Monday, June 14, 2010
The corner Robert Spencer paints himself into
In a recent notice on Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer wrote of the ideas derived from Sharia law:
"Either we allow the propagation of such ideas in the U.S. or we don't."
Surely, Spencer must know that the U.S.A. does not forbid the propagation of any ideas, including those of the Communist Party, the KKK, neo-Nazis, Satanists, etc. While three or four European countries have developed limited policies of making the propagation of certain ideas illegal -- usually incurring fines or even jail time -- such as the propagation of Holocaust denial, or more vaguely "hate speech" (e.g., the actress Brigitte Bardot, who has been fined by the French government more than once for "hate" against Muslims in one or more books she wrote), this tendency is by no means dominant in Europe and it has tended to operate amid much internal debate, tension and dissension from critics. Canada also has "hate speech" laws, and seems to be worse than the European countries that have them -- though, of course, the "hate speech" laws seem to be unilaterally applied according to the PC MC Dogma of Reverse Racism, and for that reason never seem to apply to the hate speech which Muslims endemically deploy through expressing the tenets of their Islam.
If Spencer's sentence was not just a sloppy slip, I think it's explained by the somewhat incoherent corner he paints himself into with one aspect of his theory of stealth jihad -- viz., the aspect that tends to disconnect violent jihad from stealth jihad and thus tends to see the latter as in and of itself dangerous. But society is not endangered by a group that propagates ideas about the merits of the subjugation of women and of other minority groups, and of the merits of draconian punishments for crimes, and of the merits of harsh penalties for religious blasphemy, and so forth -- if that group never intends to use violence to further their aims. If a modern democratic society voluntarily chooses the path of accepting and implementing such pernicious ideas, then it deserves them. But no modern democratic society will ever voluntarily accept and implement the pernicious ideas in Sharia Law, when the rubber meets the road. We will have to be forced to do so -- through violence.
For now, modern democratic societies of the West are playing an irresponsible game half-wittingly countenancing such pernicious ideas of Islam out of a confused sense of wishing to be "tolerant" and out of an anxiety that seeks to avoid being "bigoted" against a worldwide People and their central culture, perceived to be ethnic. Precisely because things have not come to a head, this clash of Western liberalism and Islamic Sharia remains in a state of limbo and so the PC MCs as yet have never had to face the responsibility of the actual concrete choice between the anti-liberal ideas of Islam, and a defense of their own Western liberal ideas of how to organize society. That confrontation can only occur through the medium of violence, when Muslims try to force their ways on us, which, because they will remain militarily weak, they will continue to pursue through the roundabout tactics of various forms of terrorism and threats of terrorism.
Spencer's somewhat incoherent stance on stealth jihad vis-a-vis violent jihad is also related to the incoherence he shares with Geert Wilders and Pam Geller, among many others in the still inchoate Anti-Islam Movement -- namely, the incoherence that tries simultaneously to condemn Islam while claiming they they are not against Muslims per se and may even aver that most Muslims are harmless. This incoherence seems to rest on a curious myopia to the fact that any given Muslim is Islam personified, is Islam activated, is Islam realized. The only way to attenuate this fact is to then come in out of left field with various theories about how "most Muslims don't know their Islam", or "most Muslims are really lax and don't follow their Islam", or "many Muslims practice an enlightened moderate form of Islam", or any number of other ways by which one tries to superimpose Western mores upon Muslims, as though the historical process that has massaged Western Jews and Christians into a state of predominant secular relaxation must necessarily also apply to the majority of Muslims.
One suspects that behind Spencer's incoherence on these matters lurks a liberal anxiety to avoid bigotry against Muslims. Since Spencer is more knowledgeable about the danger, injustice and evil of Islam than your garden-variety liberal, this sets up a paradoxical tension in his thought, and whenever the subject comes up (which is far less often now than it was in years past, as documented and analyzed in various essays I wrote for my now retired blog Jihad Watch Watch), Spencer's formulations tend to go into contortions, because he is trying to balance, and defend, two mutually contradictory theses:
1) Islam is dangerous, unjust and evil
2) Most Muslims are harmless, and maybe even good, people.
This paradox is inherent to the asymptotic analysis to which Spencer tends to subscribe -- for asymptotic analysis with regard to the problem of Islam derives from PC MC. Ironically, one consequence of these contortions caused by Spencer's inherent liberalism is that most illiberal proposal quoted at the head of my essay above.