Thursday, July 01, 2010

Spencer's simplistic formula

Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch has repeated this formula many times over the months, if not years. Today, it is with regard to yet another political representative who is using their power to translate their handwringing anxiety over "Islamophobia" into public policy -- one Hannah Rosenthal, special envoy in a new office created in the State Department by President Obama to "monitor and combat anti-semitism".

Spencer writes:

If Hannah Rosenthal really wants to end "Islamophobia," here is an easy way. She can call upon Muslims to:

1. Focus their indignation on Muslims committing violent acts in the name of Islam, not on non-Muslims reporting on those acts.

2. Renounce definitively not just "terrorism," but any intention to replace the U.S. Constitution (or the constitutions of any non-Muslim state) with Sharia even by peaceful means. In line with this, clarify what is meant by their condemnations of the killing of innocent people by stating unequivocally that American and Israeli civilians are innocent people.

3. Teach Muslims the imperative of coexisting peacefully as equals with non-Muslims on an indefinite basis.

4. Begin comprehensive international programs in mosques all over the world to teach against the ideas of violent jihad and Islamic supremacism.

5. Actively work with Western law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend jihadists within Western Muslim communities.

If Muslims do those five things, voila! "Islamophobia" will no longer hold sway among Westerners!

What's wrong with this formula?

I think the most acutely glaring problem may be pinpointed at the "voila!"

More generally, it rests on the assumption that if Muslims do various things, all of which can easily be nothing more substantive than ostensible outward show, our wariness about them will vanish.

Aside from some of the things among the five that would be ineffectual window dressing (e.g., #1, 3 and 4), the other two (#2 and 5) could be done industriously by Muslims, yet in a spirit of taqiyya. All five would require continual monitoring of Muslims to make sure they are being compliant. This in itself would generate resentment, if not hostility, among Muslims who will likely say, "Hey, we are trying to be compliant like you outlined, and you are still suspicious of us!?" But of course, we would have to remain vigilant in our suspicion of them, and it would be exceedingly reckless of us to take them at their word in following this formula. Without intrusive and constant surveillance of the Muslims being ostensibly compliant with our requests. we would be opening ourselves up to being dupes of an even stealthier jihad than is now being conducted by Muslims.

Which brings us to the most overarching problem with this formula: it assumes that Muslims are capable of sincerely doing any, or all, of these five things. For if that assumption were not implicit in Spencer's proposal, the force, and the sense, of his "voila!" would vanish.


In yet another re-presentation of this simplistic formula, Spencer adds some explanatory massage to it:

"... this five-point list, which I have posted here many times, is just an exercise in bluff-calling. If Muslims in the West are as "moderate" as they claim, they would have been long since doing all of these things. But they aren't, and they're not going to. One would think that fact would start to wake up government and law enforcement authorities. Of course, it hasn't, and probably won't."

However, as I argued above, doing any of these things still doesn't make a Muslim a moderate, necessarily. Indeed, perhaps even stealthier jihadists than now exist could easily be doing all five, while more effectively cloaking their stealthier jihad.

A "bluff", it seems, should hold in its cards something that, were it acceded to, would actually change things sufficiently. What this problem of formulation points toward is the only really coherent way to frame what Spencer is aiming at here -- and that would be not a 5-point bluff, but a 1-point declaration:

When Muslims cease putting Islam into practice, then -- voila! -- Islamophobia will vanish.

1 comment:

Traeh said...

Hesperado, you refer toward the end of your article to a "five-point bluff." Of course you understand, I suppose, that Spencer's five-point plan is not the bluff Spencer was referring to. Spencer meant that the bluff is from Muslims who claim to be moderate. They are not really moderate, they are only bluffing. So Spencer is publishing the five-point plan as a way of calling their bluff, to show that they are bluffing about being moderate. Spencer knows they will not follow that five point plan. He's proposing it not because he thinks it might actually be an effective way of dealing with the challenge of Islam. Spencer is proposing the five-point plan to show the world that the moderates are not really moderate. The faulty plan is not intended seriously as a plan. It's intended to show that the "moderate" Muslims' bluff of moderation is just that, a mere bluff.