Sunday, July 29, 2007
Noting Jihad Watch Problem #3
In a couple of previous essays here on this blog—particularly here and here—, I have counted the ways that Jihad Watch, as managed and executed by Robert Spencer and Hugh Fitzgerald, et al., is flawed. The flaw that my blog has paid least attention to was enumerated in the above noted first essay as #3:
3) The problem of where Jihad Watch stands with regard to the evil and danger of Islam, and with regard to directly subsidiary questions, such as: Is a reformation of Islam possible? Can we, and do we, trust certain Muslims (however few they seem to be in numbers) who seem to be on our side in grappling with this global problem? Is Islam itself evil and dangerous, or is its evil and danger a peripheral, marginal, or somehow detachable chunk from its corpus—i.e., a chunk whose detachment would not entail the destruction of the body (let alone that such detachment is even feasible)?
In an article on Jihad Watch today, Robert Spencer writes in one of his characteristically aphoristic editorial remarks, concerning the recidivism of Gitmo detainees returning to their jihadist activities after they have been released:
Why should this surprise anyone? No effort was made at Gitmo to disabuse them of jihadist sympathies.
There is no reason to believe Spencer is merely being rhetorical here. He has expressed more or less this same principle—usually couched in those parenthetically aphoristic remarks—numerous times before. Given all the reportage and analyses that Spencer and Fitzgerald over the years have industriously published documenting and exploring the evil and danger of Islam, this remark by Spencer impresses the reader as puzzlingly absurd. What kind of “effort” could possibly “disabuse” these hard-bitten mujahideen of their ideologically, sociologically and psychologically fixed resolve? Certainly not—for Spencer himself expressed sarcastic skepticism about it—the effort that Major General Douglas Stone, the commander of detainee operations in Iraq, attempts daily—to wit: to read the Koran himself in order to see how he can convince his Muslim prisoners that they have interpreted their own holy book incorrectly.
A clue to what answer Spencer might possibly supply to this question lies, I think, in his relentlessly reiterated motif concerning the dereliction of duty of the so-called “moderate Muslims” with regard to their terrorist brethren: namely, that the former have yet to directly and substantively refute the latter’s ostensibly solid claim of grounding their paramilitary jihad in core Islamic texts and tradition. Expanding on this clue, then, might Spencer believe that an effective “effort” by which jihadists could be “disabused” of their jihadism would be some kind of concerted campaign by “moderate Muslims” who will successfully use the Islamic holy texts and traditions to persuade those jihadists? Although this seems to be the logical conclusion of everything Spencer alludes to with regard to this problem, Spencer never supplies any inkling as to the actual substance and methodology of such a campaign by those moderate, anti-jihadist Muslims.
Rather than chide our military for not making any “effort” to “disabuse” their detainees before letting them free, Spencer should articulate more clearly and directly why it is likely that any such “effort” is doomed to fail as long as the core texts and tradition of Islam are not (at the very least), by Muslims themselves, defanged, spayed and neutered—which is to say, given that such an invasive surgery of the corpus of Islam would kill the patient (or, more likely, rouse the patient, Frankenstan monster to the end, to rise off the table and kill the surgeons who would try): it is simply doomed to fail; i.e., impossible.