Friday, December 09, 2011

Spencer does a Bostom on Chesler?

Sometimes, due to the apparent rules of the
Gentlemen's Club in the Anti-Islam Movement (sorry, I meant the "Anti-Jihad Movement"), we peon civilians rarely find out about major rifts between the great moving-and-shaking and jet-setting luminaries who informally lead our Movement-That's-Not-Yet-A-Movement -- rifts in which we have a stake, because they could adversely affect the effectiveness of our collective concern to try to wake up the West to the dangers of Islam -- until suddenly we see odd little signs indicating them.

One of them caught my attention this morning, on browsing through Jihad Watch (which I still do with my morning coffee, since Spencer's reportorial excellence through his site's ticker-tape amassment of the mountain of data about the pathology of Muslims remains among the best on the Net, even though he and his editor Marisol banned me unfairly over a year ago from participating in its community of commenters).

So, in an editorial introduction to a story about a Canadian feminist unsurprisingly supporting the outrageously anti-liberal and anti-feminist values of Islamic culture, Spencer details meticulously his own contributions to this important subtopic, which could be seen as a subcategory of PC MC -- namely, the systemic failure (with exceptions that prove the rule) of Western feminists to condemn Islam as they should, given their own liberal values and the monstrous repudiation those values confront in Islamic culture.

As I read along in Spencer's adumbration of one article after another which either he had written by himself, or had written in collaboration with others, the back of my mind began wondering if he would mention the major article on this subject which he wrote a few years ago with Phyllis Chesler.

Finally, at the end of his list, he did indeed mention it.
But, damned if Spencer didn't pull a Bostom again.

There was one exceedingly odd detail about this particular mention, compared with all the other mentions: He failed to name his co-author. In every other article he lists, he meticulously mentions each co-author. Then, suddenly, on the Chesler article, his wording suddenly becomes strangely detached:

I also coauthored the monograph "The Violent Oppression of Women in Islam" (available as a pdf here).

This omission is curious for two reasons:

1) It comes after a list of other related articles where he didn't omit the names of any other co-authors but rather took the trouble to detail their names each time;


2) The name he is omitting, Phyllis Chesler, in that one particular item, is arguably the single most important person and activist in this field of calling attention to the failure of Western feminism in its response to the treatment of women in Islamic culture.

This reminds the reader of another time when Spencer began seeing fit to omit and neglect the name of another major figure in another important subcategory of the overall problem of Islam -- namely, the issue of anti-Semitism in Islam: that major figure being Andrew Bostom, who edited perhaps the single most important compendium to date on the subject.

It's none of my business, generally speaking, if Spencer has a petulant spat with some friend or colleague; but such pettiness does become my business -- and the business of all of us who are concerned about the dangers of Islam -- when that spat impinges on the optimum effectiveness of the anti-Islam movement, and when the spatter (or spattee) is making money off of me through his anti-Islam (sorry, "anti-Jihad") activities (I purchased one of Spencer's books, and by clicking on Jihad Watch numerous times a day 365 days a year for seven years, I contribute my small part to his fame).

Further Reading:

Cracks in the Gentlemen's Club: The Bostom Incident

Chutzpah Watch

Robert Spencer slights Bostom again: Roland Shirk got the memo

No need for censorship, when you have self-censorship


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

Hi Hesperado -

Clicked to stop by once again.

"the Anti-Islam Movement (sorry, I meant the "Anti-Jihad Movement")

Yes, isn't that typical? Noticed that too, this focus on Jihad instead of Islam.

I'd like to bring the following under your attention, slightly OT concerning the specific dispute you mention, but with regard to the "jihad/Islam" substitution, I think it's telling:

Some time ago, RS seemed to be in the business of quasi-endorsing certain political GOP candidates.

Back then, Marisol reported about an interview with Romney, and counted the talking points:

"I asked Romney how he'd respond to Muslim complaints that his speech characterized Islam in entirely sinister terms. His response surprised me":

"I spoke about three major threats America faces on a long term basis. Jihadism is one of them, and that is not Islam [one! - Marisol]. If you want my views on Islam, it's quite straightforward. Islam is one of the world's great religions [two] and the great majority of people in Islam want peace for themselves and peace with their maker. [three]
It's by no means a branch of Islam. It is instead an entirely different entity. In no way do I suggest it is a part of Islam.."

Why the surprise, I ask?

First the political establishment called it "radical" Islam, now it's the same old trick with "jihadism".


Here's Robert Spencer, with a qualified endorsement of Mitt Romney in 2008:

"Some people have dismissed Romney for using so many qualifiers -- "violent," "radical," "fundamental." On the other hand, I think it is refreshing to see him speak of jihad and Islam at all, and after all, it is undeniable that most Muslims are not fighting today's jihad, or aiding it in any way. It is not illegitimate to make a distinction between them and the jihadists, as long as one understands that such a distinction is not readily or easily identifiable or quantifiable in the Islamic world.

I used to use "radical" to denote those who were fighting it, until it began to be misunderstood by some as suggesting that there was a traditional, mainstream, orthodox version of Islam that didn't teach violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers. In any case, whether or not Romney grasps just how deeply rooted the jihadist impulse is within Islam, he at least recognizes that it's there, and is determined to resist it. That's a vast improvement over the present occupant of the White House."

[Feel the ambivalence]

"Perhaps vagueness is to be expected in such a statement, but since George W. Bush has never shown any inclination to confront the jihad ideology at all, and that is the gravest and most multifaceted omission of anti-terror policy since 9/11, and since Romney appears at the outset to understand that this is an ideological struggle, it's strange that his prescriptions are all financial and conventional, and not ideological at all."


So, while Robert Spencer acknowledges in 2008 that terms like "radical" were used to promote the "tiny minority" meme, he nevertheless seemed to go along with the use of "jihadism" instead of Islam, knowing that it already showed some distinct promise of replacing "radical" to promote the same meme.

I'm looking for a word to capture this attitude that borders on gullibility..


Hesperado said...


I don't recall seeing that quote from Spencer in 2008, though it doesn't surprise me, as I documented and picked apart numerous other similar ones on my now retired blog, Jihad Watch Watch -- here's one example
just to pick one of many from out of a hat (and in a few essays there I quoted extensively from a few Jihad Watch readers who also at the time had concerns about Spencer's weaselly language concerning the problem of Islam).

From your quote, we have a quintessential example, within the span of two sentences: is undeniable that most Muslims are not fighting today's jihad, or aiding it in any way. It is not illegitimate to make a distinction between them and the jihadists, as long as one understands that such a distinction is not readily or easily identifiable or quantifiable in the Islamic world.

Apparently, for Spencer, the distinction is sufficiently quantifiable for him to assert the "undeniable" existence of a majority of harmless Muslims.

Elsewhere, however, innumerable times Spencer has avowed the recognition of the fact that we can't tell the difference between the harmless Muslims and the dangerous ones.

When you can't tell the difference between a loaded gun and an unloaded gun, you must treat both guns exactly the same -- as deadly weapons. To do otherwise is suicidally reckless.

To add on top of such recklessness prevaricatingly muddled sophistry is evidence of intellectual confusion and incompetence. To add on top of such intellectual confusion and incompetence hypersensitive paranoia about enemies of the anti-jihad movement trying to undermine that movement by attacking the suicidally reckless, sophistically muddled, intellectually confused and incompetent person is, then, evidence of a strangely, if not dangerously inflated ego.

But otherwise, Spencer is doing fine work for the anti-Islam (sorry, "anti-Jihad") movement.

Hesperado said...


Spencer is on record saying that he is "not anti-Islam" -- nor, of course, Heaven forbid, "anti-Muslim" (see this essay, for example, analyzing this at greater length).

As long as Spencer maintains this position (and he never, ever changes his mind, apparently), how can he ever be a part of, much less a representative or leader of, an anti-Islam movement?

Well, since Spencer is a master of professing a blatant contradiction and acting as though it's not a contradiction, I'm sure he could convince himself he can; and as he has a following of followers who would defend to the death Spencer's right to be self-contradictory without admitting he's being self-contradictory all the while vilifying as "attackers trying to undermine the Anti-Jihad" anyone who dares to point out the Emperor With No Clothes, he would be quite capable of failing to successfully fail at succeeding in leading such a Non-Movement Movement.

Sagunto said...

Well Hesperado -

It's easy come, easy go, or so it seems in the volatile business of tacit JW endorsement for particular "presidential hopefuls".

Mr Romney is definitely un-endorsed this time round, now it's all hail the new Newt:

See this topic.

It's astonishing how JW has been moving from a public friendly center of anti-Islamic (pardon, -Jihad) scholarship and research, to expand its franchise with some kind of political platform, actually ramping up GoP candidates who provide the red meat soundbites for the gullible.

Take care,