Friday, April 25, 2008

Our Asymptotic Analysts

. . . a curve is said to approach an asymptote endlessly and finally “touch” it only at infinity.

* * * * *
It has been necessary to coin a term: the asymptotic analyst.

The word asymptotic in plain English essentially means “moving closer and closer to a position, but never quite getting there”.

The position in question here—the one that asymptotic analysis never quite attains though sometimes it might seem to be approximating itis the one that affirms that Islam as a whole is the problem, and that all Muslims enable that problem.  This position is the conclusion of what I term, by distinction from asymptotic analysis, holistic analysis.

The logically consequent corollary of this position of holistic analysis affirms that, because we cannot sufficiently distinguish the harmless Muslims (who are granted to exist but are not sufficiently identifiable) from the dangerous Muslims, we must treat all Muslims as dangerous.

The asymptotic analyst, then, is a critic of Islam, but refuses to connect all the dots that would lead him to the logical conclusions of holistic analysis above.

Thus, significantly, the asymptotic analyst turns out to be not a critic of Islam, but a critic of parts of Islam (“elements of Islam”, in the impeccably weaselly, deftly slippery words of a major asymptotic analyst, Robert Spencer); and not a critic of Muslims, but only of "extremist" Muslims, or "radicalized" Muslims, or any number of other permutations of the Muslims who are not Moderates-By-Another-Name.

The problem, of course, with framing the overall critique in terms of parts of Islam, while refusing to embrace the whole of Islam, is that this methodology makes it easier to detach those objectionable parts from a putatively benign Islam. Even the subtler quasi-Derridaist methodology employed by Robert Spencer—by which there is no “Islam” per se as a singular, integrally systemic whole, only a plurality of “Islams” each with its own parallel potential legitimacy and all of them parts unto themselves—ends up facilitating the detachment methodology and therefore serves to collude, wittingly or unwittingly, with the apologist propaganda that seeks at every turn to detach any bad aspect of Islam from Islam itself in order to salvage the latter.

We see then, with the example of Robert Spencer, that even though the asymptotic analyst is a critic of at least aspects of Islam, his methodology tends to enable the methodology of the apologists of Islam (whether they be Muslims, or non-Muslim Politically Correct Multi-Culturalists). In doing so, it serves to perpetuate our intolerable situation in the modern West by which the dominant mainstream is guided by an irrational paradigm in dealing with the problem of Islam.

Some of the various flavors of the asymptotic analysis were discussed in an older essay of mine:The Camel in the Room: Prefixes, Suffixes, Qualifiers and Euphemisms.

Other essays of mine that deal with closely related issues—such as what I have termed “the Learning Curve of the Problem of Islam” by which one graduates along the steps indicated logically to us as we go through the process of connecting the dots about the dangerous evil of Islam—include:

The Learning Curve: How's Your IQ (Islamic Quotient)?


The New Bell Curve.

I too went through this process of moving along step by step during which the full horror of Islam slowly dawned on me, as many non-Muslim critics have at one point or another, each in his or her own way—though many, like our asymptotic analysts, seem to hit a brick wall preventing them from going all the way. This brick wall manifests itself, or is couched, in terms that vary from individual to individual
. While the individual flavors vary, perhaps for all of these asymptotic analysts, ultimately, their inability to graduate to the head of the Infidel class and actually matriculate is due to a common psychological factor: a profound aversion they have of facing the grim and brutal fact that—due to the exigencies of our self-defense, the singular nature of the Islamic threat, and our sufficient inability to distinguish harmless Muslims from dangerous Muslims—we are, whether we like it or not, effectively and unavoidably arrayed against all of Islam and all Muslims.

Interestingly, in my experience, only certain ex-Muslims demonstrate a clear sense that their critique and condemnation of Islam is complete and not asymptotic. The only non-Muslim analyst I can think of (aside from myself and the non-famous “civilians” of the Anti-Islam Movement quoted at length in my recent essay on Robert Spencer's inadequacy in this regard, Robert Spencer: Pussycat or lion? Having his cake and eating it too?), in whose words I can detect no asymptotes, is Bill Warner, who summed up his views well in a recent interview.

I conclude this first installment of a look at the asymptotic analyst by quoting the words of a critic of Islam, Dr. Nancy Kobrin (described in the round table discussion from which the following quote was taken as “a psycho-analyst, Arabist, and counter-terrorism expert”) that reveal the asymptotic spin:

. . . while there are pockets of patriarchal clannish ultraorthodox in Judaism where the female is controlled, by and large Judaism has modernized and adapted. This has not been the case with Wahhabi Islam; it has remained stuck in a regrettable mode of envy and destruction.

The asymptotic word in the above quote is, of course, the qualifier “Wahhabi”, which tends to function as a way to detach what is bad in Islam—i.e., what is “radicalized” and “extremist” and even “fundamentalist”—from Islam itself.

We shall revisit our coinage, the asymptotic analyst, in the near future by presenting more actual manifestations of it from the words of various analysts we notice whose statements indicate they are indeed asymptotic.


Nobody said...

Those equations look somewhat complicated. A simple example of an asymptote would be


This curve can never touch the lines x=0 or y=0, since if x=0, y will be ∞, and vice versa. That makes the lines x=0 and y=0 asymptotes.

The asymptotes in this case, as you point out, would be the desired conclusion that 'Islam is the problem'.

Erich said...

Thanks nobody, but the headline pic is more for "frosting" than to be actually substantively relevant.

Westward Ho said...

Very nice post.

I hear it everywhere, and it grates. Thank you for naming it as you have.

Objecting to "asymptotism" drives the discussion right into challenging their firm assumption that Islam cannot be itself evil. Our cultural assumptions deny the possibility. And interlocuters are not about to jettison so core an assumption because of my insistence, even if I am reasoned and present evidence well.

Getting them over this hump requires they get extensive exposure to the Islamic scriptures.

You are right in pointing out how this very widespread "asymptotic" pattern reveals a core impulse in our thinking. Islam, whatever that is, is pre-exonerated, no matter what.

Westward Ho said...

Besides, didn't Islam invent asymptotes?


Erich said...

Thanks Westward Ho,

I was reminded of a quote from T.E. Lawrence (of "Lawrence of Arabia" fame):

It is not only the Arabs' view that abides in the black-and-white; it is also their interior equipment. Their thoughts pass with the greatest facility from one extreme to the other. They move spontaneously among superlatives. Sometimes, the greatest inconsistencies seem, by them, to be seized en bloc. They exclude all compromise and follow the logic of their ideas to the absurd conclusion, without seeing anything incompatible among their opposed conclusions. Their serene judgment oscillates with sangfroid from asymptote to asymptote so imperturbably that they seem hardly conscious of their vertiginous leap from the one to the other."