Thursday, May 22, 2008

I’m out.






Almost one year ago, in June of 2007, I posted an
essay here entertaining the possibility of closing up shop.

At that time, I had only written about 30 essays, mostly dealing with what I take to be the insufficient appreciation on the part of Robert Spencer and Hugh Fitzgerald of the nature and dimensions of Politically Correct Multi-Culturalism (PC MC). At that time, I noted another problem with Jihad Watch:


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?

I added that I had not yet really touched on this particular problem.

Of course, since that time, I decided to keep on truckin’ and published another hundred or so essays. For many months, those essays continued to focus on the aforementioned misapprehension of PC MC on Jihad Watch. My readers know, however, that in the past month or so, my essays have begun to shift the focus to “the problem of where Jihad Watch stands with regard to the evil and danger of Islam”.

By now, I think I’ve analyzed all the important problems with Jihad Watch as thoroughly as they can be done. I will therefore leave Jihad Watch Watch standing, but no longer post new essays. A link to here exists on my other blog, The Hesperado, and will remain there, for anyone interested to read analyses that in my opinion will remain timely and important into the future. The Hesperado will remain active and will occupy my main blogging attention from now on, with a wider focus on PC MC itself and the Problem of Islam.

I will close by quoting the words of an observer (one “Adela G.”) I have only recently become aware of, whose remarks have been posted in the comments sections of Lawrence Auster’s site, View From the Right. There are two comments quoted below, one to do with the recent Koran-kissing incident, another to do with Spencer’s unfair treatment of Vlaams Belang and other so-called “white racist” parties in Europe. I quote these comments because of their singularly keen dressing down of Spencer which I could not have put better myself. I hope “Adela G.” writes more, not only about Spencer, but about the broader issues of the West and the problem of Islam.

The gentleman gives the floor, and the last word, to the lady:

_______________________

1)

Robert Spencer writes:

The possibility that Muslims worldwide might be incited to murderous rage because of an incident like this can never be discounted. Major General Hammond and his staff are trying to head that off. That's fine, but it also just plays into the mentality that to riot and kill because of something like this is a perfectly natural and rational reaction to it. At a certain point, someone is going to have to have the guts to stand up and say, "Wait a minute. The incident that set you off may indeed have been offensive, but your reaction is insane. If someone insults you, that is no justification to kill him or anyone else, or to destroy anything."

Spencer understands that what Muslims consider inflammatory might possibly incite them to worldwide murderous rage. Yet he goes on to say that to head off that possibility is to "play into the mentality that to riot and kill because of something like this is a perfectly natural and rational reaction to it." Where the heck did he get the "rational" bit from? I have never read anywhere that the homicidal acting out of Muslims who feel Islam has been insulted touches at any point on rationality. It is, however, perfectly natural within the context of Islam itself.


And that's precisely what Mr. Spencer does not seem to comprehend, for he goes on to write:

At a certain point, someone is going to have to have the guts to stand up and say, "Wait a minute. The incident that set you off may indeed have been offensive, but your reaction is insane. If someone insults you, that is no justification to kill him or anyone else, or to destroy anything."

Such a reaction is insane only to a non-Muslim. To many Muslims, mere insult is indeed justification for killing and destruction. Incredibly, Robert Spencer evidently believes that at some point, the application of reason to a matter of faith will somehow modify or reform the Muslim tendency to respond to insults with violence. Obviously, he expects those members of a non-Western faith and non-Western culture to be receptive to Western notions of civility and reason--why else stand up and proclaim that violence is an "insane" response to insult?

If he cannot see how "insane" it is for him to expect people acting as their faith dictates to cast it aside and replace it with alien notions of civility, then how can he expect Muslims to see how "insane" it is to respond to insults with violence? Presumably, he's the one with sane notions of reason and rationality on his side. Yet like every other Western liberal, he adheres to liberal tenets that are every bit as faith-based and irrational as Islam itself. Spencer himself shows that modern liberalism and Islam are both irrational ideologies, impervious to reason and resistant to, if not incapable of, change or "reform."

2)

Spencer writes:

Fjordman argues that the indigenous peoples of are being overwhelmed by an elite-driven attempt to render them minorities in their own countries, and that is a point well taken also. But there is cultural defense and then there is a white supremacism that is based on some idea of racial superiority and inferiority, and has via Hitler a historical link to genocide. They are not the same thing, and a distinction needs to be made between the two...

They are not only not the same thing, they are polar opposites. The first concerns whites becoming a minority in Europe, the second is basically a description of the Nazi policy of Lebensraum, genocide perpetrated by Germans againist other European whites. No distinction needs to be made between them, they are demonstrably different to anyone who can read.


I have read many of Fjordmann's essays and don't recall his ever advocating anything like the "white supremacism" to which Spencer repeatedly refers. Only a liberal would fear that a discussion of whites becoming a minority in Europe needs to be defended against suspicions of advocating neo-Nazism and genocide perpetrated by white supremacists.

Spencer must live in a very tortuous world, in which to criticize his refusal to draw logical conclusions from his own evidence is to aspire to a kind of world domination ("Austerism over the West"), and to worry about whites becoming the minority on an historically white continent is to veer uncomfortably near to advocating white supremacism and genocide. His assertion that "I am more interested in making common cause even with those with whom I do not agree on anything" is lofty, if nonsensical. I don't see how a person can make a common cause with people with whom he has nothing in common. And it certainly stands in contradiction to his equally lofty and nonsensical statement: "I am pronouncing no anathemas, although I repeat: I completely disavow and repudiate any neo-Nazi or white supremacist individual or group."

Unfortunately, his inability to speak plainly about the actual nature of the threats to the West limits his effectiveness as an ally in the fight to preserve it. His pussyfooting would be merely risible if anything less crucial were at stake. As it is, his name-calling and preemptive defensiveness are counterproductive and divisive.

50 comments:

Nobody said...

Erich

That is a welcome shift in attention. At this point, it's worth recognizing your differences with Spencer and moving on.

Your time can be a lot better spent at the Hesperado on topics. I for one am looking forward to the one about how White Muslims are bunched with other Muslims as the right, and non-White Infidels are bunched together with White Infidels as the evil.

awake said...

His assertion that "I am more interested in making common cause even with those with whom I do not agree on anything" is lofty, if nonsensical.

Where did you get that? Anythingor everything? Anything sounds like an unintended mistake, otherwise I agree, it is nonsensical.

Erich said...

awake,

It wasn't me who commented on Spencer's "anything", it was "Adela G." whom I quoted.

At any rate, that quote derives from an email Auster claims Spencer sent to a few people:

"Robert Spencer wrote to several people yesterday in an e-mail about me:"

The bottom line is that this individual is bent on discrediting me, Steyn, Phillips, Pipes, etc. etc.—in short, everyone but himself, so that he will stand as the only trustworthy authority on Islamic and immigration issues. It is an unseemly exercise, embarrassing to watch. I am more interested in making common cause even with those with whom I do not agree on anything. In the larger struggle, we have few enough allies as it is—unless the struggle is to establish Austerism over the West.

(You'll notice Spencer's phrase "Austerism over the West" is also there, referenced as well by "Adela G." whom I quoted in the above essay.)
http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/007033.html

Kab-bin-Ashraf said...

Hesp,

I think you've made a good choice in turning your focus to the Hesperado blog.

At this point, I'd like to point out that through these exercises on Jihad Watch Watch, you've been able to grapple with substantive issues and in doing so have furthered your (and my) understanding of the Islam problem and how it can be dealt with. I don't merely see this as a personalized disagreement between you and Spencer. That's part of it, but that's not the part that matters most.

I've been critical of the whole project of this blog (JWW), and I stand by most of those criticisms.

However, I must credit you with drawing my attention to some aspects of Spencer's approach that really need some improving. I probably would not have paid much attention to these aspects if you had not drawn my attention to them first. The aspects I'm referring to most specifically pertain to Spencer's manner of response to some criticism, which I found very off-putting. Remember his response to "Dale"? Dale was a knowledgeable poster who would have been an asset to the comments section, but Spencer's reaction to him basically repelled him from returning to the site. (I also think Dale overreacted). Another major problem with the website was the special exception made for "MS," who was basically allowed to run wild through the comments section, threatening to sue people, etc., totally over-the-top, disruptive, and distracting. Also, when at least one poster objected to her unsubstantiated personal attacks on Hirsi Ali--one of our most valuable and effective Islam critics--, the poster's objection was deleted and MS's attacks on Hirsi Ali remained on the site.

There were also valid points raised by posters that were ignored by Spencer, to his detriment and more importantly to the detriment of the larger project of criticism of Islam. For example, at least two posters (myself being one of them) raised the issue of why Spencer (and others) continue to claim that "all (major) schools of Islamic jurisprudence" say X with regard to jihad. That is phrased in the present tense; it is a claim about what all the schools say now, not what they said several hundred years ago. To support the claim, one would have to quote at least fairly recent authoritative texts for all the major schools, regarding jihad. Spencer has Reliance of the Traveller (Shafi'i) and the Hidaya (Hanafi), but not the texts for the other schools. (Note that the RoT and the H are old texts but are still refered to today, but...)Where are the up-to-date rulings for "all the schools"?

Later on, this turned out to be a critical issue that Ali Eteraz raised in the Emory Wheel debate. In fact, it is a common criticism raised by Islam apologists: Why do Islam critics rely (or overly rely) on outdated texts? Spencer's response was unsatisfactory. Spencer's response would have to have included either (a) the up-to-date authoritative rulings from all the major schools, or (b) failing "a", then at least provide an explanation of why such evidence cannot be presented (e.g., it does not exists, or is difficult to obtain, or Muslim authorities are not being forthright, etc.). For "b", claiming that the gates of itjihad are closed is just too ambiguous and metaphorical and subjective. (One can quote scholars on either side of the issue). In any case, one cannot claim that "all schools say X" without providing current or reasonably recent evidence from all those schools. Otherwise, one must be stuck saying something like "all schools said X about jihad several hundreds of years ago," which apologists are quite right to claim is not a sufficient answer.

All that being said, Spencer is undoubtedly one of the West's top experts on jihad. I have great admiration for Spencer. But there are some gaping holes in the presentation, such as the lack of up-to-date jurisprudence. The point is that Spencer and his readership could have benefitted if he'd responded to those questions and constructive suggestions.

I could go on with my criticisms--indeed I could probably write a blog of my own listing my criticisms of various aspects of Spencer's presentations, but I'll stop here, in keeping with the theme of your last post focussing on criticism of Spencer and/or Jihadwatch.

Onward to Hesperado!

Kab-bin-Ashraf said...

pardon my typo: ijtihad

And I do not know for a fact that Spencer does not have all the up-to-date authoritative rulings on jihad. I infer that he doesn't because he doesn't quote the up-to-date authoritative rulings from the other schools. If he had them, he'd quote them, right?

awake said...

"Anything" had to be a typo. I am quite sure he meant "everything".

He is of course, not daft.

Erich said...

nobody,

Thanks for your support. That "white Muslim" essay might be about #3, since I have two others in the works before then. I've appreciated your input over the months, and it seems we are basically on the same page about most of these issues and sub-issues.

Kab,

Thanks as well for your support. I too have learned from your observations over the months. The modern Islamic jurisprudence issue with Spencer I suspect has to do with the difficulty of getting one's hands on sources today, as the transmission of those writings (assuming they exist, which I do) probably antedates the Internet and probably still works fine functioning in a network from madrassa to mosque to Islamic center, mostly bypassing the Internet and mainstream published books. I suspect the only way to really get a hold of them would be to physically travel to various places in the Muslim world, such as Mecca, Riyadh, Karachi, Cairo, etc. and go straight to Islamic clerical schools and bookstores, etc. and actually get the materials -- a difficult task not just for the travel involved, not just for the colloquial Arabic necessary, but also for the higher degree of suspicion and wariness on the part of the various Muslims whose trust one would have to gain in the process. I.e., the world of modern Islamic jurisprudence is a different world from our Western communications. If I wanted to learn about the catechism of Eastern Rite Catholics, for example, all I need to do is find a good academic library of which there are about 50 in the U.S.A. (and many more in Europe and the UK), and possibly supplement that with a trip to a Catholic institution also located in various places throughout the West. Furthermore, there would be no guardedness, suspicion, or censorship problems with police and military backing (let alone lynch mobs) as would be variably the case for one trying to hunt down such comparable information in the Muslim world.

I'm heartened that you (and nobody) have some problems with Spencer's methodology and presentation. In a free and rational society, nobody should be above reasoned and polite challenges, and for Spencer and his votaries to get all prickly about such challenges is simply unacceptable and childish, and reflects poorly on them. They then compound this by becoming obstinant and contrarian about it when someone rightfully says, "hey this isn't right".

Erich said...

I misspelled "obstinate" above.

Kab-bin-Ashraf said...

Hesp,

One other thing that occurred to me is that one could probably create a blog documenting and discussing the mistakes, omissions, or limitations of any author. (I could make a blog documenting my own errors, etc.!)Normally that would be the job of the editor, though in running a website the author (Spencer) in this case has dozens of armchair editors in the comments section and elsewhere all offering their suggestions and criticisms. The suggestions and criticisms in this case are not solicited in the usual way, where the author expects and often wants to hear what the editor has to say. Rather, the author is subjected to a large number of criticisms from a large number of self-appointed volunteers. I've seen how other blog-website authors handle comments, and I don't think Spencer is really all that bad. Most authors just ignore the comments, delete them, ban people on a whim, etc.

A while back, Spencer asked you why you focussed on him. Your reason for doing so, as I've understood it, is due to Spencer's prominent position as an author and thinker on this most important issue of our times, i.e., Islam's relation to the West.

awake said...

.

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