Dear John Ryan,
Even though you and I have never actually met, we do seem to share much in common.
We're both good-looking fellas.
[img_assist|nid=2900|title=J.D. Ryan.|desc=|link=node|align=center|width=640|height=426] We both live in Vermont.
We both like movies (I'm more of an action/adventure guy, but I have learned so much about "grindhouse" films from reading your "Five Before Chaos" blog).
We seem to share a healthy distrust of organized religion and an appreciation for the antics of Tea Baggers.
And we both find fun coming up with humorous nicknames for each other.
You, for example, have called me a "whiny spineless douche" on numerous occasions at your own blog and John Odum's Green Mountain Daily, and, in private email correspondence, have called me a "fucktard."
I likened you, meanwhile, to a "cyber pit bull-y" in my Seven Days letter of two weeks ago.
I just wanted to take a few minutes on this cloudy mud season morning to respond to your letter here by putting your comments in context, and correcting a few items, just for the record.
You wrote: I had to laugh at the sour grapes on display from Vermont Commons’ Rob Williams [“Feedback,” February 3] in regard to Cathy Resmer’s article on blogs [“We’ve Got News for You,” January 27].
I am glad I made you laugh. Laughter is the best medicine in these interesting times. I was confused by your "sour grapes" label, though. Actually, I wrote the Seven Days letter tongue-in-cheek, as anyone who read it closely no doubt realized. And I was addressing the entire Seven Days media issue as a whole, not Cathy Resmer's article on blogs, to simply point out that they missed a huge variety of media-related stories in Vermont worth telling.
You wrote: Aside from Vermont Commons’ site being overlooked (where one can learn of the secret “earthquake weapon” the U.S. military just used on Haiti to get their oil and gold)...
Actually, my "overlooked" comment was not referring to the Vermont Commons web site, but to our "in print" statewide independent news journal, 10,000 copies of which are distributed in 200 locations all over Vermont. And your "earthquake weapon" comment must have confused readers - you are referring to a single post made by one of our more than 1 dozen bloggers and taking it out of context to make the entire Vermont Commons enterprise look silly. Ha. That's very clever of you. It would be like me taking a Green Mountain Daily post on birding and trying to make that single post stand in for the whole GMD enterprise. (I really like JW's birding posts, incidentally. Let's have more of those.)
You wrote: Rob fails to mention that his big beef with Green Mountain Daily...
John, John, John. You didn't read my letter very closely, did you? I have no beef with Green Mountain Daily. As I have said on numerous occasions at this blog, I read GMD religiously and find much of value there. I find more value in some GMD writers' posts than in others, but this is true of any blog with multiple writers, I imagine.
You wrote: ...is the fact that we publicized Second Vermont Republic’s close ties with neo-Confederate organizations...
Let's be clear, here, John. Three years ago, GMD and your CHAOS blog mostly republished allegations made by an anonymous blog site called "Thomas Rowley" which leveled a number of charges at Thomas Naylor, me, and the Second Vermont Republic. GMD didn't actually do much legwork, other than to repeat the allegations made by an anonymous blog site. Golf claps all around. The "close ties with neo-Confederate organizations" of which you speak referred to a URL link on the SVR web site to a group called the League of the South - one of more than 2 dozen URL links to 2 dozen secession-minded organizations representing a wide variety of political perspectives.
You wrote: ...which, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, SVR’s head guru Thomas Naylor has continued, unrepentantly, even appearing on an avowed white-supremacist’s talk show in the last few years).
As you know, John, Thomas Naylor is more than capable of speaking for himself re: SVR's motives for and interest in nonviolent secession for the once and future republic of Vermont. Appearing on a "white supremacist talk show" to discuss secession does not make one a racist any more than conducting an interview with TIME magazine makes one an unabashed "American Century" Henry Luce'ian enthusiast for U.S. Empire. You are confusing the messenger with the message here.
You wrote: When Mr. Williams himself was questioned about these things when they first came to light, his own response was that it was “none of his damn business.” Apparently, the Vermont ideals he supposedly espouses ad nauseum take a back seat to the “lost cause.”
It's funny, John, you've repeated this "none of his damn business" old chestnut so often over the past three years that I've lost track of how many times I've seen it referenced in your little blogo-world.
One more time, for the record.
When I talked 2 years ago with Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) about Vermont Commons publishing the secession-focused articles of tenured Emory University professor Donald Livingston (one of which is about the NEW ENGLAND secession tradition), I replied by saying that, in my professional dealings with Mr. Livingston (2 Vermont-based national secession conference dinners - Middlebury in 2004 and Burlington in 2006 - a phone call, and several email exchanges) nothing he said or did indicated that he was in any way a "racist," and (listen closely now) "speaking personally, it is none of my damn business."
In other words, I was responding about my professional relationship, as an editor, with a single contributor to our news journal, Donald Livingston. Your use of the "none of his damn business" comment without this context is simply false, and to repeat it over and over perpetuates this misleading information, John, not to mention being awfully un-neighborly.
You wrote: As to the info provided by anonymous blogger “Thomas Rowley” (who, sadly, is not me, as Williams insists in his conspiracy-addled mind)...
Ah yes. The old ad hominem attack. The last refuge of the scoundrel.
I have privately suggested to you and to Mr. Odum that the TWO of you (not just you) constructed the "Thomas Rowley" anonymous blog site back in winter 2007. Very easy to do, especially if you don't want to take any direct responsibility for incendiary stuff your GMD or CHAOS blogs might say.
Let me be clear. I have no conclusive proof that you and/or Mr. Odum are "Thomas Rowley."
But here's what I do know, John(s).
1. When I invited your close friend and GMD blogging compatriot John Odum to lunch three years ago after he began repeating the anonymous blogger's allegations, I asked Mr. Odum why "Thomas Rowley" didn't simply come forth and publicly inquire about the charges. His responses were so fascinating that I wrote them down after our lunch conversation. Mr. Odum responded by confiding to me that he knew "Thomas Rowley," that " Rowley was not well," and that "Rowley" was concerned about any repercussions and consequences as a result of publicizing "his" charges. (Yes, that Mr. Naylor is a dangerous fellow. As a seventy-plus retired international businessman, economics professor, and author, the man doesn't even have his own email address, fer cryin' out loud.)
2. After reading your personal blog for three years, it is clear to me that the tone and style of your personal blog closely match the tone and style of "Thomas Rowley's."
3. Numerous colleagues who've watched this story unfold tell me that initial attempts to engage "Rowley" in constructive conversation a few years back were met with the same sort of virulent name-calling and outright hostility that you seem so fond of.
4. Additionally, you have told me yourself that you have "gone after" another blogger you aren't fond of by setting up the same sort of hatchet campaign - creating an anonymous blog (the same Blogger platform and template, by the way, as the Rowley blog) from which charges can be leveled without fear of reprisal.
None of this constitutes a "smoking gun," of course.
Perhaps I am wrong about John Ryan + John Odum = Thomas Rowley.
But the circumstantial evidence certainly seems reasonably strong.
And that begs the question - why didn't you just make your allegations publicly and courageously at your own blogs, instead of hiding behind an anonymous blogger site and a pseudonym?
You wrote: ...it was substantive enough to have Naylor be the subject of several articles on the SPLC’s “Hate Watch” site, and Williams has not been able to refute any of what was revealed about the Vermont secessionist movement, other than to dismiss it as yet another conspiracy.
Actually, John, as you know, I had an extended conversation with Heidi Beirich of the SPLC about these very issues two winters ago, and we published the results on our web site. You are of course free to challenge my conclusions. I will let interested Vermonters be the judge.
You wrote: It’s important to remember whom these people have gotten into bed with as we sit back and ooh and ahh over the novelty of secession.
We are "getting into bed with" any forward-looking Vermonter interested in creating a more independent Vermont for this new century, which is shaping up to look very different than the last one. And secession ain't novel, John. It is a bedrock principle upon which the United States was founded in 1776, and it may be, as Russell Longcore says, "the hope for humanity" moving forward.
To conclude: I have tried to respond to your contentions as best as I can here, John.
Our mission statement and every single article we've published in our five years as a news journal are here on our web site.
If you wish to continue this conversation, perhaps we might do it publicly, maybe in Montpelier, and invite Vermonters and the press to come and attend?
You, John Odum and Thomas Rowley can have one podium, and I'll take the other.
Three (or is it two?) against one, and you can ask me any questions you wish.
I am ready when you are.
Free Vermont, and long live the UNtied States!
Yours most sincerely,
Rob Williams; Editor/Publisher - Vermont Commons
PS: Here's your whole letter, in its entirety:
I had to laugh at the sour grapes on display from Vermont Commons’ Rob Williams [“Feedback,” February 3] in regard to Cathy Resmer’s article on blogs [“We’ve Got News for You,” January 27]. Aside from Vermont Commons’ site being overlooked (where one can learn of the secret “earthquake weapon” the U.S. military just used on Haiti to get their oil and gold), Rob fails to mention that his big beef with Green Mountain Daily is the fact that we publicized Second Vermont Republic’s close ties with neo-Confederate organizations (which, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, SVR’s head guru Thomas Naylor has continued, unrepentantly, even appearing on an avowed white-supremacist’s talk show in the last few years).
When Mr. Williams himself was questioned about these things when they first came to light, his own response was that it was “none of his damn business.” Apparently, the Vermont ideals he supposedly espouses ad nauseum take a back seat to the “lost cause.”
As to the info provided by anonymous blogger “Thomas Rowley” (who, sadly, is not me, as Williams insists in his conspiracy-addled mind), it was substantive enough to have Naylor be the subject of several articles on the SPLC’s “Hate Watch” site, and Williams has not been able to refute any of what was revealed about the Vermont secessionist movement, other than to dismiss it as yet another conspiracy. It’s important to remember whom these people have gotten into bed with as we sit back and ooh and ahh over the novelty of secession.