I thank Robert Spencer for his thoughtful and substantive post about whether moderate Islam exists; and I welcome his engagement. I of course will respond to Mr. Spencer, but in a separate blog entry. However, before doing so, I think it is important to address some of the comments made thus far in this debate.
Unfortunately, for reasons that truly astound and sadden me, many of the participants in this dialogue seem eager to hurl invective and to attribute to me things that I have never said and views that I do not espouse.
JE Tabler, for instance bizarrely and inexplicably accuses me of “conflating expansionist, genocidal jihad with Jewish self-defense…” And she insists that my call to promote moderate Islamic thinking and scholarship “necessarily” makes me “(a) a Mohammedan and (b) certifiably retarded.”
But what really seems to get under Tabler’s skin is my suggestion that maybe, just maybe, Islam has an element of truth worth salvaging and explicating.
“Islam’s ‘inherent truth’ is utter nonsense which requires triplethink to comprehend,” Tabler thunders.
And I’m not the only person at whom Tabler vents her spleen. She also condemns the renowned author and scholar Dinesh D’Souza as a “sexist, Third Worldist creep.”
The equally renowned scholar and author, Daniel Pipes, likewise, is condemned for somehow promoting “moderate slavery.”
This from a bona fide NewsReal Blog contributor, and not some random Internet troll emboldened through the cloak of anonymity. I can say only one thing to Ms. Tabler:
Have you sense of decency, madam? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
Ms. Tabler’s nonsensical invective and vitriol, of course, doesn’t warrant the dignity of a response. However, it certainly does poison the dialogue here at NewsReal Blog, and it debases the debate.
Most of the comments, thankfully, have been far more substantive and serious-minded — though, like Ms. Tabler’s comments, typically angry, strident and dogmatic.
One apparent Christian, for instance charges me with being an “Islamic apologist,” and asks if I am a “convert to Islam.” This charge would be laughable were it not for the solemn and serious tone of its author.
Another commenter, meanwhile, knocks me for supposedly not having the
credentials or maturity to argue with a scholar such as Robert Spencer… Reading a few articles on his website does not make you an expert about anyone or any subject.
Of course, I never claimed to be an “expert,” only a serious student.
Moreover, while I respect Robert Spencer and his work, his academic credentials hardly make him immune to substantive criticism. Yet, to many of the commenters here at NewsReal Blog, Mr. Spencer apparently is a prophet of divine origin whose views can never be questioned or disputed.
After all, to the NewsReal Blog commenter crowd, Islam is bad, Islam is evil, and Islam must be condemned! And they will brook no dissent on the matter! Case closed. Shut up and move on.
Indeed, if you do not accept this orthodoxy, then you are necessarily “retarded,” “naive,” a “Mohammedan,” and an “Islamic apologist.” And, by Ms. Tabler’s bizarre and inexplicable logic, you also are somehow responsible for “conflating expansionist, genocidal jihad with Jewish self-defense.”
Ironically, despite all this, one commenter lectures me for supposedly attempting to
categorize all conservatives as monolithic when, in fact, conservatives are broader thinkers… than liberals will ever be.
We don’t have a liberal orthodoxy that we must believe in to be good members of the tribe. We welcome dissent as long as it is thoughtful and well-researched.
Really? You don’t say?
Of course, I am a conservative and a proud, card-carrying member of the vast right-wing conspiracy. That’s why I write for NewsReal Blog.
In any case, I never categorized “all conservatives as monolithic”; quite the contrary.
What I have done is to criticize some conservatives for denying the existence of moderate Islam and for unfairly and unwisely, I think, condemning all of Islam. Yet, this apparently is too much for some conservatives to bear.
I cannot account for the anger and the vitriol of the anti-Muslim Right. But what I can say is this: Your anger and your vitriol, and your strident dogmatism, are counterproductive and self-defeating.
After all, our entire strategy in Iraq, Afghanistan — and, indeed, the entire Muslim world — is to empower moderate-minded Muslims while isolating the radicals. How condemning the entire Islamic religion — and in such virulent and off-putting ways — helps to achieve this is beyond me.
But this is something that many on the Right had better start addressing, and in far more thoughtful and credible ways than are discernible in their rhetoric thus far.
John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. Follow him on Twitter.