Monday, July 28, 2008

Paranoia strikes deep

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

— "For What It's Worth"
Stephen Stills

The other day, Dennis Mangan put his blog in suspended animation. Among the reasons he gave was: "I've become reluctant to post what I really think, under my real name, for fear of repercussion. The state of the country, mass immigration, the ongoing war against whites and the West, and all of the politicians and liberals who put together this toxic brew that threatens to destroy America - all of it makes me sick. It's possible that potential repercussions will never happen and are a figment of my imagination, but why risk it?"

He seems not to be the only conservative prisoner of conscience with misgivings about what his public quarrel with the idols of the age might cost him. At a rough estimate, about 99 percent of dissidents from the ruling Liberal Establishment use screen names rather than their real ones in blogging or commenting. There are a few brave exceptions, most notably Lawrence Auster and Steve Sailer, but the exceptions stand in glaring contrast. As Stephen Hopewell (which I assume is his actual name, so he is another who dares retribution) says in his blog The Heritage American:
Our movement as yet is manifested mainly on the Internet, invisible to the larger society. To post messages on little-known forums, often under a pseudonym, is unsatisfying to one who feels a moral call to sacrifice his own comfort for the good of his country. And yet, with no publicly recognized base to work from, and the prospect of ostracism and worse in the workplace if one challenges the “politically correct” orthodoxy, for many of us it is still too early to take a stance of open confrontation.
I am not criticizing those who resist the liberal State and its grip on the media, business, and academia while choosing to remain an0nymous. They may be smart to shield themselves. But think about what this says about how really un-free our civil discourse has become. If you can remember that far, cast your mind back to pre-Internet days and newspaper letters to the editor about highly emotional issues of the time — school integration, say, or Rhodesia (issues that are now officially closed; there is only one Correct Opinion). Imagine the newspaper letters being signed "Stray from the Herd" or "High Note" or "Whistler's Daughter" instead of an actual name and home town. How strange would that have seemed then?

True, almost all dead-tree publications still insist on real names, which is one reason you read so little disagreement about "sensitive" topics in the letters section. People who oppose mass immigration or enforced multi-culturalism are either afraid to say so and give their real identity, or the publications simply won't print their letters. Where there is, in theory, unlimited freedom of expression — in the world of blogging — the great majority who hold views contrary to the ruling ideology dare not allow themselves to be known by name.

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I sometimes wonder if I am compiling a dossier on myself that will be in the hands of prosecutors at a future date. Even if it never goes that far in the United States (and I'm not at all sure it won't), will I be delivering myself into a jail sentence for thought crimes if I leave these shores, even for a holiday?

At especially paranoid moments — if it is indeed paranoia — I imagine getting off the plane in 2012 at Heathrow in London and going through customs. The woman at the passport control booth looks waves my passport under a scanner and looks at the monitor. She says nothing. In a matter of seconds two security guards appear. "Mr. Darby? Would you come this way, please." It is not a question.

I am led into a room and seated before a desk. A plainclothes security officer introduces himself as Muhammed al-Waziri. "Are you the Darby who writes on the 'blog' called Reflecting Light?"

"Uh, well, I don't know anyone else of that name who writes on Reflecting Light."

"Don't play the fool, Mr. Darby. Your position is more serious than you know. I have only to press a button and I can call up every article you have written with the keywords 'Islam' and "Britain self-destructs,' which are often cross-linked."

"I didn't realize Reflecting Light had fans in His Islamic Majesty Charles's security service."

"Don't play the fool, Mr. Darby. Our computer data mining has determined that there are no fewer than 336 words, phrases, or sentences that violate the Prophet (pbuh) Anti-Denigration and Apostasy Prohibition Act of 2010."

"Look here, I'm an American citizen, I write in the United States of America — "

"Don't play the fool, Mr. Darby. Your 'blog' can be accessed in the Islamic Kingdom on our security computers, although it is blocked for public distribution. You are in the Caliphate and your acts of disrespect for the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his followers will not be tolerated." The door opens, the two guards re-enter …

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That will be then. This is now. Reflecting Light is hosted on Blogspot, owned by Google. By the way, did I mention that the other day I clicked the link on the sidebar to Geert Wilders's video Fitna, about which I laughably wrote, "They can't suppress it"? When you try to play Fitna on YouTube, which is owned by Google, you get a message: "We're sorry, this video is no longer available."

Any time Google is so inclined, they can make Reflecting Light disappear, as if it never existed.

Yes, I could get my own server, but that would involve a deal of expense, maintenance, and technological learning that I'm not up to. I don't have fantasies about how important this particular blog is. But the possibility of one day
speaking their minds without fear was very important to the men who signed our Declaration of Independence, an act which might have led to them being hanged. They did not sign it with pseudonyms.

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4 comments:

Stephen Hopewell said...

Rick,

I’m delighted my blog has caught your attention. Yours is one of 3 or 4 that I have read for some time and hoped to be able to travel along with.

As for my name, if you were to call out “Stephen” or “Steve” from behind me I would turn around, but I’m sorry to say the rest is a pen name, though one with personal significance that I chose carefully to “fit” my traditionalist writing. I was deliberately ambiguous about that in the entry you quoted. I figure if people assume it’s my real name, that’s all the better, but I certainly don’t want to deceive my comrades in the struggle, so at least in this tiny comments corner, I’ll post the truth.

My reason is indeed an unwillingness to have my ideas known in my workplace, which is a severely politically correct environment. I may choose to take a public stance at some point, but now is certainly not the time. My blog represents a personal gathering of weapons, as you’ll notice it combines my own self-study with opinion writing.

There is a lot to say about your posting on the unfree nature of our public discourse, but the main point I would make is that at this point in time, at least, enforcement of political correctness is still mainly private and informal, although “State” censorship apparati are growing. There is a mass psychology which makes most white Westerners unable to hear challenges to liberal views about race, sexuality and the like without getting angry and disturbed. I’m concerned about receiving a complaint and being taken out by the commissars at my workplace, but I’m more concerned that my colleagues will literally start hating me and become very hard to work with. I have had experiences that convince me that this is quite a real danger.

It sounds very insipid to say I admire you for using your real name. I think anyone who is able to do so should; and in fact one strategy I think we could use in the long term for political activity would be to have “proxies” who are, say, retired, or financially secure, to lend their names to the public part of the cause. Even they could be subject to persecution, though. There is no getting around that this is a fight and not an argument, let alone a “discussion,” as KevinV of Deep In The Blue has said.

I have a lot more to say – and my blog is actually intended to enable contacts outside the Internet, though right now I’m still in training as a blogger – so feel free to email me if you want to discuss matters outside the Internet.

Stephen

Rick Darby said...

Stephen,

No worries. I understand completely why you need to adopt a persona for the Internet. It in no way diminishes your contribution. I quite like your nom de blog, by the way, and if you can stand another compliment without getting inflated, as a writer and editor I appreciate the literacy and precision of your style.

stephenhopewell said...

Thank you, Rick, and have a good trip.

Tanstaafl said...

Hello Rick.

It seems our mutual acquaintance Mr. Auster doesn't like pseudonyms. Thankfully this is one of those places where any "masked poltroon can walk in and say any fool thing."

I find your fears of a hypothetical His Islamic Majesty Charles's security service well-founded, not paranoid. Things are certainly headed that way. In the meantime of course it is already possible to be thrown in jail for thought crimes - and it isn't muslims doing the persecuting.