Sunday, July 12, 2009

Irony Deficiency









Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch recently posted a series of articles about an invitation he had by the American Library Association (ALA) to be part of a panel about Islam.

The first few articles were about how he might be blacklisted and his invitation rescinded—because, of course, he is an “Islamophobe”.

His last article was about how he in fact was disinvited. Indeed, all the other invited panelists quit in protest, for they could not stand to share the stage with this Islamophobe, Robert Spencer—and apparently the whole show was cancelled.

In that last article, Spencer aptly noted three “ironies” in this whole fiasco. Each of the three ironies is a direct quote from the ALA, expressing a solemn support of free speech and free intellectual inquiry:

“ALA actively advocates in defense of the rights of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment. A publicly supported library provides free and equal access to information for all people of that community. We enjoy this basic right in our democratic society. It is a core value of the library profession.”


“We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.”


“We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.”


The irony involved here, of course, is that they stifled the free speech of Robert Spencer by succumbing to Muslim pressure and allowing the panel on Islam to be disbanded, rather than standing up to defend Spencer’s right to be part of that panel, as he was originally so invited by them—and in doing so, stifled the concrete expression of the principles of intellectual inquiry and dispassionate scholarly integrity they also claim to uphold.

Spencer himself, however, is guilty of an irony too, and he and virtually all of his followers seem utterly blind to it. And that irony is that Spencer forthrightly and clearly asserted (and has asserted many a time in so many words in the past) that Islam at its core is not a violent doctrine that encourages the murder of non-Muslims.

In response to an allegation made by a CAIR representative in a letter to the ALA arguing against Spencer’s invitation to the panel, charging that Spencer says “... that Islam at its core is a violent doctrine that encourages the murder of non-Muslims....”—Spencer responded that:

“No, I have never said that either, and don't believe it.”

The pièce de résistance of the irony here is that even though Spencer strenuously and directly disavowed this accusation, he still got disinvited from the ALA panel!

So if Spencer is maintaining these soft stances on Islam in the interest of wedging himself more deeply into the mainstream so that the anti-Islam (woops, I mean “anti-Jihad”) fight can have more sociopolitical effect, this strategy doesn’t seem to be working all that well. As I have noted many times before, no matter how much Spencer tries to soften his stance against Islam, he
still gets vilified as a “hater” and an “Islamophobe”.

In a related follow-up to this article, Spencer published a criticism of him by a Muslim apologist, and answered one of his charges by stating:

I have never stated that “the interpretations of the fanatics…reflect the core values of Islamic faith and tradition...”

What this means is that Spencer thinks that the interpretations of the fanatics do not reflect the core values of Islamic faith and tradition.

Not only is this a preposterous position for Spencer to assertto anyone who has been reading Spencer in any length and detail over the yearsthe preposterousness is bizarrely augmented by subsequent paragraphs in the same missive in which he is answering this Muslim apologist. Spencer goes on to challenge his Muslim critic:

Please supply, specifically, rulings by jurists from any of the recognized Sunni or Shi’ite madhahib, declaring that jihad is not to be waged against unbelievers in order to bring them under the authority of Sharia, but rather that non-Muslims and Muslims are to coexist peacefully as equals under the law on an indefinite basis, even when the law of the land is not Sharia. Please show evidence of any orthodox sect or school of jurisprudence that teaches this.

What Spencer is clearly saying here is that in fact the rulings by jurists from all the recognized Sunni and Shi’ite madhahib declare that jihad in fact is to be waged against unbelievers in order to bring them under the authority of Sharia, and that therefore non-Muslims and Muslims are not to coexist peacefully as equals under the law on an indefinite basis anywhere on Earth, and that furthermore no evidence has been found of any orthodox sect or school of jurisprudence that teaches this.

Furthermore, Spencer goes on in the next paragraph to challenge his Muslim critic:

...please explain why the fard kifaya/fard ayn distinction was elaborated in Islamic law, and why the various madhahib elaborated guidelines for offensive jihad — and how you propose to convince them today to discard those guidelines, even were a caliphate to be restored.

What Spencer is clearly saying here is that the various madhahib
did in fact elaborate guidelines for offensive jihad.

If this isn’t evidence that the teachings of the fanatics do, in fact, “reflect the core values of Islamic faith and tradition”, I don’t know what is.

What is even more curious is how his followers seem utterly blind to this, and apparently cannot see that their Emperor has, in this respect at least, no clothes.

There is a second irony to this: a reader of Jihad Watch cannot help but notice that all around these articles about ALA—where Spencer asserts that, in effect, “I have never said that Islam at its core is a violent doctrine that encourages the murder of non-Muslims, and don’t believe it”, as well as that, in effect, “the interpretations of the fanatics do not reflect the core values of Islamic faith and tradition”—we encounter such additional articles as:

Somali Muslims behead seven people for being "Christians" and "spies"

Taliban truck bomb kills 12 schoolchildren

France: Muslim ringleader of gang whot tortured and murdered Jew sentenced to life in prison

U.K.: President of Civil Service Islamic Society back on the job after suspension for endorsing the killing of British, U.S. soldiers

5 Baghdad churches bombed in 24 hours

"Gunmen" assassinate Christian leader in Iraq

And that’s just less than one week’s worth of stories about Muslims, representing just the tiny tip resting on top of a mountain of similar stories documented by Jihad Watch over the years.

Now, what was Spencer saying about “I have never said that Islam at its core is a violent doctrine that encourages the murder of non-Muslims, and don't believe it”...?

9 comments:

jau jau said...

I think that Hugh Fitzgerald has done better at pointing out the core beliefs of Islam being inherently violent, and reflecting in dysfunctional societies. In fact, he put it best when describing the utter evil of the Nazis: It didn't require him to be well-read in Hitler's blue prints laid out in Mein Kampf, but in observing the aftermath of his plans, fully enacted.
Fitzgerald wishes, as I am sure that Robert does, too, that the leaders of the free world would just read the goals and the texts, and to see if the reality doesn't match THAT rhetoric, rather than the blather we hear coming from academia and the press, as well as the bureaucracy.
There is too much of a disconnect with the reality.
I think Robert needs to just come out and say, "Islamic culture is inherently violent, because its core beliefs and texts support violence."
No ambiguity.
I have finally gone to the dark side in my belief about Islam and Muslims:
I used to be the tepid, "Not all Muslims type, to the: "Muslims must be collectively held accountable" type in a span of about 7 years.

Erich said...

jau jau,

Hugh certainly does use stronger language more consistently, and also for the most part doesn't set up formulations like Spencer does that have the effect of erecting incoherencies (such as the ones my essay above discusses, and which my other blog "Jihad Watch Watch" analyzed in dozens of essays in detail).

I too have graduated along the "learning curve" to what I call the "holistic analysis" of Islam, which boils down to:

1. Islam is the predominant problem when we are dealing with terrorism and related pathologies coming out of the Muslim milieu.

2. All Muslims are our enemy, insofar as they support Islam (and which Muslims don't support Islam...?).

I no longer view it as pragmatically viable for us to try to figure out macroscopic ways of building rapprochement with "moderate Muslims" nor of using them in our fight against a putatively distinct "extremism".

Erich said...

P.S.:

You might be interested in an older essay of mine here, on related themes:

http://hesperado.blogspot.com/2008/11/learning-curve-revisited.html

MichelleR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MichelleR said...

Spencer is good, but I don't know why he bothers with these subtle distinctions. Here is another quote from him:
---------
"Certainly there has been and is diversity of Islamic law, but as I have shown above, there has been consensus on the necessity to wage war against and subjugate unbelievers. I would ask van der Galiën or Koogler to produce one orthodox school of Islamic jurisprudence, or one scholar recognized as orthodox, who explicitly rejected this necessity ...

I have never said that the jihadist version of Islam is "pure Islam." I have said that the jihadists say it is, and that they appeal to broad support within the Qur'an and Sunnah and Islamic jurisprudence, as I've shown above. But does all that support mean that they're correct in saying that theirs is the "pure Islam"? No, and I have never said otherwise. If someone, even Ali Eteraz, could construct a version of Islam that could convince Muslims that the jihadists did not represent "pure Islam," no one would be happier than I. But I don't think they will succeed in doing that by denying the scope of the problem and playing fast and loose with the facts, like Eteraz. Reform doesn't occur by denying the need for reform. It occurs by confronting what needs reforming, and opposing it.

"Muslims should decide what ‘pure’ or ‘true’ Islam is"

Quite so. That's exactly what I've been calling upon peaceful Muslims to do for years now."
---------

OK, it may be uber polite and intellectually rigorous to refrain from claiming 'pure' Islam, but since no-one rebukes the jihadists' claims, I don't know why or how long Spencer will hold out for some peaceful interpretation to arise.

Erich said...

MichelleR,

"I don't know why or how long Spencer will hold out for some peaceful interpretation to arise."

You've hit on one of the problems of Spencer which I explored at length at "Jihad Watch Watch" -- his frequently reiterated expectation of Muslims to reform and to show good faith by showing signs of reform. Your other quotes illustrate well his needless indulgence in subtle distinctions -- but not only are many of these distinctions subtle, they are positively self-contradictory and therefore incoherent when one examines them closely enough; as I did, again, on Jihad Watch Watch (also there quoting copiously from others who, in comments sections on Jihad Watch, engaged in rather lengthy debates with Spencer back in the days, over 2 years ago, when Spencer participated in his comments sections).

Anonymous said...

Also, as I've previously mentioned, Spencer is on record as saying that there's "[n]othing about Islam" that makes him unwilling to rule out the possibility of Islamic reform, so his hopes for reform seem rather unsubstantiated (he only mentions "human nature and human experience" as factors to explain his reluctance).

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

The PC MC counter jihadis seem to exhibit every form of fallacy ever discussed by math ed. One advantage of math ed, is we don't have to pretend that students with incorrect views are somehow correct about the nature of math. We can just try to think about how to get them to realize their fallacies.

The PC counter jihadis are on a jihad against logic and clear thinking. In a sense, that is part of the extended jihad against the West that includes Islam, Leftism, 3rd world immigration and romancism, etc.

Erich said...

Old Atlantic Lighthouse,

"In a sense, that is part of the extended jihad against the West that includes Islam, Leftism, 3rd world immigration and romancism, etc."

Interesting: the anti-jihad "softies" (as I like to call them) suffer, in certain respects, from the same disease they are resisting.