Thursday, May 15, 2008
Contradiction Watch 3
An ostensible contradiction can be either of three things:
1) An actual contradiction—in which case only of its two poles can be true.
2) An apparent contradiction—in which case its two poles only seem to contradict each other, but really don’t.
3) A feigned or an incoherently held contradiction—in which case the person expressing it either really only holds one of its two poles and is deceiving his audience by conveying the impression that he really holds both poles; or he is holding together the contradiction out of stupidity, stubbornness or other psychological reasons (or all of the above).
To remind our readers, Robert Spencer’s contradiction is essentially between the following two poles:
Pole #1: There exist moderate Muslims out there in sufficient numbers whose moderateness is of a viability for reform such that we the West can reasonably and pragmatically adjust our behaviors with regard to the Problem of Islam in light of that sufficiently potential viability for reform.
Pole #2: Our ability to tell the difference between dangerous and deceitful Muslims, on the one hand, and Muslims who genuinely belong to category #1 is sufficiently impaired, due mainly to factors intrinsic to Islamic culture, that the pragmatic use of category #1 Muslims for our purposes of self-defense does not rise to the level of reasonably potential viability.
Put more simply:
Pole #1: We should use moderate Muslims to help us solve the Problem of Islam.
Pole #2: We can’t identify and locate enough moderate Muslims to help us with the Problem of Islam, and we never will, mainly because of the Islamic culture of deceit, which essentially renders all Muslims untrustworthy for our purposes of self-defense, even if we know theoretically that many trustworthy Muslims exist.
If Robert Spencer’s contradiction, about which we have written specifically here and here (and which we have analyzed at length in eleven previous essays on this blog (including the 4-part series Robert Spencer: Soft on Islam?), falls under the type we listed second at the very top of our essay, then Spencer can be let off the hook.
Our previous essays in this Contradiction Watch series (as well as the other eleven essays we mentioned above) lead us to conclude that Spencer’s contradiction is of the #3 variety. Whether his is an incoherently held contradiction, maintained through the sheer tenacity of his prickly obstinacy and egotism, or whether he is selectively stupid (since it is clear he is not stupid about other matters), or whether he is feigning a contradiction dissembled as only an apparent contradiction—only his hairdresser knows for sure.
One can only conjecture. One reason could be—if Spencer only believes in Pole #2 of the contradiction—that he is using the contradiction as a rhetorical device to force his critics to face the logical consequence of the contradiction to which they themselves contribute: one pole manifested in their hope for Muslim reform and the other pole manifested in the evidence of Islamic danger, injustice and evil which Spencer, in his “day job”, helps to bulldoze into an ever-increasing mountain. We have in the prior essays mentioned above already considered this and tentatively rejected it. Another reason could be—if Spencer only believes in Pole #1 of the contradiction—rooted in his Christian humanism. This, however, would make his “day job” most curious indeed, salvageable perhaps as a kind of massive demonstration of “tough love” for all those millions and millions of Muslims he believes are God’s children who need to be saved from Islam. Or perhaps, at the end of the day, our explanation briefly entertained above is the case—sheer contrarian obstinacy undergirded by egotism—, since his mode of dissemblement rarely rises to the level of the sophistry indicative of a person trying to deceive with regard to such a transparently untenable position; and we know all too well that Spencer is capable of disingenuous sophistry, so it cannot be for lack of ability.
Who knows. The point is, Spencer is presenting a contradiction of one form or another regularly and emphatically. And that’s a problem for the Anti-Islam Movement, since he is such an otherwise influential and worthy leader of it.
Thus, from a recent Jihad Watch article:
Allegation about Robert Spencer from Muslim apologist Omer Subhani:
[Spencer] says that moderate and peaceful Muslims need to speak out against the elements within their religious doctrine that jihadis use to justify violence and "reform" those elements.
Response from Spencer:
Omer Subhani continued:
But based upon Davis' definition of taqiyya how could a person ever know who a sincerely peaceful Muslim is? How would we know such a person isn't deceiving us into thinking that they are a peaceful Muslim when in reality they are just hiding their true jihadi beliefs?
Response from Spencer:
In his second response, Spencer’s snippily cheerful and breezy reply serves to support the rhetorical nature of Subhani’s questions—i.e., because they are “good questions” then there is no good way to answer them definitively such that we could in fact trust Muslims in sufficient numbers to make a difference for our self-defense.
And yet, in his first response, Spencer implies that we can in fact hope to trust Muslims in sufficient numbers—else why do supposedly moderate and peaceful Muslims “need” to speak out? There can be no “need” because, according to Spencer’s second response, there is no way to measure the sincere reality of moderate and peaceful Muslims! So which is it, Spencer?