Kathy Shaidle and Gavin McInnes have been discussing online anonymity. I agree with them. You're not in the battle unless you put your name to it - and don't give me that Scarlet Pimpernel stuff: you're not riding out after dark on daring missions, you're just reTweeting some bloke's hashtag.
Mr McInnes is withering about the cyber-warrior ethos - the butch pseudonym, the graphic-novel avatar. But, cumulatively, it's making the Internet boring and ineffectual for everyone other than Isis. Speaking of which, notice how few of their followers have reservations about enthusiastically liking and favoriting and reTweeting their Islamic snuff videos, apparently indifferent as to whether Twitter, Facebook or the NSA know their IP numbers.
I'm often asked by readers why I don't "respond" to some no-name Tweeter who's called me a "coward" because I don't have "the guts" to say whatever it is he thinks I should be saying. I don't respond because I've got enough real enemies without clearing the schedule to joust with fictional ones. Recently, one of the Internet's bold Tooth Fairies, after a failed attack on my new book, accused Dr Judith Curry of having "literally gotten into bed" with me. I made a passing reference to this only because Michael E Mann is now so short of supporters that he has been enthusiastically reTweeting this new imaginary friend of his. So he's lending his name to the no-name.
But I've no interest in playing that game. Because one of us is real and the other isn't. Which means that one of us has his own skin in the game, and he doesn't want to waste his time trying to figure out whether the other one's deranged obsession is simply the usual basement blowhardry or whether, as for poor Alison Parker and Adam Ward, he's one of those crazies who means it.
As Kathy Shaidle notes, many of the commenters to the McInnes video are talking past each other. There are always rational reasons for not flying under your flag. But cumulatively and objectively they have a corrosive effect. McInnes cites the stand-up mommy who, in response to the arrest of a parent who let her children walk home from the park unaccompanied, organized a "Leave Your Kids At The Park" day - to demonstrate to the statist control freaks that they can't arrest us all. Her name is Lenore Skenazy, not "WarriorPrincess437".
The trouble is the opposite also applies: the more people who sit it out under handles like "Freedom Crusader" the easier it is to arrest the few who do put their names to it.
~I think of this, especially this month, in the context of the Mohammed cartoons. This weekend I shall be speaking in the Danish Parliament on the tenth anniversary of their publication. (See here for ticket details.) For the last few weeks Douglas Murray and I have been doing a mordant back-and-forth on how the only reason we're top of the bill is because everyone else is dead, or in hiding under 24-hour police protection. So there's no one but us to invite. Oh, wait - I see that just a couple of days ago there was a last minute change in the program:
Due to the general situation of the newspapers, Jyllands-Posten and Politiken on occasion of the ten year anniversary of the Muhammad cartoons Flemming Rose has had to cancel (among other events) his participation in this conference.
Mr Rose is the editor who commissioned those cartoons. Which would not happen today - speaking of "the general situation of the newspapers".
All of this was entirely predictable. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, which isn't a nom de plume or the new Guy Fawkes mask, has been saying for years that the best response to these provocations is to share the risk - as that mom who organized the park demo understood, and as I wrote ten years ago in The Western Standard:
The minute there were multimillion-dollar bounties on those cartoonists' heads, The Times of London and Le Monde and The Washington Post and all the rest should have said "this Thursday we're all publishing all the cartoons. If you want to put bounties on all our heads, you better have a great credit line at the Bank of Jihad. If you want to kill us, you'll have to kill us all...
But it didn't happen.
(That piece is now anthologized in my book on Islam and free speech, if you'd like to help defray my security costs.)
Instead, only a few comparatively minor publications stood with those Danish cartoonists. As I said to Megyn Kelly after the bloodbath at Charlie Hebdo:
Yes, they were very brave. This was the only publication that was willing to publish the Muhammad — the Danish Muhammad cartoons in 2006 because they decided to stand by those Danish cartoonists. I'm proud to have written for the only Canadian magazine to publish those Muhammad cartoons. And it's because The New York Times didn't and because Le Monde in Paris didn't, and the London Times didn't and all the other great newspapers of the world didn't - only Charlie Hebdo and my magazine in Canada and a few others did. But they were forced to bear a burden that should have been more widely dispersed.
And that's the corollary to "They'll have to kill us all": If you don't stand up, you make it easier to silence the few who do. Which is why Charb and his colleagues will not be appearing in Copenhagen this weekend.
This is a time for standing up.
~On Tuesday evening I'll be back with Sean Hannity on Fox News, coast to coast at 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific. If you're in the vicinity of the receiving apparatus, I hope you'll dial us up.