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.