Friday, October 28, 2016
Damned if you do, demonized if you don't...
Like most people -- at least most people who bother to scan Jihad Watch regularly for current stories and analyses about the primary problem (the problem of Islam) and the secondary problem (the problem of the problem -- namely, the problem of the Western mainstream in denial about the primary problem); not to mention the tertiary problem (the problem of the Counter-Jihad Mainstream, of which Jihad Watch is a bastion, dealing inadequately with the aforementioned two problems) -- my eyes tend to rivet onto those posts that have the highest number of comments, especially those that puncture the triple-digit zone.
This morning, on my third gulp of my triple decaf (triple moderate) jihadaccino, I almost overlooked one post there that when I last checked, had only 8 comments (and as of now, hours later, has a whopping, staggering 30). However slight it apparently is to the regular Jihad Watchers, it turns out to be of great interest to those of us (some 5.3 of us) who have wondered for years why Robert Spencer doesn't speak out more about the growing phenomenon of the slyly cynical, affably glib "Reformist" Muslims infiltrating the sociopolitical pop culture of the West, whom I have collectively deemed "Better Cops".
For one analysis of this phenomenon, see my essay, Good Cop, Better Cop. And if the reader wants that fleshed out in even more detail, he may consult several of my essays on this Google page. The one time in many years that Spencer has adverted to one of those Better Cops, Zudhi Jasser, it was basically to excuse him:
" -- look, I don't really want to talk about Zuhdi Jasser because he's a good guy... and I don't doubt that Zuhdi Jasser's heart is in the right place..."
(See my essay on this, Ees not jure job...?)
One of the inadequacies of the Counter-Jihad Mainstream I alluded to above is, precisely, a naive and/or obtuse incomprehension of the phenomenon of the Better Cop. This naivety or incomprehension reaches right up to Robert Spencer himself, as I've analyzed many times before (see for example my old essay, The Problem: Wahidism, not "Wahhabism"). And one of the slimier of the Better Cops is Maajid Nawaz, whose unctuously glossy hair product has apparently fooled the likes of otherwise intelligent luminaries of the Counter-Jihad Mainstream as Sam Harris, Douglas Murray, and (alas) Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In vain, I have scoured the archives of Jihad Watch and Googled to find Robert Spencer's substantive views (or any views at all) on the likes of Nawaz.
Finally, in this article today, we at least get some glimmers of what Spencer thinks of Nawaz, and they are telling -- and, of course, unsurprising.
Spencer reports that the writer of an atheist blog, Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist, expressed concern that Nawaz and Hirsi Ali were included in a list of Islamophobic Deplorables by the Leftist activist group, the Southern Poverty Law Center:
“If criticizing religious beliefs makes them extremists,” wrote Mehta, “then it won’t be long before other vocal atheists end up on that list too. And make no mistake, that’s what Nawaz and Hirsi Ali are doing. That’s all they’re doing. They’re not anti-Muslim; they work with moderate Muslims. They’re critical of the worst aspects of Islam.”
Spencer takes this opportunity to assure his readers and the world that he is not anti-Muslim:
Mehta protests that Nawaz and Hirsi Ali are “not anti-Muslim; they work with moderate Muslims. They’re critical of the worst aspects of Islam.”
But no one would think that the other 13 were “anti-Muslim” if it hadn’t been for the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and their allied groups insisting that we were all these years, in their avidity to conflate opposition to jihad terror and Sharia oppression with hating a group of people — a tactic designed to discredit opposition to jihad terror and Sharia oppression. [bold emphasis added]
This isn't the first time Spencer has complained about Sam Harris. There seems to be a hierarchy in the Counter-Jihad Mainstream, where luminaries like Spencer are deemed to be a bit too untouchable for the more broadly mainstream likes of Sam Harris, Bill Maher, Douglas Murray, and others. What makes the difference is that the broader Western Mainstream remains heavily PC MC, and if anyone wants to partake in it, or is deemed to be already in it -- like a Sam Harris -- then their Mainstream cred can be jeopardized if they are seen to hobnob too closely with the greasier Islamophobes below them on the Mainstream food chain.
At any rate, here's the part where Spencer alludes to Nawaz:
...as for working with moderate Muslims, for 13 years Jihad Watch has contained this invitation: “Any Muslim who renounces violent jihad and dhimmitude is welcome to join in our anti-jihadist efforts.” It is Nawaz (as well as other moderates) who has attacked me, in what appears to have been a cynical attempt to gain support for himself among Muslims; I never attacked him, and would have have been happy to work with him otherwise.
Spencer just doesn't get it. Nawaz didn't attack Spencer as a "a cynical attempt to gain support for himself among Muslims"; he did, and does similar things, as a cynical attempt to gain support for himself among Counter-Jihadists -- notably Sam Harris and his fan club -- who are more anxiously concerned about the PC MC Mainstream's disfavor even than Spencer is. And if Nawaz would merely turn his oily head around and connect eyes with Spencer, standing in the rain outside the pale of the scarlet ropes of the In Crowd, and nod to the PC MC bodyguards to go ahead and let Robert in, Robert would have have been happy to work with him otherwise.
Meanwhile, Spencer continues to protest that he is "not anti-Islam" and "not anti-Muslim", and where does it get him? He still isn't invited to sit at the Mainstream Table in polite company with Sam Harris & Co. This damned if you do, demonized if you don't situation works paradoxically in Spencer's favor, in that his growing audience sees this mainstream disrespect of their hero as a validation of his Counter-Jihad heroism (meanwhile, they ignore his protestations that he is "not anti-Islam" and "not anti-Muslim").
A further wrinkle to this paradox is pointed out by Spencer himself, alluding to how even though the likes of Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz remain standoffish to him, as though they don't want to be infected by his Islamophobic cooties (and thus ruin their standing foothold in the broader Mainstream), they are increasingly being accused of the same accusations (of "racism" or "bigotry" etc.) leveled at the greasier Islamophobes like Spencer. But of course, the same paradoxical dynamic works for Harris and Nawaz -- with one hand they feed off these accusations and remain perilously secure, by their fingernails, on the firm ledge of the broader Mainstream and its approval; while with the other hand they use this growing PR problem to boost their Counter-Jihad cred (safely asymptotic as it is) among those who admire them for their "bravery" in discussing Islam frankly and "incorrectly". It's a rather subtle and tricky balancing act to be playing -- and it gets subtler and trickier the more you anxiously court the PC MC Mainstream's favor. With someone as sincerely starry-eyed as Harris, this paradox is just an accidental artifact of his asymptotic PC MC intersecting his bold, albeit over-cautious criticism of Islam; with his partner in bromance, Nawaz, however, we can reasonably assume this balancing act is a shrewdly calculated tactic, enabling his deeper infiltration of the Counter-Jihad.