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20 June 2010

How to Minimize Infighting

One of the bad things that we take along with the good possibilities of internet, is that anybody can set himself up as an ostensible expert on some matter or a spokesman for some cause, and if he is really reckless and throws around shocking accusations, he will probably attract more attention faster than if he is cautious.

I don't think that it is a good practice in general to respond to false accusations by impugning the motives of the one making the accusations, unless you have solid evidence. You are entitled to say that something being said is ridiculous. People then can assess for themselves whether this is true or not. But to say that somebody with an idiotic opinion or a counterproductive approach is therefore a Jew, or an agent of the Jews -- except in the extraordinary circumstance that you actually can prove it -- is just a blind stab in the dark, and making that counter-accusation will reduce your credibility with thinking people.

There are several possibilities to consider, other than the Jewish agent interpretation: 1, Some people are more focused on being shocking or contrarian than on being correct; 2, there is a tendency for some of the small people to belittle their betters; 3, some people just aren't very good at analyzing information and coming to a reasonable conclusion.

An example of how not to deal with personal attacks: in 2003 Bill White and Alex Linder were attacking Kevin Strom's character in various ways; Strom responded by insinuating from the bully pulpit of an American Dissident Voices program that these people attacking him had been put up to it by the FBI. Strom had no real evidence to support this insinuation, and the main thing that it accomplished was to show that the attacks were driving him crazy, which really encouraged them to do more. Strom would have done better to ignore the attacks entirely.*

By contrast, Dr. William Pierce's policy was never to give a public response to personal attacks, even though Willis Carto's Spotlight tabloid attacked him repeatedly in the 1990s, for example insinuating that he was a "CIA asset." Since Dr. Pierce ignored the attacks, there was not much to be said about them, and consequently very little sustained interest.

If you do respond, stick to the facts. When a dispute is kept focused on facts instead of personality, there is some likelihood that facts will get sorted out. As long as it's a matter of sorting out facts, we are all on the same side, trying to get at the truth. If the accuser has made an honest mistake, you might win him over. When it becomes an exchange of accusations, the search for truth is over.

Even if the other guy is totally committed to unreasonable personal attacks, don't follow his example. If you do, you are giving up the intellectual high ground. You can say that somebody is saying reckless or foolish things, rather than being deliberately malicious, and still keep the dispute, on your side at least, within the realm of demonstrable facts. Motives are hard to determine but recklessness and foolishness can be demonstrated about what somebody says or does. You can win the rational minority over to your side that way.

Responding to somebody who recklessly throws around personal accusations with the same kind of accusation, unless you have good evidence, just validates recklessness and spreads irrationality, which we really don't need.
* I really don't want to dump on Kevin Strom gratuitously; this is just an egregious example known to me. Kevin Strom actually does have some good qualities -- meticulous, knowledgeable, etc. -- but stoic endurance is clearly not one of them, and that deficiency explains his conduct both in the face of personal attacks and when facing criminal charges. He seems to have been the opposite of Dr. Pierce in that regard. I cannot imagine Dr. Pierce pleading guilty as Kevin did to a charge (possession of child pornography) that would stain his reputation forever -- of which, according to Kevin, he was innocent -- so as to get out of prison sooner and reduce short-term emotional distress for his children. It amounts to sacrificing the future for the sake of the present. Dr. Pierce would have said that life is hard and that enduring some emotional distress early in life will make the children better able to cope with life. If Martin Lindstedt could beat such an inflammatory charge, Kevin Strom could have done so too, if he was innocent: it just would have meant staying in prison longer.

1 comment:

White Will said...

Hadding: "If you do respond, stick to the facts. When a dispute is kept focused on facts instead of personality, there is some likelihood that facts will get sorted out. As long as it's a matter of sorting out facts, we are all on the same side, trying to get at the truth..."

When you wrote these words last June you had not yet undertaken to get at the truth of the bogus, 75-page "A Brief History of the White Nationalist Movement."

In your investigation of that document you stuck to the facts, all right, and in doing so the disturbing personality of its author -- a mendacious smear artist -- was revealed. http://noncounterproductive.blogspot.com/2010/10/perils-of-hobbyism-by-dr-william-l.html

Thank you for your dedication to truth.