Striden mellom Charles Johnson i Little Green Footballs og hans gamle «venner» er gjenstand for en lang artikkel i New York Times. Forfatteren Jonathan Dee forsøker å finne ut hva det var som fikk Johnson til å forandre mening.
Utgangspunkt var anti-jihad-konferansen i Brussel i 2007, der Vlaams Belang deltok. Men Johnson har gått mye lenger. Ikke minst hans oppgjør med egne lesere har provosert: utestengelsen av folk, ikke bare fra kommentarfeltet, men også fra siden som sådan. De fikk ikke en gang lese den. Johnson svarte også på kritikk fra gamle lesere ved å publisere deres riktige navn og bilder av dem. Dette er fremgangsmåter som bryter med nettets ethos.
IN THE LAST DAY of November, Johnson delivered the final blow to his old alliances. In a post that he said took him about three minutes to write, he listed 10 reasons «Why I Parted Ways With the Right.» The «reasons» themselves amounted to little more than laundry lists: «Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (see: Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Birthers, creationists, climate deniers, etc.),» for instance. In the voluminous comment thread attached, Johnson was characteristically interested less in discussing the break itself than in discussing the reaction to it — calling readers’ attention to the number of times it was «re-tweeted,» linking to attacks on him, citing praise from quarters that not long ago would have considered him toxic. Anticlimactic as this moment might have seemed to right-wingers who broke with Johnson a year or more earlier, it caused a sensation: the site’s traffic spiked to about three and a half times what it was the day before. (It returned to its current levels — about 100,000 page views a day — within the week.)
«I saw the bill of particulars he nailed to the door of his Web site,» says the author Peter Collier — himself a survivor of the special vitriol directed at those who change sides in the ideological wars, after he and David Horowitz, his fellow former Ramparts editor, publicly leapt from far left to far right in the late 1980s. «Not exactly Whittaker Chambers, is he? I must say I was pretty put off by the profligate and kind of lame use of the word ‘fascism,’ a word that has been systematically denuded of its meaning, so that now it just signifies somebody you don’t agree with. I don’t want to say that it didn’t take some bravery and forethought and all that stuff — it just didn’t seem like a very considered and certainly not a very theoretical break. More of a take-this-job-and-shove-it moment.»