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 audiencethat 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 wayneed 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 heedlessjust as Spencer isof 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.


Nobody said...

Another point that I noted, but was largely missed, was that this is about a Saudi, which is usually the easiest, rather than the toughest case to make about Islamic fanaticism. All the examples in that list - churches or evangelism in Saudi Arabia, inclusion of polytheistic religions in interfaith dialogs, et al are Saudi specific facts that an Islamic apologist from elsewhere could easily point out as being absent in his/her own country. An Egyptian could point out that it's not against the law to build churches in Egypt, and one would then have to painstakingly point out how if Copts tried doing that, they'd be confronted not by the law, but by the Muslim Brotherhood and mainstream Egyptian Muslims. And while it's true that stoning for adultery may not exist in, say, Pakistan, vigilante alternatives like honor killings make up for that. However, had a Muslim apologist from Pakistan been speaking, he'd have had a field day equating say, honor killings with killings in the West.

Fact is that while the Saudis are brazen about their intolerance given Mohammed's dictate about non-Islamic religions in Arabia, the others are more subtle in the way they suppress Infidels. Things like Egyptian or Indonesian persecution of Christians, Malaysian posthumous conversions and persecution of those violating Islamic law re: 'khalwat' (close proximity), etc are less well known. I wonder whether the AIM - the way we defined its scope - would have addressed such arcane cases that one might pull up to demonstrate the innocuousness of Islam, but I do agree with you that in this case, it would well have been needed.

Erich said...


I agree about the Saudi angle skewing the whole thing. It's the problem of people narrowing their focus to instances of "extremism" in Islam, rather than widening their view to Islam itself -- in this case, too many people will dismiss this Muslim taqiyyist as a "Wahhabi" Muslim not representative of the vast wonderful mosaic of Muslims around the world.

And that is why, as your points about other Muslim polities outside Saudi Arabia demonstrate, we need an Anti-Islamic Manual (AIM). In a sense, as you imply, this law student and his friends had a very easy target. As Hugh Fitzgerald wrote in a later comment on that thread --

"The further information shows that this speaker was unacquainted with Western audiences and Western ways, and so had not had time to perfect his taqiyya-and-tu-quoque (compare Tariq Ramadan). He spoke, that is, more or less the truth, when asked about certain tenets of Islam (e.g. the death penalty for apostates). He hadn't yet been schooled in the wiles-and-smiles Academy of Interfaith Outreach."

One wonders, would the law student and his friends been able to muster a second line of defense with a more skilled taqiyyist?

The whole point and value of the AIM, however, would render such questions and concerns obsolete. Armed with the AIM, anyone could go to any Q-&-A anywhere, and challenge and refute virtually all of the points and counterpoints uttered by any Islam Apologist (whether a Muslim or a PC defender of Islam).

Of course, "arming" oneself with the AIM would require familiarizing oneself with the contents of the AIM first: in real-time confrontations with Islam Apologists, one must have studied the AIM beforehand. But while this entails some labor and time, it is minuscule compared with the vast amount of labor and time it takes to go slogging through the bewildering jungle of too much information out there about Islam that is our current predicament. And after that circumscribed amount of time and labor one would invest in the AIM, it would pay off: one would have at one's fingertips virtually all of the requisite points and counterpoints to refute and expose any Islam Apologist who dares to rear his or her head in any venue -- whether in a casual conversation in a cafe or at a family dinner, whether in an Internet discussion forum or chat room, whether at a Q-&-A session following a public speaker's presentation, whether in letters to editors or congressmen, whether in public debates with Islam Apologists on the Internet, the radio, television or before live audiences; or whether, God willing the public awareness reaches this point soon, in Congressional testimonies or International conferences on the subject.