Below, I present two positions held by Robert Spencer.
Each position, listed as #1 and #2, has more than one example adumbrated with bullets. All examples use only direct quotes from Spencer himself.
Upshot: #1 and #2 contradict each other.
- a fact that we have pointed out many, many times at Jihad Watch: there is no reliable way to distinguish jihadists from peaceful Muslims
- what we have pointed out many times over the years: that there is no reliable way to distinguish between Islamic "extremists" and Islamic "moderates"
- There are millions upon millions of people who are culturally Muslim but are not interested in advancing the jihad agenda or even necessarily aware of it. . .
- To say that Islam is a dangerous, violent religion is simplistic and misleading because Islam is many things.
- any Muslim who renounces violent jihad and dhimmitude is welcome to join in our anti-jihadist efforts.
The question is: How can Spencer’s two positions (#1 and #2 above) be harmonized into one coherent position?
If Spencer’s #1 position is true, then all those “millions and millions” of putatively harmless Muslims from Spencer's #2 position become pragmatically useless for our purposes of self-defense, since according to Spencer’s #1 position, we cannot adequately identify them. If Spencer is right about what he claims as quoted under #1 above, how can we ever know whether any given Muslims have really—as opposed to deceitfully or in incoherent schizophrenia that could be “activated” in some indeterminate future—“renounced” violent jihad and dhimmitude?
The answer, of course, is that we can’t—unless Spencer has a magic Good Muslim Detector that no one else has been able to come up with.
Similarly, Spencer wrote:
To extrapolate from Islamic teachings to the proposition that all Muslims believe in and are advancing the jihadist cause is just as absurd as assuming that because Jesus said to love your enemies, that every last Christian is humble, self-effacing, non-combative, and forgiving.
Here, Spencer is confusing the claim that all Muslims are dangerous, with the more rational claim that we cannot tell the difference between the dangerous Muslims and the harmless Muslims. Why has Spencer been so forcefully digging in his heels about maintaining the “millions and millions” of putatively harmless Muslims out there, when such a putative fact is rendered effectively useless by our inability to sufficiently locate them for pragmatic purposes?
As I wrote in a recent essay about Spencer here:
. . . he tries to have his cake of a strictly reportorial just-the-facts-ma’am diagnostician on the one hand, and pretensions to being a grander, more synthetic analyst on the other hand—and only succeeds in vaguely combining both by his adoption of an irresponsibly evasive suspension of judgement and position: his refusal to “be maneuvered” into actually taking a clear, unequivocal stand on Islam and on all Muslims who continue to count themselves members of Islam and who thereby either actively support, or passively enable, the evil injustice and menace of Islam.
Spencer’s weaselly way to establish a basis for avoiding condemnation of Muslims:
Islam is more multifaceted than Nazism, and involves many beliefs, some good, some bad. You are comparing a huge 1400-year-old tradition over many nations with 12 years of Germany. If you met a Nazi in 1938, you would know what he thinks. But the fact is that when you meet a Muslim today you can have no certainty about what he thinks or knows.
Notice how the last sentence mirrors almost exactly the claims Spencer made which we listed under #1 above, which he used to demonstrate our formidable problem we face with Islamic terrorism, while in the statement we just quoted, the same inability—our lack of “certainty about what [a Muslim] thinks or knows”—is couched in terms of the formal abstention from identifying Muslims as potentially as well as actually dangerous.
Talk about trying to have your cake and eat it too!