mundane frustrations of life) to blog — all have a stake.

Further Reading:

Healthy Disagreement

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hesperado July 5, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Escape Velocity,

Sorry if your comment took a long time to show up — I’m new to the “comment approval” process, and I’m just a guest blogger here (on my blog, I just let any comments in without any censorship whatsoever). I still can’t figure out how to “approve” your comment, so I will post it here:

“While Jewish Odyseus made many a good point, I agree with you Hesperado.

“Also, I dont give a d*mn about Pam Gellers psychological proclivities, and refuse to tip toe around them as Jewish Odyseus makes the case of the stereotypical strong willed woman. What she needs is a strong willed man to stand up to her and set her straight.”

Instinctively, on first reading Jewish Odysseus’s essay, I had a similar impulse — why should we be so extra careful about Pam Geller’s feelings? But JO’s point is not whether it’s right or wrong, but whether it’s effective. And sometimes, I guess, if we want a desired effect, we have to do silly things — like treat a grown woman like she’s a 4-year-old prima donna.

2 1389 July 5, 2011 at 10:34 pm


You should be able to approve comments by mousing over the conversation bubble on the left side of the dashboard, selecting All Comments, then selecting the Pending comments when the screen comes up.

Then, mouse over the desired comment and some options will appear. Click Approve to make the comment visible.

You’re not a guest blogger, you’re a 1389 Blog team member!

3 Hesperado July 6, 2011 at 3:35 am

Thanks 1389, I’ll try that next time, and thanks for the support.

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