Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pot shots at the Pipes dream





A pot shot, considered as a genre of criticism, may reflect poorly either on the critic himself, or on his intended target.

For the definition of a pot shot, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is: 1. a random or easy shot, and 2. a criticism made without careful thought and aimed at a handy target for attack. Insofar, therefore, as a particular person makes himself so easy and handy a target for criticism that the critic requires little or no careful thought to deploy his criticism, the pot shot reflects poorly on the person targeted.

Such a person is Daniel Pipes, the quintessential asymptotic analyst—indeed the paramount model of that category of analysis, whose foundational, axiomatic premise is that Islam is benign while the dangerous pathologies we find in the Islamic orbit (designated by the artificial construct “Islamism”) pertain to historically recent aberrations of that benign Islam; and whose analytic conclusion, therefore, applying the premise to the problem of jihad, is that benign Islam can help us to neutralize aberrant Islamic pathologies, as long as we in turn help benign Islam reassert itself.

Today, I shall have fun taking pot shots at the Pipes dream as it has been lately expressed in an interview with Daniel Pipes (cross-posted on Jihad Watch, where Robert Spencer introduces Pipes as a Jihad Watch “friend”. Im sure hes a friendly guy, but even friends need to be criticized when they advocate stupid, if not counter-productive, ideas.). The questioner in the interview, “Q”, is Iivi Anna Masso, “DP” is Daniel Pipes, and my pot shots will be set off in italicized passages.

Q: Is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict political (nationalist) or theological?

DP: Ultimately the Arab-Israeli conflict rests on a Muslim assumption that territory that has been ruled by Muslims must not be ruled by non-Muslims, that it is permanently Muslim territory. That a non-Muslim people should come, take it over, and rule it is deeply inimical.

So far, so good, but with Pipes, one must not let one's guard down, for disappointment is always lurking around the corner of any fortuitously intelligent observations on his part.

That said, there have been four different stages of the Arab-Israeli conflict over the past century, four different stages of Arab approach. The first was pan-Syrian, to create a greater Syria; the second was pan-Arab, to create a greater Arab state, the third was Palestinian nationalist, and now the fourth is Islamist.

Ah, here we see that artificial construct "Islamism" rearing its historically recent head.

There could be a fifth and a sixth. The key here is not the approach which changes every few decades, but rather the deep belief among Muslims that Israel is an illegitimate state because it is in a territory that for over a millenium was controlled by Muslims.

Oh, are we now back to some factor underlying all these different "stages"a factor with a very long history? What could it be, if "Islamism" is only recent?

Q: Do you see an end to this conflict?


DP: I do see a possible end. I don’t see it going on forever, as no conflict goes on forever. I do see that it’s possibly going to end in 20-30 years, when the Palestinians are convinced that Israel is there and it’s permanent, and realize that there’s nothing they can do about that, accept it, and instead of trying to eliminate Israel will try to fix their own polity, economy, society and culture.

Now, why would "Palestinians" (i.e., Muslims) become convinced of this, if, as Pipes just got through saying seconds before, there is an underlying unwillingness based upon a "deep belief" among Muslims that Israel should never belong to non-Muslims? And why has Pipes suddenly narrowed the problem merely to "Palestinians" when before that he was framing the problem as one involving "Muslims" in general? And how could "Palestinians"even if, absurdly, they profoundly changed their minds in "20-30 years"have the power to effect what Muslims in general, whose minds remain unchanged, would not support? It's amazing how much incoherence Pipes can tangle himself into in the span of a few brief comments.

Q: You have written extensively about the distinction between Islam and “Islamism”, also called “militant Islam”, or “fundamentalism”. How do you explain the difference?

DP: Islam is a personal faith, and there are many different ways of understanding what it means to be a Muslim.

Islam is a "personal faith"? This is not only naive balderdash, it is blatantly inaccurate. Islam is the least "personal" faith in the world: it is profoundly communalistic, arrogating the worth of the Umma, the sectarian division, the dictatorship du jour, the tribe, and the family over and above the individual.

One can be a Sufi, a mystic. . .

Sufis are not merely, nor predominantly, "mystics" in the benignly Joseph Campbellite sense that would comfort upper-middle-class post-Yuppie New Age-esque Ikea-shopping NPR listeners; Sufis, as Spencer and Fitzgerald have in fact shown when they selectively critique Stephen Schwartz (but avoid criticizing their "friend" Pipes), have historically supported traditional military jihad and sharia law.

. . . one can be someone who lives by the law in a very strict way, one can be a nominal Muslim, who does not pay that much attention to his faith; all these and other ways are possible within the religion of Islam.

These "other ways"the "nominal Muslim" and the harmless "mystic"may be "possible" in Islam, but are they quantitatively numerous enough, and qualitatively distinct enough from traditional Islamic jihad, to warrant their usefulness in the framework by which Pipes here claims they are in fact useful? Given the deadly stakes of today's threat emanating out of the global diaspora of Muslims, it is not enough for such types of harmless Muslims to be "possible": if their usefulness is to be established, they must also be numerically significant, geographically dispersed, politically active in a massive way, and their harmlessness must be qualitatively verifiable. Pipes, however, seems unconcerned about these crucial qualifiers; it is enough for him, apparently, that such hopeful utility is "possible".

Islamism is a very specific approach, one that holds that Muslims would be powerful and rich were Muslims to follow the Islamic law in its complete detail. Islamists aspire to apply that law everywhere in the world, and see non-Muslims as inferior, and to be defeated. It’s an ideology that has its roots at the origins of Islam, but developed in its present state about 80 years ago.

This is a crafty way of putting it, a phrasing worthy of the slippery sophistry of Robert Spencer, where the phrase, very strictly speaking, is correct, and though it tends to evade or even contradict its corrective, it can nevertheless be disingenuously salvaged from criticism by the one phrasing it pleading that in fact his slippery, crafty way of phrasing did not logically exclude the corrective, you see! Thus, in the phrase of Pipes here, we could agree that the ideology of the current Muslims who are engaged in various forms of advancing jihad is "in its present state" only "about 80 years" old
insofar as we qualify "present state" as pertaining to relatively superficial features. However, Pipes in his phrasing is clearly contrasting "present state" from "roots at the origins of Islam", clearly implying that the "roots", while existing, were not dangerous to non-Muslims until "about 80 years" ago. Also, his polarity of "roots at the origins" and current history consisting of the last "about 80 years" leaves out over 1300 years of history, during which the first full thousand years involved Muslims overwhelmingly and even more aggressively pursuing jihad both in its blatant military form as well as in the form of pre-modern terrorist attacks known, before that modern word was coined, as "razzias" (for a razzia by any other name is still a razzia. . .).

All in all, his argumentation here is preposterous, both logically and historically, and Hugh Fitzgerald must be chewing his fingernails to the bone in frustration of not being able to pillory, with supreme merit, this "JW friend". [Update: I see now that Hugh in fact has posted a comment undermining the crux of the Pipes dream
—his term "Islamism"—indeed rightfully describing it as "downright dangerous": however, not once in his post does he mention the name of Pipes, and it is highly unlikely that he will press his criticism—even of an analyst so wrong that his analysis is "downright dangerous"—for to do so, you see, would be to indulge in a "hobbyhorse" that undermines the (false) unity of the anti-jihad movement as directed by Robert Spencer and his slumbering supporters; and we cannot have that!]

It is part of Islam, but not the whole of Islam.

Here Pipes demonstrates a remarkably simplistic comprehension of Islam, whereby an even elementary sociological grasp seems beyond his analytical powers. Islam is, in fact, a sociologically organic system, whereby all its partshowever multifarious and "wonderfully diverse" they may seem to becohere and convolve each other. Understood this way, any given "part" of Islam that seems benign when considered in the abstracti.e., apart from the organic, systemic whole of which it is a partbecomes restored to its concrete complicity with the unjust and dangerous evil that is at the center of Islam. This brings us to the anodyne phrasing of Pipes: the unjust and dangerous evil of Islam, to Pipes, is just a part, one more "part of Islam" in a heap of parts, and not in fact its foundational core, its center. Even here, however, Pipes will contradict himself, for to him Islam is not merely a heap of equally un-central parts: in fact, that part of Islam that is benign and which will help us neutralize the evil part, functions for Pipes as the central part, the "true Islam".

Q: However, hard-line Muslims as well as some critics of Islam insist that you cannot be a real Muslim unless you follow the Islamic law—that would make the distinction between Islam and Islamism disappear?

DP: It is curious to note that Islamists and those who say that Islam itself is the problem both agree that I’m wrong, and that Islamism is Islam. The Islamists say that because they want to portray their version of Islam as the only one.

The "Islamists"magically created by Pipes through his use of this artificial and un-Islamic term, by the waymay say that because they want their understanding of Islam to be seen as the only one, but that is irrelevant to the question of whether theirs is, in fact, true Islam as that is defined by the foundational texts of Islam (Koran plus Sunna), by Islamic writings throughout history, and by the historical conduct of Muslims throughout history.

And those who see Islam as the problem, conflate the religion and the ideology. I think it a mistake.

Here, Pipes assumes that only those who see Islam as the problem are conflating the religion and the ideology, as though the foundational texts of Islam, the Islamic writings throughout history, and the historical conduct of Muslims throughout history, have not also conflated the religion and the ideology.

Even if you believe that’s the case, and you’re a Westerner and a non-Muslim, I would argue that you’d have to adopt my point of view, because a Western government cannot fight Islam. Ours are not crusader states.

"Cannot" fight Islam, or "should not". . .?

Therefore, you have to fight the ideology of Islamism, not the religion of Islam.

That would be fine, were not the religion of Islam directly, indirectly, massively and sociopolitically nourishing, enabling and inspiring the "Islamists".

We know how to fight ideologies. We fought Fascism and Communism and now there’s Islamism.

Ah, now we see the felicitous motive for the artificial construct "Islamism"it is tailor-made to be pragmatically fought! The argument of Pipes here, when we undress it, seems to be: We cant fight Islam (meaning a relatively incoherent combination of "it is too big to fight practically" conjoined with "we shouldnt behave like 'crusaders' anyway because that would be ethically wrong"), so let us artificially whittle Islam down to a more manageable entity we can fight"Islamism"! Voilà!

We can’t fight a religion. So if it’s reduced to a religion, then we lack the tools to protect ourselves.

Nobody is "reducing" here except Pipes, with his reductionist constructs of a bad "Islamism" which represents a small minority, and of a good Islam which is merely a "personal faith" representing the vast majority of Muslims around the world.

Q: Would non-Islamist Islam mean a secularized, privatized Islam?

Now the interviewer grants Pipes a moment to indulge in his fantasist construct and what it "would mean".

DP: Secularism means two different things. A secular person is one who is not religious. A secular society is one that divides religion from politics. Non-Islamist Islam needs [sic] not be secular in a personal sense. . .

Woah, hang on a minute there, Mr. Pipes: in this very interview, you began your description of Islam thusly, and I quote: "Islam is a personal faith. . ." Why then would a "non-Islamist Islam" not need to be secular in a personal sense? And if it is not secular in a personal sense, would it have any pragmatic usefulness, since Islam is, as you say, a "personal faith"?

. . . a person can be pious, but not Islamist. But it does mean secular in the latter sense, in that society divides politics from religion.

Why would Islam even have to "divide politics from religion" if Islam is not dangerous anyway, according to Pipes? Since, according to Pipes, Islam itself is harmless, then what harm would come of politics being influenced by Islam? None, if Pipes would only follow his own logic for once; but then his arguments would start to dissolve.

For example, the Atatürk regime in Turkey is secular, you can be religious, but you cannot bring religion into the political sphere.

Again, according to the logic of Pipes by which Islam is distinguished from "Islamism" and the former is harmless and only the latter is dangerous, then there would be no compelling reason why any state should need to prevent religion from being "brought into the political sphere".

Q: What do you think about the term “Islamophobia”it has been used a lot in Europe lately?

DP: “Islamophobia” is a fundamentally flawed notion, because the people who are worried about Islam are not phobic.

Pipes seems to have a little slip herehe forgot to apply his handy-dandy suffix, the “-ism”. There is nothing to worry about with Islam, according to Pipes, only “Islamism”. Therefore, logically, Pipes would have to agree with the label “Islamophobia” to denote those who are worried about “Islam”.

. . . whereas people who are worried about terrorism, about the imposition of the Islamic law,

Woops! Did Pipes mean “Islamic” law or “Islamist” law. . .?

Q: What could Europeans do to prevent a worse crisis?

DP: There are many steps that Europeans could take. For example, there is the step of integrating the Muslim immigrants. . . On the immigrant side, there needs to be a greater willingness to participate, and to accept the existence of the European civilisation, and not try to change it, but live within it.

This decidedly limp-wristed (if not ultimately suicidal) recommendation from Pipes stems, of course, from his grievously wrongheaded analysiswince-inducing examples of which we have noted aboveof the nature of the problem in the first place.

Q: You wrote a book about the “Rushdie Affair” in 1990, right after it happened. Now there have been several similar conflicts about “offending Islam” in the West. Has anything changed from Rushdie affair to today?

DP: The Rushdie affair came as a shock, because for the first time ever Muslims said what could and could not be written about, or stated, in the West. The other examples, of which there have been quite a few, have reiterated and confirmed that point. As time goes by, Muslims have become more determined to restrict free speech. . .

Hang on a minute there sloopy: didnt you mean to say “Islamists”?

Q: With the pressure in the UN to ban “defamation of religion” worldwide, will the West just have to accept that in the increasingly intertwined and multicultural world the freedom of speech will not be what it used to be for at least the last decades?

DP: One can see a real reduction of the freedom of speech in many Western countries. One curious development took place in Saudi Arabia earlier this year when the Saudi Consultative Council was asked to confirm the idea that no criticism of religion could take place. But the Council rejected it, because the members noted it would recognize polytheistic religions, which they found “unacceptable”. So really what it’s meant to do is protect Islam. . .

Hang on a minute there sloopy: didnt you mean to say “Islamism”?

. . . and I would be surprised if such legislation passed.

Q: So if the restriction of critique of religion would concern all equally, Muslims do actually not want it?

DP: Right.

Why did Pipes fail to correct the interviewer? For “Muslims” are not the problemonly “Islamists”!

Q: Regarding what we can and cannot say, you have written that the West itself, even the US have increasing problems naming the enemy in the “war on terror”?

DP: It is difficult for the modern Western person to speak bluntly about the problem of this sort. That results from a sense of confidence, and a feeling that it’s impolite and unnecessary to speak bluntly. It is enough to speak obliquely and carefully.

Pipes is one to talk!

However, I think it is necessary in a time of war to speak clearly about the identity of the enemy.

Too bad that, for Pipes, the identity of the enemy is an irrationally truncated “part” (i.e., “Islamists”) of the larger whole (i.e., Islam). It is in fact that larger whole that menaces us, and has menaced the West for the past 1350 years (with only a relatively brief respite from circa 1700 to the 1970s, and even during that period of respite rearing its Islamic head in the jihadist piracy that led to the Barbary Wars.)

If one traces, for example, President George W. Bush’s statements, one finds that they began very vaguely and then became more accurate and now they’ve become vague again.

Pipes is one to talk!

That’s rather typical of the West as a whole, in its uncertainty how to understand who the enemy is, and what the nature of this war is. That’s problematic. It’s now almost seven years since 9/11, it’s almost 30 years since the Iranian seizure of the American embassy in Teheran, and in all these years the US government still has not figured out who the enemy is, and what the problem is.

Pipes is one to talk!

Q: How would you name the enemy?

DP: I would name the enemy as radical Islam or Islamism. It’s a movement, a body of ideas. Like Fascism and Communism.

Even the relatively incoherently asymptotic analyst Robert Spencer is miles ahead of this pathetic excuse for an analysis of the nature of our enemy.

Q: So when academic, pro-gay-rights feminists declare Hamas and Hizbollah “progressive”, this is what it is abouta common enemy?

DP: Feminists who ignore what Islam says. . .

Woops! Pipes forgot his handy-dandy suffix again!

. . . do so because that is tactically useful at the moment. Like in Iran in the 1970s, the Left and the Islamists worked together against the shah. . .

Whew! It’s tacked on again!


11 comments:

Anonymous said...

[...] Robert Spencer introduces Pipes as a Jihad Watch “friend”.

Spencer calling Pipes a "friend" is one thing, I think the following Spencer quote from the Jihad Watch article Hirsi Ali: "The problem is not going to go away. Confront it, or it's only going to get bigger." is more worrying:

Of course it's true, as I have noted many times: there are moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam. Every school of jurisprudence and sect that Muslims consider orthodox teaches that it is part of the responsibility of Muslims to subjugate non-Muslims under the rule of Islamic law. Consequently, Daniel Pipes's formulation [that radical Islam is the problem, but moderate Islam is the solution] is valid only when it is understood that the moderate Islam that is the solution has to be invented -- it is not a traditional form of Islam. I have spoken at conferences where Dr. Pipes was also speaking on several occasions, and have heard his answers when asked about exactly this point -- and he has said essentially the same thing. He has also written at his website: "Robert Spencer and I have discussed the perceived differences in our view of Islam. He and I concluded that, although we have different emphases - he deals more with scriptures, I more with history - we have no disagreements." (Emphases are mine.)

Nobody said...

There could be a fifth and a sixth. The key here is not the approach which changes every few decades, but rather the deep belief among Muslims that Israel is an illegitimate state because it is in a territory that for over a millenium was controlled by Muslims.

Oops, here too, forgot to substitute 'Muslims' with 'Islamists'.

Funny how all the non-'Islamists' had other reasons to confront the Israelis (note: not the Jews, as per Pipes) - pan Syrian, pan Arab, Pali, what have you...

It's part of Islam, but not the whole of Islam

But what if it is a necessary and essential part of Islam? Hmmmmm??? Pipes doesn't say whether it's a disposable part of Islam, or something that has to be followed to the letter. After all, Islamic, er Islamist groups don't demand that Mohammedans use musawak, but they are very particular that Mohammedans support Jihad

And those who see Islam as the problem, conflate the religion and the ideology. I think it a mistake.

Even if you believe that’s the case, and you’re a Westerner and a non-Muslim, I would argue that you’d have to adopt my point of view, because a Western government cannot fight Islam. Ours are not crusader states.

But does he have any evidence as to how many Mohammedans conflate the 2? And does he think that they too have made a mistake?

Also, wouldn't a simple ban on the practice of Islam be 'fighting' it? And how would such a ban make the country doing the banning a 'crusader' state? If any of the militantly atheist countries in Europe, such as France, were to do it, would they automatically become crusaders, despite their strong hostility to the Catholic Church? How about non-Christian countries such as Israel and Thailand - how about them? Would they also be 'Crusader' states?

Secularism means two different things. A secular person is one who is not religious. A secular society is one that divides religion from politics.

Maybe he meant to say that a secular person is one who doesn't allow his personal faith to interfere with how he deals with people and issues when his faith isn't involved? That's the only interpretation that would support his theory about 'secular Muslims' above.

Anonymous' citation:
Of course it's true, as I have noted many times: there are moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam. Every school of jurisprudence and sect that Muslims consider orthodox teaches that it is part of the responsibility of Muslims to subjugate non-Muslims under the rule of Islamic law. Consequently, Daniel Pipes's formulation [that radical Islam is the problem, but moderate Islam is the solution] is valid only when it is understood that the moderate Islam that is the solution has to be invented -- it is not a traditional form of Islam. I have spoken at conferences where Dr. Pipes was also speaking on several occasions, and have heard his answers when asked about exactly this point -- and he has said essentially the same thing. He has also written at his website: "Robert Spencer and I have discussed the perceived differences in our view of Islam. He and I concluded that, although we have different emphases - he deals more with scriptures, I more with history - we have no disagreements

Given Pipes' claim of dealing more with history, it's curious that he doesn't go further back than 80 years. Srdja Trifkovic, Andrew Bostom, Bat Yeor, Sitaram Goel, et al they can claim to deal with history. But Pipes? No way - even Spencer deals with more history than he does.

No wonder that Pipes was nominated to the Peace Foundation, or some such organization by President Bush. Due recognition from a genuine dhimmi of a fake dhimmi.

Nobody said...

Erich

As Bill Warner's colleague MoorthyM pointed out in the same thread:

Those who are familiar with Bill Warner’s work are probably aware that Islamism statistically dominates Islam (through the Islamic Trilogy). Hence separating Islamism from Islam is very difficult, if not impossible. This also implies that it is difficult to formulate a coherent policy based just upon opposition to Islamism, while accepting Islam as a religion.

Once this statistical fact is recognized, the distinction between Islam and 'Islamism' that Pipes painstakingly draws undergoes a quick beheading.

Erich said...

anonymous,

Yes, I find Spencer's uncritical relationship with Pipes objectionable. Spencer's hyper-cautiously politic conduct in this general domain makes me think of a second-tier form of the primary appeasement of dhimmitude. The first tier, dhimmitude, enters into a working relationship with Islamic supremacists, for the pragmatic purpose of surviving materially (sacrificing freedom and rights and in many respects security, of course, for mere material survival).

The second tier, while ostensibly committed to fighting to stave off Islamic supremacism, believes in trying to enter into a working relationship with the PC MC crowd who dominate the sociopolitical culture and institutions, for the purpose of organizational survival and with the hope that in the future their percolating influence will cause a favorable paradigm shift in PC MC.

At some point, the mask will have to fall off. Those of us pretending that Islam is not the problem for diplomatic reasons will have to come clean. Indeed, the face behind the mask is in a sense already revealed to the PC MC crowd, indicated by their reflexive tendency to label Spencer and even Pipes at times as "Islamophobes", etc.

If that paradigm shift does not happen, or if it is resisted to the last moment, it will likely not shift peacefully, but will break through various traumas -- including major attacks on the West by Muslims and possible outbreaks of vigilantism among Westerners in various devolving hot spots (though I do not foresee this kind of thing for many decades from now).

I tend to disagree with the hyper-catious theorists who say, "please don't say anything 'radical', let us proceed very carefully and tiptoe on eggshells, or we will make our PC MC masters more angry with us than they already are...!" This is all based on a hypothesis that being rhetorically and programmatically hyper-cautious is the only way for the anti-jihad movement to gain sociopolitical traction. This hypothesis has not been tested, and only indirect indications exist by which to supposedly prove it (such as Pipes being published in a few mainstream venues, Spencer being invited to more round-tables than he could have otherwise, etc.).

There is another hypothesis for this situation we are in, however: that sometimes in history necessary change comes about through rather rough and aggressive insistence, not by cautious and careful gingerliness.

I worded it in an email to Spencer recently. First quoting Spencer --

"We have to do everything we can in order to defend our nations, our cultures, our civilization. This includes not being politically and morally stupid and failing to recognize the astonishingly low level of understanding that still prevails among most of our countrymen. We have a moral obligation not to shoot ourselves in the foot."

I responded:

With all I have said above, I would add a slightly different angle on the broader issue here of the tension between what the West should do in the best of possible worlds, and what the West should do given the less-than-ideal PC situtation it happens to be in currently: While I agree in the high importance of "not shooting ourselves in the foot", there are times in historical moments of great challenge when an aggressive "push into the deep end of the pool" is the best way to learn how to swim -- even if the immediate, temporary eventuality will be lots of flailing about and gasping for air.

Erich said...

nobody,

Quoting Pipes --

Secularism means two different things. A secular person is one who is not religious. A secular society is one that divides religion from politics.

You wrote:

"Maybe he meant to say that a secular person is one who doesn't allow his personal faith to interfere with how he deals with people and issues when his faith isn't involved? That's the only interpretation that would support his theory about 'secular Muslims' above."

The problem with Pipes's notion of "personal faith" Islam and then extrapolating from that to a "secular Islam" that keeps Islam personal and denies it political expression -- the overwhelming problem with this construct that Pipes ignores is that Islam is not a "personal faith": its very nature and essence is profoundly communalistic and in addition to that, imperialistically and militarily expansionistic.

Imposing the Western model of a "personal faith" on Muslims furthermore in the context of separating Islam from politico-legal expression, is to cut to the very heart of their faith and insult it by denying its natural expression. Pipes through colossal ignorance simply reinvents Islam as a primarily "personal faith", thus making its secularizational model easier to implement. Easier in his mind, maybe, but not in reality.

awake said...

Is the "analysis" on this thread about Pipes or about Spencer?

Erich said...

awake,

Is the "analysis" on this thread about Pipes or about Spencer?

1. Pipes's name is mentioned 42 times -- not counting the title of the essay itself. Spencer's name is mentioned 5 times. Do the math.

2. Spencer posted this interview as an article on Jihad Watch, and not only injected not a single critical remark about it, but also front-and-center referred to Pipes as a "JW friend". This support of Pipes deserves a comparatively small, yet pointed, portion of critical mention. (This official Spencerian support is ironically undermined by two Hugh Fitzgerald comments on the same JW article -- comments, however, in which Fitzgerald has to bite his tongue by never mentioning the hallowed name of Pipes; nor will we be seeing a much-needed "Tribute to Daniel Pipes" (along the lines of his past "Tributes" which are really excoriations of their subjects) from Fitzgerald any time soon, I dare say.

awake said...

Erich,

you wrote:
"Yes, I find Spencer's uncritical relationship with Pipes objectionable."

Actually, on the very same thread that anonymous quoted here, Spencer was specific about his variance from Pipe's view:

"Consequently, Daniel Pipes's formulation [that radical Islam is the problem, but moderate Islam is the solution] is valid only when it is understood that the moderate Islam that is the solution has to be invented -- it is not a traditional form of Islam."

Pipe's further remarks about he and Spencer in agreement are obviously not on that differing point, for in reality, no one is identical in their positions across the board, but rather an admission of general collusion and common purpose.

Pipes was responding to a challenge to his position about moderate Islam from a commenter that appeared to drive a wedge between Pipes and Spencer as incompatible critics of Islam, based on their divergent view of "moderate" Islam.

There are those, like Spencer, Pipes and others, who believe this method of strength in numbers while largely ignoring the minutiae of difference between their individual positions, is the most beneficial route to take and there are those, like Auster, that believe every miniscule variation from his position is worthy of criticism and scorn.

Time will inevitably reveal which path was the proper one, though it has not yet done so.

you wrote:
"Spencer's hyper-cautiously politic conduct in this general domain makes me think of a second-tier form of the primary appeasement of dhimmitude.

This is illogical. It is baseless and illogical to label someone as a second-tier dhimmi who has authored books and hosts a site that is critical of dhimmitude. This is what unfortunately passes off as "analysis" on the free world wide web these days.

As a follow-up to that point I offer your words:
"The second tier, while ostensibly committed to fighting to stave off Islamic supremacism, believes in trying to enter into a working relationship with the PC MC crowd who dominate the sociopolitical culture and institutions, for the purpose of organizational survival and with the hope that in the future their percolating influence will cause a favorable paradigm shift in PC MC."

Your inherent knowledge of the PC MC paradigm is noted, but your are guilty of ignoring its relevance in the form of offering tangible solutions. Like a cancer that needs to be removed, PC destroys the general ability of the West to defend itself against the Islamic onslaught. That being said, does not eliminate the obstacle of PC MC. Your goals are lofty, in that you require to eliminate PC MC in one fell swoop to begin the equally daunting task of destroying Islam.

Although I agree with both those premises, I fail to see an achievable solution to meet either of those goals,at least that you have presented.

I think Spencer, although quite critical of political correctness and global multi-culturalism, does atttmpt to work within the confines of the PC MC society we are currently mired in.

Although not an adherent to political correctness, as you baselessly accuse him of, Spencer is once again showing his ability to understand the basic problem of Islam and the main obstacle to revealing that problem, PC MC, and try to find a workaround that does not hinge on the utopian hope that both can somehow be eliminated by simply yelling "PC, be damned" and "death to Islam".

To illustrate this point, I will use a recent occurence that was played out on the view. It was the disussion of the word "nigger" and whether it was acceptable for use in any culture. Not suprisingly, the blacks and whites on the program disagreed on this point, and to me, there was no question as to who was right. Auster had a very good write up on this point, but his analysis was the obvious logical conclusion that we all should have arrived at.

But as wrong as it was, Goldberg used the word incessently (though edited out) and the white panelists were compelled to use the phrase "n-word". It is a horrible double standard, but the penalties are fixed and severe, nonetheless.

If one were to buy into Goldberg's premise that the word is acceptable but the double standard of who can use it is not, then one could and should follow the logic that they can use the word. While they may be right, I wonder just how long their relevance will last, if they do.

PC wasn't constructed in a day and neither a day will it take for its requiste destruction.

you wrote:
"This is all based on a hypothesis that being rhetorically and programmatically hyper-cautious is the only way for the anti-jihad movement to gain sociopolitical traction. This hypothesis has not been tested, and only indirect indications exist by which to supposedly prove it (such as Pipes being published in a few mainstream venues, Spencer being invited to more round-tables than he could have otherwise, etc.)."

That is a fair analysis and the opposite can also be said that there is no concrete evidence that this cautious approach ("hyper" belies that the cautious approach is reprehensible and wrong inherently)will not be successful.

To date, I maintain that in this PC MC climate, that the cautious approach has worked and is far-more efficient than the "rough and aggressive" approach, although absolute is a more proper term given your stated position.

awake said...

Erich wrote:
"2. Spencer posted this interview as an article on Jihad Watch, and not only injected not a single critical remark about it, but also front-and-center referred to Pipes as a "JW friend". This support of Pipes deserves a comparatively small, yet pointed, portion of critical mention."


Errr, Raymond Ibrahim wrote this article, not Robert Spencer, but your disdain is noted.

I am sure we will now see some sort of Astaire-like tap-dancing from you about how that fact does not matter and that by allowing it to be posted is tacit support by Spencer at best.

It is not disimilar to how you believed that Hugh could not respond critically, to which he did, but once again, did not criticize as you see fit.

You are criticizing form, not substance, and it appears to be a regular misstep of yours.

Regards,

"slumbering" Spencer supporter.

Erich said...

awake,

I.
Quoting me--
"Yes, I find Spencer's uncritical relationship with Pipes objectionable."

you wrote:
"Actually, on the very same thread that anonymous quoted here, Spencer was specific about his variance from Pipe's view:"

"Consequently, Daniel Pipes's formulation [that radical Islam is the problem, but moderate Islam is the solution] is valid only when it is understood that the moderate Islam that is the solution has to be invented -- it is not a traditional form of Islam."

Me: This is, to invert the famous phrase, to "praise with faint damning". I.e., this "critical" remark by Spencer is simply too weak when the crux of the point is so important: if Pipes is, as Spencer is implying all-too subtly, in fact inventing his moderate Islam, this is a major (if not, as Hugh said, "downright dangerous") flaw that demands a more frontal critique.

"Pipe's further remarks about he and Spencer in agreement are obviously not on that differing point, for in reality, no one is identical in their positions across the board, but rather an admission of general collusion and common purpose."

First: A common purpose between Paul and Peter is not necessarily undermined when Paul publically states (nicely and after private consultation even) that Peter has some serious flaws in his approach.

Second: Sometimes a flaw in methodology is so great that one might decide the harmony of common purpose is not worth the concomitantly tacit support of that flaw. In this case, Hugh's "downright dangerous" would seem to qualify for that threshhold.

Either one of these courses would be preferrable to the current one as maintained by Spencer.

II.
"Pipes was responding to a challenge to his position about moderate Islam from a commenter that appeared to drive a wedge between Pipes and Spencer as incompatible critics of Islam, based on their divergent view of "moderate" Islam."

From the hyper-sensitive and paranoid attitudes I have seen from Spencer and you, I have good reason to suspect that the characterization "drive a wedge between" could easily embrace worthwhile and productive criticism as well.


III.
"There are those, like Spencer, Pipes and others, who believe this method of strength in numbers while largely ignoring the minutiae of difference between their individual positions,"

This difference (if it really is a difference -- cf., Spencer's persistent "I am not anti-Islam" and "elements of Islam are the problem" statements I documented on JWW) is not "minutiae"; it is of crucial importance for the analytical portion of the anti-jihad movement.

IV.
" you wrote:
"Spencer's hyper-cautiously politic conduct in this general domain makes me think of a second-tier form of the primary appeasement of dhimmitude.

This is illogical. It is baseless and illogical to label someone as a second-tier dhimmi who has authored books and hosts a site that is critical of dhimmitude. "

That's not what I was doing. I was pointing out a kind of analogous dhimmitude -- not in deference to Muslims, but in deference to our PC MC Masters. It seems the Spencerian school does not deny this kind of deference; what it does is positively defend it as a kind of "Stealth Dhimmitude" as it were, going along for an indefinite period of time pretending to be relatively un-radical about critiques of Islam and hoping that slowly our more radical beliefs will insinuate themselves into the mainstream and become more influential. That's the strategy. I prefer a more aggressive approach. For one thing, the PC MC treatment of Spencer (and often of Pipes) shows that "you're damned if you do, damned if you don't" anyway. Why not go for the end game now, and let it work its own type of influence? (And "going for the end game" does not necessarily mean Spencer has to stand on the rooftops and scream "Islam is evil!" -- he can couch it in subtler and maturely intelligent manner, so long as he doesn't couch it in terms of inconsistency and ostensible support of asymptotic analysis.)

"...PC destroys the general ability of the West to defend itself against the Islamic onslaught. That being said, does not eliminate the obstacle of PC MC. Your goals are lofty, in that you require to eliminate PC MC in one fell swoop to begin the equally daunting task of destroying Islam."

I never said that I "require to eliminate PC MC in one fell swoop". I believe it requires more aggressive frontal candid blows, rather than slinking in the shadows -- but I have no illusions that the aggressive candid approach will not take time to work its effect in undermining PC MC.

V.
"Although not an adherent to political correctness, as you baselessly accuse him [Spencer] of..."

I have never accused Spencer of being an adherent of political correctness. I have accused him of not sufficiently grasping the nature and dimensions of PC MC -- and, as a consequence of this failure -- of often having the effect (no doubt unintentional), in his role as analyst-pedagogue, of furthering PC MC rather than working to undermine it.

VI.
" PC wasn't constructed in a day and neither a day will it take for its requiste destruction."

I agree. I just think PC MC will become deconstructed relatively faster by everybody who is aware of this problem being unapologetic, aggressive, candid and un-gymnastic about it. No need to be shrill or hysterical, or crude and vulgar. The choice is not merely between

a) being so subtle because one is so concerned about going slow and not upsetting the PC MC Masters too soon

and

b) standing on the rooftops with a bullhorn screaming "Islam is evil!"

There are many ways to be aggressive and avoid (a), without having to do (b).

" To date, I maintain that in this PC MC climate, that the cautious approach has worked and is far-more efficient than the "rough and aggressive" approach, although absolute is a more proper term given your stated position."

The term "absolute" refers to the analytical position; "rough and aggressive" refers to the communication of that position -- though I would leave out the "rough", for aggressiveness need not be crude or rough to be true to itself and to be effective.

VII.

"Errr, Raymond Ibrahim wrote this article, not Robert Spencer, but your disdain is noted.

I am sure we will now see some sort of Astaire-like tap-dancing from you about how that fact does not matter and that by allowing it to be posted is tacit support by Spencer at best."

It is more than tacit support: it is official support. Imagine if one of Spencer's staff posted an article on JW which uncritically presented an interview by Filip Dewinter then called him a "JW friend". Spencer would yank that article in a New York minute (or at the very least, have the staff member re-write the blurb so that it does not appear as though JW officially endorses Dewinter). And it is not Astaire-like tap-dancing to point this out; in fact it is you in this instance doing a little soft-shoe move, bringing up my clerical error of mis-identifying who published the piece as though that undermines my main point.

"It is not disimilar to how you believed that Hugh could not respond critically, to which he did, but once again, did not criticize as you see fit."

No: what I said initially was:

Hugh Fitzgerald must be chewing his fingernails to the bone in frustration of not being able to pillory [Pipes]

To "pillory" is to criticize someone extremely, not mildly or so elliptically the punch is muted.

Then I added the update that reported Hugh's comment, noted it was curiously muted, and reasonably conjectured why.

VIII.
"You are criticizing form, not substance"

I am here criticizing both. The substance involved is the asymptotic model; the form involves the manner in which this asymptotic model is criticized so mildly, the critique is practically non-existent (e.g., "Daniel Pipes's formulation [that radical Islam is the problem, but moderate Islam is the solution] is valid only when it is understood that the moderate Islam that is the solution has to be invented -- it is not a traditional form of Islam": this is not so much a critique as a neutral description: there is not a shred of negativity in this description, where there should be at least a modicum}.

awake said...

Yyourself and anoymous seized on the premise that it was Spencer who posted that article and then formulated it into your respective hypotheses about him. That is relevant, in my estimation, but of course I never expect you to concede a single point, even where you obviously erred. You responded as I fully expected you to.

Pipes and Spencer are undoubtably colleagues and on friendly-terms, but I don't see how Raymond posting that or Spencer letting it stand, implies anything about Spencer's support of Pipe's position or even tacit agreement with it

That is simply speculation which you are selling off as analysis. After all, in Spencer's world he allows divergent and contradictory viewpoints. He and Hugh do not agree on everything either, but allowing Hugh to post does not belie that Spencer secretly supports Hugh's positions in totality, so why the double-standard here?

JW is not Austerland where everything involved acts as an incubator to protect Auster's image.

I still have not seen a single example of how your objective critical analysis has aided the cause of the anti-jihad movement, nor offered a single solution to get to where you believe we need to get to.

Continually parroting the "Spencer is inadequate" line while failing to provide tangible alternative positions that lead to solutions simply comes across as self-aggrandized bloviating.

Solutions, Erich, and enough with your petty criticisms of other anti-jihadists. Maybe you should lead the way on this one, by example of course.

I do not agree with Pipes on this one, but given his history on the subject (well prior to 9/11), methinks you are not giving the man the proper respect I believe he has earned, even though by the likes of you, and Auster, he certainly has not earned it at all.