Posted on | November 1, 2011 | 142 Comments
“The Pagan Right is a vigorous defender of conservative values and classical liberalism in an arena that few other conservatives have access to. It is time the movements were linked together so that both are strengthened.”
– Rob Taylor, Jan. 22, 2001
In January 2008, I interviewed Roger L. Simon, CEO of PJM, for a feature article in The Washington Times, in which I wrote, “In this Wild West online frontier, Mr. Simon might as well be John Wayne.”
Between the time I interviewed Roger and the time that interview was published, I tendered my resignation at the Times, so that this feature profile was actually my last bylined article for the paper.
Though entirely a coincidence, this was perhaps fitting, as I subsequently have made my career as a gunslinger in that “Wild West online frontier.” And for a while, I was an occasional contributor to PJM, for example reporting on a July 2008 campaign appearance by John McCain in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and reporting from the Democratic National Convention in August.
That friendly relationship continued until Sept. 12, 2009, when my PJM coverage of the 9/12 March on Washington — the biggest rally of the Tea Party movement — proved to be the spark that lit the fuse of Charles Johnson’s final meltdown at Little Green Footballs. Although Roger professed continued friendship toward me, my future offers to contribute at PJM were rebuffed by the editors (not Roger himself) and, with the exception of an April 2010 article specially solicited by my friend Charlie Martin, I ceased to be a contributor.
Certainly this was not the result of any animosity on my part. Many of my friends are associated with PJM and link me in their blogs. However, it gradually became obvious to me that something (most likely my role in the LGF meltdown) had made me persona non grata in the eyes of influential people at PJM. Someone within the organization had decided I could never officially be affiliated with PJM.
“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”
It’s frustrating, this inability to remedy a problem I understand completely: Being “controversial” makes it impossible for friends to offer me positions for which I am otherwise qualified.
Charles Johnson understood this, too: If he could do nothing else to harm me — and I have continued to succeed despite all his deranged viciousness — Johnson knew that his attacks would attach a permanent taint to my name, forever casting me under a penumbra of suspicion that would damage my career as a professional journalist. So I am sympathetic when my friends at PJM and other organizations profess their personal friendship for me and their admiration for my work and yet, inevitably, pre-emptively strike me from the list of names to be considered when it comes to hiring opportunities or other recognition.
Not a Synonym for ‘Crazy’
No one will ever say this to my face, of course, and I sometimes wonder if perhaps my friends are no longer even consciously aware of why they hold me at arm’s length. Nothing succeeds like success and nothing fails like failure, and there is a sort of momentum to things like this, whereby one snub leads to the next rejection and so on until, before you know it, you find yourself on the receiving end of backhanded insults. And when you attempt to halt this snowball of negativity by calling attention to such contemptuous treatment, the friends who have insulted you will redouble the insult by accusing you of “whining,” and others act as if you have lost your mind.
About a month ago, when I e-mailed friends to express alarm at an apparent increase of negative attitudes toward me, one friend responded by urging me to seek professional help for a “chemical imbalance”!
Well, maybe I get so jacked up on coffee that my e-mails sometimes seem crazy, but there is nothing irrational in my perception of the situation. Nor is there anything insane about my efforts to prevent the problem from snowballing by publicly calling attention to occasional snubs.
My methods may be unusual, but “unusual” is not a synonym for “crazy.”
Keep this in mind: If you find yourself excluded where you expected to be included, one of two explanations is possible:
- You have been considered and rejected; or
- You were merely ignored.
This is applicable to many scenarios in organizational dynamics. If you find yourself passed over or excluded in such a situation, a judgment has been rendered. Your natural sense that you have been unfairly rejected does not justify anger toward the person or persons who have rendered this judgment. Nor is a self-pitying attitude of victimhood helpful. Your emotions, although perfectly understandable, cannot explain or resolve your problem.
In a situation where you have been considered and rejected, the decision may reflect an honest assessments of your shortcomings. More likely, however, you were merely ignored — overlooked, “out of sight, out of mind,” a name that never occurred to the decision-maker when they were compiling the list that did not include you. For some reason, your abilities and achievements have not earned the positive attention you had hoped.
Either way, the best way to remedy your problem — assuming it is not irremediable — is to seek an explanation from the decision-maker. “What am I doing wrong? How may I fix whatever the problem is?” Whether you were rejected because you are a Bad Person, or omitted because you are a Nobody, you’re never going to know the answer if you don’t ask.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
All of this is preamble to an astonishing bit of news: PJM has hired David Swindle as an associate editor. Swindle evidently had been given hiring authority for “PJM Culture,” and has hired Rob Taylor among the contributors to this new project.
Friends contacted me about this, and I was at first tempted to write Roger Simon an e-mail with the subject line, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”?
The choice of Swindle is astonishing enough. It took Swindle less than two years to run David Horowitz’s NewsReal blog into the ground. Failed online projects are common enough that one cannot necessarily blame the pilots of the doomed aircraft. However, this particular crash produced complaints from some former NewsReal contributors that suggested poor judgment on Swindle’s part. Most especially, Swindle invited American University student Alex Knepper to contribute at NewsReal and, when Knepper subsequently offended readers, Swindle then mounted an extraordinary (and evidently quite personal) vendetta against Knepper.
Well, Swindle is a young man and young men sometimes do foolish things, being unfamiliar with the Ways Things Should Be Done. As weird as the Knepper episode was, however, I might have dimissed it as a rookie mistake had Swindle not subsequently permitted a NewsReal blogger to personally defame me and refused to rectify the blunder. As I wrote in June:
[L]ast December, [Rob] Taylor used his posting privileges at David Horowitz’s NewsReal blog to compare me to serial killer John Wayne Gacy (!), and when I objected to his malicious defamation, Taylor doubled down, calling my blog a “little LGF like cult of degenerates, ‘Men’s’ movement sissies and neo-nazis,” calling me a “liar” and gay-baiting me (!!) to boot.
Just as he used NewsReal to attack me, Taylor then used his posting privileges at Red State to attack me, which was the occasion of my June post, “Self-Proclaimed Pagan Rob Taylor Lectures Conservatives on Morality?”
At no point has Taylor ever explained to readers that he has been harboring a grudge against me that dates back to September 2009, when he dogpiled me in the wake of the LGF meltdown. Taylor has never apologized for nor recanted his repeated attacks on me. Instead, on each occasion when I’ve called attention to these attacks, Taylor has doubled down, dishonestly denying his personal malice, then adding further insults and accusations.
And now Swindle has brought his friend Taylor within the fold at PJM, where my own friends apparently are unable to do the same for me.
So I find myself confronted with new evidence showing that, however sincere Roger Simon is in expressing personal friendship toward me, this friendship is not sufficient to prevent his company from promoting the work of someone who has repeatedly attacked and insulted me. Not only am I apparently prohibited from further writing for PJM, but those with hiring authority have sought ways of giving new prominence to my implacable enemies, who hate me without cause.
What should I make of this? The only possible conclusion is that, while Roger is my friend, other people associated with PJM — those responsible for bringing the Swindle/Taylor team aboard — are actively hostile toward me. This is a possibility that had long loomed over my dealings with PJM: If the CEO likes me, and yet I remain persona non grata there, someone else in the organization must be exercising influence against me.
Am I Fredo Corleone, to be treated this way?
Am I a useless imbecile, who may be insulted with impunity? Am I powerless to retrieve my fortunes and vindicate my dignity against the secretive whispering malefactors who have conspired to humiliate me in such an ostentatious manner?
It doesn’t matter how this happened. I can’t let it pass unremarked.
“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”