Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Robert Spencer's "Leftist" label-gun: Imprecision of terms on the problem of the problem

By my phrase "the problem of the problem" I refer to the secondary problem. The primary problem, of course, is Islam. The secondary problem is the modern West's persistent myopic inability to recognize the primary problem.

In terms of the primary problem, Spencer's analyses are usually quite good, with one glaring exception: his inability (or unwillingness) to logically conclude, from the fact he himself has avowed -- namely, that we cannot tell the difference with sufficient certitude between the Muslims dangerously following and/or supporting Islam's dangerous dictates, and the Muslims who are not dangerously following and/or supporting Islam's dangerous dictates -- that therefore all Muslims must be considered equally deadly. When we say "logically conclude" we don't just mean dashing off parenthetical comments here and there once in a blue moon (only to be apparently contradicted by some other comments elsewhere); we mean, of course, explicitly and regularly articulating that conclusion in such a way that it becomes recognizable, both implicitly and explicitly, in his writings and speeches, as an important (indeed, if not the most important) leitmotif of the overall diagnosis of the primary problem.

Other than that glaring exception, as I say, Spencer's various analyses of the primary problem are very good -- and even better are his more just-the-facts-ma'am reportorial descriptions and debates based upon them.

On the secondary problem, however, his analytical powers falter. Again, on the purely reportorial level -- calling attention to the problem in its various facets -- he is doing great work. And part of the excellence of that reportorial work he does is his unstinting willingness to expose Islamophiliac idiocy no matter where it may manifest itself on the political spectrum. Spencer never pulls his punches if the culprit is some Republican politician or conservative pundit. He never revered Bush just because Bush was a supposed conservative Republican with an all-American twang. Whenever Bush -- or any other Republican or conservative -- said or did things that demonstrated Islamo-ignorance, Spencer spared no mercy and called a spade a spade. And he continues to do so with regard to prospective Republican candidates for the next election (e.g., Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry).

However, this brings us to our central point. The point being that the secondary problem -- the modern West's myopia to the primary problem (Islam) -- is not merely a "Leftist" problem. It's obviously massively a problem generalized and thriving throughout all political points on the spectrum, on all levels of society, in all venues of public life, throughout the entire West. One has only to have been reading the Jihad Watch ticker-tape newsfeed over the past 10 years to see the mountain of evidence indicating such a disheartening fact.

Now, one conclusion to explain this disheartening fact would be that Leftism has conquered the entire West. But that would lead us to the absurd corollary conclusion that the vast majority of conservatives and Republicans throughout the West are Leftists -- or, even more preposterously, are being held captive against their will by powerful Leftists.

Obviously, we must look elsewhere for a reasonable explanation. It's a very complex question, which I've analyzed numerous times here in lengthy essays going back years. Suffice it to say now that over the past half century or so, the West has seen a slow, what might be termed "Lefticization" of the Right. Or, put another way, many of the values and virtues of Leftism have seeped into the general mainstream.

This has not been a merely nefarious phenomenon, reflecting the dastardly designs of some evil, powerful cabal of "Gramscian" Elites seeking to mutate the West with the infection of some alien belief system. This has been part and parcel of a broader, deeper process of Progress in the West, unfolding certain vectors inherent to, and latent in, the virtues of its Judeo-Christian and Graeco-Roman heritage. However, one wouldn't want to err on the other side and try to claim that this phenomenon has been entirely beneficent. It has been a mixed bag, reflecting good intentions, and genuine progress in terms of ameliorating many ills in society; but, at the same time, along with those good intentions there have been pursuits, some rather grandiose and comprehensive, of various forms of social engineering projects through public policy that have resulted in various degrees of sociocultural damage.

But the aforementioned description is broad and generalized. For readers seeking a more detailed analysis, see my essay, A deeper analysis of the sociopolitics of the modern West. What concerns us here is how this process has impinged on the problem of Islam. The process of the "Lefticization" of the mainstream (including the Right) has not succeeded on all issues, but it has apparently been a spectacular success with regard to one issue: the problem of Islam, and how to routinely and doggedly deny it.

This process of "Lefticization" of the mainstream I call, for want of a better term, PC MC (Politicaly Correct Multiculturalism). With regard to the problem of Muslims, PC MC is no longer a problem of mere "Leftists". It has infected the hearts and minds of nearly everyone in the West, on all points of the political spectrum, and in all stations of life from lofty jet-setting Elites down to ordinary assistant school directors in Dubuque, Iowa, or the Deputy Sheriffs of Putnam County, Georgia, or to head librarians of a small college in Topeka, Kansas, or to lowly bus drivers in Madison, Wisconsin; etc. These days, outside of the Blogosphere, apparently, and outside of a few rag-tag public demonstrations that in a couple of large cities once in a blue moon draw at best a piddling 2,500 (many of whom are probably just journalists and curious bystanders anyway), you'd practically have to drain the swamps of deepest, darkest Mississippi to find a bonafide anti-Muslim human. Even many individuals who count themselves (and/or who are counted) as within the anti-Islam movement (which is not yet really a Movement yet anyway, and which is usually termed "anti-Jihad" rather than "anti-Islam") are rather soft and mushy (when they aren't incoherently fuzzy) when it comes to drawing out, and boldly avowing, the logical conclusions of their learning curve about the pernicious nature of Islam, and of the disturbingly metastasizing behavior of Muslims around the world in recent news, recent history, and throughout the entire historical career of Islam.

With regard to this particular cultural victory of the PC MC Zeitgeist, the vast majority of liberals, conservatives, Leftists and Right-Wingers, Centrists, and all those who are more or less casually apolitical -- all of these types of Westerners, throughout the West, all agree (with grudging, minor exceptions that prove the rule) on three principles carved in eternal stone:

1) Islam is relatively okay, no worse than any other religion;

2) any serious geopolitical and social problems and dangers which seem to be caused by Islam are really caused by other factors (i.e., by the West in its essentially "racist" nature -- among whose ill effects includes its "meddling" in the Third World -- whose "shame" it is doomed to work off for all eternity);

3) the vast majority of Muslims are relatively good decent people and even the slightest hint of suspicion about their complicity with the pernicious dangers that seem to be emanating out of their Islam is evidence rather of our own evil racism which has to be vigilantly suppressed and nipped in the bud lest we "become like them" and "go down the slippery slope" toward rounding up Muslims and putting them in concentration camps and committing genocide against them.

Many other principles radiate out from these three, which I won't elaborate here. (One example being that, because of #3, the fact of more and more dangerous Muslims pullulating out of the general pool of that vast majority of harmless Muslims has to be accounted for somehow other than actually blaming Islam, Islamic culture, and the Muslims who enable Islam; and so the ruling paradigm of the TMOEWATHI which is supposed to plug that leaky hole becomes increasingly strained, more and more past the point of ridiculous absurdity -- which, alas, doesn't seem to phase our majority of mainstream Westerners who have become enculturated by PC MC.)

The incoherence of Robert Spencer's analyses in this regard may be expressed by the inconsistency by which, on the one hand, he is not shy to criticize conservatives whenever they manifest a PC MC "respect" for Islam and for Muslims; while. on the other hand, he tends to locate the blame for this problem generally speaking in those dastardly "Leftists", when the crux of the problem cannot be located there if the vast majority of conservatives continue to "respect" Islam and Muslims in terms of PC MC -- unless one is to try to say that the vast majority of conservatives throughout the West are Leftists (an absurd conclusion with which Lawrence Auster continually flirts yet whose rhetorical consequences he, in his typically passive-aggressive way, unfailingly skirts).

Solving this analytical problem by calling the vast majority of conservatives Leftists? We won't even go there, girlfriend. Obviously, the problem is much broader, deeper and more complex for handy-dandy partisan labels to be able to handle adequately.

So where does Spencer go, for relief from the logical pressure his analytical incoherence leads? Nowhere, apparently. He simply remains suspended in mid-air in his incoherence, and will probably remain so until an assertive interviewer some day calls him on it and won't let him prevaricate until he gives a straight answer. To be generous to Spencer, however, it could very well be that he hasn't given this rather complex problem much thought, and so rather than weigh his formulations more carefully, he opts for the lazy way out by reaching for that convenient L word ("Leftist" or sometimes "liberal" will do) by which to denote the bugaboo that explains, and continues to sustain, Western dhimmitude.

When Spencer recently penned an unusually lengthy essay analyzing "Multiculturalism" I read it eagerly, to see whether he irons out his apparent inconsistency and incoherency in this regard. Alas, while his first few paragraphs seemed promising, he ends with that same recourse to the lazy L word:

The underlying reason for that is that Multiculturalism, in the final analysis, is not really about respecting all cultures equally at all. The very idea of that is manifestly absurd in any case—as if Nazi Germany and ancient Athens, or human-sacrificing Aztec Mexico and Catholic Spain—were essentially moral equivalents. But while it is true that thinking seriously about this core multiculturalist principle immediately lands on in the quicksand of Relativism, that Relativism is not in itself the ultimate focus or goal of the multiculturalist initiative. Since Multiculturalism was fashioned in the hard-Left groves of post-Sixties academe as a stick to use to beat the West, and particularly the Church, why shouldn’t feminists coo over the forced and feigned happiness of oppressed Muslim women while insisting that perfectly happy Christian women are actually miserable? Denigrating and ultimately destroying the Judeo-Christian West, not stamping out some putative racist devaluation of other cultures, is the point of the whole multiculturalist enterprise.
Another example among multitudes which one could adduce to demonstrate Spencer showing a similar recourse to the L Explanation we see in his unusually lengthy introduction to a Jihad Watch report about the recent slaughter of Christian Nigerians by Muslim Nigerians.

Notice how well he analyzes the problem for the first 324 words of his introduction -- then in the final sentence (which I have bolded for emphasis) botches the whole thing by reducing the problem to "Leftists":

Occasionally people ask me what I mean by referring to Misunderstanders of Islam on this site, or ask me to stop baiting the irony-deficient by doing so. In doing so, I am making a point, of course: we're constantly told by the mainstream media, government and law enforcement that Islam is a peaceful religion that doesn't justify terrorism, and that those who think otherwise are laboring under "misconceptions" or misunderstandings about the religion. Yet that explanation leaves us with the curious phenomenon that so many Muslims apparently misunderstand Islam -- not simply in the fact that they commit violence, but in that they do so explicitly and proudly in the name of Islamic teachings on jihad warfare against unbelievers.

And so here we go again: Muslims in Nigeria murdered 67 people, and all the while they were shouting "Allahu akbar," Allah is greatest. In other words, they were proclaiming that their god was superior to that of the people they were murdering. Apparently they believed that this superiority was manifest in the fact that they were the murderers, rather than the ones who were being murdered.

Then Islamic apologists for jihad terror in the U.S. have the monstrous temerity to portray Muslims as innocent victims of the "Islamophobia" of those who point out that jihad terror, and call for resistance to it. They even portray Muslims as equivalent to German Jews of the 1930s, as if they were innocent victims of a campaign against them that is ultimately genocidal in intent. The analogy ought to appall and disgust every free person. And stories like this present one are one reason why. Jews in Germany perpetrated no aggression, made no predictions of conquest and subjugation of the larger society, and never committed violence in the name of their religion. Modern-day anti-jihadists are fighting for freedom against violent absolutist thugs who justify Islamic violence and array themselves against the freedom of speech and other basic rights. The Leftist/Islamic supremacist Orwellian campaign to demonize anti-jihadists, whitewash jihad, and cast the aggressors as victims is, quite simply, evil.

Sure, Leftists are one important piece of the puzzle, and the radical ones among them are truly evil in their hatred of the West and their virtual alliance with anti-Western Muslims. However, these do not represent the West. They are a minority, likely a small minority. The bigger problem is the vast numbers of conservatives, centrists and comfortably apolitical Westerners who also enable Islam by refusing to condemn it; by refusing to notice the mountain of facts out there that should move any decent intelligent humane person to condemn it; by refusing to pursue the logical consequences of such a condemnation; and adding insult to injury by tending to condemn those few among us in the West who are calling attention to the pernicious danger of Islam and of all Muslims who enable Islam.

So how does Spencer explain the fact that the vast majority of conservatives, centrists and comfortably apolitical people throughout the West are also enabling, by "respecting", Islam and Muslims? Who knows? I don't think even Spencer knows, because he hasn't given it much thought.

It's so much easier to reach for the label-gun, than it is to think things through.

Further Reading:

Spencer's Two Hats: Keep Your Day Job

1 comment:

Sagunto said...

"Now, one conclusion to explain this disheartening fact would be that Leftism has conquered the entire West. But that would lead us to the absurd corollary conclusion that the vast majority of conservatives and Republicans throughout the West are Leftists."

I also don't like the habitual blame it on Lefties, cultural marxists, and what have you.
On the other hand, it must be noted that when it comes to essentially centralist preconditions for the welfare state system, there's widespread "consensus": central banking, manipulation of interest rates, monetary inflation, the looting of tax.. All of this is supported by both established parties. To this one can also add the support for foreign wars, and the notion that society is best ruled by smart people, the smarter these experts are, the better. What thus emerges is a spitting image of a "third way", once represented by the Progressive Party.
What we see today is a system with unprecedented, largely unconstitutional powers, supported by left- and rightwing representatives of the managerial state. These people will continue to spread their common faith in the ROP, only denouncing this enimatic "tiny minority of extremists". You know the drill.

Take care,