Saturday, March 26, 2011

The asymptotic twitch

asymptotic twitch is nearly universal -- including within the ragged ambit of the still inchoate Anti-Islam Movement.

It is the minor spasm that occurs after an apparently anti-Islam person has just finished saying a bunch of anti-Islam things. The spasm, or twitch, is a coda meant to assure the reader, or the audience, that the anti-Islam person isn't against Islam per se, or isn't against "all Muslims"; or whatever. The permutations of the locution may vary, but the point is clear: he must anxiously defend himself from the "bigotry" that is assumed to pertain to a condemnation deemed to be too sweeping, or too potent.

Sometimes the asymptotic twitch takes a subtler form, through employing any number of euphemisms (or, rather, cacophemisms) by which to distinguish the Bad Islam from the Good Islam, or the Bad Muslims from the Good Muslims (you know, "radical Islam", "extremism", "fundamentalism", "Wahhabism", "Salafism", etc.).

The asymptotic twitch is sort of analogous to that running joke on that winsomely clever sit-com of the 90s, Seinfeld, where one of the characters would make some amusing observations about gay people or the gay lifestyle -- and then hasten to add at the end: "-- not that there's anything wrong with that!"

At any rate, here's the latest exhibit of the asymptotic twitch, courtesy of that "conservative", Newt Gingrich.

After delivering a speech riddled with seemingly tough no-nonsense language against Islam, including --

"It’s part of this desperation of our secular elites to do everything they can to prove they are not anti-Muslim”

-- we read from the reporter covering this speech:

Gingrich insisted that he’s not anti-Muslim himself, but that he is “deeply opposed” to the religion’s radical wing that represses women, homosexuals and Christians.


Nobody said...

As I mentioned in JW, Gingrich is still pals w/ Grover Norquest, and most of his proteges in Congress and allies in the senate are pro-Muslim. Debbie Schlussel has mentioned a lot about it.

Hence, Newt's mention of 'Radical' w/ Muslims is the least of his problems. His real problem is his track record - he has an unquestionable record in fighting Muslims, whether it was as speaker or after. It doesn't exist.

Hesperado said...

"His real problem is his track record - he has an unquestionable record in fighting Muslims, whether it was as speaker or after. It doesn't exist. "

If that's so, then these anxious comments of his may be a slightly good sign -- a sign that he feels it necessary to even tip a hat in the general direction of Islam-criticism.

Nobody said...

The only leaders w/ any credibility on this issue, as far as we're concerned, are a handful - Sue Myrick, Vijay Kumar, Allen West and Tom Tancredo. None of whom are running for the White House, and even if they did, they'd be dismissed by their own party as Islamophobes.

Newt is unfortunately influential, which was great for issues like Welfare reform, Medicare or Social Security reform, etc, but not for issues like Muslims. Simple reason - he has too many associates who are Arab Americans and therefore hostile to Israel. Even though he himself makes the right noises on Israel, that's not b'cos of the Jewish vote (which is heavily Democrat anyway) but the Evangelical vote, which is overwhelmingly pro-Israel. Besides, he supports Muslims on things like Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo and so on.

Hesperado said...

Nobody,I agree. The upshot, with regard to my theme here, is that with a Gingrich, the asymptotic twitch is more to be expected (though less so that, say, with Obama). His formulation of it, however, was so juicily representative, I had to mention it. When I see a less likely public figure exhibit the twitch (and unfortunately, there is little doubt we will see many such instances), I shall revisit this.

goethechosemercy said...

I still think Sam Harris said it best: our problem is not with Islamic fundamentalists.
Our problem is with the fundamentals of Islam.

Hesperado said...


That Sam Harris phrase sounds good at first sight, and it certainly has the advantage of situating Islam itself in our sights; however, it can tend to get swallowed up by the PC MC machine, which has a slot for everything. In this case, they would superimpose our enlightened, secularly relaxed Western ways upon Muslims, and assume that, just as most of us don't obsess about religious "fundamentals" (except those nasty white Evangelicals among us), so too most Muslims are approximately as secularly disposed.

The key will always be to condemn Muslims, along with Islam. Otherwise, any number of fudge factors will intervene to protect the former from our criticism -- even as it might be conceded to criticize the latter.

goethechosemercy said...

The key will always be to condemn Muslims, along with Islam.
end quote.

And I agree.
That is why we must retain the right and demand the democratic space to say these things:
Islam is profane.
Mohammed is a false prophet.
The Koran is a book of lies.
Muslims follow falsehood to their damnation.
As a non-Muslim I have the right to say these things.
In public.
Muslims will force us to buy peace.
We must not play their game.

Nobody said...


Problem w/ Sam Harris is not that he is Atheist, but rather, that he draws a moral equivalence b/w all religions. What's more, the largest block within Atheists are not your Ayn Rand type, but Communists. Therefore, if Sam Harris was allowed to be the defining guy here, one would end up including many people who are in bed w/ Muslims, while excluding many of their enemies just on the grounds that they are believers.

A poor strategy to come up w/.

Hesperado said...


From what I have read and heard from Sam Harris, he is less of an equivalencist than other atheists out there. He has gone out of his way in fact to point out that we don't have to worry about Christians threatening death, etc., whereas we do with Muslims. While he still has that equivalencist tendency, he's much better than some others.