Words fail me at the news of the great Steven den Beste’s death. I’ll content myself with echoing Bill:
In the beginning, the towering figures of the Blogosphere were Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, Charles Johnson, and, perhaps the greatest of the long-form bloggers, Steven Den Beste.
Daily Pundit owes equal credit to Instapundit and the U.S.S. Clueless for its very existence, as both provided primary inspiration for my own comparatively paltry efforts. And though Steven and I fell out and parted ways some years ago, I will miss him terribly.
The Blogosphere has lost some great ones over the years. Steven was one of the greatest.
Thank you so much for everything, Steven. Rest now.
Amen. Just…well, that’s all. For those of you who weren’t around back in those early post 9/11 days (and how quaint that sounds to me now, as if something unforgettable happened that day), den Beste made the case for the West’s proactive self-defense against the hateful savagery of Islam better than just about anybody.
He made the same mistake most of us did back then: assuming that there was something the Moslem world would find irresistibly attractive about Western-style freedom and democracy, something that would pipe them inexorably away from a hideous 7th century barbarism and bring them into the light of modernity.
He was wrong about that; so were we all. The Moslem world preferred to double down on murderous revanchism and the dark, primitive savagery that is the core of their misanthropic pseudo-religion; they turned out to be not just uninterested in any sort of enlightened moderation of their ass-backwards death cult, but actively hostile to it.
Which does not at all indicate any sort of delusion or ignorance on his part, I think. Rather, it speaks to a very human optimism and hopefulness, a granting of the benefit of the doubt that the Moslem world turned out to be unworthy of.
His arguments were always impeccably constructed; his writing was beautifully lucid and engaging. The flaw at their core was the Moslem world’s, not his. In the end, he hoped for more from them than they could live up to. There are exceptions to that, of course, and we can only wish those pitiful few well and hope for the best for them, and try to support and encourage them as and when we can.
In the end, Steven’s writing stands on its own. The Moslem inability to live up to his ambition and hope for them is their failure, not his; it detracts from his stellar work not one whit. One of Bill’s readers has graciously archived the old USS Clueless site here, and if you aren’t one of us old OG farts, you really ought to set aside some time and go dig in. It’s a deep well indeed, and well worth your attention, although there’s way more there than just what we used to call warblogging. It’s a crystal-clear snapshot of a moment in time before we really knew just what kind of darkness we were doomed to struggle against, and as such is enlightening in more ways than I can begin to explain.
Rest easy, Steven. You won’t be forgotten.