By Steven Gonder. @sdgblu4ever
I first encountered Glenn Greenwald when he was critical of Richard Dawkins for linking a story from Jihad Watch. I admittedly was relatively unfamiliar with Robert Spencer (and to this day remain unfamiliar with a lot of his work), but I was well aware of the idea that Re-Tweets are not necessarily endorsements of the characters behind the story or information. I’ve known people who linked to Fox News stories infrequently, and I’ve never chastised them for it. As I see it, the credibility of the information is more important than the reputation of the individuals involved, and the overruling of this principle seems almost ironic given Greenwald’s vocal determination for a free speech, open information society (even defending Anjem Choudary, for instance, from legal punishment for the vocal hatred he professes – which I so happen to agree with him on).
For reference, there are a lot of separate instances where I strongly disagree with Harris and Dawkins, and I am very specific on that. On the argument of US interventionism, I’d agree with Greenwald over Harris. On the subject of intent in war, I’d most likely agree with Greenwald over many “New Atheists” despite not having an absolute confirmation on what Greenwald thinks about it. I’m a big fan of Jeremy Scahill, who also is heavily involved in The Intercept. This is not a post of condemnation broadly directed against critics of Western governments, or even critics against religious criticism. Unlike the movement-wide tarring some engage in, this is a highly specific post directed at Greenwald.
This is how I responded regarding Dawkins, Jihad Watch, and Greenwald – though relatively unfamiliar with Greenwald at the time.
Seems like irony always gets the last word with Glenn Greenwald.
I’m pretty sure he muted me after this conversation as he hasn’t responded to me since. I’m going to expand this analysis beyond the scope of the lone encounter between Greenwald and I, to “New Atheists” themselves.
The two major areas of discussion in this analysis will be:
1) The consistency (or lack thereof) of how RTs and information sharing is treated by Greenwald.
2) The accusation against other people/a group engaging in fundamentalism and tribalism.
Let’s examine this measure of criticizing people for the site they link to, or what they share, as some kind of implicit acceptance of the character(s) behind it.
More specifically, let’s examine how Greenwald treats it when he or others he approves of share or RT content from potentially toxic sources:
Now let’s examine this “fundamentalist and tribal” claim. If we’re to take a tribal, primitive “us versus them” mentality as one of the key factors here, Greenwald is easily inundated with tribalistic tendencies himself. Even excluding that aforementioned accusation against New Atheists, the anti-New Atheist commentary is pervasive on the Glenn Greenwald twitter page, and ridiculously generalizing.
About Sam Harris fans: (maybe they’re just tired of vacuous hit-pieces and outright lies oft directed against him, and react defensively?) Or just go with this extreme hyperbole:
Here’s Glenn generalising New Atheism as an anti-Islam movement, instead of a movement critical of religion in general (and using typical *not all… but [insert generalization]* rhetoric similar to people who engage in bigotry – which isn’t bigoted of itself, but we can see similarities of mindsets, with different targets):
More obsession with “New Atheists”:
Here was Glenn Greenwald responding to Dawkins asking him to please apologize and remove misinformation, and Greenwald claimed he was receiving “empty bullying threats.” It most certainly is not a threat.
And some miscellaneous tweets about Harris, et al.
Worth noting that if anyone of similar stature generalized Muslims they way he does New Atheists, he’d almost certainly treat them like he does Robert Spencer, where even linking to an article posted by such a character would be grounds for stern assumption of motivations (even without a character endorsement, as he did with Dawkins). This is nothing short of the fanatic tribalism, fundamentalism, and hypocrisy he accuses New Atheists of.
What would be the reaction if Greenwald tweeted “Yes, Muslims must never be held to the standards they apply to others” or “Muslims never like to talk about any of that, as they like to pretend to be liberals. They have 1 main topic of interest.”? Especially for the latter, he’d be deemed an absolute bigot with a strong anti-Muslim animus. On these grounds, I don’t see much of a difference between Robert Spencer and Glenn Greenwald. A major difference being, however, that I won’t write someone off for merely linking to Greenwald or Spencer.
This is merely a sample of Glenn Greenwald in 2015. He’s entitled to continue to act this way, but he’s not the self-consistent hero people – or real victims of anti-Muslim bigotry – need.
Bonus round: Here Greenwald accuses Christine Fair of being homophobic and misogynistic, despite it most likely being CF just sounding out the initials of Glenn Greenwald – GG – (in a non-homophobic, non-misogynistic way – despite being frivolous):
And this needs no explanation: