Robert Spencer to Debate Achmed the Dead Terrorist and The Dictator

Sheila Musaji of The American Muslim (TAM) has been keeping a close eye on the loons who write for Jihad Watch.  The chief loon of JW, Robert Spencer, had initially been slated to debate David Wood, another Christian loon like himself.  Realizing no doubt that they are on the same side of the loony equation, the debate has been scrapped.  Instead, both Spencer and Wood have agreed to face off against Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri.

As Musaji presciently noted, “[b]oth Choudary and Bakri are part of the Muslim lunatic fringe.”  The nefarious duo are very familiar to the Muslim community of the U.K., not because they have a large following (they don’t), but because they are routinely trotted out by anti-Muslim right-wingers.  The set-up is always the same: a right-winger pundit will invite one of these two clowns onto their show for a “debate.” By making the hated Choudary and Bakri the representative for the Muslim side, the debate is of course already won.  Muslims are left thinking, “with friends like these, who needs enemies…”

Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri are absolutely despised by the vast majority of the Muslim community, even by the ultra-conservative and radical Muslims they pretend to represent.   They are caricatures, just one step away from being Achmed the Dead Terrorist or a character thought up by Sacha Baron Cohen (like Ali G or Admiral General Aladeen, A.K.A. The Dictator).  Choudary and Bakri play the part of terrorists and radical Islamists, which is why hateful Islamophobes love giving them ample air time: look at how crazy those Moozlums are!

It’s absolutely no surprise then that Robert Spencer and David Wood, two loons in their own right, would debate two even loonier loons.  Spencer wastes his time engaging such unserious clowns, because–just as Sheila Musaji noted long time ago–he has a pattern of seeking out complete fools to debate with so that he can then crow in victory afterward.  Meanwhile, Spencer will doggedly avoid debating anyone (1) with a serious grasp of knowledge of the topic at hand and (2) the debating skill to back it up.  And of course, (3) anyone named Danios.  What’s interesting is that even Robert Spencer’s debating partner, David Wood, seemed to imply on his website that Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri are weak debaters.  Wood agrees with Choudary and Bakri’s view that Muhammad existed, but he doesn’t think that they will be able to make the convincing argument.  Why not just debate Achmed the Dead Terrorist or The Dictator?  It would certainly be just as enlightening and perhaps a bit more entertaining.

Robert Spencer’s homepage boldly declares that he is “the acclaimed scholar of Islam”, and yet he has no educational qualifications to validate that lofty claim.  In fact, all he has is an M.A. in Christian studies…If I get an M.A. in Buddhist studies, does that mean I get to be “the acclaimed scholar of Judaism”?  Spencer has never had his work submitted for peer review in the academic world, and so his arguments–while they certainly might pass off in the non-scholarly world–have never been tested by the real experts in the field.  Spencer’s version of peer-review is debating the equivalent of Achmed the Dead Terrorist and The Dictator.

In any case, let’s not beat around the bush.  It’s me in particular who Robert Spencer fears. One would think that he would want to debate me now that I’ve won the Brass Crescent Award for Best Writer last year (and was runner-up the year before), in no small part due to my writings against Spencer.  I have been refuting his book for a long time now, decimating his arguments one by one.  Spencer can’t respond intelligently, so of course, he naturally fears facing off in debate.  It has now officially been 684 days–that’s 1 year, 10 months, and 14 days–since I agreed to have a radio debate with Robert Spencer.  In that time, Spencer has furiously been generating excuse after excuse to avoid the debate.

Spencer continues to use my anonymity as an excuse to cover up his cowardice.  I’m an anonymous blogger and I have expressed my intent in preserving that anonymity for now.  Yet, Spencer repeatedly insists on a public venue–so that I “show my face”–knowing full well that I won’t accept such a condition.  In this way, Spencer gets out of the debate and can then disingenuously claim that I was the cause of the impasse.

Robert Spencer engages in typical right-winger projection: look how cowardly Danios is that he doesn’t show his face.  But, it is Spencer who is the coward, at least when it comes to defending his views.  What difference does it make who I am or what I look like?  The obvious answer is that Spencer wants to engage in ad hominem attacks against me, instead of focusing on the substantive value of his arguments, which my writings have shown to be severely lacking.  It’s now quite evident to all who want to see it: my refutations of his book are irrefutable.  I know it, you know it, he knows it.

And that’s why Robert Spencer will keep running away from me.  Instead, he’ll debate fools and loons.  Yawn, what’s new?

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

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Here is Sheila Musaji’s article from TAM:

David Wood and Robert Spencer “Debate”?

by Sheila Musaji

David Wood is not as well known as Robert Spencer, so a little background is in order.  Wood is an Evangelical pastor and has a series of polemical articles on Answering Islam.  His focus seems to be on anti-Muslim polemics.

Kiera Feldman reported on an incident in 2010:

Organized by Stop the Islamization of America, the first rally against the “Ground Zero mosque” was held in a plaza near the site of the Twin Towers on June 6th—D-Day. “We are not hatemongerers!” Pamela Hall proclaimed from the podium. “We just want our families and our future to be safe from the racist, bigoted ideology that murdered 3,000 people.” In the crowd, signs ranged from “Everything I need to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11” to crude drawings of Mohammed with the label “beast.”

Toward the end of the rally, two dark-skinned men were overheard speaking Arabic. The crowd transformed into an angry mob, surrounded the men, and shouted, “go home” and “get out.” The Bergen Record reported that the two scared men, Joseph Nasralla and Karam El Masry, had to be extricated by police. It turned out they weren’t even Muslim. They were Egyptian Coptic Christians who’d trekked cross-country from California to join the cause against the “Ground Zero mosque.” Nasralla later told John Hawkins of Right Wing News that the Record coverage was indeed accurate, adding that he’d been shoved and his camera knocked to the ground. “He said he was worried that things might have really gotten out of hand if the police hadn’t escorted him and Karam El Masry away,” Hawkins wrote.

“I actually caused that by accident,” an evangelical pastor named David Wood told me with a chuckle. He meant the near race riot. Wood is a PhD student in philosophy at a respectable New York institution whose name he didn’t want me to use. Passionate about proselytizing to Muslims, Wood’s expertise is Christian apologetics, the practice of arguing unbelievers into faith. He is best known as the creator of a viral video “Of Mosques and Men,” which argues all Muslims—even those who seem “peaceful,” like “good citizens in public”—had an urge to “smile when there were terrorist attacks.” But Wood allows himself a little laugh about violence when Muslims are on the receiving end.

As he tells the story of that day, “[The Copts] were complaining about not having anything to hand out. And I said, ‘I’ve got some pamphlets on Islam, specifically on whether Islam is a religion of peace.” The pamphlets contained passages of the Qur’an selected to suggest the answer is no. “People thought they were there to defend the mosque and promote Islam,” Wood explained. “Lots of people were fired up about that.” But it was a goofy case of mistaken identity, a funny little mix-up. “The guys who were doing it were actually Christians,” Wood told me as if clearing up the whole matter. “They weren’t Muslims.” In other words: the mob’s anger and actions were justified, but misdirected. Aim better next time?

Garibaldi of Loonwatch has written exposes about Wood in two articles here and here

Wood and Robert Spencer will have a “debate” this coming Sunday on the thesis of Spencer’s new book Did Muhammad Exist?  This “debate” will be moderated by Pamela Geller.  That may be the only time that you will see the combination of Pamela Geller and moderation in the same sentence.

Wood made the “challenge to a debate” by video and Spencer accepted the “challenge”.

Spencer is still falsely claiming that Muslims are afraid to debate him, and says in his acceptance: So David Wood will do their work for them.  Read my article Danios vs Spencer:  18 months and Spencer still avoiding a debate for the Saga of Spencer’s avoidance of a debate with Danios.  See The Muslim Communities Useful Idiots for information on some of Spencer’s past debates with Muslims, and why I believe that engaging with bigots is not productive.

These are not individuals who hold respectable, if controversial opinions.  These are bigots, and engaging them in such a forum only provides them with some veneer of respectability.

Hosts like Hannity, or Bolling can claim that they have been “fair and balanced” because they included a Muslim.  And, full time, paid mercenaries in a “holy war” against Islam like Spencer, will claim “victory” no matter what the outcome.  If they have no “facts” that will stand up to scrutiny, they will stoop to ridiculous slurs, as they did with Christina Abraham.  And, when all else fails, if any Muslim says anything reasonable, they will say that it is taqiyya.

This sort of devious, unethical, and downright childish behavior, is not surprising from individuals who consistently “get it wrong” when it comes to Islam and Muslims, and who see no ethical problem with simply removing articles from a site when they are proven to be inaccurate.  Not too surprising for individuals who are co-founders (Spencer & Geller) of a group, Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The group is also described by the ADL in the following terms: “Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), created in 2009, promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam. The group seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy “American” values. The organization warns of the encroachment of shari’a, or Islamic law, and encourages Muslims to leave what it describes as the “falsity of Islam.”

I believe that it is not “cowardly” to leave these folks alone, just sensible.   It is not that their claims cannot be, and have not been answered, but rather that they have proven themselves time and time again to be untrustworthy and dishonorable in both their tactics and their responses to reasoned argument.

Spencer and Wood seem to have a mutual admiration society.  Spencer posted a notice about the “debate” with a note to watch Wood’s video, and Wood posted a notice with a note to read Spencer’s book.

The notice points out that this “debate” will be right after Geller and Spencer’s “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference” (their most recent anti-Muslim hate fest) ends.  It is worth noting that David Wood will be a speaker at Spencer and Geller’s conference.  I’m sure their promotional video will be more exciting than the actual “debate”.

It seems pretty obvious that rather than a debate, this is a calculated publicity stunt to gain a little more notoriety for their conference, and to publicize Spencer’s book.  I’m sure that they will both have an opportunity to get in a few anti-Muslim zingers in the course of this “debate”.  Let the bigots talk among themselves.

UPDATE 4/30/2012

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more strange.  Robert Spencer just posted a new notice about tonights “debate”.  The debate is now to be between Spencer and Wood (on the same side) versus Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri.

Both Choudary and Bakri are part of the Muslim lunatic fringe.  Just type their names or the term lunatic fringe into our TAM search engine for more information on these disreputable folks.

I’m curious as to how Spencer is going to talk to Omar Bakri since the last I heard he had been denied re-entry to England, and arrested in Lebanon.

Jihad By Any Means Necessary?

The following is a part of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series, which is a refutation of Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).  Specifically, I am herein refuting chapter one of his book, entitled “Muhammad: Prophet of War.”

An anti-Muslim canard that has gained considerable popularity in the post-9/11 world is the idea that Muslims can do anything, no matter how morally questionable, if it furthers the Islamic cause.  According to this idea, jihad can be waged “by any means necessary.”  Robert Spencer argues this in his book, writing:

Islam’s only overarching moral principle is “if it’s good for Islam, it’s right.” [1]

Spencer traces the birth of this Islamic “principle” to the life story of the Prophet Muhammad, specifically the raid at Nakhla.  To properly debunk this conspiracy theory, we must then transport ourselves back in time to this controversial event.

In the year 610 A.D., Muhammad declared his prophethood.  His people, the Quraysh of Mecca, violently rejected him.  The early Muslims suffered heavy-handed persecution, which they endured with patience for well over a decade.  Finally, the God of the Quran permitted them to take up arms in self-defense.  Muhammad and his followers, who had regrouped in the nearby city of Medina, engaged in guerre de course (commerce raiding) against the powerful Quraysh.

I have discussed Muhammad’s guerre de course in quite a lot of detail in a previous article.  This tactic was not only something considered acceptable in the Arabian context of the time, but also has a celebrated history in the American–as well as French and German–naval traditions.  Historically, it has been considered a valid military strategy and a means of waging economic warfare against a more powerful enemy.

The early military operations led by the Muslims were largely unsuccessful–that is, until the raid at Nakhla.  Muhammad had dispatched Abdullah bin Jahsh with secret instructions contained in a letter that were not to be opened until after traveling two days journey.  (This precaution was designed no doubt to thwart potential spies, who may have informed the Quraysh of Muslim “troop” movements, which could explain the earlier failed military expeditions.)

When Abdullah opened Muhammad’s letter, it read:

When you have read this letter of mine proceed until you reach Nakhla between Mecca and Al-Ta’if. Lie in wait there for [the] Quraysh and find out for us what they are doing. [2]

On the way to Nakhla, Abdullah and his fellow riders happened across a poorly armed Qurayshite caravan.  They debated among themselves whether or not to waylay it, for it was the last day of the month of Rajab.  The pre-Islamic culture at the time assigned four months of the year as sacred (of which Rajab was one), in which fighting was proscribed.  In addition to the four sacred months, fighting was forbidden in certain holy sanctuaries (i.e. Al-Bayt Al-Haram, the area around the Kaabah).

Abdullah’s contingent faced a difficult choice:

If [we] leave them alone tonight they will get into the sacred area and will be safe from [us]; and if [we] kill them, [we] will kill them in the sacred month. [3]

They were also not quite sure what day it was.  Was it the last day of the sacred month of Rajab or the first day of of the next month, Jumada (in which fighting was permitted)?  Prof. Reuven Firestone writes of this:

The uncertainty of the day is a natural result of the calendrical system of that period, in which the moon was the primary measurer of time, because the beginning of the month was established only by actual observation of the new crescent moon. [4]

Making matters worse was the fact that, according to the lunar calendar used by the Arabs, days change at sunset, not midnight.  One of the men explained to Muhammad later that

it was becoming evening. We looked at the crescent moon of Rajab, and we did not know whether we [struck during] Rajab or in Jumada. [5]

Initially, Abdullah and his men hesitated, but then decided to attack.  The Muslims shot and killed one of the Quraysh (a man by the name of Amr Ibn Al-Hadrami), captured two of them, and seized the caravan’s goods.  By killing Ibn Al-Hadrami, the Muslims had violated the pre-Islamic Arabian custom forbidding bloodshed during the sacred month.

When Abdullah and his men returned to Medina, Muhammad rebuked them, saying:

I did not order you to fight in the sacred month! [6]

Sir Thomas W. Arnold wrote of this incident:

In so doing, [Abdullah] had not only acted without authority but had violated the sacred truce within Arab custom caused to be observed throughout the month of pilgrimage.  Muhammad received him coldly with the words, “I gave thee no command to fight in the sacred month;” dismissed the prisoners, and from his own purse paid blood-money for a Meccan who had lost his life in the fray. [7]

Other Muslims in Medina also chastised the men.  Meanwhile, the Quraysh exploited the incident to further their war propaganda against the Islamic nation.  They effectively drove a wedge in the community of Medina, with Muslims distancing themselves from other Muslims, and non-Muslims from Muslims.  Muhammad’s leadership itself was called into question.

It was in this crisis that the following Quranic verse was revealed:

They ask you about fighting in the sacred month. Say, ‘Fighting in that month is a great offense, but to bar others from God’s path, to disbelieve in Him, prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its people, are still greater offences in God’s eyes: [their] persecution is worse than the killing [of Amr Ibn Al-Hadrami].’ They will not stop fighting you [believers] until they make you renounce your faith, if they can. If any of you renounce your faith and die as disbelievers, your deeds will come to nothing in this world and the Hereafter, and you will be inhabitants of the Fire, there to remain.  But those who have believed, who were driven out from their homes, and who strive for God’s cause, it is they who can look forward to God’s mercy: God is most forgiving and merciful. (Quran, 2:217-218)

This response from the God of the Quran successfully rallied the Muslims around their leader and their cause.  Muhammad’s treatment of the raid was splendidly balanced, neither making the Muslims look too warlike nor too humiliated: on the one hand, he paid blood money for the Qurayshite man that was killed (blood money was a form of restitution given to a victim’s family) and freed the two Qurayshite prisoners.  On the other hand, he released the two Qurayshite prisoners only in exchange for two Muslim prisoners, and also accepted the confiscated goods as legitimate spoils of war.

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Robert Spencer writes of the Nakhla raid:

In Medina, these new Muslims began raiding the caravans of the Quraysh, with Muhammad personally leading many of these raids.  These raids kept the nascent Muslim movement solvent and helped form Islamic theology–as in one notorious incident when a band of Muslims raided a Quraysh caravan at Nakhla, a settlement not far from Mecca.  The raiders attacked the caravan during the sacred month of Rajab, when fighting was forbidden.  When they returned to the Muslim camp laden with booty, Muhammad refused to share in the loot or to have anything to do with them, saying only, “I did not order you to fight in the sacred month.”

But then a new revelation came from Allah, explaining that the Quraysh’s opposition to Muhammad was a worse transgression than the violation of the sacred month.  In other words, the raid was justified.  ”They question thee, O Muhammad, with regard to warfare in the sacred month.  Say: warfare therein is a great transgression, bu to turn men from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel his people thence, is a greater sin with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing” (Quran 2:214).  Whatever sin the Nakhla raiders had committed was overshadowed by the Quraysh’s rejection of Muhammad.

This was a momentous revelation, for it led to an Islamic principle that has had repercussions throughout the ages.  Good became identified with anything that redounded to the benefit of Muslims, regardless of whether it violated moral or other laws.  The moral absolutes enshrined in the Ten Commandments, and other teachings of the great religions that preceded Islam, were swept aside in favor of an overarching principle of expediency. [8]

In true Spencerian fashion, he misleads the reader using lies of omission and commission.  Spencer does not clearly state that Muhammad had dispatched the “band of Muslims” on a reconnaissance mission, in order to “find out for us what [the Quraysh] are doing.”  This is why the Prophet of Islam later disavowed Abdullah’s actions, for he had “acted without authority.”  Also, no mention is made in Spencer’s book of the difficulty in ascertaining the day and month in which the raid took place.

Spencer’s biggest lie, however, is the following doozie:

Whatever sin the Nakhla raiders had committed was overshadowed by the Quraysh’s rejection of Muhammad.

In fact, it was not merely “the Quraysh’s rejection of Muhammad”, but, in the words of the Quran itself, their persecution [of the Muslims that] is worse than the killing” of Amr Ibn Al-Hadrami.  Here, the Islamic holy book was referring to the over decade-long period of Qurayshite persecution, during which the early Muslims suffered beatings, imprisonment, torture, and forced conversions; some of the early believers were even killed.  This, the God of the Quran argued, was worse than what the “band of Muslims” had done.  It would be difficult to argue otherwise.

Spencer goes on to say:

In other words, the raid was justified.

No, it wasn’t.  In fact, the Quran recognized and affirmed that the Muslims had committed a grave sin: “Fighting in [the sacred] month is a great offense.”

Many Western commentators have claimed that Muhammad and the Quran, by this passage, abandoned observation of the ban on fighting during the four sacred months.  The insistence on this view is based on their blind acceptance of the traditional opinion [9], held by various Islamic exegetes in medieval times, that this was a pre-Islamic tradition that was overturned by the advent of Islam.

Yet, a neutral reading of the Quranic text–both this passage and those that follow it–reveals the exact opposite: the Prophet Muhammad affirmed and respected the sanctity of the four sacred months.  The Quranic verse starts by saying, “They ask you about fighting in the sacred month.”  Obviously, Muhammad was being accosted by all sides about the raid at Nakhla, which threatened to be a public relations disaster for the Muslims.  How much easier it would have been for the Prophet of Islam to have simply declared the four sacred months a “pagan belief” that the Muslims did not accept.

After all, in another controversy in early Islam’s history, when Muhammad received significant criticism for having married his adopted son’s ex-wife Zaynab bint Jahsh, the Quran justified the act by declaring that: firstly, unlike in the pagan custom of the time, in Islam there is no prohibition against such a thing; and secondly, it was God himself who commanded Muhammad to marry Zaynab, and therefore, “the Prophet is not at fault for what God has ordained for him” (Quran, 33:38).  (It should be noted that the Islamic permission to marry one’s adopted son’s ex-wife is no more disconcerting than Judaism’s permitting of marriage to one’s nieces.)

The point is that the Quran didn’t just take the easy way out, which would have been to reject the four sacred months altogether.  (Muhammad could have also simply declared the pagans to be “disbelievers”, licit to be attacked at any place or any time.)  Instead, the Quran affirmed that it was indeed a grave offense to fight therein, and in fact, commanded Muhammad to tell the people so:

They ask you about fighting in the sacred month. Say, ‘Fighting in that month is a great offense.’ (Quran, 2:217)

The Islamic affirmation of the four sacred months occurs throughout the Quran.  Muslims are not to fight in these months, so long as the other side respects this prohibition:

Fight during the sacred months if you are attacked therein, for a violation of sanctity is subject to the law of just retribution.  So, if anyone commits aggression against you, attack him as he attacked you. (Quran, 2:194)

The Quran also affirms the idea of sacred spaces:

Do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque unless they fight you there. (Quran, 2:191)

This topic deserves greater elaboration, but for now, suffice to say that even in the jihad passages of chapter nine of the Quran–which the Islamophobes insist are (in the words of the anti-Muslim website ReligionOfPeace.com) “the final ‘revelations’ from Allah” about jihad–the four sacred months are affirmed.  For example, in the so-called “verse of the sword” (ayat al-saif), the Quran declares:

When the sacred months are passed, then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them… (Quran, 9:5)

Leaving aside for now the fact that the verse right before this one (verse 9:4) explains that this injunction refers only to those pagans who broke a treaty and waged war against the Muslims, there is another obvious point to be made here: Islamophobes insist that this passage was revealed in Muhammad’s last years and was his final, all-out call to war against non-Muslims.  (I will refute this argument in a future article.)  If we are to accept this claim, then we see that–even in this late stage of Muhammad’s decrees about jihad–the sacred months are to be respected.

In fact, the Quran goes so far to claim that it was God himself who decreed these months to be sacred.  More than this, the God of the Quran chastises the Qurayshite pagans for violating the four sacred months by “transposing them” for other months in the year, something they did out of convenience:

God decrees that there are twelve months–ordained in God’s Book on the Day when He created the heavens and earth–four months of which are sacred: this is the correct calculation. Do not wrong your souls in these months–though you may fight the idolaters at any time, if they first fight you–remember that God is with those who are mindful of Him.  Transposing sacred months is another act of disobedience by which those who disregard God are led astray: they will allow it one year and forbid it in another in order to outwardly conform with the number of God’s sacred months, but in doing so they permit what God has forbidden. Their evil deeds are made alluring to them: God does not guide those who disregard Him.  (Quran, 9:36-37)

In conclusion, it is not true that Muhammad justified the Nakhla raid, nor is it valid to claim that the Prophet of Islam simply made it legal when Muslims did it.  Spencer’s claim that ”if it’s good for Islam, it’s right” finds no basis.

The Quran acknowledged that the killing of Amr Ibn Al-Hadrami in the sacred month was a “grave offense” and Muhammad offered restitution to the victim’s family.  This mea culpa indicates that the Prophet of Islam acknowledged that wrong had been committed and he sought to right it.  Meanwhile, the “band of Muslims” involved in the escapade were duly chastised.  After they had expressed remorse for their sin, the God of the Quran forgave them “for God is Forgiving, Merciful” (2:218), and reassured them of their salvation.  That forgiveness was necessary in the first place indicates that they had committed a sin.

What the Quran didn’t do is claim that the Muslims had done nothing wrong.  All it did was point out the hypocrisy of the Quraysh, for they had committed greater offenses against the Muslims.  Robert Spencer would quickly claim that the Quran was committing a tu quoque fallacy, but there is a difference between a valid tu quoque argument and an invalid tu quoque fallacy.  Tu quoque (“you too”) arguments are not always illegitimate.  Of significance is the fact that, following the Nakhla raid, Muhammad (1) admitted that the Muslims had committed an offense, and (2) willingly submitted to the penalty of that offense (i.e. paid blood money).

The Prophet of Islam didn’t try to make something right because the enemy did something wrong.  More importantly, he didn’t try to get out of the penalty for the offense.  Instead, he admitted that his side had done something wrong, paid the penalty for it, and then pointed out that his accusers had committed far greater offenses without making any amends for it.  He was not trying to get out of the penalty, but only highlighting the Qurayshite hypocrisy so that they would not exploit the incident to further anti-Muslim propaganda.

Islamophobes today are also guilty of hypocrisy on this front: they are among America and Israel’s most hawkish proponents of war in Muslim lands.  During Muhammad’s pre-Badr expeditions, the Muslims had killed only one person, and this was in violation of their orders.  What about the hundreds and hundreds of Muslim victims who die at the hands of the American and Israeli military, without any form of restitution given to them?  We are told then that “this is war”…But when Muhammad’s men kill one person, then it’s the greatest tragedy in all of history.

Related to our opening question (Is Islam more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity? Was Muhammad the most violent prophet or religious figure in history?) lies another question: the Biblical prophets–such as MosesJoshuaSamson,DavidSaul, etc.–engaged in genocide against the natives of Canaan.  Thousands and thousands of innocent people were slaughtered.  Are there any stories in the Bible of any of these Judeo-Christian prophets and holy figures giving restitution to the victim’s families?  One can already hear Robert Spencer crying “tu quoque, tu quoque!”, a word that he obviously does not properly understand.  Islam, identified as our enemy in the post-9/11 war, is put through a special standard, one that Spencer’s own religion could not withstand.

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The Islamic principle of justice is to apply the law equally to all.  There are numerous verses of the Quran to this effect (i.e. 16:90: “God commands you to uphold justice and to do good to others”) and this topic would require another article to elucidate fully.  For now, however, it would suffice us to refer to the opening of sura (chapter) five, which is said to be among the final revelations of the Quran.  It was revealed after the conquest of Mecca.  In it, we see once again that the Quran affirms the idea of sacred months and sacred spaces.  More importantly, it commands Muslims to uphold justice and be fair even to their enemies:

Do not violate the sanctity of God’s rites or the Sacred Months…or the people coming to the Sacred Space…Do not let your ill-will towards a people–because they barred you from the Sacred Mosque–cause you to transgress against them.  Help one another to do what is right and good.  Do not help one another towards sin and aggression. (Quran, 5:2)

Robert Spencer traces “Islam’s only overarching moral principle” of “if it’s good for Islam, it’s right” to the raid at Nakhla, but the evidence simply does not bear his argument out.  Instead, all that becomes apparent is the Islamophobic tactic: if it makes Islam and Muslims look bad, let’s run with it.

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

Footnotes
1. Robert Spencer, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), p.79
2. Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p.287 (tr. A. Guillaume)
3. Ibid.
4. Reuven Firestone, Jihad, p.57
5. Ibid.
6. Ibn Ishaq, p.287
7. Thomas W. Arnold, The Preaching of Islam, p.30
8. Spencer, pp.5-7
9. It should be noted that the nineteenth century gave birth to the modernist movement within Islamic thought, which redefined jihad and challenged the long-held “traditional” opinion on the matter.  Today, the “traditional” opinion is held only by a few ultra-conservative Muslims, a view that should not to be conflated with that held by Radical Muslims such as Osama Bin Laden.

Robert Spencer: Muslim Appointees Deserve Special Loyalty Test (Video)

Faith in Public Life (FPL) just interviewed Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer.  I’ve reproduced their excellent article below, which is where you can see the video yourself.  In it, Spencer endorses a special loyalty test for Muslims:

FPL: Do you think Muslim appointees to office deserve a special test or a special kind of investigation before they are appointed?

Spencer: Well, I think it’s entirely reasonable.

In light of the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is, in its own words, dedicated to eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house, then certainly any Muslim official that [sic] has ties to the Brotherhood organizations in the United States–of which there are very many–should be vetted very carefully.

FPL: So you think any Muslim that is appointed should be investigated for any of those ties before they are appointed?

Spencer: Yes, certainly.

FPL also points to Robert Spencer’s double standards and hypocrisy when it comes to Islam and his own religion, Christianity (specifically, Catholicism).  Those of you familiar with my writing know that whenever I point this out, Spencer starts crying “tu quoque, tu quoque fallacy!”  That’s because his own religion can’t withstand the same standard he applies to Islam.

FPL asked Spencer if he found it problematic when Muslims called themselves “Muslims first, Americans second.”  Spencer responded emphatically in the affirmative, saying: “It’s a big problem.”  Then, FPL asked Spencer if he himself was American first or a Christian first.  Spencer was caught off-guard and tried to evade answering the question.  When FPL pushed him further on the issue, he refused to answer the question, saying: “Neither one.” Then, he finally admitted that he in fact placed his faith first, even above American law.

Anybody see the glaring hypocrisy here?  It’s in fact the same double standard applied by pro-Israel Islamophobes who attack American Muslims for having “dual loyalty” to their ancestral homelands and “the Ummah”, when in fact they themselves have “dual loyalty” to America and Israel, often placing the latter’s interests above the former.

Spencer tries to justify his double standard by arguing that Christianity “isn’t incompatible with the constitutional freedoms” whereas Islam is “is manifestly incompatible” with them.  In other words, it simply hasn’t been an issue with his Christianity.

Yet, Spencer contradicts himself in the very next sentence:

FPL: So would you describe yourself as an American first and a Christian second, or Christian first and American second?

Spencer: Neither one.  I think it’s a distinction when it comes to Christianity that thus far, there has not been a problematic issue of allegiance. If it comes down to the new Obama directives with the Catholic Church, for example, forcing it to go back on its own policies and its own doctrine…then obviously those are unjust laws that ought not to be passed.

Spencer is here alluding to the issue of abortion.  It should be noted that “the Supreme Court ruled that women had a constitutional right to abortion”, yet Catholics like Robert Spencer want to deny this right to women.  Isn’t this exactly the sort of conflict that Spencer found to be “a big problem” when it comes to Muslims?  Isn’t this, using Spencer’s own standard, “a problematic issue of allegiance” between Catholic doctrine and the Constitution?

But remember: don’t dare apply the standard Spencer does to Islam to his own religion!  Only a leftist dhimmi would do that!

Here is the article:

Robert Spencer’s Double-Standard on Religious Freedom

Anti-Muslim activists often complain that Muslims living in this country don’t effectively assimilate into American culture, that they consider themselves Muslims first and Americans second. Despite the fact that polling has found that Muslim Americans are actually the most loyal religious group in the nation – 93 percent of Muslim Americans say they are loyal to America, and Muslims have the highest confidence in the integrity of the US election process – far-right pundits continue to further the myth that Muslims lack commitment to this country because their faith puts them in conflict with constitutional law.

In fact, the concept of prioritizing faith principles before the law is not unique to Muslims. Prominent Christian figures such as Pat Robertson have publicly remarked that they consider themselves Christians first and Americans second. Perhaps even more telling is the extent to which the current contraception mandate controversy is dominating the political conversation, with some Catholic leaders suggesting they would shut down their hospitals and schools or perform civil disobedience instead of complying with a law they believe conflicts with their faith.

At the recent CPAC conference here in Washington, Nick interviewed prominent anti-Islam activist Robert Spencer and found this exact double standard. Spencer criticizes Muslims for prioritizing Islam over US law, while going on to say he would put his Christian faith first in a situation where Christianity came into conflict with the law:

FPL: A lot of people point to polls that Muslims in various countries suggest that they’re Muslims first and then loyal to that country second – American second, or Spanish second. Do you think that’s a problem and are you worried about that?

Spencer: It’s a big problem, and it’s something that has to be taken into account…when it comes to Islamic law and the constitution, there are many, many ways in which Islamic law contradicts the constitutional freedoms. Then if somebody has a loyalty to Sharia, to Islam first, then that’s very problematic.

FPL: And would you describe yourself as American first, or as a person of faith first?

Spencer: I’m an American and a person of faith. And I believe that my faith, as a Christian, isn’t incompatible with the constitutional freedoms. But Islamic law is manifestly incompatible with constitutional freedoms.

FPL: So would you describe yourself as an American first and a Christian second, or Christian first and American second?

Spencer: Neither one. I think it’s a distinction when it comes to Christianity that thus far, there has not been a problematic issue of allegiance. If it comes down to the new Obama directives with the Catholic Church, for example, forcing it to go back on its own policies and its own doctrine…then obviously those are unjust laws that ought not to be passed.

FPL: So if there was a conflict between your faith and the law, you would choose your faith?

Spencer: Yeah.

The hypocrisy is apparent. If conservatives are concerned with religious liberty, then that liberty ought to be applied to faith traditions across the board, including Islam. At the same conference, conservative paragon Grover Norquist made this same point (around the 2:42 mark):

FPL: So do you think it harms the conservative argument for religious liberty…when [Republican candidates] have previously expressed some similar concerns to extending this [liberty] to Muslim Americans?

Norquist: You can’t be for religious liberty for some people and not others, or the whole thing falls apart. No one in court is going to rule that way. The court will either go with, yes you can ban synagogues, mosques, missionaries and Catholic hospitals– or you can’t do any of that…I’ve noticed that all faith traditions recognize that an attack on one is an attack on all.

As Norquist points out, Spencer’s duplicitous arguments about Islam fall flat. When it comes to religious freedom, the far right cannot have its cake and eat it too.

More Proof Why You REALLY Shouldn’t Trust Robert Spencer’s “Scholarship”

A few days ago, I published an article entitled Why You Shouldn’t Trust Robert Spencer’s Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (I).

I took issue with Robert Spencer’s opening sentences of his biography of Muhammad (p.5 of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam), in which he wrote:

Muhammad already had experience as a warrior before he assumed the role of the prophet.  He had participated in two local wars between his Quraysh tribe and their neighboring rivals Banu Hawazin.

I wrote a response as follows:

What Spencer leaves out from this talking point–“Muhammad already had experience as warrior before he assumed the role of prophet”!–is quite telling.

He is referring to what is known in Islamic history as Harb al-Fijar (the Sacrilegious War), a series of conflicts that took place when Muhammad was a teenager. The spark that ignited the war was the unsettled murder of a member of one tribe, which lead to a blood feud. Due to “entangling alliances,” many different tribes in the area found themselves at war with each other.

Like most of Muhammad’s life, the details of this event are contested. This dispute is not simply one between modern-day Muslim apologists and Islamophobes, but rather one that traces its way back to the earliest biographers of the Prophet.

In specific, Muhammad’s level of participation in these wars is disputed. On the one hand, some Shia biographers reject the idea that Muhammad partook in them at all. Meanwhile, Sunni biographers write that Muhammad simply accompanied his uncle but did not directly fight in these wars. He only took on a very limited support role: picking up enemy arrows from the battlefield. At the most, he fired off a few arrows, but did not kill anyone.

Not only was Muhammad’s role severely limited, but even this he would later express regret over. Muhammad later recounted: “I had witnessed that war with my uncle and shot a few arrows therein. How I wish I had never done so!” [1] Spencer conveniently omits this very important fact, one that mitigates Muhammad’s participation in the war, especially in regards to his views about war and peace.

Spencer replied:

In 2006 I wrote the book on the right, The Truth About Muhammad, a biography of the prophet of Islam based on the earliest Muslim accounts of his life, in order to illustrate what Muslims generally believe that Muhammad said and did. In my forthcoming book, Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry Into Islam’s Obscure Origins, which will be published April 23 by ISI, I examine the historical value of those early Muslim accounts. It is an attempt to determine whether what Muslims believe Muhammad said and did, as recounted in The Truth About Muhammad, actually corresponds to historical reality.

There are numerous reasons to question the historicity of the early Muslim accounts of Muhammad’s life. Take, for example, an incident I refer to briefly in yet another book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades):

Muhammad already had experience as a warrior before he assumed the role of prophet. He had participated in two local wars between his Quraysh tribe and their neighboring rivals Banu Hawazin.

That he participated in these wars, known collectively as the Fijar War, or Sacrilegious War, is generally agreed upon, but there is no agreement about what he thought later about his role in them. The Egyptian writer Muhammad Hussein Haykal, in his 1933 biography, Hayat Muhammad (translated into English as The Life of Muhammad), quotes Muhammad expressing regret for his participation in this war:

“I had witnessed that war with my uncle and shot a few arrows therein. How I wish I had never done so!” (Pp. 52-3)

However, the ninth-century Muslim historian Ibn Sa’d, in one of the earliest and most important sources for biographical information on Muhammad, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, directly contradicts Haykal by quoting Muhammad saying this about the Fijar War:

I attended it with my uncles and shot arrows there and I do not repent it. (I.143)So which is it?

Is Haykal right that he really did express regret, or is Ibn Sa’d right that he explicitly ruled out doing so? Haykal doesn’t give his source, but it is possible that he had access to a hadith or some Islamic tradition that flatly contradicted the one Ibn Sa’d recorded eleven centuries earlier — although this is unlikely, since Ibn Sa’d often records variant and contradictory reports and discusses how they can be harmonized, or why one should be accepted and the other rejected. In this case Ibn Sa’d gives no hint of any variants. Haykal may simply have altered this tradition for apologetic purposes. Those who cite him as their source on this, or try to build an argument upon his quotation, do so at their own risk.

Nonetheless, such contradictions abound in the hadith reports. Muhammad can quite often be found saying contradictory things, as I show in Did Muhammad Exist?. In that book also I discuss how this odd situation came about: opposing factions both invoked Muhammad as an authority, and invented traditions to support their point of view.

Spencer is hawking his new book, which he is pushing as a “scholarly work” about how Muhammad didn’t exist.  His home page boasts that Robert Spencer is “[t]he acclaimed scholar of Islam”, “[a] serious scholar”, and “a brilliant scholar.”

I have pointed out in the past that Spencer is not a scholar of any sort–especially not on anything related to Islam.  He simply does not have the academic qualifications to claim this.  What other “scholar” do you know of that doesn’t even have a master’s or PhD degree on the subject he claims to be a “scholar” of?  He only has a one-year master’s degree in “the field of early Christianity”.  How does that make him an “acclaimed scholar of Islam”?

Another major problem with Spencer’s claim to scholarship is that he simply does not speak or understand Arabic.  This much has been apparent in the past, and it becomes painstakingly obvious in his latest response to me (as I shall show below).  I don’t think Spencer needs to know Arabic to criticize Islam (as some Muslim apologists insist), but I do think he needs to know it in order to be considered a “scholar of Islam” (a title he claims)–let alone “[t]he acclaimed scholar of Islam.”

Combine (1) not having any academic qualifications whatsoever with (2) not knowing Arabic and you have a situation like this: imagine some random blogger claiming to be “a world renowned physician” without ever having (1) gone to medical school and (2) without ever having studied or learned anatomy.  Such a blogger might be able to bring up good points about the field of medicine, but nobody in their right mind would consider him a “world renowned physician”–and if he claimed any such thing, his credibility would be shattered.

The need to understand Arabic in order to be a “scholar of Islam” cannot become more apparent than it is now with Spencer’s latest reply.  And here’s why:  Spencer argues (see quote above) that the hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad) found in Haykal’s Hayat Muhammad contradicts the one in Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir.  He argues that Haykal may have reproduced another hadith that contradicts the one found in Ibn Sa’d’s book, or even that Haykal may have engaged in academic deceit (i.e. “altered this tradition for apologetic purposes”).  That’s a serious and bold claim to make against Haykal.

Yet, had Spencer simply been able to read Arabic, he would have realized that the hadith in Haykal’s Hayat Muhammad and Ibn Sa’d’s Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir are the exact same!  They are word-for-word identical.  In other words, Haykal took the hadith from Ibn Sa’d’s book.  That Spencer couldn’t see this speaks volumes about his “scholarship.”  So, Spencer’s blathering on about Haykal finding another contradictory hadith or of manipulating the text is indicative of his sophomoric “scholarship.”

How could Haykal have reproduced another hadith or have manipulated the text when in fact the wording in both Haykal’s book and Ibn Sa’d’s is the exact same?  Here is what is found in Haykal’s book:

Source: Haykal, Muhammad Husayn, Hayat Muhammad [The Life of Muhammad], 14th ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Ma’arif, n.d.): 134

And here’s the exact same found in Ibn Sa’d’s book, which Spencer quoted to “trump” Haykal’s hadith (stupidly not realizing they are the exact same!):

Source: Ibn Sa’d,  Tabaqat al-Kabir, edited by Ali Muhammad Umar (Cairo: Maktabat al-Khaniji, 2001) 1:106

To Robert Spencer, who doesn’t read or understand Arabic, that looks like a whole lot of jibberish.  One can imagine Spencer saying: “That’s Greek Arabic to me!”  But, if we help Spencer out by underlining as we did above, even he should be able to verify that they are the exact same–word-for-word.

So, if the two quotes are the exact same, why does Spencer’s quote seem to say the exact opposite as what I quoted?  Why did I translate it as such:

I had witnessed that war with my uncle and shot a few arrows therein. How I wish I had never done so!

Whereas Spencer used the following:

I attended it with my uncles and shot arrows there and I do not repent it.

Why the difference?

Being the “acclaimed scholar of Islam” that he is, Spencer relied on Google search to find this English translation of Ibn Sa’d’s book and/or was forced to rely on an English translation of the book (due to his inability to read the source text).  In doing so, Spencer didn’t realize that the sentence he reproduced was a faulty translation.

In Arabic, the underlined part is:

وما أحب أني لم أكن فعلت

In transliteration (for Spencer’s sake), it would be:

wa ma uhibb anni lam akun fa’alt

It translates to:

and what I wish is that I had not done it!

Breaking it down, we have:

وما (wa ma) – and what

أحب (uhibb) – I love/wish (See Hans Wehr for the meaning of this verb)

 أني (anni) – is that I

لم أكن (lam akun) – had not

فعلت (fa’alt) – done [it]

The translator Spencer used made a mistake with the word ما (ma), which is a participle in Arabic that is modified by the words surrounding it.  Hans Wehr lists nine different uses of the word ما (ma), one of which is indeed negation.  However, from a linguistic standpoint, the “negative ma” cannot be used in this particular sentence.  Indeed, it would render the sentence into a nonsensical “double negative”:

And I do not love that I had not done it.

Huh?  If you translated it like so, that would actually mean that Muhammad did not participate in the war.  So, even still, this would actually be proof against Spencer’s claim that Muhammad took part in it.

The translator Spencer relied upon saw two negatives and just tried to “simplify” the text to read: “and I do not repent it.”  This, even though the word “repent” does not appear anywhere in the text.  It is completely imagined.  It should be noted that the translator’s native language was neither Arabic nor English. He didn’t know what to do with the nonsensical double-negative–a sentence that would actually mean that Muhammad did not love the fact that he did not participate in the war.

In reality, the word  ما (ma) was being used as a “relative ma“:

Source: Ryding, Karin C., A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005): 326

The translator can be forgiven for making a mistake, but Robert Spencer, being “[t]he acclaimed scholar of Islam” should have known better.  The only correct translation of this text would support the translation I used, namely that Muhammad regretted his participation in the war, which was the point of my article.  It was this fact that Spencer failed to include in his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).  Instead, he tried to give the exact opposite (and false) impression, i.e. that Muhammad was already a “warrior” before he became a prophet.

Watch how this hadith from Ibn Sa’d’s book–which Spencer is currently using as his strongest proof–will be quickly tossed away by Spencer now that it doesn’t support his argument any more.  This is, after all, his methodology for “finding the historical Muhammad”: any hadiths that paint Muhammad in a positive light are jettisoned, whereas those that do the opposite are trumpeted and used as a club to hit Muslims over the head with.  With such a biased “methodology”, do you really want to trust Robert Spencer as a source for Muhammad’s biography or for anything related to Islam?

*  *  *  *  *

The bottom line is that Spencer relied on an incorrect translation to write a response to my article.  This has two implications:

1)  Our entire discussion underscores how important it is for a “scholar of Islam” to read, understand and have mastery of the Arabic language.  This is what is expected of a scholar at any credible university, and this is what must be expected of Robert Spencer if he wishes to don the mantle of a scholar of Islam.  It is exactly because of situations like these where knowing how to read Arabic can make or break the argument.

2) Specifically with the Prophet Muhammad, Spencer’s biography is misleading because it portrays Muhammad as “already [having] had experience as a warrior”, which is meant to purposefully mislead the reader.  It is intended to paint a portrait of Muhammad as a fierce warrior–hence, Spencer’s choice of title, “Muhammad: Prophet of War”.

What Spencer leaves out is the fact that, at most, Muhammad’s involvement in the war was menial–mostly just in a support capacity.  This is a far cry from the “fierce warrior” image that Spencer is trying to portray.

Muhammad not only expressed regret for participation in the war, but more importantly, after hostilities ceased he supported the League of the Virtuous (Hilf al-Fudul), which was similar to the League of Nations formed after World War I.  The goal of the League of the Virtuous was to bring an end to bloodshed, violence, and war.  Muhammad’s participation in this–and his ringing endorsement of the League even in his later years of life–tells us a lot about how he viewed the war (and warfare in general).  Under the entry of Hilf al-Fudul, Thomas Patrick Hughes’ A Dictionary of Islam says:

A confederacy formed…for the suppression of violence and injustice at the restoration of peace after the Sacrilegious war. Muhammad was then a youth, and Sir William Muir says this confederacy ”aroused an enthusiasm in the mind of Mahomet [Muhammad], which the exploits of the Sacrilegious war failed to kindle.”

The war Muhammad was not too keen of.  But, the body designed to bring peace on earth was something he was deeply inspired by.

These are facts that Spencer wouldn’t have the reader know.  Yet, whereas there was disagreement among biographers about Muhammad’s participation in the war, there was–as far as I know–no difference of opinion about his participation in and support for the League of the Virtuous.  Why is it that Spencer’s biography focuses on contested facts but stays clear from a more accepted occurrence? It is only because one event helps build his case against Muhammad, and the other does the opposite.  So, he includes what helps and ignores what doesn’t.  Should you really trust Spencer’s biography then?

*  *  *  *  *

Spencer also writes in the same article:

Nonetheless, such contradictions abound in the hadith reports. Muhammad can quite often be found saying contradictory things, as I show in Did Muhammad Exist?. In that book also I discuss how this odd situation came about: opposing factions both invoked Muhammad as an authority, and invented traditions to support their point of view.

Robert Spencer has recently argued that Muhammad didn’t in fact exist.  The desire to negate Muhammad’s existence altogether is born out of his strongly pro-Catholic, anti-Muslim views.

Yet, Spencer should know that historians have doubted the historicity of Moses and Jesus as well.  Almost all of the arguments used against the historicity of Muhammad can be applied to Moses and Jesus.  Some scholars have doubted Moses and Jesus’ existences altogether, just as Spencer doubts the existence of Muhammad.  Once again, what is good for the goose is good for the gander, but try arguing this point and Spencer will cry “tu quoque, tu quoque!”  How dare you apply the same standards to Spencer’s religion and beliefs that he does on a routine basis to others!

However, most scholars don’t believe Muhammad didn’t exist, just as most don’t deny the existence of Jesus.  But, the details of Muhammad’s life are far more controversial and up for debate, just as is the case with Jesus.  Finding the historical Muhammad is, like finding the historical Moses or Jesus, an important endeavor.

Yes, contradictory hadiths abound, but that’s no different than is the case in Christianity: Bible scholars argue that the Gospels, for example, are highly contradictory to each other, especially with regard to Jesus.  I can hear it now already: tu quoque, tu quoque!

The fact that contradictory reports exist just means that scholars need to exert energy to determine what’s more reliable and what’s not–and there will always be a level of guesswork and doubt about it.  But the correct way to find the historical Muhammad is not the way Spencer does it: agree with whatever casts Muhammad in a bad light, and dump everything that doesn’t.

Finding the historical Muhammad is an important endeavor that modern scholarship will need to undertake, and you won’t find me disagreeing with that.  Yes, it might call into question stories that many Muslims take for granted, but it will also cast doubt on events that Islamophobes like Robert Spencer rely on to bash Muslims over the head with.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.  For the writing of this article, Dawood (guest contributor) was consulted.

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.

Iran: Yet Another Case Study in Robert Spencer’s Hypocrisy and Double Standards

JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer just posted an article with the following title:

How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet: Iran promotes genocidal book by Muslim seminarians, published by Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance

He’s taking exception to an anti-Israeli book supposedly written by some religious students in Iran, called “How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet.”  Spencer calls this a “genocidal book.”

This is why LoonWatch exists.  We’ve been documenting what loons like Robert Spencer say so that we can pull Jon Stewart moves like the one I am going to pull now…

The reader is referred to Robert Spencer’s post in March 2010 wherein he promoted a “genocidal video” calling for “wiping Pakistan off the map” and nuclear annihilation of Pakistan:

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer: Wipe Pakistan Off the Map

And my article on the topic back then:

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller Promote Video by Militant and Genocidal Group

When Iranians/Muslims call to “wipe Israel off the map” or “eliminate Israel from the planet”, then it is a “genocidal book” and all freedom-loving people must be outraged by this.  When anti-Muslim extremists call for the same against Muslims, then that’s a “genocidal freedom-loving video” that all freedom-loving people must support.  As George Orwell put it: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”

(Image at the top of the page comes from an earlier article exposing Robert Spencer: LoonWatch Exclusive: Robert Spencer’s “f**kallah.com” & “f**kislam.com”)

Once Again: “Police Blotter Bob” Not Interested in Facts

Once again, “Police Blotter Bob” shows that he could care less about facts when it comes to Islam and Muslims. In his “response” to the Center for American Progress report on Islamophobia, Bob claims that he is not attacking all of Islam, but just the “radicals” and the “jihadists.”

My work…has never been against Muslims in the aggregate or any people as such, but rather against an ideology that denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people.

Yet, statement after statement, and post after post on his website talks about “Muslims” and “Islam” as just that: an aggregate. Take this latest post:

The fact that Muslims do not like Jews and Israel, I know, because many of my correspondents, Islamic leaders, Emirs, the heads of armed groups and ordinary Mujahideen talked about this at every meeting and every interview with me.

The fact that Islam is a nation and that Muslims have no other nationality is what I also heard from religious leaders supporting the Jihad.

The fact that Muslims can adapt and play by the political process more than once I saw myself.

They know how to do represent themselves as the victims of inhumane aggression through the media. And the same information is transmitted to the Islamic world in a different manner — as a victory for Jihad and death for the sake of Allah.

No nuance, no teasing out the particular…no, rather ”Muslims do not like Jews and Israel.” That is a general statement. That is what Spencer and his minions do again, and again, and again.

Yet, the facts tell a completely different story:

A World Public Opinion (WPO) survey done in collaboration at that time with the University of Maryland reported that 51 percent of Americans believe “bombings and other types of attacks intentionally aimed at civilians are sometimes justified,” while only 13 percent of American Muslims hold a similar view, with a full 81 percent saying violence against civilians is never justified.

A recent Gallup survey (2011) asks the same question separately — first for a “military attacks against civilians” and then “individuals and small groups attacking civilians.” Muslim Americans came out as the staunchest opponents of both overwhelmingly as compared to their neighbors.

In response to military attacks against civilians, 78 percent of Muslim Americans said such attacks are never justified as compared to 39 percent of Christians and 43 percent of Jews. Only 21 percent Muslim Americans approve of it “sometimes” as compared to 58 percent of Christians and 52 percent of Jews.

Eighty-nine percent of Muslim Americans surveyed by Gallup rejected violent individual attacks on civilians as compared to 71 percent of Christians and 75 percent of Jews. Muslims are the least likely to justify attacks on civilians. Only 11 percent of Muslims justified that sometimes such attacks are acceptable as compared to 27 percent of Christians and 22 percent of Jews.

The same is true when it comes to opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Muslim Americans are way ahead in their opposition to wars as compared to their neighbors.

However, when the Pew survey first came out in 2007, it did not provide any relief for Muslim Americans from Islamophobic media frenzy. Most reporters used it as an opportunity to fan hatred against Muslim Americans, focusing on the smaller number of Muslim Americans who justified attacks on civilians without comparing it to Christian Americans, who did the same even in a larger numbers.

Right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin proclaimed in the National Review that the poll “should be a wake-up call.” Mark Steyn said it demonstrated the existence in America of “a huge comfort zone for the jihad to operate in,” and on CNN, Anderson Cooper was horrified — just horrified — that “so many” American Muslims would support such violence.

Well, I was also horrified myself until I checked what our neighbors are saying about intentionally targeting civilians. As a peacemaker, I will only be satisfied fully when all Muslims and people of other faiths oppose killing civilians fully, whether that is by a military or a terrorist group. But these statistics do offer me comparative relief.

FBI Evidence

The same evidence of a peaceful Muslim community was provided by Michael E. Rolince, former FBI Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism, D.C. Field Office. He said the FBI conducted about 500,000 interviews without finding a single lead which could have helped the agency prevent the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

That number means that almost 40 percent of all Muslim households in the United States were probably touched by this investigation. Here is what this presidential award recipient with 30 years of counterterrorism and counterintelligence experience said on Dec. 17, 2005, one month after his retirement, at the Muslim Public Affairs Committee’s annual convention in a panel titled, “Muslim Americans & Law Enforcement Partnership” (Here is an mp3 of his speech. His statement appears in the Q & A section):

“We conducted about a half a million interviews post 9/11 relative to the attacks of 9/11, and this is important because your community gets painted as not doing enough and you could have helped. I’m not aware — and I know 9/11 about as well as anybody in the FBI knows 9/11 and that’s not bragging that’s just the reality — I’m not aware of any single person in your community who, had they stepped forward, could have provided a clue to help us get out in front of this. The reality of that attack is that 19 people came here with what they needed. They spoke the language well enough to order meals and rent cars and hotel rooms. They had money coming in from overseas. Four people knew how to fly planes and 15 others were willing to be the muscle. They didn’t need any witting help from anyone to do what they did. And thus far, and I’m not saying this is conclusive because 10 years from now someone might find something that changes it, we’ve not found a sitting single witting individual in your community, and that’s a fact that gets overlooked because you get painted and that’s why I’m so committed and remain committed to projects like this because what we are in the business of is facts and the truth.”Anxiety about Muslim Americans is at an all-time high thanks to a well-funded campaign of Islamophobia.

Rand Corporation Findings

A 2010 Rand Corporation report rightfully states that “The volume of domestic terrorist activity was much greater in the 1970s than it is today. It is important to note that Rand is mostly a Defense Department-funded think-tank. This report has a whole section called “The 1970s Saw Greater Terrorist Violence.” The report asserts that, “Thus far, there has been no sustained jihadist terrorist campaign in the United States.” And one possible reason for this, according to this Rand report, is, “The local Muslim community rejected al Qaeda’s appeals and actively intervened to dissuade those with radical tendencies from violence.”

But, facts mean very little to “Police Blotter Bob”…

The problem with Jihad Watch

(cross-post from Harry’s Place)

Guest Post, August 17th 2011, 10:40 am

This is a guest post the centrist (Lucy Lips’ boyfriend)

For someone who spends the majority of his time blogging, Robert Spencer is remarkably thin skinned. Ever since One Law for All published its report about how the far-Right has hijacked the anti-Islamist debate, Spencer has been howling with his characteristic sense of righteous indignation and victimhood. Dissent and disagreement is not allowed in Spencer’s world. Detractors are immediately branded ‘Marxists’, ‘anti-Semities’, ‘Dhimmis’, ‘stooges’ or practitioners of Spencer’s favourite slur ‘Taqiyyah’.

Spencer might claim not to hate all Muslims, but his work belies that vacuous claim. Jihad Watch essentalises Muslims on a daily basis, as if they were a monolithic whole acting in unison for the pursuit of an unspoken grand agenda. Every action performed by a Muslim, no matter what their actual motivation, is immediately ascribed to Islam. It is as if no Muslim ever acts without reference to their Islamic identity.

Consider this wild theory posted on Spencer’s website. An article posted by ‘The Anti-Jihadist’ claims that allegations of rape made against Dominique Strauss-Kahn are actually part of a ‘stealth jihad’. What matters, long before any real facts have been established in that case, is that Strauss-Kahn’s accuser is a Guinean Muslim immigrant.

It also so happens that Mr. Strauss-Kahn is Jewish. Coincidence?…Why would a Muslim, and a ‘pious, devout’ one at that, be so adept and experienced at lying? Surely Islam has nothing to do with this woman’s pathological lying, and nothing to do with her criminal attempts to extort money from a powerful, rich Jew. Of course.

Perhaps Strauss-Kahn’s accuser was trying to extort a rich and powerful man. The facts are far from settled. But if she were, why is Spencer not content to think of her as simply a crook? Rather, what is singled out and stressed is that she is Muslim. Indeed, the article is quite explicit in arguing that Muslims are inspired to become ‘pathological liars’ by Islam.

That is the modus operandi of Jihad Watch. Elsewhere on his site, Spencer posts a picture of an unknown Muslim woman wearing a headscarf while working for the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). After offering an insincere caveat, “I am sure the TSA employee pictured here is as loyal and patriotic as the day is long”, Spencer gets to the nub of the matter. He objects to seeing a Muslim TSA worker because:

we are forced tacitly to acknowledge either that that belief-system [Islam] had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks — even though the attackers themselves invoked it and only it as their motivation — and that therefore we must do nothing to oppose its spread in the West, or that even if that belief-system did motivate the 9/11 jihad attacks, it is continuing to advance in the West and we can do nothing about it.

The two goals may coalesce: in other words, Islamic jihadists who wished to infiltrate the TSA may decide that a hijabbed TSA worker would be preferable to one in secular dress, as a gesture of Islamic supremacist assertiveness as well as the placement of an agent who could weaken security at the right moment.

So any Muslim woman wearing the hijab is making ‘a gesture of Islamic supremacist assertiveness’? Remember that Spencer claims not to hate all Muslims or be immediately suspicious of them, yet he ascribes such conspiratorial motives to women who simply cover their hair.

Back to Spencer’s bizarre logic:

A hijabbed TSA worker is the personification of a dare: Islamic supremacists are daring the TSA to question her about her belief-system, thereby acknowledging that that belief-system has something to do with terror and violence.

Again, the hijab is linked to a ‘supremacist’ plot, this time as part of an ‘Islamist dare’. Spencer’s claims not to hold all Muslims in disdain and under suspicion is palpably false as demonstrated by articles like that, and literally hundreds of others on his website.

Spencer and supporters of his essentialist view automatically ascribe the beliefs of Islamist political parties, terrorist organisations, and the most regressive, literalist interpretations of Islam to all Muslims. Suspicion and distrust naturally follow, creating the climate in which the delusions that consumed Anders Breivik are formed.

Spencer has howled wildly that Breivik has nothing to do with him. Yet, it is not that simple. Spencer may not advocate actual violence but that is his only difference with Breivik – one of style rather than substance. They share a general diagnosis of ‘the problem’: the supposed ‘colonisation’ of Western societies by Muslims and the hysterical claim that there will be a ‘Muslim takeover’.

This is no different to groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizb ut Tahrir which condemned 9/11 and 7/7. They might oppose those attacks, but do so over issues of style only. They share al-Qaeda’s overall diagnosis and worldview: that Islam is under attack by a belligerent West and that the only solution is the revival of puritanical Islamic societies.

In any event, Spencer’s claims about being opposed to violence require serious examination. When the Egyptian revolution began one might have expected Spencer to support a group of people fighting for their freedom. Instead, an article on Jihad Watch by ‘Roland Shirk’ could only imagine the worst.

What Muslims want, around the world, is to impose political Islam…For us to be prattling on about the virtues of self-government in this context is suicidal, like Russian aristocrats hosting Bolsheviks in their salons.

So much for all the pieties about not hating Muslims and always suspecting the worst about them. Shirk then offered a very unique solution to avoid the ‘suicidal’ situation he saw arising in Egypt, arguing:

If I could have Mubarak’s ear, I would whisper just two words of wisdom: Tiananmen Square.

That sentence was later removed, presumably after its inexpediency was realised, but you can see a screenshot of the original below.

This is a very serious charge which Spencer must answer. Yes, the offending line has been removed but who uploaded the original article – Spencer or someone else? If not Spencer, then who? And, perhaps most damning of all, why has Roland Shirk continued to post articles on Jihad Watch since calling for the massacre of countless Egyptians as they demonstrated against one of the Middle East’s most brutal regimes?

Rather than descending into wild name calling, it would be good for Spencer to engage with the issues at hand if he is sincere.

*  *  *  *  *

The problem with Jihad Watch: Addendum

Edmund Standing, August 17th 2011, 12:51 pm

The Centrist writes:

Spencer has howled wildly that Breivik has nothing to do with him. Yet, it is not that simple. Spencer may not advocate actual violence but that is his only difference with Breivik – one of style rather than substance. They share a general diagnosis of ‘the problem’: the supposed ‘colonisation’ of Western societies by Muslims and the hysterical claim that there will be a ‘Muslim takeover’.

This is indeed the case. Here’s Spencer, speaking in 2007:

There will be civil war in Europe. The European citizenry, for the most part, are not ready to accept Islamic law and there will be armed conflicts.

Here’s Dennis Prager, a man praised on Jihad Watch:

It is difficult to imagine any other future scenario for Western Europe than its becoming Islamicised or having a civil war.

Fjordman, a Norwegian writer whose work has been featured on Jihad Watch (see, for example, here, here, and here) claims, in an article recommended by Spencer:

The West is becoming so overwhelmed by immigration that this may trigger civil wars in several Western nations in the near future.

In another article, Fjordman writes:

If the Leftists and the Globalists have their way then our civilization will die, plain and simple. That’s why this ongoing struggle is likely to get ugly, because no compromise is possible. Since similar ideological struggles are taking place throughout the Western world, this situation could trigger a pan-Western Civil War.

The Fjordman quote above is taken from a ‘Brussels Journal’ article. Spencer is a supporter of the Brussels Journal (see approving quotes here and here, for example), despite it featuring articles such as this one, which speaks of ‘the sustained persecution that BNP members are subject to in the archPod state of ex-Great ex-Britain’, and goes on to advocate racial separatism:

Integration is not possible except by hoisting the white flag, as white Body Snatchers do. But separation ought to be possible, and is likely to occur in the future.

[…]

Saving Western Civilization must entail as well separation from Muslims and from Third World Latinos, which these groups already practice toward whites. How to separate without cruel and unjust policies is an issue beyond the scope of this discussion, as it requires a fully-informed consideration of the specific circumstances in each Western country separately.

What is clear is that the fault for the disaster of bringing to the West tens of millions of unassimilable Muslims, tens of millions of subliterate Mestizo laborers, millions of chaos-generating Africans, lies not with such Muslims, Mestizos and Africans but with the crazed Body Snatcher elite that has brought them – by naïve intention and by purposeful inattention, both. The separation therefore, cannot be guided by animus toward such immigrants, who have done what comes naturally, but toward those who have brought them to the West.

In a 2010 article published by Jihad Watch, Fjordman writes:

Wherever possible, non-Muslims should seek to physically separate themselves from Muslims.

Spencer, both via his own writings and the writings of others that he promotes on Jihad Watch, clearly supports a paranoid worldview in which it is only a matter of time before Europe is torn apart by wars brought about by its Muslim minority. He is happy to promote authors and journals that advocate various forms of confessional and even ethnic separatism.

The Centrist argues:

Spencer might claim not to hate all Muslims, but his work belies that vacuous claim. Jihad Watch essentalises Muslims on a daily basis, as if they were a monolithic whole acting in unison for the pursuit of an unspoken grand agenda. Every action performed by a Muslim, no matter what their actual motivation, is immediately ascribed to Islam. It is as if no Muslim ever acts without reference to their Islamic identity.

Again, this is indeed the case, and another good example of this is found in Spencer’s claims about various car accidents being part of a low-level jihadist plot.

As I noted in a post in April this year, Spencer has collected stories of Muslims involved in hit-and-run incidents and built a bizarre narrative around them.

He suggests that a man who had drunk six cans of Budweisser before crashing into six people during a police chase may have drunk the beer ‘to steel himself’ before committing a supposed act of ‘jihad’.

In another case, this time involving a man who reportedly is ‘mentally ill, suffers from depression and hasn’t being taking his medication’, Spencer nonetheless concludes that on the basis of the man’s name – Ismail Yassin Mohamed – the case may ‘possibly’ be an example of ‘Sudden Jihad Syndrome’.

Spencer can launch foaming-at-the-mouth attacks as much as he likes, but the fact of the matter is that he long ago crossed the line that separates legitimate criticism of Islam and opposition to Islamism from anti-Muslim bigotry and fearmongering.

Adam Barnett’s response to Robert Spencer

By: Adam Barnett

Adam Barnett co-wrote One Law for All’s Enemies Not Allies: The Far:Right report. Here he responds to Robert Spencer’s statement on the report.

Following the publication of ‘Enemies Not Allies: The Far-Right’, our new report which investigates his and similar organisations, Stop Islamization of America director Robert Spencer has invited One Law for All to ‘substantiate [our] charges, or withdraw them and issue a public apology.’ One could simply recommend that Mr. Spencer read our report. Indeed, in his ‘rebuttal’, he writes as if he has answered all of these charges before. It’s therefore strange that he felt the need to reply to them at ‘11:53pm’ on a Sunday night, and to attempt to smear his critics as ‘racist anti-Semites’ and ‘supporters of Jihad’. One could be forgiven for thinking that Mr. Spencer hoped to prevent people from reading the report for themselves.

In any event, I’m happy to list our main charges against his group and refer interested readers to the relevant citations in our report:

– Stop Islamisation of Europe is the ‘expansion’ of a Danish anti-Muslim party, Stop Islamiseringen af Danmark (SIAD), which was itself the result of a split within a xenophobic lobby group. (p.36-37) It calls for a boycott of all ‘Islamic countries’, for the Qur’an to be banned, for the mass deportation of immigrants from Europe, and protests against the building of Mosques. (p.37, 44-46) SIOE’s leadership consider all Muslims to be congenital liars who have a ‘culture of deceit’, and never tire of announcing that they ‘do not believe in moderate Muslims’. (p.40-41, and here)

– SIOE’s leaders have collaborated with and defended Julius Borgesen, former spokesperson for the right-wing extremist group Danske Front, which has ‘co-operated’ with Blood & Honour and Combat 18. Borgessen has reportedly participated in a march to celebrate Rudolf Hess, and was imprisoned in 2007 for calling for an arson attack against a Danish minister. SIOE insist that Borgesen is ‘in no way Nazi [or a racist], but is fighting for the democracy and freedom of Denmark’. (p.38-39) Further, there is evidence to suggest that other Danish neo-Nazis, as well as members of the BNP and the National Front, have attended SIOE and SIAD events. (p.38, 47)

– Stop Islamization of America is the U.S. branch of the SIOE umbrella group, and was entrusted by its leadership to Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer in January 2010. Geller and Spencer have praised SIOE, endorsed its political programme, published its statements and expressed admiration for its leaders. (p.48-49)

– SIOA’s leaders have surpassed SIOE’s defence of war criminal Radovan Karadzic, (which included offering justifications for his actions), by defending Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, denying Serbian atrocities including the Srebrenica genocide, publishing the work of professional apologists for the Milosevic project, and in Spencer’s case working on an institutional level with such people to oppose an independent Kosovo. Ms. Geller has gone so far as to say that Bosnian Muslims killed themselves in order to ‘manipulate media coverage’, and refers to the 1995 genocide as a ‘propaganda lie’ which was ‘manufactured [by] the international community’ as part of ‘the ongoing blood libel against the Christian Serbs’. (p.42-43, 53-54 and here)

This is presumably what Mr. Spencer means when he writes of SIOA’s ‘opposition to the jihad in the Balkans and skepticism (sic) about some of the charges made of Serbian war crimes.’

– SIOA’s leadership has supported, defended and praised the English Defence League, (without equivocation until recently), and has promoted their events, published their statements and attacked their critics. (p.55-59) Co-director Pamela Geller’s web log has featured conspiratorial articles regarding the President of America’s religion, his family, his sexual history, and the circumstances of his birth, and has likened his ‘stealth jihad on the White House’ to ‘an SS officer getting elected president during WW II’. (p.52-53) In 2010, Robert Spencer defended his and Geller’s ‘colleague’ Joseph John Jay, who had recommended the ‘wholesale slaughter’ of Muslim civilians, including children, on the grounds that he had been ‘misinterpreted’. Spencer maintains this still, and Ms. Geller has recommended Jay’s writings as recently as July 2011. (p.51-51)

I could go on, but I ought to address Mr. Spencer’s direct challenge regarding a quote of his which we included. Here is the quote, published on his Jihad Watch site in 2005: ‘there is no distinction in the American Muslim community between peaceful Muslims and jihadists. While Americans prefer to imagine that the vast majority of American Muslims are civic-minded patriots who accept wholeheartedly the parameters of American pluralism, this proposition has actually never been proven.’

Writing today, Spencer claims ‘what [he] meant was there is no institutional distinction, so jihadis move freely in Muslim circles among those who oppose them and claim to do so’. However, when asked by a commenter on the original article in 2005 ‘how distinctions can be made’, Spencer replied: ‘That’s simple. Let American Muslims renounce all attachment to violent Jihad and Sharia, refuse all aid from Sharia states (chiefly Saudi Arabia), and cooperate fully with anti-terror efforts aimed at rooting jihadists out of American mosques.’ (p.52) Having thus identified all Muslims as suspects who are guilty until proven innocent, Spencer does not specify how to treat Muslims who do not ‘cooperate fully’, or who fail to make the prescribed disassociations. But based on his record and the company he keeps, I’m glad we’ll never have to find out what it might entail.

I think this meets Mr. Spencer’s challenge, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to bring all of this to people’s attention. I’m not sure how one squares the above with the claim that SIOA ‘stand[s] for the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and equality of rights for all people’. Perhaps Mr. Spencer will enlighten us.

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.