Sunday, November 27, 2005

Our Debt to Robert Spencer

What does it say about our culture, when it is taboo to criticize the ideology of the enemy after the greatest attack on the homeland in our history? Since 9/11, it has become almost impossible to discuss the inherent barbarity of this ideology, Islam, and its bloody history. There’s been a pre-emptive defense of Islam that is bizarre considering the general hostility to anything that has the faintest smell of religion.

Hollywood has eliminated Muslim villains after 9/11 to such an extent that it has changed the identity of characters in a Tom Clancy film. Chris Matthews and Jimmy Carter join Kofi Annan in bashing America as a bigoted country filled with hate. After all, we might conceivably feel towards Islam what our parents felt towards Nazism. Remember all those war films with Nazis as bad guys? Were the men and women of the Greatest Generation bigoted and hateful? Or were they just facing the facts?

Despite the taboo, people are learning about Islam. First of all, there is the evidence of our senses. Every day we see the barbaric behavior prevalent in Islamic cultures. After the Beslan massacre, one Egyptian “man in the street” reportedly said: what will people think about Islam now? Thus, even in Islamic lands, where they hear no criticism from our intellectual and political leaders, they have enough common sense to figure out what any half-conscious human being must be thinking. That is the reason for the pre-emptive attacks on America by the Carters and Annans of the world. They know what logically follows from the facts, too. And they hope to perish the thought.

The one person most responsible for exposing Islam is Robert Spencer. For twenty years Mr. Spencer has studied and written about Islam. “Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions about the World’s Fastest-Growing Faith,” is one of the three books that I recommend to those approaching the subject for the first time. Spencer goes beyond the superficial comparisons between Christianity and Islam that are prevalent in most other books. And he raises the nagging questions about Islam that just won’t go away.

Spencer won’t go away, either. He penned “Onward Muslim Soldiers” and edited “The Myth of Islamic Tolerance.” His latest book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)” has made the New York Times bestseller list for 14 weeks. Despite the media black-out, despite all the exhortations to think only good things about Islam, despite all the books written by Islamic apologists, people are discovering the truth. People, realizing that they've been told lies, sooner or later, discover Spencer’s books. Given that he now has the backing of the major conservative publishing house, Regnery, his books will reach an influential audience.

We all owe a great debt to Robert Spencer for his resolve, hard work and great dignity while our fellow countrymen slowly become aware of the danger in the world today.

13 Comments:

Blogger Pastorius said...

I agree. Good post.

I used to have a permanent link on my blogroll entitled, "A Note About Jihad Watch," where I made the point that while I am thankful for Robert Spencer, I also have my reservations about some of his ideas.

I took that link down, because while I do have disagreements with him, he is one of the most valuable resources/weapons we have in the fight against Islamofascism.

My problem with him is that he thinks it is impossible for us to plant an Islamic Democracy in the Middle East. I don't think it's impossible.

After the surrender of Germany and Japan, America forced both countries to make changes in their ideologies/religions. No more teaching the supremacy of white people. No more teaching that the Emperor was God.

Similarly, we must insist that Iraq and Afghanistan outlaw the preaching of hatred for the infidels and Jews. They must outlaw the preaching of violent Jihad. They must outlaw stoning, enslavement of women, the burqa, and the death penalty for apostates, homosexuals, and adulterers.

If we forced these changes on Iraq and Afghanistan, I believe it would help us to establish a real Free Democracy, instead of a fear-based society.

Neither Robert Spencer, nor Hugh Fitzgerald seem to think there is a chance of this kind of policy working. They both seem to think the only possibility for change is a reformation from within. And, they seem to doubt that will happen very quickly.

My question for them is, why did it work in Germany and Japan? I would love to know their answers.

11/27/05, 8:39 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Pastorius: My question for them is, why did it work in Germany and Japan? I would love to know their answers.

Good point, Pastorius. My guess is that Spencer believes that Islam as it is now defined (Hugh takes on all sects in his articles--I'm sure you've noticed) and democracy are incompatible; I believe that Ibn Warraq makes the same point as does Fallaci. Is the deciding factor for the answer to your question related to the issue of attaining eternal life (i.e., suicidal religious zealotry)? Would a military defeat of Islam push it toward democracy and secularization, or would such a defeat only intensify the martydom complex? What examples from history can help us to analyze the conundrum?

Can evil be reformed?

And let's not forget the surge of Communism in the post-WWII days. So, while Japan and Germany were defeated, another monster was running amok and continued so until Reagan employed some excellent strategies.

And I know that Jason makes excellent points as to how to break the oil stranglehold. The matter of Saudi's oil--indeed economic power--is important to deal with, and I don't see anything happening in that regard.

So much to consider!

The recent elections in Egypt might also give a clue as to the incompatibility of Islam and democracy. I read today that GWB may be backing off his idea about democratization of the Middle East. So where does that lead us?

I'm tossing in lots of points for consideration.

Jason,
I'm totally with you that Spencer has done a great deal to open the eyes of those who'd rather remain blind. His mannerisms, his calm demeanor, and his scholarship make him perhaps the greatest resource for the general public. His Guide is so very readable for high-school students, and several of mine are reading his work.

I'm furious that the msm are ignoring Spencer's book even as it sits on the NYT bestseller list. But because the book is on that list, almost every library will accept a donation copy (or copies). And I note that Spencer's book is circulating well within the Fairfax County Public Library System, while CIE's and CAIR's materials sit idly on the shelves.

The Sword of the Prophet is the one book which brought me to alert. But it's a more difficult go for those without determination to wade through. Spencer's Guide is the best place to start for novices. I wish the book had been available on 9/12/01.

And just for the record, I've read each of Spencer's books except for Myth. You're right: he raises the nagging questions about Islam that just won’t go away.

Yes, indeed, we owe Robert Spencer a great debt!

11/27/05, 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

This book aims to persuade readers that Islam is intolerant, stifles science, advocates war, and leads to the oppression of women. The author, however, seems to forget Galileo's persecution, modern-day American biology textbooks with disclaimers about evolution, two thousand years of the Christian oppression of women, and the Crusades.

Oh, that's right. He did remember the Crusades; he even mentioned that they were fought in self-defense! How do we know this? Because there are a few anecdotal cases of Christian persecution by Muslims, most notably by the madman Al-Hakim -- in what was a vast Muslim Empire spanning three continents and hundreds of years. Therefore it was perfectly okay for tens of thousands of Europeans to ravage their way to the Holy Land, slaughtering entire populations of Jews along the way, and to turn Jerusalem into a bloodbath by massacring women and children there. These are the moments that make the West proud!

Ironically, the low threshold that Spencer estalblishes for invoking self-defense allows Muslims around the world to point to decades of bloody US intervention in the Middle East (not to mention hateful books likes this) as proof that similarly subhuman acts of violence (like 9/11) were justified. Could it be that Spencer is giving not just comfort, but also inspiration, to the enemy? Perish the thought.

11/28/05, 2:56 AM  
Anonymous Jon said...

SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE......
There's an apocryphal tale about a meeting between George Bush Sr. and Mikhail Gorbachev shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall signalled the collapse of European Communism. "I'm very sorry for the great wrong I have done to you," said the architect of glasnost. Bush asked what he meant. "I've deprived you of an enemy," explained Gorby.

It wasn't until Bush's least favoured son stumbled, blinking and stammering into the White House (with a corridor pass from Condi so that he could go to the bathroom all by himself) that the US finally got a new real enemy (Saddam and Slobo were really just stopgaps). Fundamentalist Islamic jihad hits all the boogieman buttons that Communism found, with the delicious extra that its practitioners aren't atheists, and thus can be tempted into self-immolation with the promise of celestial paradise.

Robert Spencer believes the medieval campaigns against the infidels have been sullied by lefty revisionists, and the chainmailed hordes were in fact the good guys.

However, the book operates under false pretences. It's all working towards a conclusion that implores "The West" (whatever that is) to reclaim its sense of pride and self-worth. Effectively, this is not a book about Islam - it's yet another screed of preaching to the scared, insular denizens of Jesusland, in the fine tradition of the John Birch Society and all those wackos who gave us such a laugh in the good old days of the Cold War. None Dare Call It Jihad, or something like that.

"Listen up, America," says Mr Spencer, "Islam is bad,mmmkay. Now let's talk about us..."

11/28/05, 2:59 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Jon seems to think that Communism, which killed over 100 million people, was merely a Bogeyman. Thus, after 9/11 and daily violence against non-Muslims around the world, he sees fear of Islam as paranoia. Figures!

Patrick firsts tries to deflect criticism of Islam with criticism of Christians. I mentioned in the review how others make superficial comparisons. Patrick provides us with an example.

However, the Crusades came after 300 years of aggression by Islam against Christianity. Muslims conquered Christian lands from Morocco to Syria (including present day Iraq.) Several attempts were made on Constantinople. Christians had just regained Antioch but were under attack again. It was at that point that Greek Christians asked the Latin Christians for help.

11/28/05, 6:41 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Getting back to the reasonable comments; I’m not sure, Pastorius, if Hugh is right or wrong. As we’ve talked about before, Germany and Japan suffered an apocalyptic defeat in WWII, so devastating, that they questioned their previous faith and culture. After WWI, however, Germany didn’t feel defeated; they claimed their leaders (and the Jews) stabbed them in the back. And they ultimately wanted a re-contest.

In Iraq, I wonder if it is a little of both. Sunnis don’t feel defeated but Shiites feel defeated by decades of Saddam’s sadistic rule. Perhaps the Shiites are ready to re-consider Arab culture to a significant extent. The Shiite clerics might even have heard how the Iranian “revolution” has failed and driven the young away from Islam. Perhaps they are open to the seperation of religion and state. But I don’t know for sure if this is the case.

One thing that has puzzled me for sometime is the lack of Shiite terrorist attacks against the Sunni population. Given their suffering under the Baathist regime and continued suffering everyday from Sunni jihadist attacks, it is bizarre how few attacks there have been against the Sunnis. This might be a clue of a willingness to change or it may not.

In either case, except for apocalyptic events, I don’t think cultures change easily. It takes generations. By the way, even if we don't establish democracy that doesn't mean we've failed. There are other objectives that are worth noting.

11/28/05, 9:20 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Amen! I don't think it's too outlandish to suppose that Robert Spencer may turn out to have played a pivotal role in saving Western Civilization, if it is in the stars for it to be saved!

11/28/05, 8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

However, the Crusades came after 300 years of aggression by Islam against Christianity. Muslims conquered Christian lands from Morocco to Syria (including present day Iraq.) Several attempts were made on Constantinople. Christians had just regained Antioch but were under attack again. It was at that point that Greek Christians asked the Latin Christians for help."


Jason, could you blog more on how to objectively interpret the Crusades. The subject when covered today by the mainstream culture is always anti-Christian and pro-Moslem; take for example the History Channel's recent "The Crecsant and the Cross" (the title itself tells you all you need to know).

I have heard a number of interesting opinions on the Crusades ranging from a war between two sets of religious fanatics (which is plausable) to interpretations which say that the Muslims of that period had more of a Hellenistic influence on them and were therefore the more sympathetic culture.

I just don't know enough. I would love to read your thoughts.

Thanks

11/28/05, 9:41 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

That’s a tall order, Anonymous. Often when there is a comparison between Islam and Christianity, it revolves around the selection of episodic or anecdotal cases. These may or may not be indicative of the total picture. I’d have to review the 500 year history (700-1200) to describe the total picture to give a accurate comparison.

In both cases, however, these were grim times. Life was barbaric for people living under either rule. It’s hard to imagine and it’s seldom described. Often, individual exceptions become the focus. Charlemagne, in France, for example. Or the few philosophers under Islamic rule that were allowed brief moments of light in an otherwise dark and dangerous time.

In general, for those few who did find breathing room, it was at the whim of the ruling monarch or autocrat. If the ruler maintained some tolerance it usually disappeared under his successor. The vicarious nature of life was evident in the example of Averroes (Ibn Rushd) – the last flicker of Hellenism in the Arab tradition. Aquinas, however, was able to secure a foothold for Aristotle, one century later.

Since I enjoy the intellectual history more than the social history, I too, have more knowledge of the struggle of great men instead of the plight of the individual citizen. So I’m not in the best position to answer off the top of my head.

The influence of great men, however, ultimately has an impact on the society as a whole. One of the important turning points was in the 13th century. It was due to the different way Aquinas viewed knowledge as compared to the Arab philosophers (including Averroes) and the Byzantine scholars. The Arab philosophers viewed philosophy as an elitist activity to be kept from the general population (they were influenced by Plato’s Republic.) Aquinas embedded his knowledge in the Summa – a work that was intended for the practicing priest, bringing the church teachings to the people. This posture, in time, helped to transform the culture.

11/29/05, 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" It was due to the different way Aquinas viewed knowledge as compared to the Arab philosophers (including Averroes) and the Byzantine scholars. The Arab philosophers viewed philosophy as an elitist activity to be kept from the general population (they were influenced by Plato’s Republic.) Aquinas embedded his knowledge in the Summa – a work that was intended for the practicing priest, bringing the church teachings to the people. This posture, in time, helped to transform the culture."

Wow. That is a brilliant identification, and very helpful in explaining the development of the Middle East versus the development of the West.

Thanks

11/29/05, 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Abdullah said...

" It was due to the different way Aquinas viewed knowledge as compared to the Arab philosophers (including Averroes) and the Byzantine scholars. The Arab philosophers viewed philosophy as an elitist activity to be kept from the general population (they were influenced by Plato’s Republic.) Aquinas embedded his knowledge in the Summa – a work that was intended for the practicing priest, bringing the church teachings to the people. This posture, in time, helped to transform the culture."


ARE YOU INSANE, JASON? THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS WHAT SUPPRESSED THE WEST'S ADVANCE THROUGH OUT THE MIDDLE AGES. LET ME REMIND YOU OF WHAT HAPPENED TO GALILEO JUST FOR SAYING THE EARTH ROTATES AROUND THE SUN NOT VICE VERSA. FURTHERMORE, IN ISLAM THE KORAN ENCOURAGES LITERACY AND PEOPLE TO GET DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN RELIGION, WHILE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAD FOR A LONG TIME WAS THE ONLY LITERATE GROUP IN SOCIETY. I KNOW SOMETIMES IT IS HARD ACKNOWLEDGE FAULTY ASPECTS OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, BUT DENIAL WILL LEAD YOU NOWHERE.

11/30/05, 12:18 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Abdullah, in the 13th century, under the auspices of the Catholic Church, there was an Aristotelian revival. The excitement over the rediscovery of Aristotle was so great that Aquinas begins his Summa with the question: “Is philosophy enough?” At that point in time, the Catholic Church was leading the revival of Ancient learning. Three centuries later it would be a force for stagnation when commerce, science and human liberty found a more welcomed home in England and Holland. But that’s going beyond the context of the 13th century revival.

It is worth noting that Islam rid itself of Aristotle’s influence. Averroes was banished and his books banned. Those who built on his work were Jews and Christians – including Aquinas. Check out the book “Aristotle’s Children.”

11/30/05, 8:24 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I didn’t say the Bible commands the elimination of slavery. It doesn’t and the Confederates often pointed that out. However, I said that Christians can change and when they did, they make abolition a moral imperative. Islam accepts slavery – Saudi Arabia, the center of Islam, didn’t make slavery illegal until the 1960s! Muslim only got rid of slavery by submitting to the pressure of Europe.

11/30/05, 8:30 AM  

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