Robert Spencer Runs Away from Debating Danios – Again – in ABN Getaway Car

Robert Spencer has complained for several years that “Muslims and Leftists” refuse to debate him on his ideas.  He issued an open challenge to debate.  I accepted this challenge and agreed to a radio debate over a year and a half ago, yet Spencer has been running away from me ever since.  To see the chronology behind Spencer’s debate-dodging with me, check out Sheila Musaji’s article Danios vs Spencer: 18 months and Spencer still avoiding a debate.

Initially, Spencer had used my anonymity as an excuse to get out of debating me.  After over a year and a half, he seemed to finally put this condition aside and agreed to debate me.  I offered Salon Radio as a possible choice for venue and moderator, to which Spencer initially agreed.  Shortly thereafter, however, Spencer chickened out of this, claiming that Salon Radio was not a neutral venue.  He then insisted upon ABN Sat, a loony right-wing Christian channel with anti-Muslim shows on it like Jihad Exposed.

Remember: Spencer rejected Salon Radio because it was not neutral enough, but meanwhile he has debated Muslims on ABN, which is the last thing on earth that could be called “neutral”.  Anyone see the double standard?

I agreed to ABN, just to get the debate moving along.  After this, Spencer emailed ABN saying: “It will be interesting in any case to see his face on camera.”  When did I ever agree to that?  Remember: I’ve always said that I am willing to engage in a radio (audio) debate with Spencer, so why the insistence that I do video?  After prolonged negotiations (designed to waste my time?), ABN finally refused to host the debate if I would be “audio-only” (as was my condition from the very beginning).

ABN claimed that it was against their policy to have one of the debaters be “audio-only” and that each debater must be on Skype (with video).  This seems to be nothing but a boldfaced lie made by ABN, since here is a debate they hosted just within this last year in which one of the debaters used Skype (video) and the other used the phone (audio only).  It seems that Spencer and ABN are colluding with each other in order to find an excuse to get out of the debate, because Spencer knows that he cannot defend his ideas.

So, the reality is that nothing has changed, and Spencer continues to use my anonymity to dodge the debate with me.

*  *  *  *  *

Moment of truth time for Robert Spencer: instead of wasting everyone’s time negotiating over venue and moderator (all of which seems to be designed to dodge the debate), I challenge you, Robert Spencer of JihadWatch, to a head-to-head debate using a format similar to bloggingheads.tv (no moderator needed) and audio only (like this debate or the one Spencer just did with “Spengler”–readers will note Spencer’s own words there: “Yes, it’s a video, but it’s audio only”).

We can make this debate happen right away.  Nothing fancy is required, no gimmicks, no third party needs to be negotiated with.  All we need is a recorded telephone conversation between you (Spencer) and I (Danios).  Then, we can put the recording of the debate on our respective websites (on LoonWatch and if Spencer wants, on JihadWatch).

As for the topic, we can debate the contents of Spencer’s book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).  I argue that this book is completely misleading, whereas Spencer argues that nobody has been able to refute the substance of it but just smear him instead.  We’ll go through the book chapter by chapter and see where the truth lies.  Spencer, if you can’t defend the contents of your book, what are you but a fraud?

A generous time limit can be set for the debate so that we can have a real substantive discussion.  I say we stick with what we both found reasonable initially: three hours.

Spencer, I’m trying to make this debate actually happen, whereas you keep trying to find ways out of it.  The ball is in your court now.

This is the moment of truth to see if Spencer wants to debate or just wants to flee from me.  I think the question most of us have is: what excuse will Robert Spencer come up with next to chicken out of the debate?  Is Spencer too scared to pick up a phone and debate with me?  I think so.

Update I:

Robert Spencer just went on a tweet splurge, attempting to do damage control in order to hide the fact that he is dodging the debate with me.  He argues: “Every debate [on ABN] has same format.”  This is clearly a lie that both ABN and Spencer are sticking to, despite the fact that we have clear evidence to the contrary: as I already pointed out above (a point Spencer ignored), here is an ABN debate in which one of the two debaters was “audio only”, just as I requested.  Their insistence that all debaters must appear on video is something new that they invented for me, just as a way to give Spencer an out.

Like I said, there’s nothing new here: Spencer has chickened out of the debate with me as usual, using my anonymity as a cheap excuse.  He has rejected my new debate offer above, saying about me: “He wants uneven playing field.”  How would that be an “uneven playing field” to have no moderator and just go head-to-head?  Here Spencer is guilty of projection: he is the one who insisted on ABN, a loony anti-Muslim Christian channel, that would be completely in his favor.  Meanwhile, I accepted this “uneven playing field”–to Spencer’s advantage!  This is yet another case of Spencer putting reality on its head.

Lastly, Spencer gets out of my new debate offer by arguing that he will only accept it if I accept a “university invitation.”  He knows that I won’t accept because it would require compromising my anonymity, something I am unwilling to do at this point in time.  Therefore, we’re once again back where we were, with Robert Spencer dodging me in debate, using my anonymity as his ultimate fall back excuse and cop-out.  Why, Spencer, did you waste all of our time by making us think a few days ago that you were ready to stop running?  Please don’t keep wasting everybody’s time.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Danios vs Spencer: 18 months and Spencer still avoiding a debate

(cross-posted from The American Muslim)

by Sheila Musaji

Danios of Loonwatch has had an ongoing online discussion with Robert Spencer in an effort to set up a debate.

Spencer has regularly challenged Muslims to debate him, but seems to prefer limiting those debates to marginal figures or useful idiots. As Danios has said in the past Spencer’s modus operandi: engage in debate with those who are weak debaters, fastidiously avoid debating with those who are skilled debaters (and who have solid grasp of the subject matter), and then crow in victory over one’s supposedly undefeated record.

Spencer has also shown a pattern of setting impossible conditions on even something as simple as a request for an interview, let alone a debate, as Dean Obeidallah found out just last month.

In the case of Danios attempt to accept Spencer’s challenge to debate, Spencer displays both of these propensities —  avoiding a genuine debate, and attempting to hide that avoidance by setting so many conditions that the other party will just give up.

First, a little background on the Spencer vs Danios debate saga, In June of 2010, Spencer stated thatThe list of the Leftist and Muslim academics and apologists who have refused my challenge to debate is very long; they know they can’t refute what I say on the basis of evidence, so they resort to broad-based smears and personal attacks — and haughty refusals to debate.

Danios of Loonwatch immediately responded to Spencer I accept your challenge, Spencer.  I agree to a radio debate with you on the topic of jihad and “dhimmitude”, namely chapters 1-4 of your book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).  It will then be seen if you can defend your own writing, which I argue is a load of sensationalist crock.  Will you accept my challenge to debate or cower in fear?  My guess is that you “know [you] can’t refute what I say” and will “resort to…haughty refusals to debate.”

Ahmed Rehab in an article stating why he personally was not interested in debating Spencer reminded Spencer of Danios acceptance of his challenge to debate:  And now for some irony. Spencer, you are claiming you are ready to debate anyone but that alas no one wants to debate you because no one can. But, is this actually true? Does the name Danios of Loonwatch ring a bell Spencer? You may be burying your head in the sand hoping no one will notice, but a simple Google search on “Robert Spencer debate” reveals your hypocrisy. How come you are ignoring an invitation from another blogger who has challenged you numerous times and whose articles shredding your arguments to pieces are all over the web without a peep of a rebuttal from you? Are you conceding defeat? Are you “running away?”

Robert Spencer at first said that I am willing: if “Danios of Loonwatch” reveals his real name, finds a university willing to host the debate and contracts an impartial moderator, I’m ready when he is.  Spencer expanded on the issue of Danios pseudonymn saying Sorry, I don’t debate fictional characters or pseudonyms. “Danios of Loonwatch” can go debate Scot Harvath or Harold Robbins.

ROUND 1:  Danios agrees to debate Spencer in a radio debate.  Spencer sets conditions:  Danios must reveal his real name, hold the debate at a university, and find an “impartial” moderator.

Danios responded Of course, Spencer’s two conditions–both of which involve revealing my identity–are completely bogus.  I have offered to debate Spencer on the radio. Does Spencer not do radio interviews?  In fact, Spencer has appeared on the radio countless times …   Danios also said This is of course strange since Hugh Fitzgerald, the Vice President of JihadWatch since 2004, himself operates under an anonymous pseudonym.  Fitzgerald is a co-administrator of the site, alongside Spencer.  Is Fitzgerald then a “fictional character” who is only worthy of debate with Scot Harvath or Harold Robbins?  If that is the case, I challenge Hugh Fitzgerald–co-administer and Vice President of JihadWatch–to a radio debate.  The topic will be Jihad, “Dhimmitude”, and Taqiyya (Stealth Jihad), namely chapters 1-4 of Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).

ROUND 2:  Danios says that if Spencer doesn’t want to debate an individual using a pseudonym, then he will agree to debate Spencer’s Jihad Watch site’s Vice President, Hugh Fitzgerald, who also uses a pseudonym.  (Note: Spencer’s fellow Islamophobes whose work he publishes and promotes often use pseudonymns — e.g. Hanan Qahwaji, Nour Semaan, Rachael Cohen and Brigitte Gabriel are the same person.  Nonie Darwish and Nahid Hyde are the same person.  “Sultan Knish” is actually Daniel Greenfield.  “Baron Bodissey” of Gates of Vienna is actually Edward May.  “Bonni” of Bare Naked Islamis actually Bonni Benstock-Intall.  Fjordman is actually Peder Jensen.  Hugh Fitzgerald has been writing for Jihad Watch since 2004, although no biographical information on this individual appears anywhere else, and no photographs exist even on Jihad Watch.  No one knows who Jihad Watch contributorsHugh Fitzgerald or ]Henry Rochejaquelein, or Marisol actually are.)

Now, we jump forward to January 10, 2012, and the Spencer vs Danios debate saga heats up again.  Here is what Danios posted on Loonwatch about this development

Just yesterday, Robert Spencer posted an article with the title of “Why can’t Muslims debate? (Again)”, saying:

For example, an Islamic supremacist hate site that defames me and lies about what I say regularly charged that I was refusing to debate them:

I responded by repeating yet again something I had reiterated several times in the preceding weeks, when other Muslims had thrown up this site to me:

No response to that at all.

A simple Google search will reveal how this is a great big lie.  Spencer has adamantly refused to engage in a radio debate with LoonWatch and me in particular, using my anonymity as a face-saving excuse.

Do his recent tweets reflect a change in attitude or is he still cowering in fear of me?  Spencer, are you willing to back your words with action and “debate [me] anytime”?  I will debate the accuracy of your book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), with regard to the topics of jihad, “dhimmitude”, and taqiyya.  Are you ready to defend your arguments or not?

I think most of us anticipate “no response to that at all.”

This time, it didn’t take months for Spencer to respond.  Two days later, on January 12th, Danios posted this

When I first read Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) a couple years ago, I knew I could not just refute it but (proverbially speaking) blow it out of the water.  After I penned my first few articles against it, I also knew that Spencer could not issue any substantive reply.  Soon, I began to detect fear in Spencer’s eyes.  It is no wonder then that he has refused to debate me for so long.  I have documented Spencer’s evasion here.

Yet, Robert Spencer is also keenly aware of the fact that his refusal to debate the one site that is dedicated to refuting him–and was voted by his “target population” to be the number #1 non-Muslim blog with the number #1 writer–makes his fear obvious to the world.  When his fear of debating me was pointed out in a recent Twitter war, Spencer finally agreed to debate me.  (Of course, in true Spencer fashion, he accused us of “lying” when we said that he had been refusing to debate us for almost two years.)

Even so, I had predicted–as had many others–that Spencer would try to weasel his way out of the debate.  Lo and behold, this now seems to be the case.

Initially, Spencer sent me an email saying “[t]here needs to be a thesis…So propose one.”  I proposed the following thesis:  Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity.  This is not only the central argument in Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) but is also the title of another book of his: Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.

Yet, Spencer emailed me back and said:

Actually, I am not interested in debating about Judaism and Christianity. I am only interested in debating regarding Islam and Jihad.

Spencer, the title of your book is a comparison between Christianity and Islam.  So, are you saying that you can’t defend the central tenet and title of your book!?

He goes on:

Your tu quoque arguments are silly and have had abundant airing already. Propose another.

When you write a book titled “Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t”, then to you that’s a valid comparison, but when someone refutes that comparison by pointing out how Christianity, by the very same standards you apply to Islam, couldn’t be considered a “religion of peace,” then you cry “tu quoque”!

If my arguments “are silly,” then why don’t you debate me on them and show me how silly they are?  Do you accept my counter-argument that “Judaism and Christianity are just as violent as Islam, if not more so”?  If yes, then please state it openly so that we can declare victory and move on; otherwise, if you disagree with it, then refute it in debate with me.

The entire premise of Spencer’s book, the one I have been refuting all along, is the thesis I have proposed.  It represents the fundamental difference of opinion I have with Robert Spencer and JihadWatch, so why should we debate something else?  Does Spencer think we should debate on just any topic?  Maybe we can debate the following thesis then: Arrested Development should never have been canceled because it is the single best comedy show ever.

I have never said or believed that the Islamic tradition does not have its violent aspects to it.  I have only argued that Islam is not alone in this and that the religious tradition of the dominant group (the Judeo-Christian tradition) is just as bad in this regard, if not worse.  That is my central argument, so why should we debate something else?

To be clear: I will only debate this thesis (Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity) and no other, since (1) it is the central tenet of Robert Spencer’s book and (2) it represents the fundamental difference I have with him.  The fact that Robert Spencer cannot defend his central tenet (and the fundamental difference between us) indicates that he knows he doesn’t stand a chance in defending the thesis.  That’s why he must insist on “propos[ing] another.”

*  *  *  *  *

Additionally, there is an issue regarding “venue.”  He has suggested we debate on ABN SAT–a Christian channel.  Ludicrously, he calls them “neutral,” even though the channel airs a show (the one Spencer debated on) called Jihad Exposed, with the email addressjihadexposed@abnsat.com. Yeah, real “neutral.”

I had earlier complained that Spencer tends to debate only on Christian or conservative channels, to which Spencer accused me of “lying.”  In any case, he asked that I propose another venue other than ABN and in the same email adamantly stated: “I will debate anywhere.”  OK, if that is the case, how about we debate on Salon?

Initially, Spencer responded (bold is mine):

I have no problem with Salon but I guess you mean a print debate, in that case.

I actually had meant Salon Radio, so it would be a recorded audio debate that they could reproduce on the Salon site.  In any case, I emailed somebody at Salon, only to later get this follow-up email from Spencer (bold is mine):

Also, Salon in print is not what I had in mind. If you have a radio show in mind, I wasnt aware that Salon had one, but in that case Salon is not a neutral forum with a neutral moderator.

ABN — they offer a completely neutral forum. Let’s do it there.

Initially, he will “debate anywhere” and he has “no problem with Salon,” only to follow-up with an email rejecting Salon as a venue.  And then he goes back to the same silly Christian channel as an option.

Whether or not Salon will agree to host the debate is still up in the air, but if they accept will Spencer stick by his word that he will “debate anywhere” and that he has “no problem with Salon”?  Spencer?

ROUND 3:  Spencer asks Danios to set a topic, Danios does, Spencer rejects that topic and asks for another.  Spencer agrees to a radio debate “anywhere”, but then refuses the venue proposed by Danios and demands a different venue, ABN and with ABN’s moderator.  (ABN, by the way is a Christian TV ministry whose mission statement says:  ABN is a non-denominational ministry committed to presenting the Word of God and its transforming message of Jesus Christ to Arabic and Aramaic speaking people worldwide through media.  Their approach to this missionary work is not to set a good example of what Christianity is, but to attack Islam.  I could find nothing on their site except such biased attacks.)

This attempt by Danios to arrange a debate with Robert Spencer has now gone on since June of 2010, but perhaps, we are actually getting close to seeing this debate happen.  Here is what Danios posted today, January 15, 2011:

A few days ago, it looked like Robert Spencer of JihadWatch had stopped running away from me and finally agreed to debate me.

But then (surprise, surprise), Spencer tried weaseling out of the debate.

One of Spencer’s sticking points was the issue of venue and moderator.  I had recommendedSalon Radio, whereas he suggested ABN Sat (a loony anti-Muslim Christian channel with shows like Jihad Exposed).  In our email exchanges, Spencer kept insisting that ABN is “neutral” (ha!).

The funny thing is that in my initial email to Spencer I pointed out that he always tends to only debate on Christian or conservative channels.  This observation angered Spencer to no end, who insisted that he would “debate anywhere.”  He even seemed to accept Salon as the venue for the debate.

Spencer then had an about-face, rejecting Salon, and once again bringing up ABN, reinforcing what I said earlier: Spencer’s M.O. has been to debate Muslim floozies on Christian or conservative channels, only to then thump his chest when he wins.  The fact that I suggested Salon (a respectable and award-winning site) and Spencer kept insisting on ABN Sat (a loony anti-Muslim Christian channel) speaks volumes about what company we prefer: I like the legendary Glenn Greenwald, whereas he likes loony Christian bigots.

The choice of ABN was designed to stack the cards in his favor.  That’s fine.  I am so utterly confident in the searing truth of my argument–and the absolute falsity of his–that I acceptABN as the venue and moderator of the debate.  

[Naturally, I would insist that they give me equal time to speak, reproduce the debate in its full, unedited form, and give our website (and any other website) the right to reproduce our own recording of the debate.  (Spencer has already agreed to a 2-3 hour long debate; if this is too long for ABN to air on their show, they can do what the Daily Show does by airing the first part of the debate and then putting the rest of it online.)]

Readers should understand this decision of mine (i.e. accepting such a hostile venue and moderator) as a reflection of my low regard for Robert Spencer’s arguments and views.  This is especially bold of me, considering the fact that he has engaged in numerous debates whereas I am a novice in this field: I prefer written medium.  Even so, I have absolutely no doubt that I will trounce him in debate.

Now that I have accepted Robert Spencer’s own choice of venue and moderator–one that is heavily slanted in his favor–what excuse will Spencer come up with to avoid debating me?

*  *  *  *  *

I must, however, insist on the following thesis:

Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity.

As I stated before, this is not just the main theme in his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), but it is even the title of one of his booksReligion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.  More than this, it reflects the fundamental differencebetween he and I: whereas I accept the violent and intolerant aspect inherent in all religious traditions, Spencer specifically targets Islam.

Under this thesis, I will individually debate the following sub-points:

1.The Islamic prophet was more violent and warlike than the Judeo-Christian prophets.  This is the main argument in chapter 1 of Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), entitled “Muhammad: Prophet of War”. On p.4, Spencer compares Muhammad to Jesus and to all other prophets in order “to emphasize the fallacy of those who claim that Islam and Christianity–and all other religious traditions, for that matter–are basically equal in their ability to inspire good or evil…[T]hrough the words of Muhammad and Jesus, we can draw a distinction between the core principles that guide the faithful Muslim and Christian.”  In fact, throughout his book Spencer has sidebars that compare Muhammad to Jesus.  (Yet, somehow when you refute this, it’s a “tu quoque fallacy!”)

2. The Quran is more violent and warlike than the Bible.This is the focus of chapter 2, which he entitles “The Qur’an: Book of War”.  On the very first page of this chapter (p.19), Spencer states unequivocally: “There is nothing in the Bible that rivals the Qur’an’s exhortations to violence.”  (When I want to refute this claim, then “tu quoque, tu quoque!”)  He says on the same page: “The Qu’ran is unique among the sacred writings of the world in counseling its adherents to make war against unbelievers.”  On pp.26-31, Spencer explains why the Quran is far more violent and warlike than the Bible.  (But refute this claim and you are guilty of committing a “tu quoque fallacy.”)

3. The Islamic religious tradition was more violent and warlike than the Jewish and Christian traditions.This is what chapter 3 of his book is about, entitled “Islam: Religion of War”.  This argument is also spread throughout his book and blog.  For example, on p.31, Spencer argues that in Judaism and Christianity there have been “centuries of interpretive traditions” that have moved away from violent and warlike understandings, whereas “ in Islam, there is no comparable interpretative tradition.” Chapter 14 of his book is entitled “Islam and Christianity: Equivalent Traditions?”  (But if you question this point by showing that yes indeed the two traditions are at least equally violent, then get ready to be accused of committing “tu quoque!”)

4. Contemporary Muslims interpret their religion in a much more violent and warlike way than Jews and Christians. Again, this claim is found throughout his book and blog; on p.31, for example, he argues that, unlike Muslims, “modern-day Jews and Christians…simply don’t interpret [their scripture] as exhorting them to violent actions against unbelievers.”

5. Jews had it much better in Christian Europe than the Muslim world.This is addressed in chapter 4 of Spencer’s book, in which he talks about “dhimmitude.”  On the very first page of this chapter, he states: “The idea that Jews fared better in Islamic lands than in Christian Europe is false.”  (OK, so are you ready to defend this statement of yours, Spencer?  Or do you cry “tu quoque, tu quoque” when asked to do so?)  Spencer quotes “[h]istorian Paul Johnson” (a conservative Christian ideologue–surprise, surprise) who says: “the Jewish dhimmi under Moslem rule was worse than under the Christians,” and Spencer himself says that “the Muslim laws were much harsher for Jews than those of Christendom.”  (But ask Spencer to defend that statement and see how it’s automatically a “tu quoque fallacy” to do so.)

6. Islamic law, unlike Judaism and Christianity, permits lying and deception against unbelievers. This is the import of chapter 6 of Spencer’s book, entitled ”Islamic Law: Lie, Steal, and Kill”.  On the very first page of this chapter, Spencer argues that “Islam doesn’t have a moral code analogous to the [Judeo-Christian] Ten Commandments” and that “the idea that Islam shares the general moral outlook of Judaism and Christianity is another PC myth.”  On p.84, he writes that Islam is alone among religions and civilizations in that it fails to espouse “universal moral values.” On the very next page, Spencer bellows: “This is what sets Islam sharply apart from other religious traditions.”  (Try to disagree and suddenly you will hear chants of “tu quoque, tu quoque!”)

7. Islamic history was more violent and warlike than Jewish and Christian history. This argument is found in chapter 9 of Spencer’s book, entitled “Islam–Spread by the Sword? You Bet”.  On the first page of this chapter, Spencer writes: “The early spread of Islam and that of Christianity sharply contrast in that Islam spread by force and Christianity didn’t.”  On p.116, Spencer rejects the “myth” that “Christianity and Islam spread in pretty much the same way.”  (Reject that claim–and yep, you got it: “tu quoque, tu quoque!”)

8. In the modern day (twentieth and twenty-first century), Muslims are more violent and warlike than Jews and Christians.  This is of course the general theme found not only throughout Spencer’s book but also on his blog.  This is the ultimate fall-back argument of Islamophobes, who routinely ask: “why are there no Jewish or Christian suicide bombers?”

Spencer claims these are “tu quoque fallacies” (his favorite phrase), but in fact he himself is the one making these comparisons.  He makes such comparisons, and then shields himself from all counter-attack by invoking “tu quoque, tu quoque!”  How very convenient.

There is a very important reason that Robert Spencer refuses to debate me on this topic and thesis–he knows that he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.  Even when I let him choose the venue and moderator (one that slants the debate in his favor), he still cannot–at all costs–debate me on the central theme of his book and ideology.  That’s why Spencer is not a real scholar: he has never been forced to defend his thesis, nor had his work peer-reviewed, challenged, and intellectually critiqued.  I’m merely asking Spencer to defend the substance of his book.  This refusal in and of itself is a very powerful reminder of how his ideology is fraudulent, how he himself is nothing more than a hateful ideologue and huckster, and how he is so scared that I will expose him.

The fact that I want to debate him–and that he wants to run away from me–is now self-evident: I have removed any possible barrier by agreeing to his venue and moderator.  So, what excuse will Robert Spencer come up with now to chicken out of this debate?  Will he continue to run away from me on the one hand and on the other hand continue to lament why no liberal or Muslim will debate him?

Don’t hold your breath for a debate: Spencer can’t debate me.  It would be the end of him.  So, he will continue to run.

ROUND 4:  Danios accepts ABN as the venue even though it is not “neutral” but hostile, but insists on the original topic.

Spencer has said in an article bemoaning the fact that Muslims just won’t debate him:

…  other Muslims claimed they wanted to debate me, but never followed up on my invitation to email me and set a topic, date and venue.  … So the real reason why no Muslims will debate me is this:

They know that what I say about Islam and jihad is true, and don’t want that fact to be illustrated to a wider audience.

Why can’t Muslims debate? Because the truth is something they don’t generally wish the Infidels to know. So they do all they can to shut down those Infidels by other means.

There is an ancillary reason also: Islam doesn’t encourage critical thinking. It has no natural theology, only a series of laws declared by fiat. In some contemporary forms of Islam, hardly any premium is put on reasoning—after all, the Qur’an itself warns Muslims not to question (5:101). Consequently, even superficially intelligent Islamic supremacists such as Reza Aslan and Ibrahim Hooper are abjectly incapable of building a cogent intellectual argument and defending it. All they and so many others like them can do, as is clear from their track record, is heap abuse upon those who oppose them.

It seems as if Danios has followed up on all of Spencer’s demands.  Now all that is left is to set a date.  I am holding my breath to see what ROUND 5 will be.

Danios of LoonWatch Accepts Robert Spencer’s Choice of Venue and Moderator: Will Spencer Keep Chickening Out?

A few days ago, it looked like Robert Spencer of JihadWatch had stopped running away from me and finally agreed to debate me.

But then (surprise, surprise), Spencer tried weaseling out of the debate.

One of Spencer’s sticking points was the issue of venue and moderator.  I had recommended Salon Radio, whereas he suggested ABN Sat (a loony anti-Muslim Christian channel with shows like Jihad Exposed).  In our email exchanges, Spencer kept insisting that ABN is “neutral” (ha!).

The funny thing is that in my initial email to Spencer I pointed out that he always tends to only debate on Christian or conservative channels.  This observation angered Spencer to no end, who insisted that he would “debate anywhere.”  He even seemed to accept Salon as the venue for the debate.

Spencer then had an about-face, rejecting Salon, and once again bringing up ABN, reinforcing what I said earlier: Spencer’s M.O. has been to debate Muslim floozies on Christian or conservative channels, only to then thump his chest when he wins.  The fact that I suggested Salon (a respectable and award-winning site) and Spencer kept insisting on ABN Sat (a loony anti-Muslim Christian channel) speaks volumes about what company we prefer: I like the legendary Glenn Greenwald, whereas he likes loony Christian bigots.

The choice of ABN was designed to stack the cards in his favor.  That’s fine.  I am so utterly confident in the searing truth of my argument–and the absolute falsity of his–that I accept ABN as the venue and moderator of the debate.  

[Naturally, I would insist that they give me equal time to speak, reproduce the debate in its full, unedited form, and give our website (and any other website) the right to reproduce our own recording of the debate.  (Spencer has already agreed to a 2-3 hour long debate; if this is too long for ABN to air on their show, they can do what the Daily Show does by airing the first part of the debate and then putting the rest of it online.)]

Readers should understand this decision of mine (i.e. accepting such a hostile venue and moderator) as a reflection of my low regard for Robert Spencer’s arguments and views.  This is especially bold of me, considering the fact that he has engaged in numerous debates whereas I am a novice in this field: I prefer written medium.  Even so, I have absolutely no doubt that I will trounce him in debate.

Now that I have accepted Robert Spencer’s own choice of venue and moderator–one that is heavily slanted in his favor–what excuse will Spencer come up with to avoid debating me?

*  *  *  *  *

I must, however, insist on the following thesis:

Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity.

As I stated before, this is not just the main theme in his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), but it is even the title of one of his books: Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.  More than this, it reflects the fundamental difference between he and I: whereas I accept the violent and intolerant aspect inherent in all religious traditions, Spencer specifically targets Islam.

Under this thesis, I will individually debate the following sub-points:

1. The Islamic prophet was more violent and warlike than the Judeo-Christian prophets.  This is the main argument in chapter 1 of Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), entitled “Muhammad: Prophet of War”. On p.4, Spencer compares Muhammad to Jesus and to all other prophets in order “to emphasize the fallacy of those who claim that Islam and Christianity–and all other religious traditions, for that matter–are basically equal in their ability to inspire good or evil…[T]hrough the words of Muhammad and Jesus, we can draw a distinction between the core principles that guide the faithful Muslim and Christian.”  In fact, throughout his book Spencer has sidebars that compare Muhammad to Jesus.  (Yet, somehow when you refute this, it’s a “tu quoque fallacy!”)

2. The Quran is more violent and warlike than the Bible.  This is the focus of chapter 2, which he entitles “The Qur’an: Book of War”.  On the very first page of this chapter (p.19), Spencer states unequivocally: “There is nothing in the Bible that rivals the Qur’an’s exhortations to violence.”  (When I want to refute this claim, then “tu quoque, tu quoque!”)  He says on the same page: “The Qu’ran is unique among the sacred writings of the world in counseling its adherents to make war against unbelievers.”  On pp.26-31, Spencer explains why the Quran is far more violent and warlike than the Bible.  (But refute this claim and you are guilty of committing a “tu quoque fallacy.”)

3. The Islamic religious tradition was more violent and warlike than the Jewish and Christian traditions.  This is what chapter 3 of his book is about, entitled “Islam: Religion of War”.  This argument is also spread throughout his book and blog.  For example, on p.31, Spencer argues that in Judaism and Christianity there have been “centuries of interpretive traditions” that have moved away from violent and warlike understandings, whereas “[i]n Islam, there is no comparable interpretative tradition.” Chapter 14 of his book is entitled “Islam and Christianity: Equivalent Traditions?”  (But if you question this point by showing that yes indeed the two traditions are at least equally violent, then get ready to be accused of committing “tu quoque!”)

4. Contemporary Muslims interpret their religion in a much more violent and warlike way than Jews and Christians. Again, this claim is found throughout his book and blog; on p.31, for example, he argues that, unlike Muslims, “modern-day Jews and Christians…simply don’t interpret [their scripture] as exhorting them to violent actions against unbelievers.”

5. Jews had it much better in Christian Europe than the Muslim world. This is addressed in chapter 4 of Spencer’s book, in which he talks about “dhimmitude.”  On the very first page of this chapter, he states: “The idea that Jews fared better in Islamic lands than in Christian Europe is false.”  (OK, so are you ready to defend this statement of yours, Spencer?  Or do you cry “tu quoque, tu quoque” when asked to do so?)  Spencer quotes “[h]istorian Paul Johnson” (a conservative Christian ideologue–surprise, surprise) who says: “the Jewish dhimmi under Moslem rule was worse than under the Christians,” and Spencer himself says that “the Muslim laws were much harsher for Jews than those of Christendom.”  (But ask Spencer to defend that statement and see how it’s automatically a “tu quoque fallacy” to do so.)

6. Islamic law, unlike Judaism and Christianity, permits lying and deception against unbelievers. This is the import of chapter 6 of Spencer’s book, entitled ”Islamic Law: Lie, Steal, and Kill”.  On the very first page of this chapter, Spencer argues that “Islam doesn’t have a moral code analogous to the [Judeo-Christian] Ten Commandments” and that “the idea that Islam shares the general moral outlook of Judaism and Christianity is another PC myth.”  On p.84, he writes that Islam is alone among religions and civilizations in that it fails to espouse “[u]niversal moral values.” On the very next page, Spencer bellows: “This is what sets Islam sharply apart from other religious traditions.”  (Try to disagree and suddenly you will hear chants of “tu quoque, tu quoque!”)

7. Islamic history was more violent and warlike than Jewish and Christian history. This argument is found in chapter 9 of Spencer’s book, entitled “Islam–Spread by the Sword? You Bet”.  On the first page of this chapter, Spencer writes: “The early spread of Islam and that of Christianity sharply contrast in that Islam spread by force and Christianity didn’t.”  On p.116, Spencer rejects the “myth” that “Christianity and Islam spread in pretty much the same way.”  (Reject that claim–and yep, you got it: “tu quoque, tu quoque!”)

8. In the modern day (twentieth and twenty-first century), Muslims are more violent and warlike than Jews and Christians.  This is of course the general theme found not only throughout Spencer’s book but also on his blog.  This is the ultimate fall-back argument of Islamophobes, who routinely ask: “why are there no Jewish or Christian suicide bombers?”

Spencer claims these are “tu quoque fallacies” (his favorite phrase), but in fact he himself is the one making these comparisons.  He makes such comparisons, and then shields himself from all counter-attack by invoking “tu quoque, tu quoque!”  How very convenient.

There is a very important reason that Robert Spencer refuses to debate me on this topic and thesis–he knows that he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.  Even when I let him choose the venue and moderator (one that slants the debate in his favor), he still cannot–at all costs–debate me on the central theme of his book and ideology.  That’s why Spencer is not a real scholar: he has never been forced to defend his thesis, nor had his work peer-reviewed, challenged, and intellectually critiqued.  I’m merely asking Spencer to defend the substance of his book.  This refusal in and of itself is a very powerful reminder of how his ideology is fraudulent, how he himself is nothing more than a hateful ideologue and huckster, and how he is so scared that I will expose him.

The fact that I want to debate him–and that he wants to run away from me–is now self-evident: I have removed any possible barrier by agreeing to his venue and moderator.  So, what excuse will Robert Spencer come up with now to chicken out of this debate?  Will he continue to run away from me on the one hand and on the other hand continue to lament why no liberal or Muslim will debate him?

Don’t hold your breath for a debate: Spencer can’t debate me.  It would be the end of him.  So, he will continue to run.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Surprise, Surprise: Robert Spencer of JihadWatch is Weaseling Out of Debate with Danios of LoonWatch

When I first read Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) a couple years ago, I knew I could not just refute it but (proverbially speaking) blow it out of the water.  After I penned my first few articles against it, I also knew that Spencer could not issue any substantive reply.  Soon, I began to detect fear in Spencer’s eyes.  It is no wonder then that he has refused to debate me for so long.  I have documented Spencer’s evasion here.

Yet, Robert Spencer is also keenly aware of the fact that his refusal to debate the one site that is dedicated to refuting him–and was voted by his “target population” to be the number #1 non-Muslim blog with the number #1 writer–makes his fear obvious to the world.  When his fear of debating me was pointed out in a recent Twitter war, Spencer finally agreed to debate me.  (Of course, in true Spencer fashion, he accused us of “lying” when we said that he had been refusing to debate us for almost two years.)

Even so, I had predicted–as had many others–that Spencer would try to weasel his way out of the debate.  Lo and behold, this now seems to be the case.

Initially, Spencer sent me an email saying “[t]here needs to be a thesis…So propose one.”  I proposed the following thesis:  Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity.  This is not only the central argument in Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) but is also the title of another book of his: Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.

Yet, Spencer emailed me back and said:

Actually, I am not interested in debating about Judaism and Christianity. I am only interested in debating regarding Islam and Jihad.

Spencer, the title of your book is a comparison between Christianity and Islam.  So, are you saying that you can’t defend the central tenet and title of your book!?

He goes on:

Your tu quoque arguments are silly and have had abundant airing already. Propose another.

When you write a book titled “Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t”, then to you that’s a valid comparison, but when someone refutes that comparison by pointing out how Christianity, by the very same standards you apply to Islam, couldn’t be considered a “religion of peace,” then you cry “tu quoque”!

If my arguments “are silly,” then why don’t you debate me on them and show me how silly they are?  Do you accept my counter-argument that “Judaism and Christianity are just as violent as Islam, if not more so”?  If yes, then please state it openly so that we can declare victory and move on; otherwise, if you disagree with it, then refute it in debate with me.

The entire premise of Spencer’s book, the one I have been refuting all along, is the thesis I have proposed.  It represents the fundamental difference of opinion I have with Robert Spencer and JihadWatch, so why should we debate something else?  Does Spencer think we should debate on just any topic?  Maybe we can debate the following thesis then: Arrested Development should never have been canceled because it is the single best comedy show ever.

I have never said or believed that the Islamic tradition does not have its violent aspects to it.  I have only argued that Islam is not alone in this and that the religious tradition of the dominant group (the Judeo-Christian tradition) is just as bad in this regard, if not worse.  That is my central argument, so why should we debate something else?

To be clear: I will only debate this thesis (Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity) and no other, since (1) it is the central tenet of Robert Spencer’s book and (2) it represents the fundamental difference I have with him.  The fact that Robert Spencer cannot defend his central tenet (and the fundamental difference between us) indicates that he knows he doesn’t stand a chance in defending the thesis.  That’s why he must insist on “propos[ing] another.”

*  *  *  *  *

Additionally, there is an issue regarding “venue.”  He has suggested we debate on ABN SAT–a Christian channel.  Ludicrously, he calls them “neutral,” even though the channel airs a show (the one Spencer debated on) called Jihad Exposed, with the email address jihadexposed@abnsat.com. Yeah, real “neutral.”

I had earlier complained that Spencer tends to debate only on Christian or conservative channels, to which Spencer accused me of “lying.”  In any case, he asked that I propose another venue other than ABN and in the same email adamantly stated: “I will debate anywhere.”  OK, if that is the case, how about we debate on Salon?

Initially, Spencer responded (bold is mine):

I have no problem with Salon but I guess you mean a print debate, in that case.

I actually had meant Salon Radio, so it would be a recorded audio debate that they could reproduce on the Salon site.  In any case, I emailed somebody at Salon, only to later get this follow-up email from Spencer (bold is mine):

Also, Salon in print is not what I had in mind. If you have a radio show in mind, I wasnt aware that Salon had one, but in that case Salon is not a neutral forum with a neutral moderator.

ABN — they offer a completely neutral forum. Let’s do it there.

Initially, he will “debate anywhere” and he has “no problem with Salon,” only to follow-up with an email rejecting Salon as a venue.  And then he goes back to the same silly Christian channel as an option.

Whether or not Salon will agree to host the debate is still up in the air, but if they accept will Spencer stick by his word that he will “debate anywhere” and that he has “no problem with Salon”?  Spencer?

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Why Can’t Robert Spencer Debate Danios of LoonWatch (Again)?

For several years, pseudo-scholar Robert Spencer of JihadWatch has claimed that he would be willing to debate any “Leftist or Muslim” to defend his arguments.  For example, on the 13th of June 2010, Spencer bellowed:

The list of the Leftist and Muslim academics and apologists who have refused my challenge to debate is very long; they know they can’t refute what I say on the basis of evidence, so they resort to broad-based smears and personal attacks — and haughty refusals to debate.

Just a few days later on June 17th, I responded by accepting Spencer’s debate challenge:

Danios of LoonWatch Accepts Robert Spencer’s Challenge to a Debate

I accept your challenge, Spencer. I agree to a radio debate with you on the topic of jihad and “dhimmitude”, namely chapters 1-4 of your book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). It will then be seen if you can defend your own writing, which I argue is a load of sensationalist crock.

Will you accept my challenge to debate or cower in fear? My guess is that you “know [you] can’t refute what I say” and will “resort to…haughty refusals to debate.”

I predict that the JW minions will give excuses to explain away why their master Robert Spencer will refuse to debate me, instead of urging him to enter into a debate as they always do with other people who challenge his ideas. They already know that Spencer does not stand a chance in a debate with me, which is why they will continue to generate excuses to exonerate him from his intellectual cowardice. This is because deep down inside they know–as does everyone else who has followed his and my writings–what the outcome would be.

Spencer backing down from a debate with me would be curious, considering that he has already conceded that my writings are “rare occasions when the opposition does offer a substantive response.” Spencer, are you saying that you can debate with people so long as they don’t give you a substantive response, in which case you flee?

As most readers are aware, LoonWatch has become the most popular anti-Islamophobia website, giving birth to a sister site called SpencerWatch.  In fact, LoonWatch won the Brass Crescent Award in 2010 and I (Danios) won the Brass Crescent Award for Best Writer in 2011.  The people have spoken, and they clearly want to see a debate between Spencer and I.

To this effect, Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago, asked Robert Spencer in October of 2010 why he was dodging the debate with me.  A few days later, Spencer issued a furious response, in which he said:

Debating such a compromised and dishonest individual would be a waste of time

I responded to this saying:

Isn’t that the exact same reasoning that Rehab gave for refusing to debate you, Spencer? The same reasoning you were so opposed to and called cowardice?

Spencer needs another excuse to weasel out of a debate with me. What will it be? Aha! It will be my anonymity! As many of you know, I write anonymously under a pseudonym. Spencer and his fellow fans desperately want to know who I am. Some of them are convinced I am XYZ, and others that I am ABCD. Some have even engaged in textual analysis, trying extremely hard to find out who this cursed Danios is. My question is: who cares? Deal with my arguments, not who I am. Spencer says:

…Since Rehab invokes [Danios] and others have referred to his site [LoonWatch] recently, I am willing: if “Danios of Loonwatch” reveals his real name…

Spencer places this condition on me, knowing full well that I will refuse to reveal my name, since he knows that I like writing anonymously.

On November 1st, 2010, I posted another response:

JihadWatch, a vitriolic hate site run by pretend scholar Robert Spencer, has propelled itself to the forefront of the Islamophobic movement in the United States.  The fear-mongering Spencer has used his hate site to demonize Islam and Muslims.  To bolster his credibility, Robert Spencer had long ago issued an open challenge to “Muslims and leftists” to debate his ideas.

I accepted Spencer’s challenge to a debate on June 17th, 2010.  Since then, several influential Muslim-American spokesmen have expressed their interest in such a debate between Spencer and I.  This includesAhmed Rehab (Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago), who issued a scathing statement against Spencer.  However, it has now been over 135 days since I accepted Robert Spencer’s challenge.  JihadWatch has generated excuse after excuse as to why this radio debate cannot take place.

The latest set of excuses was that I must reveal who I am before a debate can take place.  Spencer issued this pre-condition knowing full well that I value my anonymity too much to do that.  He naturally thought that this was a creative way to get out of a debate with me while at the same time saving face.  Said Spencer:

Sorry, I don’t debate fictional characters or pseudonyms. “Danios of Loonwatch” can go debate Scot Harvath or Harold Robbins.

This is of course strange since Hugh Fitzgerald, the Vice President of JihadWatch since 2004, himself operates under an anonymous pseudonym.  Fitzgerald is a co-administrator of the site, alongside Spencer.  Is Fitzgerald then a “fictional character” who is only worthy of debate with Scot Harvath or Harold Robbins?

If that is the case, I challenge Hugh Fitzgerald–co-administer and Vice President of JihadWatch–to a radio debate.  The topic will be Jihad, “Dhimmitude”, and Taqiyya (Stealth Jihad), namely chapters 1-4 of Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).

Hugh Fitzgerald of JihadWatch uses a pseudonym like myself, and he remains completely anonymous like myself.  Surely two “fictional characters” are worthy of debating each other, right?

Now what excuse will be generated by JihadWatch to avoid this debate with LoonWatch?  I can just see Robert Spencer’s brain churning in order to generate a reason to get out of this one.  The truth is that JihadWatch is a bully, and as soon as someone steps up to a bully and delivers a solid punch to the mouth, the bully backs down like the coward he is.

That was where we last left off, with Robert Spencer coming up with the excuse of my anonymity to dodge a radio debate with me.  In other words, it has been 572 days since I issued my radio debate challenge–and Spencer has never manned up.

Until now?

Just yesterday, Robert Spencer posted an article with the title of “Why can’t Muslims debate? (Again)”, saying:

For example, an Islamic supremacist hate site that defames me and lies about what I say regularly charged that I was refusing to debate them:

I responded by repeating yet again something I had reiterated several times in the preceding weeks, when other Muslims had thrown up this site to me:

No response to that at all.

A simple Google search will reveal how this is a great big lie.  Spencer has adamantly refused to engage in a radio debate with LoonWatch and me in particular, using my anonymity as a face-saving excuse.

Do his recent tweets reflect a change in attitude or is he still cowering in fear of me?  Spencer, are you willing to back your words with action and “debate [me] anytime”?  I will debate the accuracy of your book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), with regard to the topics of jihad, “dhimmitude”, and taqiyya.  Are you ready to defend your arguments or not?

I think most of us anticipate “no response to that at all.”

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Robert Spencer Loses His Mind Over Muslim Reality Show, Asks Why “All-American Muslim” Doesn’t Include Terrorist Family

Before I begin, I must disclose my general disdain for reality television.  I think this phenomenon is part of a generalized “dumbing down” of America.  I’ll even go so far as to say that I lose a bit of respect for those who watch Jersey ShoreKeeping Up With the Kardashians, etc.

But, when I heard about TLC’s All-American Muslim, I was naturally intrigued.  It was a clear violation of the rule that Muslims can only be portrayed in American media as terrorist villains or, occasionally, as the token Muslim helping “the good guys” against the Evil Muslim Terrorists.  The idea of depicting what real Muslims are like–instead of the caricature in the media–is something I support.

Indeed, there is probably nothing more important in the battle against Islamophobia than humanizing Muslims and making them relatable, which this television show just might do (or at least help in doing so).  Katie Couric argued that a “Muslim Cosby Show” would be a great idea: just as it helped many white Americans see that black Americans weren’t all that different from them, so too could a show about American Muslim families help other Americans realize that they aren’t all that different from each other.

JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer and other Islamophobes absolutely hate that idea.  That’s why Spencer grumbled that “[t]he point of the show is to depict Muslims as ordinary folks just like you and me who are subjected to unjust suspicion.”

How DARE the show depict Muslims as ordinary folks!  Doesn’t TLC know that Muslims are not ordinary at all, that they eat infidel babies for breakfast, shoot jihad laser beams from their eyes, and fart 100% pure radioactive Sharia?

Spencer bellowed:

TLC’s much-ballyhooed All-American Muslim reality show makes its agenda clear in its opening sequences: shots of a hijabbed girl roller-skating, Muslims dancing at a wedding, an American flag waving proudly in the breeze, and newspaper clippings proclaiming “4 in 10 Americans ‘suspicious’ of Muslims,” “Outrage at Ground Zero ‘Mosque,’” and “Muslims Brace for Backlash.” The point of the show is to depict Muslims as ordinary folks just like you and me who are subjected to unjust suspicion.

And so we meet one zaftig girl who loves to have fun and go to clubs, and who is in the process of getting married. Another young woman, provocatively dressed by Muslim standards, is trying to open up a club of her own. A young hijab-wearing wife shares the joy of her pregnancy with her loving husband. They’re balancing the demands of faith and family with life’s daily pressures, just like most Americans. So why—the show implies—are non-Muslim Americans so mean to them?

Yet it is noteworthy that both the woman who is getting married and the one who is trying to open a club acknowledge that they are not all that religious. And that is the problem at the heart of All-American Muslim. The Muslims it depicts are for the most part undoubtedly harmless, completely uninterested in jihad and Islamic supremacism…

But Americans aren’t suspicious of Muslims who are trying to get married, open clubs, and play football. Americans are suspicious of Muslims who are trying to blow up American buildings, subvert American freedoms, and assert the primacy of Islamic law over American law.

Robert Spencer is upset that All-American Muslim didn’t portray a family of terrorist Muslims–perhaps they could have named them the Al-Kablams.  Here is where Spencer lives in his Islamophobe fantasy: he imagines that American Muslim families are “jihadis” and Islamic supremacists who want to “blow up American buildings, subvert American freedoms, and assert the primacy of Islamic law over American law.”

If Jersey Shore were really about Italian-Americans (as some incorrectly thought it was), do you think it would be justified to demand that the show include a mafioso family in it?  Does a reality show about Catholic families in America need to include a family led by a child-molesting priest? Would a reality television show about Mexican-American families be “misleading” if it didn’t include at least one family of illegals?  Would a show about Russian or Chinese-Americans be incomplete if it didn’t include at least one family of radical communists?  Is a show about black Americans incomplete if it doesn’t include a family of ex-cons?

What utter nonsense.

This would be like arguing that the Cosby Show was misleading white America, since it showed “harmless blacks,” and not the ones “who are trying to rob, rape, and kill whites,” which was a prevailing stereotype of the time.  The entire purpose of the Cosby Show–and now All-American Muslim–is to counter stereotypes.  So why on earth would All-American Muslim include a terrorist family?  Why does anyone take Robert Spencer’s nonsense seriously?

The fact that All-American Muslim chose to include characters who were not very religious had Robert Spencer in quite the tizzy.  Interesting, some American Muslim viewers were also taken aback by this.  However, AltMuslim.com’s Tuqa Nusairat gave an appropriate response to this criticism, saying:

Let’s stop assuming that Muslims do not drink, have tattoos, or own clubs. If you were somehow shocked by the scenes on this episode, it simply indicates your lack of intermingling with a representative sample of American Muslims.

Only a very small percentage of American Muslims are observant.  (The exact percentage is hotly debated, but there is no question that they are in the minority.)  And only a fraction of those who are religious wear the headscarf (hijab).  Therefore, one could even say that the observant Muslim population is over-represented in All-American Muslim.

This is another reason, among the many, that Islamophobic fear-mongers are wildly off the mark when they portray the American Muslim population as a threat to American democracy.  If only a fraction of Muslim women even wear the headscarf in America, what percentage of American Muslims do you think want to overthrow American democracy to replace it with Taliban-style Sharia?  (Answer: 0.000000001%)

This is not to buy into Robert Spencer’s false dichotomy between Good, Nominal Muslims on the one hand, and Bad, Observant Muslims on the other.  Spencer writes:

[T]here are people who are very knowledgeable about its doctrines and serious about putting them into practice, and others who don’t know and don’t care about what their religion teaches but still identify themselves as members of it, and every gradation in between. It would never happen for obvious reasons, but All-American Muslim would be much more interesting if it tracked one of its secular, attractive nominal Muslims as he decided to get more serious about his faith, and ended up participating in jihad activity or Islamic supremacist efforts to demonize and marginalize those who resist that activity.

He assumes that religious observance would necessitate participation in terrorism and Islamic supremacism.  In fact, as I noted above, many of the actors are observant: they reconcile their faith with modernity–and set themselves to being productive citizens; there is no contradiction for them, and millions of others, between being religious and being a good citizen.  In fact, they see the two things going hand-in-hand.  And Robert Spencer et al. absolutely hate that.

*  *  *  *  *

Elsewhere in the same diatribe, Robert Spencer says:

All-American Muslim addresses nothing of that supremacist ideology, although at times it makes an appearance despite the producers’ best efforts. The woman who is getting married is marrying a Roman Catholic, who converts to Islam in order to marry her. Her father insists on the conversion as a condition of the wedding, and at one point we are told in passing that while a Muslim man may marry a non-Muslim woman, a Muslim woman is not free to marry a non-Muslim man.

There are two issues here: (1) an alleged double standard between Muslim men and women with regard to marrying non-Muslims, and (2) a supposed supremacist attitude that demands that Muslims can only marry fellow Muslims.

Despite the fact that it wasn’t discussed in the first episode of the show (perhaps it will be in future episodes), there exists an alternative opinion with regard to Muslim women marrying non-Muslims, a view grounded in the Quran no less.  This dissenting, reformist opinion is expressed by the Islamic intellectual Khaled Abou El Fadl, who allows Muslim men and women to marry non-Muslims.

The traditional opinion uses verse 2:221 of the Quran to completely prohibit Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims (see, for instance, this ultra-conservative Islamic website):

And do not give your women in marriage to idolaters until they believe: a believing slave is certainly better than an idolater, even though he may please you.   Such people call you to the Fire, while God calls you to the Garden and forgiveness by His leave.

Yet, the first half of the verse, addressed to the men, is conveniently left out (in bold):

Do not marry idolatresses until they believe: a believing slave woman is certainly better than an idolatress, even though she may please you. And do not give your women in marriage to idolaters until they believe: a believing slave is certainly better than an idolater, even though he may please you. Such people call you to the Fire, while God calls you to the Garden and forgiveness by His leave.

It’s the exact same restriction upon Muslim men.  The Quran says in another verse (5:5):

Today all good things have been made lawful for you. The food of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) is lawful for you as your food is lawful for them. So are chaste, believing, women as well as chaste women of the people who were given the Scripture before you (Jews and Christians), as long as you have given them their bride-gifts and married them, not taking them as lovers or secret mistresses.

Clearly, the first verse (2:221) prohibits marriage to idolaters only, not to all non-Muslims.  In fact, throughout the Quran, the “People of the Book” (which includes Jews and Christians) are referred to separately from “idolaters,” an indication that these two groups are not simply interchangeable.

The reformist argument goes: since the exact same word is used for women–in the very same verse, no less–it seems that the Quran is only prohibiting Muslim women from marrying idolaters, not all non-Muslims–it is certainly not referring to Jews and Christians (such as Jeff).  Based on this understanding, Muslims are allowed to marry Muslims or non-Muslims, so long as they are chaste.

There are much wider implications to this discussion, including the way different ideological groups within the Islamic community…

1) …choose to emphasize or de-emphasize traditional views.

2) …choose to emphasize or de-emphasize “ijma.”

3) …view the religious texts: do they view the Quran with “fresh eyes” or do they only read the Quran “through” ancient commentaries?  Also, is it really true that the stricter, more conservative views are “more authentic” and are more closely grounded in Quranic evidence?

4) …view non-Muslims: are they all idolaters?  Or can non-Muslims enter Paradise?

5) …view women and patriarchy.

These and other issues I plan on discussing in greater detail in the future.  They are very important to understand if one truly wants to understand the American Muslim community and Islam in general.  This understanding and depth of knowledge is needed to tackle Islamophobia as well, and it is critical in order to counter the myths spread by Robert Spencer and co.

*  *  *  *  *

Robert Spencer then says:

Left unanswered in the show is the question of what might have happened if the couple had decided to get married in the Roman Catholic Church, or to leave Islam at some later date. No doubt this non-observant woman’s Muslim relatives would have been less solicitous in that event.

So too are many devout Catholic parents “less solicitous” when their children wish to marry outside the faith.  In fact, the Catholic Church blocks all marriages to non-Christians, calling it a “disparity of cult.”  One must seek a special exemption from a bishop to conduct such a marriage; the bishop’s job is to try to get the non-Christian partner to agree that the children will be raised Catholic.  Is this then a reflection of the supremacist attitude of Catholicism?

How would Robert Spencer himself react if his son or daughter wanted to marry a Muslim?  We all know how “solicitous” he’d be feeling.

Certainly, many Protestant Christian groups, especially Evangelicals, insist on only dating and marrying fellow believers.  Many outright forbid marriage outside the faith, citing the Biblical verse 2 Corinthians 6:14:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Two of the three major branches of Judaism (Orthodox and Conservative) similarly forbid Jews from marrying non-Jews.

But, remember, when Muslims say that they should only marry fellow believers, that’s a proof of inherent Islamic supremacism!

The lady–in this case, Robert Spencer–doth protest too much, methinks.

Also, it should be pointed out that there is no indication that Shadia is fearful for her life should she choose to marry a non-Muslim.  A reasonable assumption is that her father would be upset with her, stop speaking to her for some time, and/or not attend the wedding.  Only in Spencer’s mind would it be reasonable to assume that he is going to “honor kill” her.  Considering that the total number of Muslim honor killings in the United States can be counted on the hand, why should the show depict that as representative of the millions of American Muslim families?

In fact, Shadia’s father already knows that his daughter is dating Jeff; she even kisses Jeff in front of him.  Shadia’s father also knows that she has tattoos and drinks alcohol, among other “un-Islamic” things.  He hasn’t killed her yet.  In fact, he is loving towards her.

Even though the father’s demand–that Jeff convert to Islam if he wants to marry Shadia–is completely unreasonable, it should be noted that really the father is asking for Jeff to make a token, fake conversion–one that he probably knows is not considered valid in Islam.  Contrary to what was depicted on the show, conversion to Islam does not require just saying a simple sentence and presto!  Rather, Islam stresses that conversion starts in the heart; without conviction, the conversion meant nothing.

Similarly, Robert Spencer whines elsewhere:

There are many women in the show who are wearing hijabs and many who are not, but we are not allowed to see what might happen if one of the hijab-wearing women decides to take it off.  Such conflicts would not serve The Learning Channel’s agenda.

Here again he assumes that the women on the show are forced to wear hijab by their families.  This shows Spencer’s unfamiliarity with American Muslim community.  One can bet that there are other women in the same family who don’t don the hijab–and nothing happens to them.  In fact, it has been a phenomenon that younger American Muslim women don the hijab of their own accord, often against their parent’s wishes.  In any case, there is no reason at all to assume that anything at all would happen to them if they chose to take it off.  Such considerations would not serve JihadWatch’s agenda.

*  *  *  *  *

Robert Spencer concludes with a sentence that makes clear his views endorsing collective guilt and punishment:

[A]ll that All-American Muslim gives us is a denunciation of “Islamophobia” featuring Muslims who could never have conceivably inspired any suspicion of Islam in the first place.

Spencer seems to be of the opinion that Radical Muslims are the ones to blame, not Islamophobia, for the suspicion the Muslims in All-American Muslim must deal with.  Can you imagine how quickly a person would be dubbed a racist if they were to say something outlandish like “black criminals, not white racists, are responsible for racism against the black community”?

Insert any race or religion for “Muslims” and Spencer’s bigotry becomes clear.  His beef with All-American Muslim is an argument steeped in Islamophobia, which the show may help to counteract–and that’s why it is only natural that people like Robert Spencer would steadfastly oppose it.  The Islamophobes can’t stomach Americans viewing American Muslims as “ordinary folks just like you and me.”  And that’s reason enough to support the show, at least in my book.

*  *  *  *  *

Addendum I:

Aman Ali, co-creator of 30 Mosques in 30 Days, offered some legitimate criticism of All-American Muslim.  The show failed to show the ethnic diversity within the American Muslim community:  all the Muslims in the show are Arab-Americans.  This reinforces the myth that all Muslims are Arabs, and all Arabs are Muslims.  In fact, “[o]nly about 12 percent of Muslims worldwide are Arabs”, and in the United States only 1 in 4 Muslims is of Arab ethnicity.

All-American Muslim didn’t bother to include any characters from the Asian and black communities, even though these two groups make up a greater percentage of the American Muslim population.  Writes Ali:

Brilliant! What better way to show the mainstream public an insight into how multicultural and intellectually diverse Islam’s followers are… with a show focusing on just Arabs (20 percent of the world’s Muslim population) who follow the Shia sect of Islam (about 10 percent of the world’s Muslim population).

The show, which premiered over the weekend, presents itself as a glimpse into the American Muslim community but ignores an overwhelming majority of the cultures that comprise it. South Asians like my parents, who came from India, make up one of the largest group of Muslim immigrants in the United States.

That doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that the show makes no reference to African-American Muslims, another huge American Muslim group. Many of the black slaves that built the foundation of this country with blood, sweat and tears were Muslim.

And Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Dave Chappelle and Lupe Fiasco are all American Muslims, too. Hell, Detroit is right next to Dearborn. All the producers had to do was turn around and they’d find one of the most active African-American Muslim communities in the country.

AltMuslim.com’s Tuqa Nusairat countered by saying:

The “reality” is that “Jersey Shore” doesn’t represent Italians in NJ, “Sister Wives” doesn’t represent all Mormons, “Kate Plus Eight” doesn’t represent all families of multiples, so why would would we expect this show to represent all American Muslims?

The problem with Nusairat’s retort is that Italians did and do criticize Jersey Shore for not being representative of their community.  They were certainly justified in doing so, even though the show was not called All-American Italians.  Similarly, Mormons did and do criticize Sister Wives, because they feel that it is not representative of their faith community.  (And I’ll be honest: I’ve never heard of Kate Plus Eight so no comment there.)

Jersey Shore was a poor choice for Nusairat to have relied on to make her argument.  However, I agree with her article overall and share her optimistic opinion with regard to the show, which is a refreshing change from the same-old Muslim as Terrorist role that Robert Spencer insists upon.  Since people today don’t like reading, the best way to counter Islamophobia and reach the average Joe is not through the long and intricate articles I write, but through the boob tube.  All-American Muslim is a step in the right direction.

Loonwatch’s Danios Wins Brass Crescent Award for Best Writer

A very hearty thank you to all the loonwatchers who voted for Danios as Best Writer in the 2011 Brass Crescent Awards. This marks the second year in a row that Loonwatch has won a Brass Crescent Award, last year it was for best non-Muslim Blog and this year for best writer:

We couldn’t do this without you guys! Thank you for all your tips, feedback, and input.

Brass Crescent Awards: Send JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer a Message by Voting for Danios of LoonWatch

In the late 1980′s, Noam Chomsky co-authored a book entitled Manufacturing Consent.  In it, he spoke of how the mainstream media in the United States–in the form of print media, radio, and television–is carefully controlled propaganda for the ruling elite.  They have absolute control over what narratives are heard, and which ones are ignored.  In the words of Chomsky, they set the agenda “by selection of topics, by distribution of concerns, by emphasis and framing of issues, by filtering of information, by bounding of debate within certain limits. They determine, they select, they shape, they control, they restrict — in order to serve the interests of dominant, elite groups in the society.”  The most dissenters can do is send in a letter and hope that it is published.  In this model, the establishment has all the power.

Fortunately, this has begun to change due to the internet.  The blog has emerged as a powerful tool for dissenting voices.  Thanks to the internet, and blogging in particular, the monopoly on media has been broken.  People are no longer restricted to one source (the MSM), but instead can surf the net to choose alternate sources of information.  Ideas that are shunned in the MSM as Un-Serious can be discussed.  As for myself, I have weaned myself off of the MSM, getting my world news from blogs and alternate news sources: every day, I read the Salon blog, listen to Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks, and watch AlJazeera English on my smart phone.  And only then do I go to the MSM (even though I feel like throwing things at the television).

In the words of Glenn Greenwald, “the blogosphere is and will continue to be the venue for the most vibrant and important political writing.”  It is certainly my favorite means of communication.  Blogging is superior to writing books because the cost of buying a book may prevent a person from reading your ideas.  It is superior to writing in journals, which reach an even smaller readership than books.  It is superior to television because it permits in-depth discussion of a topic (thereby preventing what Noam Chomsky calls “concision”).  Most importantly, blogging is dynamic and two-way: the comments section makes blogging a group sport.  The best blogs are those that use the readership to change, update, and improve articles, which is what we do here at LoonWatch.

With regard to the Islamo-blogosphere, this is, quite understandably, in its infancy.  Sadly, however, the bigoted anti-Muslim blogosphere is way more advanced–maybe not in sophistication but certainly in influence.  They have successfully harnessed the new technology (the internet and blogs) to their benefit: although they too are not establishment, they have certainly influenced the establishment including the mainstream media.  Many of their bogus narratives have infiltrated the Republican party and Fox “News.”  Their influence has been felt even in the FBI and government.  In this aspect, what they have accomplished is enviable and, to a limited extent, something that we should emulate.

Meanwhile, the response to these right-wing Islamophobes has been lackluster.  The reason I joined LoonWatch was that it was the one site that was taking the fight to the Islamophobes.  I thought I could contribute something unique to LW: I began to write in-depth rebuttals of their main theological beliefs.  Islamophobia is an ideology, and has its own theology to it.  I decided to use the methodology of Dr. Norman Finkelstein: just as the framework of his book was a critique of Alan Dershowitz’s book, so too am I using Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) as the general framework for my article series (which will eventually be published in book form).

As Alan Dershowitz is “Israel’s single most visible defender” so does Robert Spencer represent Islamophobia’s greatest proponent.  In the very important arena of the internet, Robert Spencer is the cyber kingpin of Islamophobia.

Here’s where I need your help.  I was recently nominated for “Best Writer” for The Eighth Annual Brass Crescent Awards.  In the still fledgling Islamo-blogosphere (you don’t have to be Muslim to be nominated), the Brass Crescent Awards are the highest award (only?) one can get.  Last year, Loonwatch came in first place in the category of Best non-Muslim blogger, I came in second place as best writer.  Let’s try for first place this year, eh?

To be honest, it usually leaves a bad taste in my mouth whenever people self-promote themselves.  This has been one of the benefits of writing anonymously that I have been able to avoid much of that.  But in this situation, I feel this is different since the intention is to send Robert Spencer a message: a very loud and clear message.

Only a week remains so please vote for me (Danios) by going to BrassCrescent.Org and scrolling down to Best Writer section where they stuck me with the ugly face of Geert Wilders:

Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell Randy Gonzales! But please make sure to vote only once as they do have some measures in place to counteract “ballot stuffing” (invalidating the votes of whoever is caught doing that).

Thank you for your support.  A blogger is nothing without his readership, and for all of your support, even through all the many mistakes I have made, I thank you.

-Danios of LoonWatch.

Ten Years After 9/11 Attacks, Exploitation of “Patriot Day” Continues

(Update I below)

Disclaimer: I would like to point out that the views expressed below are mine alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official views of LoonWatch or any of its writers aside from myself (Danios).

Salon’s indefatigable Glenn Greenwald recently wrote (emphasis added):

Worship of the American military and all that it does — and a corresponding taboo on speaking ill of it except for tactical critiques (it would be better if they purchased this other weapon system or fought this war a bit differently) is the closest thing America has to a national religion.

If worship of the military is America’s national religion, then the U.S. soldier is this religion’s holy warrior.  Greenwald noted that the Navy Seals are “a member of the most sacred and revered religious order.”  Those who die in “the line of duty” are martyrs who must be remembered for all “they have done for this country.”  Any criticism against the rank-and-file holy warrior is considered blasphemous.

There can be no possible profession that is more highly praiseworthy to the American than soldier in the military.  Many U.S. airlines will let soldiers board the plane even before women with children and the disabled.  Being part of the war machine is more respectable than being a doctor, a social worker, a teacher for the disabled, or a volunteer at the local orphanage.  Saving people (what a physician does) can in no way, shape, or form be considered better than killing people (what a soldier does).

A person foolish enough to say that “a soldier kills people” will be beaten into submission and subservience by jingoist mantras such as “you should be thankful that you are able to express such views, because it is only due to the sacrifices of those in uniform–who protect your freedoms–that you are free to say what you want.”  This, even though no rational mind could possibly believe this: how does bombing, invading, and occupying Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, or Yemen “protect my freedoms?”  That is, unless one is naive enough to think that any of these Evil, Foreign Brown People were about to conquer the United States, topple its government, and take away my freedoms.

In any case, I have my own government to do that for me.  Far from “fighting for my freedoms,” the military-industrial complex and those in authority who wage these wars are responsible for clamping down on my civil liberties.  With the rise of the Orwellian-named Patriot Act and its like, there has been a sustained war waged not just against Al-Qaeda but against civil liberties, with dedicated assaults on the First and Fourth Amendments.

Worship of the military and the holy warrior runs so deep that even the most ardent critic of the war must never utter a single word against those who wage it.  Such a common sense thing to do is completely off-limits and beyond the scope of decency and propriety.  To do so would be to open oneself up to the criticisms of being “unpatriotic” and “disloyal.”  Criticism of the war must be couched in “patriotic language:” war critics must ceremoniously acknowledge their support for U.S. troops, arguing that I support the troops which is why I want to bring them home.  It is simply unacceptable to just clearly say: I don’t support the troops because they are shooting at, bombing, and killing people.  To do such a thing would be to commit the highest of sins in the American national religion.

The fact that even war critics would hush you up for saying something against America’s cherished holy warriors says something of how deeply ingrained militarism is in our society.  How can it be that opponents of America’s wars will criticize the war as unjust on the one hand but not be anything but absolutely reverent towards those who wage it?  The United States, after all, uses an all-volunteer military; by joining the military is not one making an active choice to take part in these unjust wars?  And certainly, one can choose not to fight, as many brave soldiers and ex-soldiers have done.

Noting with what absolute reverence Americans speak of their soldiers of war, one wonders how it is that they are simultaneously amazed at how unbelievably warlike those Foreign, Other People are for revering their own men of war.  We are taken aback by how “primitive” the North Koreans are when they mindlessly revere their soldiers, yet somehow mystified when we do the same with our troops.  The North Korean soldiers have certainly killed far fewer and waged far fewer wars than our own military.  But alas, those North Koreans are so primitive, whereas we are so advanced, civilized, and peaceful.

I don’t malign or vilify soldiers in the military (as I partially do accept the idea that “they are just doing their job”), but must we continue to speak of our holy warriors with such absolute reverence, awe, and worship? Our mindless idolization of the military profession is what is to blame for so many of our impressionable youth choosing to join the military to kill people abroad instead of spending those years going to college to expand their minds.  Placing the military and its soldiers on a pedestal is the only way a society can convince its young boys to risk their lives to go to war for the country–something so illogical, so contrary to the biological drive to save oneself from harm or death, that absent the most compelling of reasons one can hardly find it worthwhile to do so.

Interestingly, even that religious and ethnic minority that is the target of America’s wars is itself affected by this national religion.  Muslim-Americans will often bend over backwards to point out that they too “proudly serve this country” by being a part of the military.  (Even the phrase “serve this country” can only mean one thing: soldiering.)  In order to be accepted as Full Citizens, Muslim-Americans must prove their dedication to America’s war machine.

And so, Muslim-Americans–many of them immigrants or children of immigrants–beg to be included in the same institution that wages endless wars in their ancestral homelands.  It is that same institution that is rife with racism and bigotry against Arabs and Muslims, yet so desperately do Muslim-Americans want to be included in it.

*  *  *  *  *

In this national religion, 9/11 is America’s Karbala.  The Battle of Karbala involved the slaughter of the Prophet Muhammad’s descendants by a tyrannical government–an event that is religiously commemorated each year by Shia Muslims, who will often make a religious pilgrimage (ziyarat) to the site of the battle or to the graves of the victims.  With vigor just short of this, Americans commemorate Patriot Day, the holy day of the American national religion.

Ground Zero, meanwhile, is the “hallowed ground”–a trip here is the ziyarat (religious pilgrimage) of the American religion.  The American flag becomes a symbol not to be disrespected, our nation’s holy book, waved high by people chanting “USA! USA! USA!”, which can only mean one thing: war! The flag has become a raised symbol of war.

The military is our national religion, its soldiers are our holy warriors, the Navy Seals are our highest religious order, those soldiers who died in war are our martyrs, 9/11 was our Karbala, Patriot Day is our annual holy day, the flag is our holy book and symbol, Osama bin Laden is Lucifer, Terrorism is the greatest Evil, supporting the troops is our greatest religious obligation, and failure to do so is the greatest blasphemy and the highest of sins.

*  *  *  *  *

The problem I have with the cult-like remembrance of 9/11 is that it was the devotion to this day that was used to launch wars of vengeance that killed ten times as many people.  This date, 9/11, has been militarized.  It is a memory we are told that we must never forget lest we slacken in our resolve to wage war against the Forces of Evil, the Satan of our religion: radical Islam and Terrorism.  It is a memory that is invoked to remind the American people why they need to spend more of their taxpayer money to sustain their country’s illegal occupations and immoral wars.

Furthermore, the singling out of this day above all others (including days on which worse acts of violence were perpetrated by the United States), exudes the tribalistic mentality that infects people with strong feelings of national or religious identity–wherein only blood shed against one’s own national or religious group is remembered (and in fact, it is obsessed over), whereas that shed by one’s own national or religious group against others is ignored, denied, or justified.

Lastly, one cannot help but feel that 9/11 would hardly have been considered as important to the national religion had it not been Muslims who were implicated in the attack.  They attacked us.  The deaths of the victims of 9/11 are less relevant than the fact that they–those Foreign, Dark-Complexioned Moozlums–are the ones who caused these deaths.  The horrendous attacks of 9/11 have special significance due to the fact that the perpetrators were radical Muslims, an Existential Threat to our Safety and Freedoms.

The victims of 9/11 certainly ought to be remembered, as should all the victims of war and terrorism (whether the culprit be our enemies or our own country and whether the victims be American or not), but should their memory really be exploited to feed the national religion of warmongering?  Is it not deeply disturbing that an act of violence and the deaths of three-thousand innocents are being used to justify even greater acts of violence and even more civilian deaths?

Disclaimer: I would like to point out that the views expressed above are mine alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official views of LoonWatch or any of its writers aside from myself (Danios).

Update I: An interesting Facebook status that is making the rounds:

On 9/11, I’ll mourn the nearly 3,000 lives lost, over 6,000 injuries, the infrastructural carnage and devastation in NYC, and the humiliation of my country, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my religion

On 9/12, I’ll mourn the nearly 1,000,000 lives, the 10′s of millions of injuries, the infrastructural decimation in 3 countries, and the humiliation of my religion, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my country.

Update II: Many readers and fellow LoonWatch writers have pointed out that many young people join the military due to financial reasons.  Additionally, many of them are “trying to serve their country” and “are just following orders.”  I do not completely disagree with these statements.  As I said, I do not malign or vilify soldiers, nor encourage that.  What I am opposed to is the glorification of what they do.

Omer Subhani: “Spencer debates fool; Avoids LW’s Danios like the plague”

Robert Spencer recently debated Moustafa Zayed, and from what I’ve heard, Zayed did not fare so well.  Zayed authored a book entitled The Lies About Muhammad: How You Were Deceived into Islamophobia, in which he attempted to refute Robert Spencer’s book The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.

LoonWatch’s sister site SpencerWatch had publicized Zayed’s book when it first came out (seehere).  This was the first I had heard of Zayed or his book, so I immediately ordered it.  After reading just half of it, I’d made my judgment: the book sucked.  Here is what I wrote then in the comments section of SpencerWatch (just under a year ago from today):

Danios says:

August 29, 2010 at 7:32 pm

I have read about half the book [by Moustafa Zayed]. Sadly, it is very poorly written and the arguments are weak. Overall, the “refutation” was highly ineffective. In fact, I would go so far as to say the book is childish. It was painful to read, and was quite simply tiresome.

Waste of money in my humble opinion. Worse than that, the author’s failure to effectively refute Robert Spencer’s arguments will give the impression that Spencer’s arguments are strong. So in a way, this book does more harm than good. More likely, however, the book will simply be disregarded.

I was honestly skeptical of the book when I bought it, simply because I have seen so many “Muslim scholars” fail so miserably when debating Spencer. Even then, however, the author managed to surprise me by how poorly it was written.

This is not to say that Spencer’s book is well-written or convincing. I will eventually devastate the arguments in his book, just like I am doing now with The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). The inability of “Muslim scholars” to write dispassionately and from a neutral analytical perspective hampers their effectiveness quite considerably…

No wonder then that Spencer chose to engage in debate with Zayed.  This follows Spencer’s modus operandi: engage in debate with those who are weak debaters, fastidiously avoid debating with those who are skilled debaters (and who have solid grasp of the subject matter), and then crow in victory over one’s supposedly undefeated record.

Robert Spencer has repeatedly chickened out of debating me, making excuse after excuse to get out of it, which prompted us to write an article entitled Internet Sociopath Robert Spencer Scared of Debate.  So when he saw Spencer crowing in victory over his recent debate with Zayed, Omer Subhani wrote the following post calling Spencer out:

Spencer debates fool; avoids LW’s Danios like the plague
Zayed, deceit, and body language – Jihad Watch

Why is Robert Spencer too cowardly to debate Danios of Loonwatch?

He will debate this fool, Zayed, but dodges Danios like the plague. I smell something. And it smells like chicken.

Danios has repeatedly told Spencer he would debate him, but Spencer just makes excuses. I think the bigot knows deep down he will be disposed of like the trash that he is.

Perhaps it is a bit too harsh to refer to Zayed as a “fool.” I’m sure he’s a lovely guy and I don’t want to insult him.  Having said that, I don’t think he’s adequately equipped to take on Spencer.  And in doing so, he is doing a disservice to those he is trying to defend.  Sheila Musaji at The American Muslimrecently published an excellent article, in which she notes that “useful idiots” (again, perhaps too harsh a term) lose in debate against the Islamophobes, only to give the illusion to the audience that the Islamophobes have a strong argument.  They are doing more harm than good.

In any case, so long as Spencer keeps making up excuses to avoid debating me, he will be quite the cowardly hypocrite, whining that so-and-so is too scared to debate him while at the same time fastidiously avoiding debating me.

Update I: On an unrelated note, check out page IV of The “Allah is the Moon-God” Nonsense Could be the Stupidest Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theory Yet, which I just published.