Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Signs of Intelligent Life on Planet Jihad Watch?
Recently at Jihad Watch, a relatively new addition to Robert Spencer's team, a Canadian counter-jihad analyst named Christine Douglass-Williams, published a lengthy notice about her new book touting -- yea heralding -- the viability of Islamic reform. Its title -- The Challenge of Modernizing Islam: Reformers Speak Out And the Obstacles They Face -- subtly sets up the possibility that Douglass-Williams, like her mentor and boss, Robert Spencer, may be engaging in a ploy to flirt with the theme of reform, while never actually advocating it and, while probing the issue and the enormous difficulties the supposedly reformist Muslims face from fellow Muslims who are more "Islamist", thereby in fact indicating that it is so difficult, it becomes, practically speaking, impossible. A kind of roundabout, backhanded way of refuting reform while appearing to respect it.
That would be quite clever, even cunning; but it seems unlikely, unless Douglass-Williams is operating in a remarkably Macchiavellian (not to mention deceitful) manner with this theme. I say this because of many quite nougaty-soft statements she has made about Muslims during her tenure at Jihad Watch. I've written here a few times about her, but haven't kept a log itemizing all of her many instances of nougat.
So I put on my Internaut suit, got in my webspace pod, and submerged myself in the comments thread of that above-mentioned Jihad Watch article. As I was bobbing up and down like a moonwalker underwater, swiveling my helmeted head left and right to take in the counter-jihad coral formations, I was pleased to see that the majority of commenters there were not buying the Used Car of Islamic Reform sitting pretty as a bubble-gum-pink Cadillac in the Jihad Watch car lot.
That's the good news. However, I can't help but wonder why those Jihad Watchers aren't making more of a stink about this. They don't have to be rude, but they could show some backbone and tell Spencer's teammate how wrongheaded her approach is. And if they're capable of putting two and two together, they could wonder aloud at why Spencer is putting people on his team like this. Sorry, I had a spell for a moment there; I forgot that Jihad Watch comments is largely the reserve of the RSSS (Robert Spencer Sycophants Society).
The long introduction to the book in this Jihad Watch article deserves more scrutiny, for it is a curious thicket of clarity and promise, on the one hand, and incoherence and/or obfuscation, on the other. The whole piece, and one assumes the whole book it is highlighting, is a sales pitch for Islamic Reform.
Part of the sales pitch includes a blurb from the famous voice of the Counter-Jihad Mainstream, Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
With elegance and determination, Christine Douglass-Williams documents a variety of Muslim reformers... courageous men and women [who] should be as well-known as human rights dissidents Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov, and Havel were during the Cold War.
This incidentally, becomes a third piece of evidence marking the dismaying regression of Hirsi Ali from the seemingly stronger stance she used to have; the other two being her uncritical friendship with Maajid Nawaz, and her pointed allusion to Geert Wilders as a potentially worse problem than "Islamism" for the future of Europe. So it may be no wonder that Hirsi Ali so warmly approves of this apparent encomium to this nascent, supposedly growing movement of what we more sober analysts must call ultra-stealth jihad, Islamic Reform.
After the blurbs, Douglass-Williams informs the reader that she will be inserting in her Foreword from the book itself (oddly, that Foreword here and there refers to her in the third person). She begins that Foreword delving into the hazards for the poor, brave Muslim Reformer, which mainly involves the little snag that in Islam (the same Islam they are trying to reform), they are guilty of treason and so must be killed.
These attempts [at reform] are fraught with peril. As Christine Douglass-Williams notes in this book, “Mahmoud Muhammad Taha, a Sudanese Muslim theologian who argued that the Meccan passages,” which are generally more peaceful, “should take precedence over the Medinan,” which call for warfare against non-Muslims, “instead of the reverse, was executed in 1985 by the Sudanese government for heresy and apostasy.” Some of those profiled in this book know these perils firsthand: “Sheik Subhy Mansour recounted: ‘If these Muslim Brotherhood people had the chance, they would have killed me according to their punishment for apostasy plus they claim I’ll go to hell.’ Tawfik Hamid noted: ‘The reformists were killed throughout history, including those who rejected the Sunnah.’”
This raises the question: why would these poor, brave reformers even want to reform such a thoroughly rotten, pernicious system as Islam? Would we be lauding a group of German Nazis who want to "reform" Nazism? And what if these Nazi Reformers insisted that Hitler was a great man, that he has been "misunderstood", that he never waged offensive war on people, and that he never ordered mass murders and tortures? The analogy here, of course, is the fact that all these "reformers" Douglass-Williams is showcasing adore the evil, deranged Muhammad. This is a circle which no Muslim "reformer" can square. So why even ask them to? And if such German nazi "reformers" wound up being oppressed and killed by the Nazi authorities, would that make their dream of reforming Nazism any less ridiculous or any more plausible?
Next, Douglass-Williams' Foreword moves on to the problem of the False Reformer, the Muslims pretending to be reformers. As an example of this, she holds up perhaps the gold standard of that category, Tariq Ramadan. Douglass-Williams appropriately notices this category, and concludes that any vetting of a purported Muslim reformer must ask them tough questions. She claims she put several Muslim reformers to the test. That's all fine and dandy, but it all depends on exactly what questions she developed, and whether she backed them up with follow-up questions, for the inevitable likelihood that her interlocutors would try to do tap-dance sophistry in response to the initial questions. To ascertain all this, I would have to purchase the book and read it. Perhaps I shall, and report on this in the future. For now, we may note the steelier alternative: Simply don't bother to try to vett Muslims: by the principle of rational prejudice, simply assume they are all lying, even when -- or rather, most likely when -- they say all the right things to our anxious concerns.
But we see that Douglass-Williams is nowhere near such an epiphany. In summing up the deception tactics of Tariq Ramadan and how he fools too many in the West, for example, she invokes one of her interview subjects, the Muslim "reformer" Salim Mansur, who commented that “non-Muslims went to the wrong Muslim for an understanding of the faith.”
Begging the question, is there a "right Muslim"? And what would that right Muslim be, for our purposes, we in the West concerned about human rights, public safety, and the survival of Western civilization in the face of the very same pernicious and toxic Islam which these vetted "reformers" believe is the meaning of life?
It looks like Christine Douglass-Williams has gone out of her way to be fooled by various "Better Cop" Muslims, has swallowed their cleverer moonshine, and now is busy trying to persuade the Counter-Jihad Mainstream (with the help of her mentor and sponsor, Robert Spencer) of their viability. Like all Counter-Jihadists who show themselves vulnerable to the Better Cop Muslims, they pride themselves on remaining intelligently unfooled by the Good Cop Muslims, which allows them to have their cake and eat it to -- they can maintain their Counter-Jihad Cred while indulging their anxiety (rooted in their ethical narcissism) to avoid "painting all Muslims with a broad brush". Spencer, in his wily way, is keeping this project at arm's length, allowing it to be delegated to a satellite like Douglass-Williams, thus indirectly supporting it but keeping himself away from any direct support. In Douglass-Williams' outreach to such Better Cop Muslims, we see now the Counter-Jihad Mainstream bastion, Jihad Watch, going down the same fallacious road we've seen with Sam Harris parterning up with Maajid Nawaz and Frank Gaffney with Zuhdi Jasser.
Another indication of how the RSSS disagrees with Spencer's slant may be massively gleaned by this comment by long-time Jihad Watch commenter, "Wellington", in his lengthy and devastating dismissal of another commenter who recently in a Jihad Watch comments field was trying to sell essentially the same Used Car of Islamic Reform which Robert Spencer's Christine Douglass-Williams was trying to hawk on Jihad Watch during the same week. And of course we see other Jihad Watchers (including another Jihad Watch veteran "gravenimage") agreeing with and commending Wellington, but not one taking the side of the Used Car Salesman.