An example of the corrosive demagoguery that can flow from raw blog sewage is on display at Atlas Shrugs, whose author, Pamela Geller, was profiled in yesterday's New York Times. Hers is a case study in why you can't ignore the influence of charismatic, zealously driven, talented bloggers, especially those who are spearheading a mini-culture war. From the Times story:
Operating largely outside traditional Washington power centers "” and, for better or worse, without traditional academic, public-policy or journalism credentials "” Ms. Geller, with a coterie of allies, has helped set the tone and shape the narrative for a divisive national debate over Park51 (she calls the developer a "thug" and a "lowlife"). In the process, she has helped bring into the mainstream a concept that after 9/11 percolated mainly on the fringes of American politics: that terrorism by Muslims springs not from perversions of Islam but from the religion itself. Her writings, rallies and television appearances have both offended and inspired, transforming Ms. Geller from an Internet obscurity, who once videotaped herself in a bikini as she denounced "Islamofascism," into a media commodity who has been profiled on "60 Minutes" and whose phraseology has been adopted by Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.
Geller is Jewish, which I find interesting, because she has become famous for demonizing a whole religion and people, in much the same way that many have demonized Jews throughout history. For additional, related historical perspective on religious fear-mongering, do read this story.