Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hugh Fitzgerald: Man of Mystery


















Today, in a Jihad Watch
post entitled Fitzgerald and Spencer at Restoration Weekend, Spencer introduces the post by reminding the readers:

“In a blow to the crowd that insists that Hugh Fitzgerald and I are the same person, both of us are currently at the David Horowitz Freedom Centers Restoration Weekend in West Palm Beach, Florida.”

Last month, Spencer mentioned the same thing, in a post refuting various smears CAIR had made against him, including the implication that he and Fitzgerald are one and the same person:

“Contrary to rumor, I am not Hugh, and he is not me—we both attended the Horowitz Centers last Restoration Weekend.”

The reader assumes that by “last” Restoration Weekend, Spencer refers to the one held last year—with the further assumption that it is, in fact, an annual event. Restoration Weekend is an event created by David Horowitz, the creator also of the fine on-line magazine Front Page and also the writer of many books that tackle various issues surrounding the pathology of Leftism, to which he himself woke up after spending years being a radical Leftist himself in the 1960s. The Restoration Weekend events comprise a few days surrounding a weekend during which many sociopolitical analysts gather at some resort to hold panel discussions and to network (and, one supposes, from this online brochure about this years event, to get in some primo relaxation, golfing and general fun & sun).

A quick search on the Front Page site, however, yielded some odd discrepancies: For example, an article there on Thursday March 9, 2006, by an author only calling himself “Brian from London”, reported that “Horowitz’s Center for the Study of Popular Culture held its annual Restoration Weekend between February 23 and 26 in Phoenix, Arizona. . .” A second Front Page article substantiates this. Apparently contradicting this is yet another Front Page article dated November 20, 2006, which is introduced by the blurb that “David Horowitz delivered the following speech at this years Restoration Weekend, held November 16-19 at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.” Again, a second Front Page article supports this. If there is any doubt about whether the Restoration Weekend is, in fact, an annual event (which means it is only held once a year), the Freedom Center, Horowitzs parent organization under whose umbrella belong not only the Restoration Weekend events but also Front Page magazine and other projects, states on its official website that: “The Weekend is an annual get together for Freedom Center supporters featuring some of the top policymakers and opinion leaders in America.”

If Restoration Weekend is an annual get together, how to explain the ostensible fact that two different Restoration Weekends were held in the year 2006, one in February, the other in November, one in Arizona, the other in Florida? It seems that the aura of mystery surrounding Fitzgerald also attaches to the only event at which he has been—apparently only according to Spencer himself—seen with Spencer.

Photos of Spencer abound: he has one on his site, Jihad Watch, and he has posted over the years numerous photos of himself at various events. He has also posted videos of himself, not only delivering lectures but also in debates with others. Not a single photo seems to exist of Hugh Fitzgerald. Not only this, but no explanation has ever been put forth for this odd dearth of documentation of a major figure in the anti-jihad movement (whom Spencer first elevated back in 2004 to the status of Vice-President of Jihad Watch), when we have photos of all the other major players, such as David Horowitz, Andrew Bostom, Daniel Pipes, Nonie Darwish, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, etc. It seems silly to continue maintaining this queer blackout on Fitzgeralds physiognomy, particularly when Spencer has to keep denying the equally silly rumors of their identity with each other.

Is Fitzgerald trying to affect a Salingeresque mystique? But even of that famously fanatical recluse, J.D. Salinger, there exist photographs (including one taken of him a few years ago pushing a supermarket cart out to his car in the exclusively quasi-rural and rarified environs of his home in upstate whatever). Is Fitzgerald horribly disfigured, like the Phantom of the Opera or the Elephant Man? If so, no one seems to recoil at his presence at these Restoration Weekends, nor ever utter a peep about anything remarkable there, such as the sight of an illustrious participant entering the hall with frightful bandages or some dramatically sorrowful and vaguely macabre mask. Does Fitzgerald suffer from agoraphobia or S.A.D.—Social Anxiety Disorder? If so, again, he would probably not be attending all these annual Restoration Weekends—unless, perhaps, he attended, only to remain locked in his hotel room sitting in a wheelchair like Stephen Hawkings, stroking a white cat on his lap as he watched the proceedings via a panel of remote monitors. And why has Fitzgerald apparently never delivered a paper at the Restoration Weekends or participated in panel discussions? It is eminently reasonable to assume that had he done so, it would be reported at Jihad Watch. Does he have a debilitating stutter that prevents him from public speaking? Would his concettism on paper transpare as traulism before a live audience? Perhaps he is mute? Or has crippling stage fright?

At the very least, Fitzgerald should proffer a reason for why he remains, in the 21st century, unphotographed (let alone unvideographed), and why not a soul other than Spencer ever documents his existence in time and in space. Perhaps Fitzgerald is really a famous personage who does not want his (or her) identity to be known? Even so, it is time for he and Spencer to own up—and they do not need to betray that identity; they only need indicate that such an anonymity explains the Fitzgerald mystique, and we Jihad Watch supporters, grateful for the decent respect to be treated not as hoi polloi one wants to keep at arms length thus granted us, would trust implicitly the reasoning behind its necessity. Some of those supporters, in at least one comments field of a 2005 Jihad Watch post, once bandied about the question of Hughs identity, to no tangible conclusion (with Hugh himself weighing in, in typically dry and laconic fashion to the effect that he wishes to remain a mystery).

Spencer and Fitzgerald—contrary to some of their implicit affectations—are not royalty whose careers enjoy a blithe independence from their many readers and supporters; rather, the two of them are dependant upon that wider populations support. They owe that population at least an explanation—but better still would be a current photograph of Hugh Fitzgerald, preferrably ungrainy and unsilhouetted. And not of him looking like Peter Lorre in a panama hat and sunglasses ducking in or out of a casbah in Casablanca. That would be, by itself, nice, but for our purposes, it would not suffice.

Update:

The mystery is solved...!


3 comments:

alpha9884-google said...

Robert is not a complainer.

He never mentions the depth of inconvenience for his life that having to inhabit "undisclosed locationsville" has entailed. You might contemplate how huge a burden it must be, especially with kids.

Theo Van Gogh, Hirsi Ali, Naguib Mahfouz, Taslima Nasreen, cars in France, etc....

Worth avoiding, no?

Erich said...

alpha,

I specifically said in my essay that fear would be a legitimate explanation Fitzgerald could offer for his maintenance of his mystique. But he has offered no explanations at all. I think he owes his readership a sincere explanation.

Stanton Cordray said...

The needless mystery is a bit provoking, and if Robert Spencer doesn't like the suspicions that have been aroused concerning Hugh Fitzgerald, he has only himself to blame.

I note with interest, though, that another famously unidentifiable writer on Islam, Ibn Warraq, cites Hugh Fitzgerald as an influence in his recent book "Defending the West", and that he does so in a manner that seems to take for granted that his readers will know who he is referring to.

I also note that, as far as I can see, the mysterious Mr Fitzgerald has now disappeared from Jihadwatch, and no one is saying anything about it. Time for an APB?