Saturday, June 9, 2007

Fitzgerald: So right, and yet so wrong

Yesterday (June 8, 2007), Hugh Fitzgerald on Dhimmi Watch published an essay that yet again calls our attention to what he has termed the problem of “MESA Nostra”—a play on words combining the quasi-fascistic and cliquish thuggery characteristic of the famous crime organization Cosa Nostra with the academic organization called the Middle East Studies Association (or MESA for short).

Now, Hugh is quite right in regularly insinuating that MESA is corrupted by a pro-Islamic (and therefore anti-Western) agenda, pursues that agenda in a cliquish and clannish sort of manner, and has a role in infecting the wider world of Academe with various unscholarly methods of propaganda (not the least of which is the active cultivation and recruitment of unscholarly propagandists to function and thrive as professors—tenured all the better, and aureolized under various august-sounding “Chairs”).

“Oh, it's a closed circle of apologists,” writes Hugh, “hiring and promoting each other and keeping out with care and cunning all those who might upset that MESA Nostra applecart.”

Where Hugh goes wrong (and this is the nodus at which he consistently errs) is in delimiting the problem. Hugh sees with crystalline sagacity the problem of Academe as exemplified by MESA Nostra, but for some strange reason his otherwise clear vision is clouded by his myopia: a myopia to not only the wider PC disease throughout Academe, but also, and even more importantly, to the wider PC disease throughout Western societies of which the Academic disease is largely just a symptom.

It is all too easy for the readership of Hugh—to the extent that they respect his thoughts and are persuaded by his arguments—to make a couple of logical extrapolations:

1) there is no problem, with respect to our War of Ideas on Islam, in Academe at large comparable to (let alone worse than) the problem of MESA Nostra: the problem is delimited in certain areas like MESA Nostra, indicative of an infiltration and sabotage of an otherwise relatively unproblematic Academe;

and

2) the problem of Academe as reflected by MESA Nostra is not a problem caused by a comparable (if not worse) problem in the Western societies surrounding Western colleges and universities, but represents a disease engineered by “Elites” who, in turn, have been trying to affect and infect Western societies at large (though they have not succeeded, apparently, in brainwashing the minds of hundreds of millions of ordinary folks throughout the West who forever and stalwartly resist the Elitist conspiracy of PC Multiculturalism).

Hugh writes that:

“In such cases, it is up to the Dean and the President to keep careful watch...”

He is here presuming that Deans and Presidents in colleges and universities throughout the West are not similarly infected by the PC Multiculturalist virus.

And when Hugh similarly writes—

“...and for other departments, such as that of History, to be careful to mind the who’s-teaching-about-Islam store.”

—Hugh is again presuming that other faculty in departments—such as History, or Philosophy, Comparative Religions, Comparative Literature or Political Science—peripherally or perpendicularly related to Middle Eastern Studies are not also profoundly saturated with PC Multiculturalist axioms. I think Hugh is grievously mistaken. For the most part—with only rare exceptions of maverick scholars in Academe that prove the rule—there is no “there” there to mind the store. Agents of MESA Nostra are not, for the most part (except wheresoever they might feel it necessary—oftentimes reflecting excessive caution, given the naive and PC-deformed gullibility rampant throughout Academe—to employ more cunningly clever tactics) stealthily infiltrating and sabotaging Academe: they are for the most part welcomed with open arms as beneficent examples of the “open-mindedness” and “tolerance” of an academic culture ever-anxious to show it is not “bigoted” (let alone, God forbid, “racist”).

Hugh continues:

“We can't let this MESA Nostra business continue too much longer...”

Hugh ignores the massive fact that, for the most part (and the “most” part of the “most part” is the part that would make it a “we”), there is no “We” to put the kibosh on MESA Nostra—because our “We” is also infected by the PC Multiculturalist virus. As I have said time and time again, such phenomena as MESA Nostra’s agenda to become comfortably ensconced in Western Academe would enjoy little or no traction in the West, were the West not already broadly and deeply oriented toward the PC Multiculturalist paradigm.

What Hugh calls “the scandalous vehicle for misrepresentations of Islam all over academic America”—i.e., the MESA Nostra organization—is indeed that: but it would not survive a New York minute, were there not PC Multiculturalism dominant and mainstream all around it, not only throughout Academe, but throughout Western societies.

Hugh does seem to acknowledge that wider reality when he writes:

“For these misrepresentations prevail all over, not only where Saudi and other Arab money has set up ‘centers’ and endowed well-upholstered chairs—King Abdul Aziz This, Two Noble Sanctuaries That—in order to keep young, ignorant, easily impressionable American students still ignorant...”

But after that one solitary phrase that indicates Hugh’s apprehension of the nature and scope of the problem, he does not return to it to amplify it, but instead, to the very end of his essay, beats the dead camel of his overarching point about the apparently smaller area that is not “all over”. This leads the reader to reasonably conclude that his evanescent reference to an “all over” pertains not to Academe as a whole—let alone to Western societies as a whole—but rather to Islamic and Middle Eastern studies areas of Academe not formally under the MESA Nostral umbrella. If Hugh does in fact refer to a wider “all over”, he demonstrates an utter lack of interest in fleshing it out one iota; though his readership sorely deserves and needs such amplification which remains missing from all his essays and comments.

Hugh writes of the MESA Nostra agents that they “keep out the real version [of Islam] as best they can. And they are well-practiced at this, and have so many willing collaborators.”

In describing it this way, Hugh is implying far too much need for nefarious subterfuge amongst those agents. In such a nourishing environment as PC Multiculturalism provides for the propaganda of these agents, they usually barely have to lift a finger to purvey their disinformation.

Hugh writes about the Muslim apologist propagandist posing as a professor in Colgate University in New York, one Omid Safi (Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Director of the Middle Eastern and Islamic Civilizations Studies) thusly:

“And, he devoutly hopes, once programmed they [his students] will go out into the world to pooh-pooh all those who have dared to criticize Islam.”

Omid Safi may hope this, but he would be just as deluded as Hugh were he to think most of his students do not already come to his classroom richly and deeply pre-programmed to swallow his propaganda as an education in a knowledge about Islam that helps them to avoid the “bigotry”, “intolerance” and “racism” they have already been deeply and broadly trained to avoid, and to counter when they can, most of their lives (as opposed to avoiding genuine bigotry, intolerance and racism without the Orwellian sneer quotes that effectively screen out and protect Islam from any critical analysis that would reveal it to be guilty—culturally, systemically, traditionally and institutionally—of precisely those anti-modern and anti-liberal sins). If Omid Safi has any significant degree of cleverness and intelligence, he will be aware of this massive fact about his students, and will see his role as largely a masseur of their already existing and healthy prejudices that predispose them to swallowing his propaganda—not as an activist who has to break a sweat of anxiety or labor overmuch to try to brainwash otherwise undeformed students.
Hugh continues out on his limb:

“And students will fear to take issue with the sinisterly amiable lecturer, master of all he surveys, with the all-important power of the grade over his cowed students, and especially over any who dare to dissent.”

What Hugh is describing here is the tiny minority of students who (likely because they are “right wing” and probably actively participate in their Republican Student Association) are already predisposed to be suspicious of most things PC. Most of the students will not be afraid at all, but will warm up to Omid Safi from the get-go, and will only feel warmer and fuzzier as the semester goes on.

Meanwhile, Robert Spencer’s remarks about Omid Safi (from a Jihad Watch article also on June 8, 2007) demonstrates, characteristically, a slightly wider peripheral vision than Hugh’s, but one that is undermined by his equal characteristic vagueness about the phenomenon of PC:

“...[Omid Safi, in his “Islamophobia” class] cheerfully flouted any pretense of training his students to think for themselves, and instead filled their heads with propaganda and hit-and-run smears of (among other people) scholars and writers that Safi himself can never hope to equal, including Bernard Lewis, Samuel Huntington, Fouad Ajami, Leo Strauss, Daniel Pipes, Alan Bloom, David Pryce-Jones, Bat Ye'or, Niall Ferguson, Robert Kagan, Dore Gold and Ibn Warraq.”

Spencer implies he filled otherwise empty vessels and blank slates. Spencer ignores the fact that most of these students are already, by simply being Westerners of the 21st century, richly predisposed to be receptive to the propaganda of an Omid Safi.

Spencer goes on:

“But since propaganda rules this day in the academy, this didn't earn Safi the scorn and ridicule it so earnestly invited, but instead, apparently, sprung him from the academic wilderness of Colgate University and gained him a plumb spot in Carl-Ernstville, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill...”

I’m glad Spencer accords a wider amplitude to the problem with his phrase “propaganda rules this day in the academy”; however, it is an unacceptably vague phrase which, when coupled with Spencer’s routine avoidance of the pressing need to describe and analyze the PC Multiculturalist paradigm in its actual nature and scope, does little to shed light on this story, whose predominant theme—of the academic danger posed by the Omid Safis and the MESA Nostras of academe (as well as by Islamic organizations such as MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) which are active in influencing academe)—overshadows the more important problem that is far broader and deeper than that academic problem, and which in fact nourishes the delimited problem Spencer is tightening his lens upon. Let me repeat: it’s good to tighten the lens on this or that problem; but when such focussing is done by means of a context that programmatically delimits the problem, such delimitation can either be fruitless or actually, ironically, bolster the roadblocks that already exist. So by all means, Spencer and Hugh: tighten that focus all you want—you are doing a stellar job at it; just don’t obstinately persist in ignoring the wider problem that keeps feeding the very same smaller problem you otherwise so excellently analyze.

To return to Hugh: he concludes:

“This is a travesty of learning. This is lecture-hall thought-control. Grades are a way to reward the submissive regurgitators—verily, Islam means ‘submission’—and to punish those guilty of the ‘thought-crime’ of, well, thought. Can the students, the faculty, the administration, the Trustees in Chapel Hill really have welcomed this?”

Yes they can, Hugh—for reasons which you apparently have not given much thought to, nor which you seem interested in pursuing. If you did, you could play an important role in the pedagogy of your students: the readership that respects and, over time, sometimes becomes persuaded by your otherwise fine and entertainingly erudite essays at Jihad Watch.

10 comments:

Kab-bin-Ashraf said...

Hesp,

I'll try not to bombard your blog with too many comments. I will just note in regards to your above post, take a look at Spencer's "P.I.G. to Islam," p. 177-179 (soft-cover version); pp. 171 to the ned ot he book is also relevant but the quotes on 177-179 are most relevant re anti-western PC. (This is besides the fact that the entire book is devoted to refuting the popular "PC myths" about Islam). Also note that Spencer has posted on the DW site this:

"Spearheaded by dhimmi academics and self-serving advocacy groups, that same attitude of chastened subservience has entered into Western academic study of Islam, and from there into journalism, school textbooks, and the popular discourse. One must not point out the depredations of jihad and dhimmitude; to do so would offend the multiculturalist ethos that prevails everywhere today. To do so would endanger chances for peace and rapprochement between civilizations all too ready to clash."

(At the DW site, click on "more" to see the above quote, but the key aspects which I've embolded above are presented on the main page).

Kab-bin-Ashraf said...

My apologies for the spelling error:

"pp. 171 to the ned ot he book"

That should read "...end of the book..."

Erich said...

Kab,

The Spencer paragraph from Dhimmi Watch which you quote --

"Spearheaded by dhimmi academics and self-serving advocacy groups, that same attitude of chastened subservience has entered into Western academic study of Islam, and from there into journalism, school textbooks, and the popular discourse. One must not point out the depredations of jihad and dhimmitude; to do so would offend the multiculturalist ethos that prevails everywhere today. To do so would endanger chances for peace and rapprochement between civilizations all too ready to clash."

-- in my view perpetuates -- rather vigorously in fact -- the erroneous view (or "myth" I would say) of Elitist causation and extraordinary influence over the ordinary poopulace.

This myth presents two problems as I see it:

1) it strengthens the view that Elites are foisting PC on the masses

and, logically consequent upon #1,

2) it implies a condescending dim view of the masses of ordinary people as sheep who swallow what Elites foist on them.

Erich said...

Kab,

And then I read a comment by Caroline on this Dhimmi Watch thread -- http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/016829.php#comments -- where she basically entertains the notion of killing off our "Elites" as perhaps the only way to save the West!

All I can say is: Would that it were so easy!

Kab-bin-Ashraf said...

Hesp,

Re the Spencer DW page quote...

"I see it:
1) it strengthens the view that Elites are foisting PC on the masses"

When the elites promote the PC myths about Islam, they are indeed foisting those views upon the masses. Most critically, the elites do these massive PC interventions on behalf of Islam right after every major terrorist attack or outrage. Hence, public attitudes toward Islam temporarily become more favorable after major terrorist attacks such as 9/11 and 7/7.

This part of the causal chain--the source involving Muslim advocacy groups proper and PC academics who do essentially the same thing as Muslim advocacy groups--appears to me to be, if simplified, correct. The (Islamic) advocacy groups and the PC anti-western/Islam apologist academics in certain departments (esp. Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies) give their views to the politicians' advisors and the media editors and journalists, and these views get passed on (in simplified, caricature form) to the general public. That's not the complete story of causality, but that's a large part of it.

(I think at this point in the history of public discourse in the West it [PC-delusional conception of Islam] is better characterized as sustained and nourished through a feedback loop rather than simple one-way causality.)

"and, logically consequent upon #1,
2) it implies a condescending dim view of the masses of ordinary people as sheep who swallow what Elites foist on them."

I don't think it necessarily or clearly implies that. I think it is remarkable that the general public has not received the PC nonsense about Islam as unquestioningly as the media and the politicians, for example. As I've pointed out, the public is measurably less PC, and therefore less stupified, about Islam, than the politicians and media.

Let's put the issue of Spencer's view aside for a minute and look at the cycle as I would (roughly) schematize it:

1. Certain PC anti-western academics and Muslim advocates and spokesmen have established their views of Islam. They then pass those views on to media and politicians through the normal channels whereby "experts" convey their "knowledge" to the media.
[This group has the highest and most virulent level of anti-western PC. Yet their PC views would be a relatively isolated tempest in a teapot were it not for their connection to the media and politicians, and millions upon millions of students every year. These PC academic dictators are in a position to shove their views down students' throats because students who argue against them will be at a much higher risk of receiving poorer grades, or worse]

2. The media and the politicians for the most part have already been thoroughly "educated" by such academics, so that they already hold PC views on a wide range of issues including Islam. Therefore they are ready to convey those academics' and advocates' PC views because those views are not dissonant with their own. In addition, they believe that they are doing good, performing a kind of public service for the greater good, by promoting these PC ideas about Islam.
[This group has an above-average level of PC. Most of them also seem extraordinarily ignorant of the most basic yet important-to-infidels facts about Islam...and that's an excuse that the previous group--the academics and Muslim advocacy groups--can't claim. Yet this group is the most dangerous because of their position to either implement policies or strongly influence public opinion. This group is also the most self-conscious about appearances. Having imbibed anti-western PC-multiculturalism to such a large extent, they would frankly rather allow an increased risk to the physical safety of the public than be perceived to have made a politically-incorrect faux pas].

3. The general public receives most of its "information" about Islam from group 2, the mainstream media and political leaders, who in turn receive their "information" from the first group, the Islam-apologist PC academics and Muslim advocacy groups. The general public does not have time to access, much less process all the necessary information about Islam. They capture bits and sound-bites here and there, see a few meaningless explosions and riots here and there in the news, but for the most part they are busy with work and their friends and families, and their media-watching time consists of following Paris Hilton, "reality TV" etc. That's not condescending to point that out. It's just a fact that people spend most of their media time watching superficial nonsense, not on learning about major far-reaching long-term problems such as those posed by Islam.

[From what little they have processed about Islam, they exhibit lower levels of PC with regard to Islam than the above 2 groups. In my experience this group (3) is the most amenable to factual and logical presentations, whereas groups 1 and 2 are the most hostile to factual and logical presentations about Islam. That is in part because they have imbibed less PC ideology generally and less PC apologetics re Islam than the other two groups (i.e., the elites).

Whereas the first group are the primary producers "information" and the second group are those who primarily process or relay that "information", the third group (the general public), tend to be consumers of that information, in terms of the above prevailing flow 1--->2--->3]

-----------------

However, in free democracies, the third group can have quite a bit of influence, if they are well-informed and active. Indeed, a subset of group 3 who are young will go on to become members of groups 1 and 2. Hence, group 3, raised and "educated" under the influence 1 and 2, is then prepared to perpetuate and possibly even further increase the PC views of Islam through this development feedback loop.

It is interesting to observe how the various feedback loops work. For example, consider a short-term feedback loop: Suppose some mainstream media outlet publishes the usual PC-Disney-like view about Islam, or gives space to a pro-Islam anti-western "scholar" such as Karen Armstrong. Then in response the media outlet is deluged with a combination anti-Islam people giving rude and obscene comments about exterminating Muslims etc., some middle-of-the-road types who posture and pose as though they are taking the most "balanced" view, and then the frankly PC self-righteous types who scold the obvious brutishness of the anti-Islam types and who then reinforce whatever PC nonsense was propounded in the article. The media outlet then responds by blocking or severely restricting comments, and concludes that there are many "racists" out there who are "as bad as the terrorists" and so on. This reinforces the media outlet's idea that there is widespread unjustified bigotry against Muslims and that, therefore, they must work even harder to present a more "accurate" view of Islam--a view which is obtained by reference to group 1, and on the cycle goes.

Group 3 is in some ways the most important strategically. From our perspective and position as ordinary citizens of limited resources, we are in a position to influence our fellow citizens by first of all presenting the most clear, important, and accurate information about Islam as it relates to treatment of non-Muslims. We are in a position to influence those directly around us. A good deal of social influence can be exercised simply by standing there, when someone spouts Islam apologetics, and saying "No; I don't agree with that..." Right there, that simple act itself has a significant social impact. But secondly, it has a greater effect when followed up by calmly-presented factual information that is clear, concise, and credible in countering the apologetic views. One should not go out of one's way to preach Islam criticism, nor should one necessarily respond to every instance of Islam apologetics. Rather, one should pick one's conversational "battles" so to speak--those important cases where, also, you think you can have a good chance of convincing the opposing side or at least the other people present in that situation. (This is where the Handbook is most important).

The result of an educated public is that the groups 1 and 2 (but more so group 2) can be influenced through various feedback channels.

Unfortunately, the natural feedback channels are very slow, as is the education process itself. It may take a few generations. Meanwhile, the demographic jihad continues at an alarming rate; there will be Muslim pluralities and majorities in several European countries and Russia, if present trends continue, before such a critical-of-Islam long-term or developmental feedback process could establish itself. Indeed, as the demographic jihad grows, all the jihads that go along with that will increase, having an increasingly inhibiting effect on longer-term Islam-resistant developmental process.

To cut to my point rather abruptly, we need to focus on educating the general public, getting them up to speed as soon as possible. JW/DW is doing that. Criticizing one anti-jihad website, DW/JW, for its arguable imperfections in coverage of broader PC in relation to the problems in Islam, does not seem to me to be a high or even medium-level priority project. Instead, it would be easier, quicker, and more effective to direct members of the general public to sites such as JW/DW, or books by Islam-critical authors, or indeed to the Islamic texts themselves.

Erich said...

Before I respond to your last post on this thread above in full, I had to respond to your first sentence (the rest of your post may build upon what I feel is a false premise embedded in this first sentence):

"When the elites promote the PC myths about Islam, they are indeed foisting those views upon the masses."

This kind of a statement indicates that you don't understand my point about PC. Yes, of course, the elites are -- I would say -- promulgating PC myths about Islam. But my whole point is that this activity by the elites would enjoy little or no traction, were there not already a receptive and nourishing atmosphere and audience out there already. The elites (including the MSM) are not going against the grain when they whitewash Islam; they are playing it safe. And it is "safe" precisely because the societies and the culture surrounding the elites is already predisposed to swallow this whitewashing. Imagine if the elites (including the MSM) tried to "foist" upon the general public the view that blacks are evil, or that the KKK and neo-Nazism are beneficial for society, or that child sexual abuse is good. Even leaving aside the fact that the vast majority of elites would not want to purvey these views; and even leaving aside the fact that, if there were many elites wanting to purvey these views, they wouldn't even get to first base; if elites did try to "foist" (and here "foist" would be the more accurate term) such views on the general public, these elites wouldn't last long and would never enjoy even a minuscule proportion of the traction that our elites enjoy when they whitewash Islam.

Kab-bin-Ashraf said...

"This kind of a statement indicates that you don't understand my point about PC. Yes, of course, the elites are -- I would say -- promulgating PC myths about Islam. But my whole point is that this activity by the elites would enjoy little or no traction, were there not already a receptive and nourishing atmosphere and audience out there already."

1. I think we agree that the elites are promoting a PC view of Islam, which many of them in fact hold. I think we also agree that PC exists among the general population, but we disagree on the amount of it. I also disagree that PC is the primary problem in the general public. The main problem there is lack of knowledge about Islam.

2. I think the Islam apologetics are only getting partial traction, partly due to sheer lack of knowledge among the public, plus the strong PC tendencies of those on the left (a smaller percentage of the total population, perhaps 25% who are strong PC), as well as a small but not insignificant percentage the right and left who think all religion is good. But the elites are largely unaffected by "traction". Statements such as "Islam is peace" don't have traction with most of the public; only a small percentage would actually go along with that. A key problem is that the general public is not in a position to actually do anything about it. The elites appear to have pretty much sealed themselves off from public opinion re Islam. As for the partial traction they are getting, it is a question of how much traction among what groups, and for what reasons. When the elites do venture to get a little bit of feedback from the public, they get scared by what they see as bigotry against Muslims, when in fact it is only a healthy level of concern and suspicion (among some). The majority of the public is not sufficiently educated about Islam, and the size and far-reaching scope of the problem, such that they would support or withdraw support from a candidate based on their position on the Islam issue. Political correctness is part of that, but for the broad public it is not the main issue. For the elites, particularly the academics, PC is the main problem: They have no excuse for ignorance. For the public, ignorance is the main problem. Their main excuse is that they have no time to learn about Islam, whereas political correctness is not the main problem among the general public (only in certain segments).

3. Another point about the general public is that they are not primary generators of PC. Rather, it is the academics in certain departments and certain advocacy groups that are the generators of PC. Without that supply, the PC levels among the general public would begin to drop.

Hence, the two-fold strategy of (1)criticizing the influential powerful elites over their presentation of Islam, whilst (2) focusing on providing a more straightforward presentation of facts about Islam to the general public.

Erich said...

Kab, I guess we've run up against a point where we have to agree to disagree -- on the point of whether the public at large is, for practical purposes, roughly as PC as the elites. As you say, neither of us really has scientific proof of our respective opinions on this, and so far I find the tentative polling you've adduced to be inconclusive.

The thing about elites vs. ordinary public is that elites, by their nature, tend to articulate things more and also tend to be more activist -- so that can account for why they seem to be more PC than the ordinary public. But, in my view, the ordinary public's style or type of PC -- less articulated, less activist, but more amorphous and "gaseous" or "atmospheric" and for that reason also contributes to the problem in major ways. Your way of thinking about this consistently leads you to think the ordinary public is being, to too large an extent in my book, manipulated and hoodwinked -- when my whole point is that the ordinary folks are colluding in the PC enterprise; and their collusion is mostly semi-conscious.

Also, PC is not a static inert phenomenon. It is a living, growing, progressing, dynamic, organic sociopolitical phenomenon, very complex -- partaking of the singularly admirable nature of modern Western free democratic societies, whereby no "cabals" can be manipulating widespread and deep currents of thought and policy to the degree that dictatorships and fascistic cultures such as thrive in the Muslim world can.

The PC problem is a much more complicated phenomenon -- and one important part of its complexity is precisely that it is more than (even if at certain times and in certain limited ways here and there it includes) a clear "program" or "agenda" or "ideology", so much as a generally enlarging atmosphere composed of a complex mosaic of parts.

Kab-bin-Ashraf said...

Hesp,

What I presented--merely a quick sampling to illustrate my point--does weigh in one direction more than the other. Everything I've presented thus far points in the direction of the general public being less PC than the elites.

Your central premise rests on the validity of an empirical claim: That the level of PC viz Islam is about equal among the general public and the elites. One cannot make the claim until there is some kind of evidence shown to support it. Whatever I may think, you must convince the readers of your blog that there is some empirical basis for your claim that the general public is as PC as the elites.

Erich said...

Kab,

Well, the Pew polls you adduced are ostensibly persuasive, but I'm afraid that in the absence of something more substantial, I cannot with sufficient certitude conclude that the public at large is not cooperating with PC by an amorphous activity (of breathing in the oxygen of PC and breathing out the CO2 of PC that helps the plants of PC grow thereby enabling and perpetuating the wonderful ecosystem of PC) that, in its own way, contributes just as importantly to the problem as do the more fine-tuned activities of the elites.

Of course, my overarching argument has never necessitated under-estimating the influence of elites, nor blurring whatever unique qualities they might have that distinguishes them from the public at large. But I see in the predominant view of the "Jihad Watchers" (defined as anyone who gets the problem of Islam) an exaggeration of that influence coupled with a minimization of the PC among the public at large.

Again, those Pew polls are interesting, but not decisive for me. Aside from the fact that I am skeptical of polls anyway, and that I would need many different polls taken before I even begin to become convinced, there is the problem of the wording of the questions plus the lack of follow-up question. For example, one cannot sufficiently ascertain from the poll results to what extent all those people who answered that "Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers" do not at the same time dilute that opinion with geopolitical/economic factors that explain why Islam does this -- not to mention to what extent these answerers of the poll are beholden to the more amorphous mechanism which PC Multiculturalism has developed for diluting and obfuscating the sociopathies of Third World cultures, effectively (through a complex and paradoxical construct of parochial paternalism combined with latitudinarian relativism -- with always healthy doses of anti-Western geopolitical theory) excluding Third World peoples from the ethical judgments we would unflinchingly level against any white Westerner who behaved in the many horribly grotesque and screamingly backwards ways which are pandemic throughout the Third World.