Saturday, September 27, 2008

Asymptotic vs. Holistic Analysis: a clarification.










A reader of my
preceding essay left a comment which inspired me to clarify my terms asymptotic analysis and holistic analysis, which in turn will clarify why I consider analysts like Brigitte Gabriel, Daniel Pipes and Robert Spencer to exemplify the former and not the latter. (I now reproduce an edited and polished version of my response to that reader.)

My semantic/conceptual tactic has been to widen the definition of
asymptotic so as to include those who follow the paradigm of Politically Correct Multi-Culturalism (PC MC)in order to highlight the problem of an asymptotic tendency in those analysts who are not PC MC and whom we in the anti-Islam movement ordinarily consider to be on our side.

When thinking about the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism, there are three most basic ways to frame that phenomenon:


1) as part of a good struggle against the evil West

2) as the actions of a
tiny minority of extremists who are trying to hijack the otherwise peaceful religion of Islam

3) as the normative, traditional and perennial strategy of Islam as sanctioned by its texts, history and religious culture and as actively supported / more or less passively enabled by all Muslims world-wide, from the 7th century to the present.


The position of #1 would be the view of Muslims and the relatively small minority of hard-core Leftists in the West.


The position of #3 is that of holistic analysis.

Only #2 can be termed asymptotic.

While the New York Times in the way it smears B. Gabriel (as articulated by her in her
frontpage.com essay) is obviously thoroughly saturated with PC MC, it does not support #1even though its ultimately incoherent position may often in a de facto way have that indirect effect. The New York Times and those who share its worldview thus may be located in the same analytical category as B. Gabrieleven though they mutually disagree and criticize each other.

We can further refine this by saying that the New York Times position occupies the low end in the sphere of asymptotic analysis
as does President Bush: both essentially view the problem of Islamic terrorism as having nothing substantive to do with Islam, and both view the vast majority of Muslims as good people. Brigitte Gabriel, by regularly using the term radical Islam, occupies the high end in that sphere. Therein, furthermore, I would place Pipes lower than Gabriel (i.e., further away from the holistic conclusion that asymptotic analysis forever approaches but never reaches), and perhaps Spencer somewhere between the twoor, on the odd day that Spencer is feeling differently, higher than her (he tends to float up and down, depending on his mood apparently).

In my view, B. Gabriel (and any other analyst of the problem of Islam) would have to explicitly say that Islam and all Muslims are the problem to qualify as a holistic analyst: simply refraining from saying the opposite is not sufficient to establish that an analyst is not asymptotic. Indeed, a pattern of regularly refraining from doing so tends to inculcate and reinforce the asymptotic paradigm: the activity of merely doing a lot of work documenting Islamic atrocities, injustices and deceptions is not sufficient, even though it is otherwise commendable and helpful to the overall cause of the anti-Islamic movement.

I am talking about how ones positions and terminology have consequences and how they instill tendencies: Gabriel's terms radical Islam and Islamist are terms that have consequences. A holistic analyst would never use such a term, because they realize how misleading it is, and how it in fact serves to reinforce the PC MC paradigm. Heres a closer examination of some of what she wrote in that article (bold emphases mine):

But what is “hate speech” and what is “Islamophobia”? When I describe the threat presented by radical Islam, I quote chapter and verse from the Koran and authoritative classical Islamic sources. When I describe the worldwide campaign of Islamist hate indoctrination against the West, and the mind-numbing mass violence committed and glorified by radical Islamists...
Do some of the facts about Islamist supremism manifest “hatefulness?”

Certainly.
However, it’s not my fault that the truth about Islamist supremacist teachings and edicts is that they promote hate. Do I fear radical Islam? You bet. . . London subways. Madrid train stations. Bali night clubs. Beslan elementary school. They are all locations of horrendous terrorist atrocities committed by radical Islamists. . . If fearing radical Islamist terror makes me an “Islamophobe,” then I am an “Islamophobe” in its healthiest manifestation.

If all those asymptotic qualifiers she sprinkles throughout her essay were chili powder and the text were a rice dish, it would be way too spicy for my digestion. It seems that Gabriel is not merely using these terms reflexively, as mere garnish. She is using them carefully: she wants to make sure not to put Islam and all Muslims under her condemnation.

When she seems to widen out beyond the asymptote (or push it to its limit) with language like the following

The Koran explicitly tells Muslims to hate (terrorize, subdue, oppress, and slaughter) the unbeliever until Islam is supreme in the world... In the more than 13 centuries since the emergence of Islam, this strict Islamic dogma has never been abrogated, amended or ameliorated. It is the Koran that is guilty of “hate speech.” I merely am the messenger exposing this hate.

this by itself, again, does not prevent the application of the asymptotic paradigm. One could still argue that most Muslims today are not radicalized to follow their own Koran, super-imposing upon Islamic societies and psychology the same type of watering down of literalness and fundamentalist fanaticism that has occurred throughout the West with relation to Christian texts and history of religious wars. In fact, such an argument is part of the prevailing PC MC paradigm and is regularly used to decouple Islam, and the vast majority of Muslims, from virtually anything bad that Muslims say and do.

Conclusion:


My litmus test for the holistic analyst is that, in order to qualify as such, the analyst must state positively the holistic position, not simply negatively imply it (by not not saying it) through statements from which we have to infer it—much less through statements that strongly resemble the asymptotic paradigm!

If analysts like Brigitte Gabriel and Robert Spencer are in fact holistic analysts, they are doing a poor job of clearly demonstrating their position.

6 comments:

Nobody said...

I read Gabrielle's article, and will get to that below. In the meantime, to address each of your points:

1. NYT - They obviously fall into category #1 that you spelt out above, as evidenced by their exposes on CIA prisons in Eastern Europe that interrogated Jihadis, and which had to be closed down following their exposure. Many on the Right, be it in the Holistic or Asymptotic camps, saw that as an act of treason, and Melanie Morgan even called for the execution of the NYT editor. (I wouldn't flatter the NYT by calling them asymptotic: if you were to represent them graphically with geometric equations and the asymptotes being the X and Y axes, then NYT would be a circle in one of the quadrants, with its radius being less than the distance of its center from either of the asymptotes. If I could represent that graphically here, you'd see the point)

2. Brigitte Gabrielle - I read her article, and scoured it for any evidence that she was asymptotic, other than her use of the de-limiter 'radical' for Islam. The only one that came close was this:

Am I afraid of those Muslims who do not use the Koran as justification for murder and terrorism? No.

Now, on the surface, that's an accurate, and not even misleading statement. I would follow up with another question to Gabrielle that asks whether she'd be comfortable with such Muslims being a majority in any country, such as her native Lebanon. If her answer to that would be yes, then I'd agree with you - she too would be an asymptotic analyst.

Among Infidel communities in dar ul Islam, people are either downright dhimmi, or absolute Islamophobes - there's no in between.

I think you have too easy a threshold to put someone in the asymptotic camp from the holistic one. To use your recipe analogy, if the main text of her arguments were the main dish and the qualifier 'radical Islam' was red chilli powder, the usage of actual Qur'anic verses would be yogurt in the mix, that would heavily reduce the spicyness of the dish. Sometimes, it's worth looking at the implication of what one is saying, even if on the surface, it looks like a diluted criticism. Most asymptotic analysts, while ascribing the enemy as various subsets of Mohammedans, do what they can to keep any distance between mainstream Islam and the acts of terrorists. But once anybody cites the Qur'an (and/or Sunnah) in their evidence of where the problem lies, they are in essence damning Islam, regardless of whether they explicitly condemn Mohammedans as a whole, or just Wahabis/Salafists/Shias/al Qaedas/Deobandis/(name your pick). Reason for this is that any reader, when he reads this line of argument, has to either conclude that

a. Islam itself is the problem, if the source for this isn't some spinoff literature like the Reliance of the Traveller, but instead the Qur'an itself, if the reader in question agrees with Gabrielle and buys her line.

b. If one disagrees with Gabrielle, one would conclude that Gabrielle is anti-Islamic, and not merely anti-Hizbullah/Shia/Wahabi/Salafist/et al, since she isn't citing some sectarian text, but instead the very Qur'an itself. Regardless of where one stands politically, everyone - from a foot-soldier in the 'Nuke-Mecca' crowd to Osama - would agree that a criticism/condemnation of the Qur'an is anti-Islamic.

To sum up, if an author cites the Sunnah (Quran, Hadiths and Sira) as their source of evidence for Islamic evil, they are de facto holistic, even if they may make a de jure appearance of being asymptotic. I would describe that as my Litmus test to determine which of these schools an analyst actually belongs. You may argue that by adding the qualifiers, someone in the audience who doesn't know much about Islam may not join the dots and make the conclusions I've described above, but if someone is that ignorant so as not to know that the Qur'an is what defines Islam, then that reader's ignorance shouldn't be what moves Gabrielle from one school to the other. (The only reason I might make an exception for Spencer is his insistence that Islam is not evil, despite all the evidence he's presented to the contrary.)

From the high profile cases, I'd argue that people like Pipes, Nonie Darwish, Walid Pharis, Glenn Beck, et al would fall into the Asymptotic school, while Srjda Trifkovic, Gabrielle, Bill Warner, Fjordman, Shoebat, Debbie Sclussel, among others, fall into the Holistic school. I understand how you require one to simply state the obvious that Islam is the problem/enemy, but there are those who put out a quality of material that makes that point all but obvious, even if it's unstated.

Anonymous said...

2. Brigitte [Gabriel] - I read her article, and scoured it for any evidence that she was asymptotic, other than her use of the de-limiter 'radical' for Islam.

In my opinion, her use of the modifier "radical" should be more than sufficient to establish that she is an asymptotic analyst, her quotations from the Koran nonwithstanding. After all, if her quoting the Koran should be taken as an indication that she realizes that the problem is Islam, she should realize that by using the modifier "radical" she is sending mixed signals.

The only one that came close was this: "Am I afraid of those Muslims who do not use the Koran as justification for murder and terrorism? No." Now, on the surface, that's an accurate, and not even misleading statement.

The quoted sentence obviously begs the question what criteria Gabriel uses to separate the Muslims who "use the Koran as justification for murder and terrorism" from those who do not (is she actually able to tell which Muslims she should be afraid of?). Also, her use of the word "justification" may suggest that she thinks that Muslims murder and terrorize not because they adhere to a religion which motivates them to do so, but because they adhere to a religion which provides them with justifications for doing so, which means that the problem may not be Islam itself, but the "abuse" of Islam as justification for actions not necessarily motivated by Islam.

Erich said...

nobody,

"1. NYT - They obviously fall into category #1 that you spelt out above, as evidenced by their exposes on CIA prisons in Eastern Europe that interrogated Jihadis, and which had to be closed down following their exposure. Many on the Right, be it in the Holistic or Asymptotic camps, saw that as an act of treason, and Melanie Morgan even called for the execution of the NYT editor. (I wouldn't flatter the NYT by calling them asymptotic: if you were to represent them graphically with geometric equations and the asymptotes being the X and Y axes, then NYT would be a circle in one of the quadrants, with its radius being less than the distance of its center from either of the asymptotes. If I could represent that graphically here, you'd see the point)"

There is a problem of categorization here, which manifests itself in our disagreement on this point. When I divide up the problem into only 3 choices as I did --

1. Anti-Western Revolutionary
2. Asymptotic
3. Pro-Western Holistic

-- you find yourself forced to put the NYT in category #1. This is an irrational position, in my view. Your position will not tolerate degrees of anti-Western tendencies, and must lump them all into the starkly anti-Western category of those who seek to overthrow the West by violent revolution (which is how I clearly defined my #1). It is absurd to put the NYT in that category. Obviously, they are thoroughly deformed by PC MC, and obviously most of what they say and do with regard to issues like Communism and now Islam have the effect of being anti-Western. But they are not a literal organ of the Revolution. They may often function as one in a de facto sense, but that is different from saying that are actually such. This allegation requires actual proof, such as a NYT publisher stating behind closed doors and found out by an undercover mole something along the lines of that infamous Muslim Brotherhood memo. Otherwise, I think you are confusing effect with intent, and doing that because you ignore a vast area of degrees that PC MC represents. And I think you ignore that vast area of degrees of PC MC because you tend to demonize it; whereas I see that it has many aspects that partake of good values -- which is precisely how & why it has been able to have such a vast and deep influence throughout the West. The only alternative is to conclude that the majority of Westerners are evil or diseased. If so, what's worth defending about the West? The tendency to fall back on a "saved remnant" who are the only ones who "know" is an old paradigm that has been travelling with the West for millennia. If it were true, there is no way the West would have been able to rescue itself from Napoleon's expansionism, nor from Hitler's, nor from the Fascist eruptions throughout Europe, nor from Communism. A tiny "remnant" could not have prosecuted such immense efforts of self-defense. And it won't be able to now with the threat of Islam. The good West must be larger and broader than the logical conclusions of your tendency to demonize the broad swath of PC MC imply.

In order to avoid that generalized demonization of PC MC, our amplitude of categorical inclusion must be broad enough to include at one end the Brigitte Gabriels, and at the other end the New York Times. As for executing the editor of the NYT -- this proposal ignores an elephant in the room: the inability of the sociopolitical reality surrounding this issue to even bring such a proposal to the table and take it seriously points to a larger environment of PC MC that serves to buffer the somewhat more extreme gradations within it, such as that of the NYT. Even so, I would say the editor is guilty of pursuing an action that had the effect of treason, but did not have that intent. That is a clear difference between him and the Rosenbergs, for example.

"2. Brigitte Gabrielle - I read her article, and scoured it for any evidence that she was asymptotic, other than her use of the de-limiter 'radical' for Islam."

a. it was her repeated usage of "radical" that compounded the effect

b. you missed the other de-limiter she also used many times -- "Islamist" -- a couple of times combining the two for extra padding effect (not quite as comical as "radical extremist" which many others use, but in the same ballpark).

In addition, I would simply cite Anonymous's replies above as in line with my views on this.

Parallel with your seemingly tough stance on categorically excluding people on the low end of the asymptotic scale and pushing them into the utterly anti-Western category, there is the somewhat inconsistent tendency you have to be more generous about widening the holistic category in order to admit analysts like Gabriel. So you're tough on one end, but rather permissive on the other.

"Among Infidel communities in dar ul Islam, people are either downright dhimmi, or absolute Islamophobes - there's no in between."

I think that reflects less the philosophical issue of positions, and more the simple human realities of survival, fear, cowardice and courage.

"To use your recipe analogy, if the main text of her arguments were the main dish and the qualifier 'radical Islam' was red chilli powder, the usage of actual Qur'anic verses would be yogurt in the mix, that would heavily reduce the spicyness of the dish."

The problem with the yogurt is that in the actual context of PC MC, the presence of yogurt is rather easily nullified -- i.e., any number of damning facts about Islam can be raised and nullified by having recourse to the paradigm of "small minority of extremists" and attendant logical tactics (tu quoque, etc.). So the Koran has some bad verses -- does this mean the majority of Muslims are following them? Most Muslims can't be following them, they are good decent people just trying to live their lives, it's only a small minority who are trying to revive those ancient commands, etc. The PC MC machine devours everything that has a hint of asymptotic degrees. The only effective way to counter it is the holistic counter-paradigm (and I'm not saying that won't be extraordinarily difficult and won't take a long time). And the holistic counter-paradigm is not merely a useful tool to counter the PC MC paradigm, it is rational:

1) we can't sufficiently tell the difference between harmless and dangerous Muslims to make that difference useful for our self-defense: thus, the only workable conclusion is that all Muslims are dangerous.

2) Islam is an organic system, so any benign features it seems to have, and any seemingly centrifugal disunity or "variety" it seems to have, are irrelevant to the danger the whole poses.

"But once anybody cites the Qur'an (and/or Sunnah) in their evidence of where the problem lies, they are in essence damning Islam, regardless of whether they explicitly condemn Mohammedans as a whole, or just Wahabis/Salafists/Shias/al Qaedas/Deobandis/(name your pick)."

Again, this certainly offends the PC MC people, or they wouldn't resist it so much -- however, they are able to absorb it whenever they have to: they absorb it, chew it up, and excrete their answer in neat packages of excrement: as I said above, even if the Koran and other texts and features of Islamic culture in various areas can be shown to be bad, the PC MC paradigm automatically superimposes the Western model onto Muslims -- the Western model where devoted fanaticism is the province of tiny cults and the vast majority of religious people are more or less mellow and secularized. So pointing out bad passages of the Koran does nothing, unless you can point to hundreds of millions of Muslims actually saying if not doing those bad things with incontrovertible proof. Obviously, that is not possible. The PC MC crowd will stick to their guns: the vast majority of Muslims are harmless, and it's up to you to prove otherwise. And in the meantime, we are only in danger from tiny groupings of fanatics that, hey, all religions have, or have had, or could have; and anyway, their seemingly religious motivations can be "contextualized" and dissolved in sociological, cultural, economic, political terms. Etc.

Don't get me wrong: I am not erecting a hard and fast rule of immoveability. I think there's hope that changes of mind can happen, even within the stifling atmospherics of PC MC, and even among people who are somewhat influenced by PC MC. I am just noting a preponderance, and suggesting a better way to undermine it than by cautiously chipping away at it with hammer-pecks that we are oh-so careful not to be too loud, for fear of making our PC MC masters irritated.

"b. If one disagrees with Gabrielle, one would conclude that Gabrielle is anti-Islamic, and not merely anti-Hizbullah/Shia/Wahabi/Salafist/et al, since she isn't citing some sectarian text, but instead the very Qur'an itself."

Again, that doesn't matter, because according to the Western model, most Christians don't really pursue their Christianity with the same zeal and political fervor as they did 500 years ago -- therfore most Muslims must be more or less the same way! The tiny minority of Muslims taking the Qur'an that seriously are fanatical "extremists". The vast majority don't agree with them. Etc. And anytime you can point out an instance here, or there, that indicate otherwise, the PC MC comes back with the next step in their tap-dance: well, those instances seem to be about Islam, but they're really about other socio-economico-geo-political factors, etc.

"Regardless of where one stands politically, everyone - from a foot-soldier in the 'Nuke-Mecca' crowd to Osama - would agree that a criticism/condemnation of the Qur'an is anti-Islamic."

But the PC MC crowd does not think rationally. They can simultaneously think condemnation of the Koran is anti-Islamic, and at the same time think that most Muslims don't *really* follow the Koran in a serious (read: fanatical) way.

"To sum up, if an author cites the Sunnah (Quran, Hadiths and Sira) as their source of evidence for Islamic evil, they are de facto holistic"

I disagree, for reasons I've articulated above, which I sum up this way: the only way to ensure the holistic point is to include all Muslims in the criticism/condemnation.


"From the high profile cases, I'd argue that people like Pipes, Nonie Darwish, Walid Pharis, Glenn Beck, et al would fall into the Asymptotic school, while Srjda Trifkovic, Gabrielle, Bill Warner, Fjordman, Shoebat, Debbie Sclussel, among others, fall into the Holistic school."

I would refine that, as you can guess: I'd agree about Warner, Trifkovic and Fjordman, but not Gabriel (though Warner, like Hugh Fitzgerald, seem to represent that fascinating case of really exemplifying the asymptote: they seem to be 0.00000000000001% of a distance away from the holistic position).

"I understand how you require one to simply state the obvious that Islam is the problem/enemy, but there are those who put out a quality of material that makes that point all but obvious, even if it's unstated."

Only obvious to those of us who see the end game. Not at all obvious to those influenced by PC MC. The only way to make it obvious to them is to present the holistic paradigm clearly and unflinchingly.

The jungle of qualifiers used in the asymptotic realm, and used by those whom some defend as not being asymptotic, serves to erect realities to which those qualifiers point. I would say, rather, that what those qualifiers denote are either fantasies of an anxious desire to minimize the danger, or are pointing to features & factors that are accidental -- not essential -- in Islamic sociology. But again, the usage of them reinforces the notion that those features & factors are essential.

Nobody said...

Erich

I agree with you that there is a spectrum in the PCMC region, but if you have it as wide as you do - from NYT to Gabrielle, it's making it somewhat meaningless. I also agree that PCMC is derived of virtuous values, but that is tangential to the question of whether the spectrum that it embraces is as wide as you make it out to be. I wasn't trying to be loose on one end and tight on the other, even though it ended up looking that way, but rather examining whether the two fall in both ends of a spectrum (unless you append the anti-Western category to one end and the Holistic category to the other).

On your question of evidence that the NYT editor had malignant motives in publishing his reports, he was asked by the government not to publish them as they would cause the disruption of the program, and yet, he chose to do so anyway, ignoring that plea. You seem to be quite generous in giving him the benefit of the doubt as to his intent, but to me, someone who willingly disregards such a plea from his government falls squarely in the traitor category. One doesn't have to be in a Dearborn mosque plotting attacks on the US: acts such as these which not merely undermine public opinion in support of the country, but actually disrupt smooth counter terrorism operations is downright anti-US, regardless of whether the perpetrators think it was or not. I'm sure the Rosenbergs thought that they were doing the US/Americans a great favor by the work they did for the Soviet Union, but that wouldn't have made them PCMC.

On Gabrielle, I follow your argument, but think that here, you are guilty of what you suggested I was, namely mixing cause and effect. Gabrielle's use of those terms may indeed have the effect on PCMC people of finding loopholes to the 'Islam is the problem' theory, but that's irrelevant to whether she herself thinks so or not, and my reading of her to date is that she doesn't - although I'm open to the possibility that other things she has written may prove me wrong in this regard as well. There are 3 possibilities here (out of a theoretical total of 4):

1. The analyst in question actually believes that Islam is the issue, and says so explicitly

2. The analyst in question actually believes that Islam is the issue, but only implicitly communicates it, or worse, avoids communicating it altogether or miscommunicates it

3. The analyst in question doesn't believe that Islam is the issue, and says so

#1 is holistic and #3 is asymptotic - on this, we agree. You and Anonymous define #2 as asymptotic, whereas I look at it as holistic, but with bad communications. My point is that if someone believes X, it's easier to persuade that someone to explicitly state X. But if someone believes 'NOT X' i.e. #3, then one has to bring him to #2 before one can bring him to #1.

I'm not trying to artificially expand the holistic camp, although I agree with you that exponents of this school should be as precise in their language to avoid such confusion.

Kab-bin-Ashraf said...

Hesp,

In regards to categorizing a party's (person's or organization's) stance toward Islam, a classification scheme that lumps B Gabriel into the same category as the NYTimes is not useful (or worse).

It is not useful if the purpose of it is to grade people on the extent to which they oppose Islam. From what I know of the NYTimes, they've approved and/or solicited articles that are Islam-apologetic, i.e., pro-Islam. This is not always the case, but that is evidently the prevailing direction of their policy re Islam. The prevailing direction of Gabriel's criticisms of Islam is anti-Islam. A classification scheme that puts a pro-Islam party into the same category as an anti-Islam party is, in this context, a failing classification scheme.

I think you are putting far too much weight on terms like "radical Islam" (or other terms like Islamism, etc). I'll give you another example of how this can be a problem. Ex-Muslim and Islam critic Abul Kasem sometimes uses the terms such as Islamist, but other times uses Muslim, Islam, etc. None of this makes him "asymptotic" in fact (i.e., somehow short of realizing the full problem of Islam, whereby full I do not mean omniscient understanding but rather that he is an expert who understands that Islam--not merely some branch of it--is the problem). He may be "asymptotic" in regards to your specific criteria regarding word use (e.g., the critic has to say "Islam" instead of "Islamist" 100% of the time or else they are "asymptotic." If that is all there is to it (i.e., anyone who doesn't apply your prescription for word choice 100% of the time is "asymptotic"), I don't think your scheme is all that helpful. The important problem is not that Gabriel and Spencer et al are doing what they are doing as you describe it; the problem is that not enough people are doing the same or similar (i.e., engaging in Islam criticism).

Re asymptotic "vs" holisitic. Asymptotic is not an opposite or contrast of holistic. The opposite of holistic is atomistic (or a part-by-part analysis). Neither scheme need neglect the system whereby the parts function within the whole.

Erich said...

Kab,

"In regards to categorizing a party's (person's or organization's) stance toward Islam, a classification scheme that lumps B Gabriel into the same category as the NYTimes is not useful (or worse)."

It depends on the reasoning behind it and what one is intending to achieve or communicate by doing so. Obviously, a categorization scheme like this is not a science or a simple matter of facts everyone can agree on. My position has become one that believes it will be more effective to not tolerate asymptotic analysis -- with the corollary that any analysis that seems to be asymptotic must be categorized as such, since its seeming will have the asymptotic effect. Thus, by lumping B. Gabriel in with the NYT, it is my way of expressing "zero tolerance" and pushing for the holistic agenda.

But on the other end of the scale, so to speak, I also lump her in with the NYT because I want to express that PC MC, even when it descends perilously close to outright sedition/revolution, is still PC MC, and PC MC is the overarching framework for the asymptotic analysis. I must therefore disagree with you: I feel it is useful to illustrate the wide gamut of the PC MC spectrum, both to express dissatisfaction with B. Gabriel, and to show that normative mainstream PC MC includes attitudes and positions that seem "radical" to those who do not appreciate the full nature & dimensions of PC MC -- which is not "radical" but actually normative and mainstream. Or the "radical" has become "Radical Lite" so to speak (as I have argued in a few previous essays in various ways).

"It is not useful if the purpose of it is to grade people on the extent to which they oppose Islam. From what I know of the NYTimes, they've approved and/or solicited articles that are Islam-apologetic, i.e., pro-Islam. This is not always the case, but that is evidently the prevailing direction of their policy re Islam. The prevailing direction of Gabriel's criticisms of Islam is anti-Islam."

My categorization can still be retained in order to illustrate that one person or group within the PC MC orbit can tend to be pro-Islam, while another person or group within that same PC MC orbit can tend to be anti-Islam -- but the latter person's "tendency", by not being holistic and by assuming some of the same axioms of the former, can serve to reinforce the overall PC MC paradigm that is continually frustrating rational conclusions. I covered this already insofar as one person can think that gentler prodding in the general direction of anti-Islam is the most effective way of moving society away from the PC MC paradigm; whereas I think that a more aggressive message, consistently communicated and with the backing of more and more people, will be more effective.

"Ex-Muslim and Islam critic Abul Kasem sometimes uses the terms such as Islamist, but other times uses Muslim, Islam, etc. None of this makes him "asymptotic" in fact"

As long as the overall message of the person communicates the "Islam/Muslim" aspect, then that message is not asymptotic. It all depends on how the communication is received, and we can determine that to some extent. That B. Gabriel piece in my view strongly communicates the asymptotic view, with her numerous and carefully placed "radicals" and "ists". It is clear to me that she is consciously padding the issue with the qualifiers.

"[Kasem] may be "asymptotic" in regards to your specific criteria regarding word use (e.g., the critic has to say "Islam" instead of "Islamist" 100% of the time or else they are "asymptotic.""

No, just a preponderance that communicates the plus column, as it were, over and above the negative.
It's also not only a matter of quantity (number of times "Islam" is used vs. "radical Islamism") but also the communicated theory behind the usage of terms. An analyst has an obligation to communicate why he is using "radical Islamism" and what he means by it, and how it either exonerates "Islam" or does not at all exonerate "Islam". If an analyst never does so, and if his relative quantities of terms lean toward ambiguity, then he is doing a poor job of analysis, in my view.

"The important problem is not that Gabriel and Spencer et al are doing what they are doing as you describe it; the problem is that not enough people are doing the same or similar (i.e., engaging in Islam criticism)."

Well, this is one major feature of the overall problem of PC MC -- which is the phenomenon I believe the holistic agenda will most effectively undermine. I think the perpetuation of a cautious asymptotic approach that obviously has as one major motivation a gingerly anxiety not to ruffle PC MC feathers too much and thus hope to avoid further ostracization (as though the ostensibly anti-Islam critics aren't already sufficiently personae non gratae) -- while another motivation among some of them is that they really do believe that Islam itself is fairly benign or at least inert and that most Muslims are decent people -- this analytical culture of perpetuation is actually in the long run slowing down that undermining effect, precisely because it helps to reinforce underlying axioms. The asymptotic analysts may not realize it, but they are working at cross purposes: with one hand trying to nudge along the consciousness-raising about Islam, with the other hand aiding and abetting the overall climate that forever forestalls the logical conclusions of the problem of Islam. This is not just a theoretical problem, but can have concrete consequences in terms of trusting innumerable Muslims with various circumstances and venues that present dangerous opportunities for infiltration and terrorist planning. The asymptotic paradigm allows for the perpetual bracketing out of innumerable Muslims deemed in one way or another to be trustworthy -- simply in terms of the axioms of the paradigm, not because of anything rational. The only rational conclusion is that no Muslim is trustworthy, and yet innumerable Muslims continue to be trusted, and one day thousands if not more will likely die because of this irrationally axiomatic predisposition.

"Re asymptotic "vs" holisitic. Asymptotic is not an opposite or contrast of holistic. The opposite of holistic is atomistic (or a part-by-part analysis)."

The problem with "atomistic" is that in my mind it seems static, whereas "asymptotic" conveys a dynamic and paradoxical process whereby there is a continuum of ever-increasing grasp of the Whole, but never quite getting there. This particular feature illustrates what I was talking about before: there are people who think they are being aggressive about the way they tackle the problem of Islam, but in fact, their aggressiveness is masking their inability to cross over to the holistic approach.