Saturday, April 5, 2008
It isn’t rocket science—but it should be down to a science.
Today on Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer highlights an e-mail he received from a law student at the University of Cincinnati, who reported a recent “success story”.
This law student and others, inspired and informed by having been readers of Jihad Watch, challenged a visiting Muslim speaker to their University who was trying to soft-sell Sharia Law.
While I applaud the students who took this initiative, I must point out a glaring lacuna in the law student’s report: He claims that “[h]eading into the event, the vast majority of students in the audience were sympathetic and welcoming to the speaker and his ideas. By the end of the event, they were all rightly horrified.” And later on in his report, he reiterates this claim: “. . .by this point [after the law student and his fellows presented their cogent challenge to the Muslim speaker], he had lost the vast majority of the audience.”
How does the law student know, about the audience of students listening to the Muslim and the Q&A afterwards, that the students “were all rightly horrified”? He doesn’t say how he ascertained this. How does he know that by the end of the session, the Muslim “had lost the vast majority of the audience”? He fails to back up these important claims with evidence. The entire point of this whole thing is the effectiveness of the law student’s tactics that supposedly turned out to be a “success story”. And the only way to measure that effectiveness, that success, is whether a majority of the students indeed became appropriately “horrified” by Sharia law. From the e-mail Spencer published, and from all attending information Spencer provided, these pivotal claims that are crucially relevant to the whole point of the challenge, remain unverified.
While the law student also makes a similar claim about the student audience—that initially, before they were all so profoundly persuaded by the law student’s challenging questions to the Muslim speaker, “the vast majority” of them were “sympathetic and welcoming to the speaker and his ideas”—and similarly offers no evidence to back this up, this is so likely, given the mainstream dominance of PC MC, that one reasonably assumes this to be the case not only in any given student body throughout the West, but in any grouping of oxygen-breathing Westerners anywhere on planet Earth.
It is the other claims the law student makes that require verification. In the absence of such verification, I have no choice but to remain cynical about such a sudden mass epiphany of a whole audience of students.
While our War of Ideas need not be rocket science, and none of us—unofficially yet gravely deputized to fight this war in whatever venue of discussion and interaction comes our way—need be an Orientalist professor who has studied Arabic for 30 years: nevertheless, we need to maintain at least minimum standards of credibility and verification for our claims.
And as mentioned above, the whole point of this law student’s exercise is to educate and persuade people of the horrible truth of Islam.
While I applaud the efforts of this student and his colleagues who helped him, this one instance at some university in Ohio needs to be reduplicated a million times all over the place, in various different venues. The optimum way to do this is not to have randomly motivated individuals here and there slogging through the Jihad Watch archives to piece together what they think are effective ways to refute a speaker at some isolated Q-&-A.
In one of the comments to the Jihad Watch article, Hugh once again issues his broadly vague injunction to Jihad Watchers to go forth and arm themselves with knowledge:
Aux armes, citoyens. But not the normal kind of arms. The other kind. The kind that at this point are most effective for self-defense.
Hugh continues to be clueless and heedless—just as Spencer is—of the intolerable disarray and disorganization which impair our intellectual weapons in our War of Ideas. I appreciate what the two of them have been providing on a daily basis these past few years; but it is time to stop futzing around. It is time for a far more effective tightening up of our tactics. We cannot be flailing around amid the luxuriantly confusing excess of information about Islam that abounds out there. Not when our own sociopolitical culture is hostile to the truth. We must consolidate.
For the real task of the War of Ideas, lone students popping up in Cincinnati, or a few people e-mailing their representatives here and there, or wise guys like me blogging, is simply not enough. We desperately, grimly, urgently need the AIM: The Anti-Islamic Manual.