Sunday, February 14, 2016

Damned if we do, damned if we don't: Example #137,085...

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Over the years, I have noted many instances in various parts of the West reflecting my title.  I haven't made an effort to note them down each time I see them; I probably should have, so I could have a long list of likely hundreds (if not thousands) of examples to show those in the Counter-Jihad who seem to suffer from a reflex spasm compelling them to object to my criticisms of this or that analysis from the Counter-Jihad Leadership, leading them to asseverate anxiously a variation on the theme of "But our Counter-Jihad Leaders have to be careful how they word things, else our PC MC Masters might become offended and hamper our ability to operate with optimal effectiveness...!"

Well, today I just saw yet another example of my counter-argument to this response -- to repeat what I noted in my last post (Post-Scrubtum) as the second problem of three:

...it apparently doesn't matter much to the PC MC Mainstream how careful a Robert Spencer or a Daniel Pipes or a Geert Wilders is -- they can anxiously reassure their audience that they are "not anti-Islam", that they are "not anti-Muslim", that they "do not hate all Muslims", that they are "not racist", that they "only stand for human rights for all", etc. etc. -- they STILL get vilified (either blatantly or by clear implication) as racist right-wing Islamophobes!

And it doesn't only affect Counter-Jihad Leadership, of course; many ordinary civilians more or less within the ragged ambit of the still inchoate Counter-Jihad have been affected as well -- case in point, the case in Denmark recently of one Flemming Nielsen (a businessman and retired soccer player), who was fined 1,600 kroner for violating a Danish statute known as the “racism paragraph”.  As reported on the Gates of Vienna blog, Nielsen had merely written a sentiment on his Facebook page:

“…The ideology of Islam is every bit as loathsome, nauseating, oppressive and dehumanizing as Nazism. The massive immigration of Islamists into Denmark is the most devastating event Danish society has suffered in recent historical times.”

As Gates of Vienna reported the other day:

“He was sentenced to four day-fines of 400 kroner for violating the Penal Code §266b paragraph 1, also called the racism paragraph. This is from a judgment rendered by a Court in Elsinore.”

What makes this case relevant to my post today is what Nielsen protested in response to his punishment:

“I did not violate the article I have been accused of. I did not mention the religion of Islam or Muslims with one word. I referred to Islamists and the ideology of Islam.”

Damned if he did, damned if he didn't.

The PC MC Mainstream’s more or less unofficial statute demonizing and/or criminalizing Islamocriticism thus seems evidently based on a logic of synecdoche:

To criticize any part of the Islamic orbit without explicitly surgically detaching it from Islam, is tantamount to condemning all Muslims…

which, in turn,

is tantamount to setting in motion the demagogic thought crime that will lead inexorably down the slippery slope to genocide against Brown People

Since this de facto cultural law renders us as damned if we do as when we don’t, I say why not do? Zero Tolerance of All Muslims. And since the PC MC Mainstream won’t listen to our intelligent arguments clarifying that such a blanket condemnation of all Muslims is not joined at the hip with genocide, and that deportation is not the same thing as genocide -- but they will vilify us anyway as genocide-inciters -- we are wasting our time parsing our memes with eggshell-tiptoeing care (unless, like Robert Spencer and the rest of the CJM (Counter-Jihad Mainstream), we really sincerely believe in such parsing…).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Post-Scrubtum

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In my follow-up piece the other day to my immediately preceding post on incipient signs of life & intelligence in Jihad Watch comments, I wrote:

...I could understand the Jihad Watch censor(s) deleting the first nakedly genocidal comment; but it was silly of Robert Spencer to ask Marc, his editor and tech guy, to drone the whole wedding party of innocents as collateral damage along with that one egregious comment.

Thinking on it further, I actually amend my opinion, slightly.  It would have been best to do either of two things:

1) Leave the nakedly genocidal statement (If I was king of this world, I’d exterminate every Muslim that walks the earth.”) -- for the reason that the ensuing comments generated in response to it clearly showed that the Jihad Watch community is opposed to such extremist sentiments -- with only one commenter (the new guy I like, “Gray”) seeming to demur from the community party line but clearly, to anyone with a modicum of sense & intelligence (i.e., hardly no one in Jihad Watch comments), in a nuanced way that arguably distances itself from the brute purport of that nakedly genocidal statement.

2) Delete the nakedly genocidal statement, but leave all the responses to it (none of which, as far as I could tell, agreed with it, and the vast majority of which, in fact, recoiled from it).  The Jihad Watch tech guy, Marc, surely could work his tech magic and insert a brief comment right at the top informing readers that "Jihad Watch has deleted a comment that was genocidal, because obviously that goes against our values, but we left the various responses to it, because in fact they show a healthy disavowal of such genocidal extremism."  Surely, in the time it took Marc to delete all the comments relating to the genocidal one, he would have had the time to do that.

I say “it would have been better” -- better for what or whom?  Better for culture, better for civilization.  If the public conversation in a context of one of the virtual battle spaces of this war of ideas we are all in -- a war of ideas mainly calculated to try to raise awareness throughout the free world to the problem of Islam -- cannot proceed without anxiously trigger-happy censorship at crucial turns, rather than allow the breathing process of heartfelt, intelligent conversation, then what exactly are we defending?  

The counter-argument that invariably pops up from the Counter-Jihad Mainstream at this juncture runs something like this:   that we in the Counter-Jihad, especially someone as eminently lofty as Robert Spencer, must be ultra-careful lest the Mainstream and the Islamopologists ostracize us as "racists" who "hate all Muslims" and want to "kill all Muslims" -- thus preventing us from getting our message out.

The first problem with this is that "ultra-careful" is to some extent relative and subjective.  Surely, we can all agree (though I doubt we will) that even in this exigently dicey context, one can be too careful, too paranoid, too deferential to the rules of our PC MC masters.  The question then becomes a matter of reasonable casuistry -- take the situations on a case-by-case basis, rather than apply a blanket ruling from on high to all situations, irrespective of their distinctions.  The knee-jerk response of the typical Counter-Jihadist, however -- whereby no matter what the situation is, Robert Spencer's censorship is always right, and that's that -- clearly indicates they operate on the basis of just such a blanket ruling (in addition to a slavish enabling of demagoguery), anxiously letting that ruling take the place of the careful deliberation that would adjudicate on a case-by-case basis.

The other problem with this response I have noticed over the years: it apparently doesn't matter much to the PC MC Mainstream how careful a Robert Spencer or a Daniel Pipes or a Geert Wilders is -- they can anxiously reassure their audience that they are "not anti-Islam", that they are "not anti-Muslim", that they "do not hate all Muslims", that they are "not racist", that they "only stand for human rights for all", etc. etc. -- they still get vilified (either blatantly or by clear implication) as racist right-wing Islamophobes!

The third problem I pointed out above: the various battle spaces of the war of ideas theater of the Counter-Jihad need to cultivate reason and intelligence in a spirit of the free speech of robust conversation & healthy disagreement.  The actual tendency we see -- to cultivate the lowest common denominator of group-think, reinforced by a trigger-happy anxiety about pleasing our Mainstream Masters -- bodes ill for keeping alive the flame that is the heart of the West we would be defending from destruction.

 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Scrubbing Bubbles

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My latest essay ("Black and White -- and Gray"), located just one floor down, past the green tea dispenser, hang a left after the LGBT rest rooms and go down three doors past the meeting hall of the OCD Counter-Jihad, concerned a recent Jihad Watch article and its comments thread. The article was titled "UK: 12 Muslims jailed for sexually exploiting 13-year-old girl".

I noted at the time that I just accidentally and almost randomly decided to dip into its comments (after months of avoiding JW comments) because I noticed how many were there for that article -- and on the spur of the moment I wanted to see what Jihad Watchers were up to these days and if they were still hiding their heads in the asymptotic sand on the banks of De Nile (particularly about the pernicious effects of Muslims in our midst, to which the title of that article sickeningly and alarmingly adverts).

As I also noted, within a matter of minutes as I had that page open and had read through most of the comments, pleasantly surprised by one new commenter, "Gray" (new to me, at any rate), who introduced some robust sense into that increasingly retrograde community, I got up to get a piece of toast to finish off my coffee with. When I returned to my screen to refresh it to see what new comments may have appeared in the meantime, not only were there no new comments -- but a whole slew of comments I had just read moments before had vanished!

As I said in my aforementioned article, I could understand the Jihad Watch censor(s) deleting the first nakedly genocidal comment; but it was silly of Robert Spencer to ask Marc, his editor and tech guy, to drone the whole wedding party of innocents as collateral damage along with that one egregious comment.

Luckily, I managed to find that article with its previous comments, on Google cache -- and I salvaged and reproduced the best comments (by "Gray") in my aforementioned post (one floor down, past the green tea dispenser...)

Well, it gets sillier.

Not only did Spencer scrub a whole gaggle of harmless and intelligent comments in his anxious alarm to allay our PC MC Landlords -- I now see that he has scrubbed the whole damn article. Titled "UK: 12 Muslims jailed for sexually exploiting 13-year-old girl", it was dated "February 8, 2016 11:53 am By Robert Spencer".  If the reader tries to find that article now on the Jihad Watch website, he will search in vain -- even if he goes back into the archives (as I did, even back to the last week of January, to make sure).

And yet, the article still exists somewhere -- in the Cloud of Anxiety Deferential to our PC MC Masters, evidently -- for, while I was looking, I happened to notice that in the short list of "Recent Comments" which Jihad Watch has on every page at the very bottom, buried among bells & whistles of self-promotion and advertisement crap, the list indicated that a JW regular had posted on that thread. It provides a link, so I clicked, and lo and behold, I was taken to that non-existent article (still scrubbed clean of comments offensive to our PC MC Masters, of course). I just checked again, and there are no comments to that article on that short list - no surprise there, since that list changes minute by minute, since so many commenters comment on so many different articles as the hours of the day go by.  (Interestingly, another recent article vanished into a cloud -- a kind of parallel universe of Jihad Watch where articles still exist, but they are no longer on the website itself:  see here and here.)

Thank Allah the original comments still exists under Google cache -- however, it gets even sillier and sillier.

When you click on the cache to go there, you arrive at a most curious cache: the whole restored article is there, but it looks blacked out, yet if you squint carefully, you can see the article is still there beneath the darkness of the blacked out overlay. The reader can compare this with the normal way other cached Jihad Watch articles appear when you click on them: they simply yield a normal page of readable brightness. I simply copy-pasted everything when I salvaged and reproduced the comments for my aforementioned article (one floor down...).

Black and White -- and Gray

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As I've said a few times lately, I don't go back to Jihad Watch comments anymore.  Except recently, I thought I'd take a look at one particular thread -- "UK: 12 Muslims jailed for sexually exploiting 13-year-old girl" -- partially because it had so many comments (over a 100 when I saw it).

I wasn't expecting much, after years of general disappointment in the quality of the Jihad Watchers of late.  What a pleasant surprise, then, to see the comments of someone I'd never seen before -- one "Gray" -- gracing that battle space of the Counter-Jihad (such as it is) with a refreshing spring rain of integrity and common sense, contrasted with the stale and rigid flabbiness of the regulars there!

It all began when someone named "stan" fired off an intemperate salvo in the form of an ostensibly genocidal comment --

If I was king of this world, I’d exterminate every Muslim that walks the earth.

This very soon elicited various forms of corrective comments from the regulars.  Some of them called it "Hitler talk".  Leave it to the egregious Jihad Watch Softie, mortimer (so soft, he's downright suspicious), to chime in:

Your Hitlerism was condemned at Nuremburg...

You have not thought through your ideas. Your ideas are uncivilized. No more holocausts or genocides. Muslims who are deprogrammed are the greatest counterjihadists.

It was at this point that Gray weighed in, admirably so:

Your post is profoundly offensive to people like me, whose parents fought against the Nazis in the Second World War, and suffered grieviously as a result. The Muslims are the true followers of Hitler, not us. Islam is a totalitarian, fascist ideology, whose holiest books command adherents to kill Jews. Hitler admired Islam greatly. That is the reality. I suspect Stan and Grace understand the issues better than you do. There is a clash of civilizations in train, one which will not end until Islam is triumphant, and everyone in the West has embraced the only three choices that Islam allows to the non-Muslim. The weakness and appeasement of Western leaders has made an ultimate, winner-takes-all global conflict almost inevitable. Because we have not appreciated the freedoms our forebears left us, we are going to lose those freedoms. However, when the scimitar is descending on your neck, do by all means tell the Muslim warlord all about civilization. I’m sure it will make a difference (Not!).

Leave it then to another of the Peanut Gallery of Softies at Jihad Watch, Wellington, to rush anxiously in to try to correct Gray:

No, Gray, stan and grace don’t understand the issues better than mortimer. Neither do you. It is not necessary for free societies to ban totalitarian ideologies like Nazism, Marxism and Islam. What is necessary is to properly identify them as the freedom-crushing ideologies that they are.

Remember, during WWII, Nazism was still legal in the US as was Marxism during the Cold War, but these two decrepit ideologies were properly identified, which is KEY. Islam has not yet been accurately characterized for the putridity which it is. Accuracy in assessing an ideology and not the banning of it, regardless how odious it is, is the proper route for a free society to take. Reconsider.

Gray, however, wasn't about to be dismissed so easily:

With respect, Wellington, nowhere in my post did I speak of banning Islam. Things are rapidly progressing beyond that. Huntington’s clash of civilizations is happening right now, and it has been going on since the Seventh Century. The West just has not realized it, even yet. Seventy-five years ago, the question of the day was simple. Will the Axis Powers prevail, or will the Allies? It was literally a case of kill or be killed, and the Allies victory was by no means a foregone conclusion. I fear that we will soon face the exact same question. Will it be our lives, and the lives of our families, or will it be the lives of the members of the invading force, those who wish to enslave us, and destroy all we hold dear? I pray to God I am wrong, but I fear that is the choice that all of us in the West will ultimately face, and sooner rather than later. Again, with respect, may I say that it is an act of extreme naivety to bracket to together ‘Nazism, Marxism and Islam’, as though these three worldviews are similar ideologies, and morally equivalent. This might go down a treat amongst academics in Faculty Common Rooms, but Islam is in a class of its own. The Thousand Year Reich only lasted for five years. The forces of Islamic supremecism have been marshalled against the infidel world since the Seventh Century.

But, of course, Wellington, with the stolid stubbornness of a dog loyal to his master protecting a principle instead of living, breathing people, could not leave enough alone and pause to ponder the wisdom Gray was offering:

Hell, Gray, you went along with stan to the extent that you opined he understood things better than motrimer, even though stan argued for the extermination of all Muslims on earth. I trust you get my point here.

And I think it not naïve or inaccurate at all to bracket Islam with Nazism and Marxism. Not at all. The problem, as I already noted, is one of proper identification. Islam is evil (I trust we can agree on this). What has to occur is OVERWHELMING recognition of this by the West, including by the still clueless elites. Once this is done and Muslims are accurately characterized as adhering to a kind of spiritual fascism, the rest will take care of itself. Just because Islam is a better disguised form of evil than Nazism or Marxism should not lead one to agree with stan, who simply and simplistically wants to exterminate all Muslims. C’mon.

You should have distanced yourself from stan’s statement completely. You didn’t. But you should have.

Then we had Gray's last word -- a fine riposte to Wellington's obtuse defense of an obsolete, and incoherently defended ideal:

Wellington, I have a life, and have other things to do than spend my days reading blogs and responding. This will be my final word on the subject. Yes, I acknowledge it is extreme to talk of exterminating all Muslims, and yes, it is not something I would necessarily advocate myself. However I respect, and share, what I perceive to be the underlying sentiments of the gentleman who did so. What annoyed me then (and still does) was the abuse this observation generated, with accusations of being a Hitler and a fascist. It is hard for our young to grasp the full import of the challenge facing the West, simply because it is so horrific, and the present generation has never had to face the life and death challenges that confronted previous generations. I repeat: Islam is a fascist ideology. There is no respect for human life in Islam, which endorses a divinely sanctioned hatred of anything that is not Islamic. Up until recently, I had comforted myself with the thought that Truth and Goodness would eventually prevail in this clash of civilizations, and that the West, with its superior civilization, would ultimately prevail over the barbarism of Islam. I no longer do so. The wilful blindness and cowardice of western leaders, together with events in Europe in the past months, have shown conclusively that this is wishful thinking. Yes, it would be lovely if everyone in the West admitted the obvious reality that Islam is Evil. But it will solve nothing. Events have moved beyond that, and the forces of evil are now in our very midst. Might I quote Churchill, who knew something of last ditch battles to preserve a civilization. He knew a bit about Islam as well:

“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

Churchill gives three alternative choices. I would love to be proved wrong, but now fear that we have already gone beyond Churchill’s first alternative. So please do not abuse those who see this struggle as a fight to the death. They may well be right.

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As I say -- a rare waft of the fresh air of common sense in those dank, stale, stifling echo-chamber halls of Jihad Watch comments...

P.S.:  

Interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly, the above comments were quickly deleted by Jihad Watch censors; I had barely time to take a third gulp of my morning coffee and refresh my screen, before I saw that they had vanished into the anxious-to-please-our-PC/MC-Masters ether.  It was only through Google cache that I was able to retrieve them.  The only comment that should have been deleted was that of "stan".  It was silly for Robert Spencer to have deleted also those of Gray and Wellington.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Orientophilia

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For years now, I've been thinking about, reading about, and on this blog analyzing the problem of Western myopia to the problem of Islam.  Sometimes my focus is smaller, sometimes I step back to take the long view, as in my essays Western Amnesia and Islamnesia, and Montaigne: Godfather of PC MC?

One piece of this very complex puzzle involves the West's fascination with the Orient (often meaning the Near East and its historical and cultural contiguity with the Mediterranean littorals).  This goes back at least to the 17th century; and as it has become inflected (or distorted) through the warp of PC MC, it has raised the pseudo-problem of "Orientalism" given undeserved impetus and cachet by the Emeritus Hack Edward Said (see my essay He Said, Ed Said).  

A good way to get the reader's foot wet in this subject is to dip into a comment Hugh Fitzgerald penned at Jihad Watch many years ago, riffing off of the specious concept of Orientalism:

Contrary to Edward Said, much of the literature (see Washington Irving, see Chateaubriand, see Sir Walter Scott) and art (see Delacroix, see Eugene Fromentin, see a thousand Frenchmen setting up their easels from Cairo to Marrakech) of the Western world, from the time of Napoleon’s entry into Egypt in 1798 and the almost immediate fashion, in furniture, for Egyptian motifs, the popular response of the West to the Ottoman and Arab East was not one of hostility (whipped-up by the “stereotypes” of the so-called “Orientalists”) but rather, sympathetic interest in the exotic, which then graded into the sensual (Flaubert and Maxine Du Camp in Cairo), and then into the sexual. For before there was the Latin lover (in full-bodied Latin-American form, as with Porfirio Rubirosa, or the suaver Italian, including Vittorio da Sica in “The Earrings of Madame De…” and Vittorio Gassman in all kinds of things) there was Rudolph Valentino as the Sheikh of Araby. And along with the sweet singers of the mystery and majesty of the Arab desert and the noble Bedu—think of Freya Stark and a cast of dozens of English female travellers, each more intrepid and Virago-publishing-house worthy than the next.

And then there was also the Arab as a sympathetic comic fellow. You find, for example, in the History of Hasty-Pudding Theatricals that between 1890 and 1930 the subject given most attention were those loveable comic fellows, the Arabs.

And the same is true in popular songs—see the old anthologies of Sigmund Spaeth, and all the songs about funnily-named Arabs or Turks who do battle with the Roosian “Ivan Skaminsky Skamar.” Lots of fun, no sense of menace in those pre-OPEC, pre-Da’wa, pre-mosques-and-minarets everywhere in the Western world days.” 

(A lengthy and detailed treatment of issues surrounding this, written by Ibn Warraq, was published in 51 parts at Jihad Watch a couple of years ago, under the title:  Walter Scott, The Talisman, The Crusades, Richard I of England and Saladin: Myths, Legends and History.)

At the time, I offered a kind of nightcap to bookend Hugh's brief excursus:
 
Further widening Hugh’s chronological poles, we have in 1704 Antoine Galland with his first translation into a Western language (French) of those quasi-Islamic fables The Thousand and One Arabian Nights, which became enormously popular throughout the West for at least two centuries after that; and we may fast-forward to 1965 when Elvis Presley (in a turban and tight silk pants) and the sensually pantherine Fran Jeffries (playing a harem girl “Aisha”) played cat-and-mouse in Harum Scarum.  Not to mention the blonde suburban jinn America came to know and love in the series I Dream of Jeannie.

Then in 1992, speaking of the Arabian Nights, Disney came out with the wildly popular Aladdin (Robin Williams playing the genie) -- popular in various parts of the Muslim world as well (see my 2006 essay Aladdin, Disney, Malaysia, and Islam).

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One example of this Orientophilia out of thousands one could pluck from a genie-bottle has taken the form of various types of romantic literature about Muslims (usually regarding Ottoman Turks and their Sultans).  Some of this literature descends into soapy bathos -- as, for instance, in the novels of Bertrice Small, particularly The Kadin.  One blurb at Google Books handily distills its meager essence:

Abducted from a life of privilege, she was sold into slavery in a distant land. For Lady Janet Leslie there would be no escaping the harem of the wealthy and powerful Sultan Selim...

The "Abducted" which that summation breezes over refers to the attacks & abductions which Mohammedans in their Jihad of the High Seas (i.e., piracy) perpetrated against Westerners for over 1,000 years, mostly in the Mediterranean, but also at times up the Atlantic coast of Spain, France, and even England (and once, Iceland!) -- not to mention in raids on villages near coastlines from Greece all the way to Spain.  As I wrote in my 2012 essay, Tilting at windmills, about Cervantes and Islam:
 
As we should know, but don't:   Muslims routinely abducted Westerners and enslaved them, for centuries -- documented in the books White Gold by Giles Miton, as well as Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800, by Robert C. Davis, whose author estimates approximately one million or more Westerners who suffered this cruel fate at the hands of Muslims during that time period alone (see also Chapter One -- available to read for a free preview at Amazon.com -- of Peter Hammond's new book, Slavery, Terrorism & Islam, for a good overview of Islamic slavery).   And, of course, a good deal of the cruel problem of the so-called 'Barbary pirates' (i.e., Muslims adapted to water travel) entailed their abduction and enslavement of innumerable Europeans, and then, fatefully, of Americans.

Billed under the sub-genre of "erotica", The Kadin seems to be one of a series indulging the morbid obsession author Bertrice Small seems to have -- un-self-reflectively -- with civilizational self-hatred (among the titles I see there is the dry-heave-inducing The Love Slave which, from its description, deals in the same sordid world as its hapless white kidnapping victim is relegated to the harem of the Caliph of Cordoba).  One could make quite a study of this sub-genre, if one could stomach one's fascination with protracted vehicle collisions on the freeway turning slowly into existential nausea.  Today, I only take a look at a few choice reader reviews of The Kadin (it garnered over 150 reviews at Amazon.com), from which I culled what I consider to be a typical attitude of the white female PC MC when contemplating, and no doubt anticipating, through the gauzy veil of her witlessly unwitting wishes, her swarthy rapist.  Note: kadin is an Arabic word meaning "a favorite" -- referring to the Sultan's favorite sex slave, the white abductee.  Or perhaps a better translation would be "pet", with all the connotations we can think of.

I hereby quote some of them (I won't even bother typing "[sic]" since the misspellings amongst these readers of literature abound).  The bolded portions are my emphases.  Their preposterousness should be self-evident.  Their common theme reflects an utter, almost surreal lack of condemnation for the abduction and sex slavery that is the sine qua non of the whole bloody story.  Indeed, one almost gets a sense from these white housewives in their little book club that for them, the pinnacle of Women's Lib was to have been kidnapped by Sultan Selim and grown up to become Mistress of the Harem:

 " i loved how the women forged a bond together and all their experiences at the moonlight serai."

a Google Books reviewer -- " I loved the setting in Constantinople. Had to go to Istanbul just to see this for myself. I liked how the kadins worked together with each other for the benefit of Selim. I've read this book over and over."

"The Kadin, the first of the two, tells the story of Janet Leslie, who as a young woman is stolen away to the Middle East to become Cyra Hafise, wife of the Sultan of Sultan's son, Selim. She is based on the real life Ayºe Hafsa Sultan, a very powerful woman in her time. The story also features her just as famous son, and a handful of Selim's other wives, colorful characters in their own right. I've always loved the mysterious beauty of the Middle East, and as the greater part of this novel takes place there, you can see why it's my favorite of all of Small's works."

"This is the amazing story of Janet aka Cyra Leslie, a young Scottish girl kidnapped and purchased for a Selim, future Turkish sultan. Even though this is not the life she would have chosen, she quickly adapts and is determined to make her life with Selim as pleasant as possible. She forms a lasting bond with her fellow wives and finds herself madly in love with Selim. This isn't a fairy tale romance. Cyra has to share Selim with other women, and their life is repeatedly marred by violence and tragedy."

"One day she is betrayed and kidnapped only to be sold is the slave markets of the East. She arrives in Ottoman ruled Turkey and meets 2 other young woman who will be embroiled in a plot with her. Their role will be to become the favorites of the current sultan's beloved son Selim. Janet, now named Cyra, makes a vow with the 2 other women Firousi and Zulieka that they will remain true to each other and survive their ordeal. This book tells the unforgetable tale of a remarkable woman who must learn to live in a culture completely foreign to her own, a woman who falls in love with Selim and remains true to her friends, a woman who would be mother to one of Turkey's greatest sultans, Suleiman the Magnificent. "

"I loved... abolutely LOVED this book. I first got it from a woman giving away a lot of her books due to moving and I read it until it fell apart. Then I bought another copy, which will likely also need replacing soon. Whenever I need a good dose of pick-me-up, I head straight for Ms. Small... usually to The Kadin. Lady Janet Leslie-turned-Cyra (Hafise) is a woman for women to be proud of -- a worthy heroine! Since I only objected to a tiny scene near the very end of the book, I could not remove even one star for trivialities such as that... but it was my own personal hang-up on the personality and identity of Cyra that the way her old friend Colin treated her near the end of the book should not have been tolerated, considering who she was - both the most powerful and beloved woman in the Ottoman Empire, and the strong-willed, not-to-be-trifled-with woman that she was. I don't care if she was past fifty by then; the Cyra I know should have had him killed for such presumption. I would have, if I were her... never doubt it! However, I may be more upset about that one small scene than necessary, considering Cyra is my hero, but what a worthy hero she is! Set in the fascinating world of a Turkish harem at a young age, Cyra is transformed from an impetuous child to a beloved and sweet, yet powerful woman. The nature of the harem life necessitated that she be ruthless when it was called for; and she had the strength of character to never shirk what needed to be done and the wisdom to know how and when to act in order to be in control of her own life. Though she lived in a harem, she was NEVER a slave or a victim, as harem life is usually portrayed -- indeed, she and her 'sisters' (Sultan Selim's other wives) made harem life seem very appealing. The four women shared a husband but there was never any jealousy or anger between them - they loved each other and each other's children more than anything. This story was touching and beautiful, the plot engrossing, the characters endearing and the setting fascinating. It made me extremely interested in Turkish history and harem life in that time period. This was one book that I most certainly would have loved to live in, had I the chance. I urge anyone to not pass it up. I have since read every Bertrice Small book that I could get my hands on, but "The Kadin" and Cyra still hold my heart, followed only closely by Cyra's descendant, Catriona, in "Love Wild and Fair," who most certainly has Janet Leslie's spirit - though staying mostly in Europe. What I love about Ms. Small is her attention to detail and being able to make wonderful pictures with her words. I know what Cyra's clothes looked like, her rooms, her jewelry, and of course her face. I enjoyed that aspect so much that to this day, it is difficult for me to enjoy a book unless I can picture every scene down to the last detail, and unlike many other authors, Ms. Small's detailing is never boring or used as a page-filler, but it's descriptive and fascinating - an integral part of the story."

"True it would have been different if she had gone into her situation (living in a harem) purposely. But she didn't. What she did was take a situation that could have turned really bad really fast and made it more than tolerable. She made it a joy. Cyra has style. And Selim is depicted as a man more than a Sultan which is marvelous."

At least one reviewer over at Amazon had a lick of sense:

"That Cyra, a strong-willed, high-spirited young teenager could easily accept her fate was a bit hard to swallow."
 
Apparently there was a movie version of the story -- Intimate Power (1989), also known as The Favorite (a more direct translation of the Arabic word kadin), directed by Jack Smight, starring F. Murray Abraham as the Ottoman Sultan.  Interestingly, most of the reviewers seemed to dislike it -- and one reviewer was "offended" by its presumption that a European woman might be behind the Ottoman "reforms" of the 19th century (meaning that the reform props should be given to the Muslims themselves, apparently).   At least one reviewer, however, had some wits about them:

"This movie gives a very good insight of the brutality of the muslim world of the early 19 century when women had absolutely no rights, and when people were just sultan's servants. It also gives a fair insight of the clash between the emmerging [sic] western civilization (France) and the middle east."

This augurs well for the movie's veracity, as opposed to the novel's, given how seemingly all the Amazon reviewers gush over how ro-man-tic it was for a 13-year-old girl to be abducted from her family then turned into a sex slave to be regularly raped -- even if the novel might be better written, artistically, than the movie was directed.  I have yet to verify the film's merits, though the previews are laughable: F. Murray Abraham's Ottoman Sultan comes across as a nobly Saladinesque Muslim ruler, preposterously telling his fresh new and pale white sex slave (not the English Lady Janet Leslie, but a French noblewoman, Aimée Dubucq de Rivéry, played by actress Amber O'Shea) standing alone together in his harem bedroom, as he grips her jaw in the palm of his hand:  "I won't have you by force -- only by your own choice!"

Talk about fantasy.


Friday, February 05, 2016

Who's watching the Jihad Watchers...?

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By the "who" in my title I don't of course mean Leftists like those at Loonwatch who couldn't watch their children in a burning house to save them.  I mean it, as I have always meant it -- even during my days writing Jihad Watch Watch -- in terms of analytical quality control in a spirit of constructive criticism.

Anywho, one example (out of thousands one could adduce over the years) of Jihad Watchers half-asleep at the switch occurred a little over a year ago, when a longtime veteran to Jihad Watch comments, one "Mirren", had a brief spasm of rational conscience by noticing that their great Poobah Robert Spencer may have lapsed in his Counter-Jihad street cred.  It occurred in the comments thread attached to an article Spencer had posted in which he is calling attention to, and ostensibly poking fun at, MSNBC when they intoned to their audience that "We have to respect Islam."

Notice how a Jihad Watch regular "Sherri" hastened anxiously to assure, without a shred of evidence, that Spencer didn't say what he in fact said.  Then we see how the Energizer Bunny of the Counter-Jihad, "Angemon", swooped in to assure Mirren that everything is all right -- and notice how readily she was mollified by his half-assed assurance wrapped up in a red herring or two:

Mirren10 says [quoting Spencer's own words]:

”Kohlmann is correct when he says that Islam should be accorded the same respect that is accorded to Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc., ”????
Mr Spencer, am I misreading this ? Are you actually saying islam should be respected like Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism ? Why ?
I have a great respect for you, and your books, and Jihad Watch has taught me a tremendous amount, but I totally disagree. It is akin to saying ”Satanism should be accorded the same respect that is accorded to Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism etc”.
There is *nothing* in islam that is worthy of respect.

Sherri says:

Mr. Spencer is not demanding respect for Islam, he only posted the video from MSMBC.

Angemon says:

Mr Spencer, am I misreading this ? Are you actually saying islam should be respected like Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism ? Why ?
I think Mr. Spencer’s point is that islam should be considered on par with other religions (as I said before, I don’t consider islam as a religion but that’s how it’s officially classified, so I’ll grudgingly address it as such) as opposed to the higher status it’s been given. Its tenets should be up to scrutiny and that any discussion of anything islamic related shouldn’t be hindered by political correctness, cries of “racism” or “islamophobia”, or death threats.
When was the last time you saw a WH spokesperson saying the US should do more to explain the true tenets of Buddhism, Christianity or Hinduism?

Mirren says:

Of course, you’re right, Angemon.
Now I feel like a twit !
Apologies to Mr Spencer !

[SNIP]

Now, at this point, I (Hesperado) happened to be loitering around there and, under my nickname at the time "voegelinian", I intervened to set the record straight.  Regrettably, I hadn't realized at the time that my links were no longer viable, given that apparently Jihad Watch archives had been cached by Google.  I also was sloppy in not noting how I was documenting a conversation between Spencer and his Jihad Watch readers that spanned more than one comments thread on different articles in the same time period (2006).  None of these mistakes I made, of course, is relevant to the point I was making and the evidence I was trying to adduce -- which now, with some time and labor, I can properly reconstruct.  I began well, at any rate:

voegelinian says:

Not so fast.

Kohlmann is correct when he says that Islam should be accorded the same respect that is accorded to Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc., but why is respect required at all?

There’s no evidence in that context that the two instances of the word “respect” in this quoted sentence should be accorded distinct senses which save the first instance, as Angemon is attempting to argue.

A more informative (though less comforting) answer to Mirren’s question would cite, for example, such Spencer quotes as the following...

[SNIP]

I now list those Robert Spencer quotes, with workable links this time -- including a couple of Jihad Watch readers of yore (more robust & rational than they are now in our latter days, it seems) who took issue with Spencer's oddly stubborn refusal to condemn Islam & Muslims -- that show that Spencer indeed has some 'splainin' to do, which as far as I know, he's never done to date (which might shed light on why he makes such preposterous statements as that pseudo-reformer Zuhdi Jasser is a "good guy" whose "heart is in the right place").

We start off with a quote as comically stentorian as Bill Clinton's finger-wagging "I did not have sex with that woman!" or Richard Nixon's jowl-wagging "I am not a crook!" 

I am not “anti-Islam”.

Link 

[And:]

I am not “anti-Muslim,” as I have stated many times. It is not “anti-Muslim” to stand for human rights for all people, including Muslims…

Link

[And:]

“Islam is more multifaceted than Nazism, and involves many beliefs, some good, some bad.”

[And, adding (in response to someone who dared to unfavorably compare Islam with Nazism) that:]

“You are comparing a huge 1400-year-old tradition over many nations with 12 years of Germany. If you met a Nazi in 1938, you would know what he thinks. But the fact is that when you meet a Muslim today you can have no certainty about what he thinks or knows.

[In this same thread, a Jihad Watch regular replied, with excruciatingly apt common sense:]

...the depth of its [Islam’s] history, in contrast with Nazism, doesn’t justify the halo around it: ask the millions of Copts, Maronites, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists et al persecuted by them whether they agree...

[Though that same commenter immediately demonstrated an unfortunate asymptotic spasm:]

To condemn it [Islam] outright as such would also be too easily misunderstood in many ways. It would drive away people who would otherwise be our allies — and I am not in the business of doing that. In this fight we need all the help we can get. It would also be seen as genocidal, and would thus be counterproductive to the anti-jihad effort.

...Like Mishka pointed out above, there may indeed be Muslims who have no idea of what their religion entails. 

Link

[More from Spencer:]

My books are not “anti-Islam”; nor have I ever said flatly that “Islam is a dangerous, violent religion.” That would be simplistic and in many ways misleading.
“To say that Islam is a dangerous, violent religion is simplistic and misleading because Islam is many things.”

Link

Afterword:

Many more quotations of egregious softness from Spencer, along with critiques of this softness from Jihad Watchers of yore (circa 2006-2008), I collected into a few essays on my aforementioned now retired companion blog, Jihad Watch Watch -- such as Transcripts Part 2: Jihad Watch readers politely yet firmly take Robert Spencer to task; and Robert Spencer's Two Hats: Keep Your Day Job.

As far as I know, in the years after approximately 2008, Spencer stopped making such egregiously soft statements; but also as far as I know, he never disavowed them, and other subtle, telltale indications suggest that a nougaty underbelly guides his overall view of the problem (see, for example, these essays of mine). 

As for the article I noted up top, needless to say, the reader will see, if he follows the first link to the Mirren comment and scrolls down, that Mirren never responded to my post responding to hers; and only Angemon zoomed in to take potshots at me.  And, as sure as night follows day, none of the other stalwart members of the Jihad Watch Peanut Gallery -- gravenimage, Jay Boo, mortimer, quotha raven, Wellington, dumbledoresarmy, et al. -- saw fit to weigh in either to assist me, or to present a reasoned argument showing why my data & interpretation are incorrect.  Which is but one out of a thousand similar instances that make me glad I no longer even feel tempted to plunge into Jihad Watch comments anymore, as I used to do for years.  As I noted not too long ago in a few essays (beginning with Something snapped yesterday, whereby the Paris attack marked a radical change in my Counter-Jihad thoughts, feelings and behavior), the real wonder is why I stuck around to participate in that half-assed community as long as I did.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Speaking Truth to Jihad

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The 14th century theologian, hesychastic monk, and for a long time Archbishop of Thessalonica, Gregory Palamas (canonized as a saint shortly after his death), one day in approximately 1355 was sailing on a ship on his travels when Muslim pirates attacked it and abducted those they did not kill -- among them, Gregory Palamas.

Palamas later wrote a letter in which he recounted many details of his kidnapping and subsequent interrogations by the Muslims.  One particular quote stands out, speaking truth to jihad.  Note: when he says "nation" he refers to the Caliphate, and Islam:

For this infidel and god-hated and all-abominable nation boasts that they have overcome the Romans on account of piety... God has delivered them unto a lascivious mind, passions and vices, so that they live shamefully and inhumanly and in a way hated by God ... they live by their bows and swords, rejoicing in enslavement, murder, raiding, looting, wantonness, adultery, sodomy. And not only do they indulge in such practices, but (O madness!) they think that God approves of them. This is my opinion concerning them, now that I know their ways more accurately.

Source:

"Gregory Palamas among the Turks and Documents of His Captivity as Historical Sources", G. Georgiades Arnakis, Speculum, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Jan., 1951), p. 106.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Good Cop, Better Cop

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Nathan Lean, Reza Aslan's "gunsel" (as Spencer has wickedly called him -- not to mention "the thuggish Nathan Lean... the creepy Travis Bickle of jihad enablers"), has trimmed his peach goatee and put on a suit & tie like a grownup to construct a concerted hit piece against Maajid Nawaz in the liberalish (i.e., no doubt flamingly PC MC) magazine New Republic.

Needless to say, we wouldn't want to commit the ad hominem and shoot-the-messenger fallacies by dismissing out of hand what evidence Lean brings to buttress his point; though we are under no such obligations when it comes to accepting that point -- namely, his own interpretation that the data he has marshaled indicate that Nawaz is just a slimy opportunist who merely flip-flopped from one position ("extremist jihadism") to another ("reform") out of cynical careerism, with ideology never being all that relevant.  Or, rather, that the flip-flop Nawaz performed like a trained seal was actually all a clever ruse just to advance his résumé as a "Former-Terrorist-Now-Muslim Reformer" along a career path where such a display would be eventually rewarded by more and more fame and money.

Leaving aside Lean's interpretation (which, coincidentally, seems to be the interpretation of his sources), we note that the data he has collected is a bit lean insofar as it is mostly the words & memories of individuals who have known Nawaz personally in one capacity or another:

Interviews with his friends and relatives suggest that his account is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies—indications, they say, of a turncoat who cares more about being a well-compensated hero than he does about the cause he champions.

As we noted, the interpretation Lean is foisting through his article is mirrored in his sources -- the juiciest quote which must have titillated his budding journalist's cockles being:

Ashraf Hoque, a friend from Nawaz’s college days, is more blunt. “He is neither an Islamist nor a liberal,” he said. “Maajid is whatever he thinks he needs to be.” 

Given that this interpretation comes from apparently exclusively Muslim sources, it should be taken with a grain of couscous.

More interesting about these memories are consistent indications that Nawaz, despite his repeated protestations to the contrary, never left his extremism behind.  While these memories, the data of the report, ought also for the same reason arouse our skepticism, it is possible that those sources felt confident enough in the attractiveness of the meme of the Mercenary Opportunist they thought their memories supported, such that they didn't worry that anyone would pause to wonder seriously about the darker implications -- that Nawaz is still a jihadist and thus is an elaborately (and successfully) deceitful stealth jihadist pretending to be a Moderate Reformer.

Thus, for example, we have the contradiction between Nawaz's own words avowing that he had an epiphany while in an Egyptian prison (arrested for terrorism) leading him to Moderate Reform, and the memory of his co-religionist, convert and fellow jihadist Ian Nisbet, who spent years with him in prison and recalls not a shred of any such Damascus experience in Nawaz.  Nisbet goes on to imply that Nawaz wasn't sincerely committed to "Islamism" (as Lean puts it) while in prison -- thus strengthening the Merely Opportunist meme that forms a consistent subtext to Lean's exposé; however, on the heels of that, we have the testimony of Yasser Nabi, a cousin of Nawaz, who visited him several times during incarceration:

“In prison, Maajid and I spoke about many things and what was clear at the time was that his views had changed very little,” Nabi said. “In some ways, he became more jihadist in certain things. … Our discussions did not indicate any kind of push towards liberalism.”

Lean also adduces objective evidence that, at least in the aftermath of his release from Egyptian prison and return to the UK, Nawaz showed no signs of having changed his ardently Islamic views.

At a press conference after his discharge, Nawaz said, “I have become more convinced of the ideas that I went into prison with.” 

On the BBC’s HARDTalk he urged the establishment of an Islamic caliphate as soon as possible. In January 2007, four months before Nawaz left Hizb ut-Tahrir, he was on the front lines of its protest outside of the United States embassy in Grosvenor Square, condemning colonialist aggression of Western governments and demanding the rise of a global Islamic State to counter it. 

No doubt Nawaz could spin (and likely has already spun) this in terms of "You must understand that my awakening out of the Islamist extremism of my angry youth was a long process, during which I understandably continued to lapse back into old habits even as, in the internal stirrings of my conscience, I was indeed undergoing a change of heart... blah blah blah" (hey, maybe Nawaz should hire me as a speech-writer...).

There are more damning memories reported by Lean -- such as one by "AbdusSabur Qutubi, one of Nawaz’s friends in his youth who left Hizb ut-Tahrir in 2006":

Qutubi, whose surname is a pseudonym, met Nawaz outside of the Regent Park mosque after his release and found him more hardened than ever. Britain, Nawaz told him, was an “active land of war,” and as a Muslim in a non-Muslim land, he was not beholden to its laws.

If we broaden our focus and take a step back, we may ask ourselves, why is someone like Nathan Lean, whom Robert Spencer has copiously documented and analyzed to be a loyal hit man of that other Muslim Reformer, Reza Aslan, spending so much time attacking the reputation & bona fides of Maajid Nawaz?  One would think that Nathan Lean would welcome with open arms the efforts of yet another Muslim Reformer pushing essentially the same propaganda as his own friend, Reza Aslan...  It makes little sense, until we apply some categorical analysis to the situation.

First we note that Reza Aslan and Maajid Nawaz are not the same type of Muslim Reformer: the former is what I have called a "Good Cop" while the latter is a "Better Cop".  My detailed discussion of this distinction may be found in my essay Better Cops.   A pithy summation would be that the Good Cop's mission is to fool the Western Mainstream which, because it is dominated by the PC MC worldview, is easily fooled; while the Better Cop's role is to try to fool the Counter-Jihad, whose members have become wary and suspicious of the various Good Cops who have come out of the woodwork after 911 to console our alarm at Islam with bland bromides ("Islam is a religion of peace" and "Islam is against all forms of terrorism" and "Islam does not harm those who are innocent", etc.).  Insofar as a Muslim may be becoming worried that the Counter-Jihad is a growing (albeit slowly growing) phenomenon in the West, the Muslim will have an interest in infiltrating it in order to plant seeds of disinformation and doubt about the logical need the West has, in the interest of ensuring its own safety in the long term, of suspecting all Muslims of sedition against the West.

Furthermore, we note that Counter-Jihad luminaries such as Sam Harris and Robert Spencer are predisposed to look askance at Good Cop ilk such as Reza Aslan and his chief propagandist Nathan Lean, and to contrast Aslan unfavorably with Nawaz, meanwhile giving the likes of Nawaz (or other Better Cops, like Zuhdi Jasser) every benefit of the doubt.  A fairly recent commentary by Sam Harris says it all:

According to Greenwald and the rest of the regressive Left, one can criticize religion in general, but any special focus on Islam must be motivated by bigotry or “Islamophobia.” And on that assumption, many of these people think it’s fair to slander and demonize anyone who does focus on Islam—even a true Muslim reformer like Maajid Nawaz. Maajid is a former Islamist, who now runs a counter-extremist think tank in the UK. And yet for merely entering into a dialogue with me about the prospects of spreading secular, liberal values in the Muslim world, he was branded a “native informant” and a “porch monkey” by Greenwald’s colleague at The Intercept, Murtaza Hussain, and a “lapdog” by Reza Aslan’s employee, Nathan Lean. These people are simply desperate to shut down dialogue on what is fast becoming the most important political and moral question of our time. Everything they do in this area is dishonest and destructive.

Once we have this dynamic in mind, we can see the function of Nathan Lean's attack on a putative Muslim Reformer.  In terms of the Better Cop's role with its target being exclusively to fool the Counter-Jihad -- and with the Counter-Jihad already prejudiced against the Good Cops and feeling righteously defensive (with a vague aura of a martyrdom complex) about attacks coming from the Good Cop camp -- we see that the chief effect of a hit piece like Lean's is, seemingly paradoxically, to strengthen, not weaken, the reputation of Maajid Nawaz in the eyes of the Counter-Jihad.  And, aside from this surreptitious side benefit, the Good Cop and his PC MC Useful Idiots reap a two-fer: they also help take the wind out of the sails (at least in the eyes of the Mainstream) of the daringly uncomfortable criticism of Islam which a Better Cop like Nawaz deploys like a swashbuckler in order to win favor from, and gain entry into, the hallowed halls of the Counter-Jihad.

It only stands to reason, after all:  Just as the Bad Cop, through his "bad" behavior & tactics, makes the Good Cop look comparatively good -- so too the Good Cop by attacking the Better Cop can help maintain the Better Cop's reputation of being...  better than the Good Cop!  All we have to do is remind ourselves of the ultimate, ulterior goal here:  the advancement of Islam.  And the necessary corollary:  the subversion of any obstacles in the way of that advancement. 
 
P.S.:

I've noticed that the Sam Harris fan club has posted a discussion on Lean's article at the forum officially attached to Sam but which apparently Sam never bothers to read -- and, of course, the thread attracted no robust discussion on the problem (the Sam Harris fans there apparently have better things to do, like praise atheist science and criticize Christians); only two vaguely limp-wristed defenses of Nawaz (one of them preposterously articulating a defense of him even if the Careerist Opportunist meme is true!). 



Friday, January 29, 2016

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I keep learning of new (new to me, that is) Better Cops.

Two more for now:

Boulem Sansal, a Muslim novelist of apparently dual French and Algerian citizenship (choosing to live in his wealthy home in Algeria paid for by his artistic celebrity), of a lithe and wiry frame, sporting a fashionably chic ponytail and dressed perpetually down (you know, a white t-shirt, black suit jacket, guaraches) as befits a French artiste (he must be quite the Brown arm candy to have on hand at cocktail parties and salon soirées for the Parisian counter-intelligentsia...).  His most recent novel, 2084 (oh so clever reference to Orwell's classic) -- incidentally reflecting a wave of dystopian tomorrows imagined by various Frenchmen, all centrally involving an indigestible Islam causing troubled dreams -- refers to a globally totalitarian and imperialistic Islam in the not-distant-enough future.

Aside from the mere fact that Sansal is a Muslim -- which, in the eyes of the Counter-Jihad (if they were not blinkered as they are) would be sufficient to damn him without further ado -- we find (when we know what we're looking for) that little nugget of a meme that never fails to come from any and all of these Better Cops.  Here, Sansal is opining to his interviewer about the "extremist" Islam currently plaguing not only France, but the whole world:

“Sansal tells an interviewer that it is ‘not the Islam I knew in my childhood...’ (pas l’islam que j’ai connu dans mon enfance...).”

Thus is subtly telegraphed the notion that Islam in its essence is okay; the problems only began lately, with "Wahhabism", etc. ad Islamonauseam.   And once we detach the problems of Islam from Islam, we can better attach them to, oh, perhaps some faults of the West (Colonialism, post-Colonial "meddling", etc., ad Islamonauseam).

Yet another Better Cop whose notice has appeared in the peripheral vision of the twitching left eye of Chief Inspector Dreyfus is one Salim Mansur.  My attention was caught when, during a video conversation between the courageous UK activist Anne Marie Waters and the vaguely oily Lebanese Canadian Jew Gid Saad on his radio show The Saad Truth, the latter hastened anxiously to alert his viewers that there exist good & decent Muslims out there like his friend Salim Mansur, who feels our pain and decries the horrible problems Islam is causing the world.

So I Googled Salim Mansur, and wouldn't you know it, within 15 minutes I stumbled across that little nugget of a meme.  As Robert Sibley summarizes and describes a recent debate between Mansur and Doug Saunders (some white PC MC idiot defending Muslims):

“Certainly, many Muslim immigrants will come here to escape the oppression that has taken hold in parts of the Muslim world, where, according to Mansur, the diversity that once characterized the faith was gradually lost after Saudi Arabia began spending billions of petro-dollars to promote its wahhabist traditions with its demands for jihad and shari’ah compliance.”

And notice the two-fer in that summation, where Mansur also slips in the notion that among the Muslim immigrants he is warning about from the Better side of his mouth, are an innumerable Many who are "escaping the oppression that has taken hold in parts of the Muslim world"; thus implying that there exist decent Muslims who desperately seek Sandwiches no longer available in their cruel, essentially un-Islamic regimes of Wahhabist Extremism...  Etc., ad Islamonauseam.

Prompting the question, who is the real Useful Idiot here, Doug Saunders, who defends Muslim immigrants willy-nilly, or the mildly counter-jihad Robert Sibley, who pats himself on the back for throwing caution to the winds in order to embrace a Better Cop...?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

An eschaton up my sleeve...?

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                           ֍ ֍ ֍ ֍ ֍

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge & shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast & with ah! bright wings.
 
                    -- Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), The Grandeur of God

                           ֍ ֍ ֍ ֍ ֍

 

Monday, January 25, 2016

The problem: Wahidism, not "Wahhabism"


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Years ago, I coined a term, Wahidism, to denote the standard PC-MC-friendly, moderate Muslim Apologia that ever since 911, has become globally dominant (among Muslims and PC MC Westerners alike).  It is named after the former President of Indonesia (died in 2009), Abdurrahman Wahid, who made a big deal about Islamic "reform".  It is an Apologia that gives assurance to those anxiously suppressing their dread that Islam may be a horrifically broader and deeper problem than they wish it to be.

The other terms I came to use for those Muslims selling this bill of goods was the "Good Cop" -- and then, the "Better Cop" (the former calculated to fool the easily gullible Western Mainstream; the latter fine-tuned and recalibrated to fool the more difficult to deceive, because more alarmed & informed, Counter-Jihad).

Back in 2005, Abdurrahman Wahid penned a classic example of one or the other (depending on whom he fools), with one side of his mouth pretending to be serious about noticing problems among "Wahhabis" and other "extremists" in Islam; with the other, telegraphing the false hope that supposed moderate reformers like him exist in viable numbers to save the West from the former.

As I noted at the time, one proof (among 1,001 others one could cite) that PC MC has become dominant in the West is that the Wall Street Journal should give Wahid's apologia such a prominent venue (its Friday paper, the day it is most read for its news and commentary, the day of Friday sermons in the Stock Exchange).  Another is exemplified by the Mu'tazilitism (to coin another word) of the ostensibly tough, no-nonsense analyst on the problem of Islam, the Catholic writer Robert Reilly who, as late as 2010, should think Wahid represents a hopeful type of Muslim -- and who, more importantly, the supposedly Counter-Jihad organization Frontpage should feature in a typically Glazovian softball interview.

Then we have Robert Spencer, luminary and éminence grise of the Counter-Jihad who, after he spent thousands of words in a Jihad Watch article ably diagnosing the holes in Wahid's sales pitch selling a Cadillac with no engine and four flat tires, takes our breath away by writing:

I am not saying that Wahid is trying to deceive us. But if he isn’t, he needs to address the obvious gaping holes in his analysis and recommendations.  

Why isn't Spencer saying that Wahid is trying to deceive us?  That is the eminently reasonable conclusion we all must come to, one that positively screams, with a desperately hoarse voice, to be declared.

Then old Wahid jihad-of-the-penned another article for another major Western media organ, The Washington Post.  About this other specious tissue of sophistry, Spencer wrote the following, again after capably analyzing the seamy underside of Wahid's fancy moderation:

What peaceful Muslims like Wahid need to do is not spend their time writing articles in Western media outlets, but convincing the mujahedin. I am all for real moderate Muslims, but if I can see that a moderate’s account of Islamic teaching is inaccurate, a mujahid will certainly be able to also. 

What Spencer says next (after assuming Wahid is a "peaceful Muslim") in the form of rhetorical questions, in their answers which he fails to proffer, holding his neutrality in abeyance (as he always seems to do) on this pivotal point, actually indicates his failure to exercise Zero Tolerance for All Muslims:
 
And if that moderate’s moderation won’t convince Muslims, what’s the point of it? To make non-Muslims feel better?

Yes, Robert, that's the point of the Good Cop's soothing bromides about an essentially benevolent Islam beneath its "extremist" mutations -- to assuage and fool the Westerner who is growing increasingly alarmed at Islam.  Which, naturally, reveals that he is not, in fact, a "peaceful Muslim" and a "real moderate", as Spencer so recklessly and glibly assumes (just as he assumed more recently that Zuhdi Jasser's "heart is in the right place").

Spencer is good at dissecting the rhetoric of the Good Cops, but he's incompetent when it comes to the conclusion we must all come to, if the West is to survive.  If even the Counter-Jihad cannot do this, this bodes mortally ill for the defense of the civilization it alone is (ineptly) spearheading.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

It must be true; therefore it is.

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Concerning my previous essay on pseudo-reformer Zuhdi Jasser, a reader "30donkeys" wrote:

Thank you for taking the time to expose the insufferable Zuhdi Jasser.

It took a long time indeed.  When I first thought I'd write a piece on that Frank Gaffney interview with Jasser, I thought I could dash it off in one sitting.  As I rolled up my shirtsleeves to delve in, however, it soon became apparent that Jasser's tissue of sophistry -- even the one small example of it I had selected from a longer interview -- would require a diagnostic analysis that attends to the multitude of fallacies, red herrings, and subtle half-truths of which his tortuously specious apologetics of Islam reeks, and with which it is tediously riddled.

This brings up an interesting subtopic in the realm of ideological warfare, and one of the key tactics used by both stealth jihadists and by the Soviet Communists during their long war of subversion against America and the West -- namely, the tactic of generating such a complex tissue of distortions & disinformation (practically inextricable from its webs of half-truths), that any intelligent attempt to expose it is forced to match its jungle of details with an even greater welter of complexity, inevitably causing the eyes & ears of most audiences to glaze over.  The only way to cut through this would be for the lovers of truth to resort to low-brow demagoguery, an unfortunate act of desperation sure to attract those doing the right thing only half-assedly (at best), and for the wrong reason.

I opted for the intelligent mode of response, spending hours weaving together my critical analysis of Jasser's performance in meticulous detail (my essay was 4,582 words total).  In the light of our likely doom, however, it amounts to a hill of beans, compared with the mountain ranges of data (and oceans of dots screaming to be connected) about the global revival of Islam in the 21st century abounding all around us, which our dear old West continues to ignore to its peril.

I wrote above of Jasser's "specious apologetics" and note that specious according to Noah Webster (PBUH) means "seemingly plausible but actually fallacious" as well as "deceptively attractive".  Well, Jasser's sophistry may be deceptively attractive to gullible naïfs like Frank Gaffney, but to those of us who can see the nose on our face, it's lipstick on a vicious jackal.

Indeed, to summon another old fable, Gaffney's performance with his Muslim friend -- "whose intelligence, whose courage, whose tenacity, and whose leadership has meant more to me personally" -- amounts to an anxiously earnest, almost desperately willful entreaty to himself (and by extension, to the rest of us Westerners) to convince himself (and us) that when he gazes at the Emperor strutting about buck naked with his wee willie hanging out in full view, he is seeing the Emperor completely attired in his splendid royal garb.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Quantum Stupidity: The Case of Zuhdi Jasser and his Useful Idiots

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Part 1 of "Quantum Stupidity" was published the other day.  If one had the inclination and time, while sunning oneself on the deck of our collective Western Titanic -- looking up occasionally from our laptop (great wifi reception in the north Atlantic...) to squint at the sunny skies over a horizon still more or less pleasantly dotted with distant spots of snowy white -- one could produce a thousand parts -- nay, tens of thousands -- to exemplify it. 

Today's example showcases Frank Gaffney's gushing admiration for pseudo-reformer Zuhdi Jasser:

"There are truly few people whose intelligence, whose courage, whose tenacity, and whose leadership has meant more to me personally -- and I think in many ways to our country -- than a man we are very privileged to have with us for a full hour.  He is Dr. Zuhdi Jasser..."

That's Gaffney, introducing the subject of a recent radio podcast (December 17th), in which broadly speaking he and Jasser discuss Jasser's new book, A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot's Fight to Save His Faith, as well as Jasser's efforts in, as Gaffney puts it:

"...leading a very inspiring -- and I hope very promising effort -- A declaration of the Muslim reform movement earlier this month..."

As if that's not laying it on thick enough and setting the stage for a softball interview, Gaffney goes on to say:

"...it is my, as I say, honor to call him a friend as well as a person with whom we are very privileged to consult from time to time..."

-- and describes Jasser as "very active in this space of trying to counter the jihadists" -- thus effectively blessing him with induction into the Counter-Jihad (which, thanks to the fact that it remains an incoherent and disorganized movement, can't marshal any opposition to such a precipitously reckless blessing).

In light of this, consider the considered opinion of Eliana Benador (whom wikipedia describes as "a Swiss-American public relations consultant, global strategist, and a publicist for American and Middle Eastern neo-conservatives"):

People like Frank Gaffney, Steven Emerson, Brigitte Gabriel, Glenn Beck, and many others seem to have given into the Jasser charm, but sadly they are wrong. 

Then we have the ever reliably suspicious Andrew Bostom, who recently tweeted a wonderfully incisive summation by Carl Goldberg of his debate in 2014 with Jasser:

Regarding the questions of "solutions", it is Jasser himself who has offered no solutions.  Advocating a "pluralistic and liberty-minded Islam" is not a solution at all. Saying that Islam should get rid of some of its core tenets is not a solution.  He did not say which verses of the Koran or Mohammed's sayings needed to be eliminated in order to achieve what he wants to achieve, or how to go about getting those sacred texts revised so that the Islamic religious establishment will accept them.  A solution must get down to those details, and Jasser did not offer any at all... He has no solution at all, only hope.  Hope is not a solution.

Bostom has also written some critical essays on Jasser (all seem to be a few years old), but Bostom, like Hugh Fitzgerald, seems to be stuck at a level of generously conceding sincere motives to Jasser -- characterizing him as "a decent man conflicted by what he wishes to be, and mainstream Islamic reality..." and his ongoing project of reform as "wishful thinking revisionism".  This characterization, however, is not the most reasonable inference to be made based on all the data we have:  Consider the following facts:

1) Zuhdi Jasser is a very intelligent man;

2) he has been studying Islam for years (and studying the problem of its reform and extremism for years);

3) he has been a practicing Muslim all his life; he grew up in a Muslim family that immigrated to the U.S. from Syria;

4) when discussing the problems of Islam, Jasser's rhetoric becomes a tissue of sophistry sometimes bordering on "disingenuous drivel" (as Bostom aptly not long ago characterized the sophistry of another up-and-coming Muslim on the career fast track of pseudo-Reform, Maajid Nawaz) as well as "double talk and deception" (as Diana West aptly characterized the same performance of Nawaz which Bostom heard).

When we put #4 together with #1-3, something does not add up.  To merely characterize Jasser as a "decent" man who indulges in "wishful thinking" simply does not suffice, given the tortured sophistry his so-called wishful thinking exemplifies.  The only way to salvage Jasser's reputation would be to consider him severely and strangely brain-damaged -- which, needless to say, would ruin his usefulness as an ally.  The most reasonable inference, then, is that Jasser is trying to deceive us.  And, tragicomically, he's succeeding with many in the Counter-Jihad (Exhibit A today, Frank Gaffney).

Now, of course #4 is a matter of subjective assessment.  To detect it, one needs to be informed about Islam 101, which apparently eludes Frank Gaffney. 

Let us then consider one particular segment of a recent podcast discussion Gaffney had with Jasser.  I chose that portion that gets to the most important part of the problem of Jasser (which, naturally, is no problem for Gaffney, since he apparently has already vetted him with flying colors, without doing his audience the courtesy of explaining just how he managed this vetting process) -- namely, the part about Mohammed and the Koran, both of which Jasser, as a Muslim, reveres.  Here follows some of the transcript, interspersed by my commentary bookended by rows of asterisks before and after:

***

Gaffney:  ...the idea that the prophet was the perfect Muslim, which seems to govern so much of what has come down to us as, I guess, 'sharia'... Let me just ask:  this was a man who was indisputably a very accomplished if very brutal warrior.

***

Would Gaffney characterize the ISIS Caliph as a "very accomplished if very brutal warrior" and not add in this regard that his bellicosity is grotesquely fanatical and ultra-violent and metastatically disturbing the peace of his surrounding society?  For this would aptly characterize Muhammad.  Consider, for example (just to pluck one example out of hundreds we could adduce from a head-towel), Bill Warner's pithy summation from the mainstream Islamic record of the Sira of Muhammad's conduct at the oasis of Medina where he oversaw the mass beheading of the Jewish tribe, the Banu Qurayza:

In Medina, Mohammed sat all day long beside his 12-year-old wife [Aisha, three years after he first fucked her] while they watched as the heads of 800 Jews were removed by sword.  Their heads were cut off because they had said that Mohammed was not the prophet of Allah.

(Not to mention Muhammad's sex slavery consequent upon his violence at, for example, the Khaybar Oasis where, among the atrocities he committed there was to have sex with a female captive (Sufayya) whose husband (Kinana) he had, only hours before, had tortured and beheaded.)

Gaffney's way of putting it, on the other hand, resembles kitman, in that the phrase "very brutal" could conceivably, just barely, cover the deeper, broader pathology of Muhammad -- yet at the same time softens it with a vague coat of whitewash, thus granting on a silver plate a way for Jasser to finesse his way to obfuscation, as we shall see.  Let us continue with Muhammad's résumé as Gaffney presents it:

***

Gaffney:  ...This is a man who married a child bride...

***

Muhammad did not merely marry a child bride -- Aisha, at age 6 -- he fucked her when she was age 9, according to that collector of hadiths, Sahih Bukhari, considered most authoritative in the Muslim world.  And since the hadiths form the heart of the Sunna -- and as Muslim historian of Islamic law, Chibli Mallat, noted, the Sunna is for Islam as important if not more important than the Koran itself -- this is no peripheral fact about Muhammad: it is a central, and profoundly ugly and disturbing fact about the man Muslims revere as an "excellent model of conduct" (uswa hasana, per Koran 33:21 and also see 68:4, not to mention the 89 other verses throughout the Koran lauding Muhammad).

***

Gaffney:  ... this is a man who seemed to have countenanced beheadings and other harsh punishments and even in some cases for petty crimes and the like...

***

"who seemed to have" is a curious locution; much better would have been something like "who is recorded by mainstream Islamic sources -- the Sira and the Hadiths -- to have commanded various beheadings; etc." (including the mass beheading of the Jewish tribe the Banu Qurayza, as we noted above).

This reminds us of Jasser's paradox; he logically must rely on extra-Koranic tradition (which perforce relies on Sira and Hadiths) to whitewash Mohammed (unless he's fabricating his Good Mohammed out of whole cloth & thin air); yet he claims not to follow the Hadiths (or, at least, as he put it once, cagily and parenthetically, "those are the hadiths that we reject"); and Gaffney of course didn't think to confront him about the key question of whether he accepts the Sira, and if partly so, on what basis he cherrypicks from it... but we may revisit that problem later.

***

Gaffney:  What does a reformer like you say about those aspects of the history of the faith and what you need to do going forward in light of them?

Jasser: Thanks for asking. It certainly is the elephant in the room if you will. The bottom line is that Muslims do not in any way worship the Prophet Muhammad -- we believe he was a man who was used as a vehicle for the message of God...

***

Notice how Jasser right out of the starting gate begins with a red herring flambé, wrapped in tasty kitman:  Of course Muslims "do not worship" Muhammad.  That's not the point nor the problem -- which is that Muslims unduly revere Muhammad. Jasser follows this with another bit of kitman:]

***

Jasser: There are passages in the Koran in which God corrects Muhammad for errors that he made.

***

Let's take a look at those "errors" of Muhammad which Allah "corrected", shall we?  In Koran 10:94-95, Muhammad is rebuked by Allah for having doubts.  In Koran 33:37-38, Muhammad is rebuked by Allah for suppressing, out of fear of men's opinions, what Allah wanted him to do with the wife (Zaynab) of his adopted son (Zaid) -- to take her for his own sexual desire!  But it has a happy ending: Zaid had such problems with Zaynab, he left her, and Muhammad was given special dispensation by Allah to fuck her without ceremony.

Notice, then, the sleight-of-hand Zuhdi Jasser is attempting here:  by vaguely mentioning that there are "passages in the Koran in which God corrects Muhammad for errors that he made" without specifying the details, Jasser makes it sound like Mohammed's human fallibility, where bad, was corrected by God.  But in fact, the Koran has no record of Allah correcting Muhammad for all the horrible things which Islamic tradition records about him -- the massacres, the beheadings, the tortures, the assassinations, the plunder, the underage sex, the sex slavery; and so on.  It only corrects him either for unrelated, blandly generic things ("doubt") or, as in the case of his adopted son Zaid, for actually doing the right thing in at first counseling Zaid to stay with his wife and try to work things out!   Jasser is hoping that his audience are none the wiser about these details which would expose his sleight-of-hand.  And sadly, he's right -- at least about Gaffney and who knows how many others in and out of the Counter-Jihad.

Now what follows from Jasser is a submersion into what is almost tantamount to tortuous gibberish -- one reasonably assumes because Jasser is getting closer to the heart of articulating his impossible project of wresting (or rather, pretending to wrest) something salutary from the Koran:

***

Jasser:  Now, ultimately, the inspiration for our moral example of how we live our life began with the Prophet's example and much of his life, so... but there's no doubt that in addition to being a Messenger he was the head of a military and also the head of State, so his acts... you can call it apologetics or whatever they may be, but ultimately, if we believe in the authenticity of the Arabic script of the Koran, we must also believe in the moral character of the man that God chose to give us that script; so just as we believe in the moral character of Abraham, of Jesus, of Moses, and of the Prophet Muhammad, then Muhammad had to have been a moral human -- we cannot then say that somehow we're going to reform Islam by condemning the Prophet and saying that he had immorality.

***

The circularity of this logic is attenuated only by the derangement its appendages twist themselves into.  Basically, Jasser is trying to say (or trying not to spell out) that as a Muslim who reveres the Koran as the direct word of God, he must axiomatically assume Mohammed is God's Prophet and that anything in the Islamic record that indicates Mohammed was an evil psychotic must be either rejected as human corruptions in the record or be tortured away with sophistry (and of course Gaffney didn't press him on whether Mohammed is the last and greatest of God's Prophets, the "best model of conduct", matched only by Abraham when in Koran 60:4 Allah blessed him with that unique compliment after Abraham had pledged to hate the non-Believer forever).

Most of all, the garbage in Jasser's rhetoric here is self-evident, and it aggrieves to think that Frank Gaffney just sat there nodding his head sagely while hearing this welter of nonsense, and that he actually would need to have it explained to him why it's nonsense.  The only indication that Gaffney has ever so slight misgivings about Jasser's sophistry is when, later in this portion of the interview, he ever so gently suggests that what Jasser may be doing is "picking and choosing" from the texts in order to construct an artificial Islam that not only doesn't exist, but which goes against the mainstream:   

"...there are those -- and certainly those in the Muslim community, I need not tell you -- who consider this to be simply heretical and outrageous and probably a capital offense."  

This is the Useful Idiot form of kitman (the Islamic half-truth): for, it is not merely "those in the Muslim community" who would consider this to be "simply heretical and outrageous and probably a capital offense" -- it is the entire mainstream Islamic establishment and the entire mainstream Islamic legal apparatus based on mainstream Islamic texts (Koran & Sunna).  And, it is not "probably" a capital offense.  It is a capital offense, according to mainstream Islam. 

It gets worse.

***

Jasser:  Now, certainly he [Muhammad] participated in wars -- and I participated in wars as an American Naval officer, and my generals, my admirals said that we wanted to go "kill the Taliban where we find them," and I think that's a very moral thing.

***

Notice Jasser's clever equivalence he makes between the Koran's "kill the Mushrikoon wherever you find them" (9:5) -- as though what the U.S. Military did in fighting the Taliban was equivalent to what Mohammed and his warriors were enjoined to do in the Koran's Verses of the Sword (infamously in chapter 9 of that unholy book).  Does Gaffney even know that Jasser was alluding to Koran 9:5?  Does Gaffney know that the enemy targeted in that verse, the Mushrikoon, denote all who practice Shirk and thus do not submit to Allah and to His Prophet?  Does Gaffney know that one of the most authoritative mufassiroon (writers of tafsir, or Koranic exegesis), Ibn Kathir, has shown that the various verses of Koran's chapter 9 mandating truculent hostility against those who practice Shirk and against those who foment "disorder in the land" refer mainly to those who refuse to submit to Allah and to His Prophet (for in Islam, to fail to so submit is tantamount to generating the offense against which Allah enjoins Muslims to fight and kill)?  If Gaffney knew all this, and if he didn't have an anxious need to swallow what Jasser was selling, he could have cornered Jasser on his outrageous equivalence of the U.S. Military's goals in fighting the Taliban with what is enjoined in the Koran.

Let us continue with Jasser's apology:

***

Jasser:  So ultimately, the question is not that Islam is pacifist or not, but the question is, at the time is there an apologetic that explains the battles that existed -- the battle of Badr -- or whatever battles that are chronicled in the Koran as being justified because of the abandonment of treaties or whatever it may be, is there an apologetic that makes sense for 623, but then we as reformists say "you can't apply that from there on"...

***

Hang on, sloopy.  First of all, Jasser is saying we should rhetorically ask if there is an "apologetic" that would whitewash & justify the battles which the Koran and the Sunna record Muhammad as waging.  Well, duh.  Jasser is here slyly trying to grease through the mere posing of the rhetorical question as an emollient by which he can ease into his status as a reformer; but the mere posing of the rhetorical question is only the beginning -- not a substitute (as Jasser is trying to sneak in here) for what needs to be unpacked therefrom.  (There is likely a good reason why he's avoiding that necessary exercise of unpacking that rhetorical question: it would lead to the answer that there is no such "apologetic" upon which one could grow a "reformed" Islam -- any more than there would be one upon which one could grow a "reformed" Third Reich.)

Second, it begs the question of the extra-Koranic sources one would have to use to construct such an "apologetic" -- no one has pinned Jasser down on how he is not arbitrarily cherry-picking them to create an artificially benign Muhammad.

This is not to mention that Jasser must be relying on some extra-Koranic texts (the Sira and the Hadiths) in order to explain the Battle of Badr "as being justified because of the abandonment of treaties or whatever it may be" -- though he cleverly words this as a rhetorical question, not as a claim.  Which extra-Koranic Sira would he be relying on, eh...?  Ibn Ishaq, perhaps...?   Ibn Ishaq, that is, who records that after the enemies from among the Quraysh tribe whom Mohammed's men had just killed:

Abu Jahl of the Quraysh was beheaded.  The Muslim who severed his head proudly carried the trophy to Muhammad: "I cut off his head and brought it to the apostle [i.e., Muhammad] saying, 'This is the head of the enemy of God, Abu Jahl!' "

Muhammad was delighted. "by God than Whom there is no other, is it?" he exclaimed, and gave thanks to Allah for the death of his enemy.

[the quotes from Ibn Ishaq, 304, explicated by Robert Spencer in his book, The Truth about Muhammad, p. 106]

Jasser then glides on his wily oil onto his next specious point:

...is there an apologetic that makes sense for 623, but then we as reformists say 'you can't apply that from there on'...

But wait a second:  I thought there the "apologetic" Jasser assumes is one that is supposed to exonerate Muhammad's warmongering (and apparently Jasser thinks there is, hence his equation of it with his U.S. Military service against the Taliban)...  So why would he and his Reformers need to say they "can't apply that" after 623 A.D.?  That's just one of many glaring inconsistencies one finds trapped, wriggling in the middle of Jasser's tortured intestines of a pseudo-argument.

Let us continue:

***

Jasser:   ...we reject abrogation, for example, because abrogation is the way you reject all the other conflicting passages in the Koran to say that it's not peaceful because the last passages justified an act of war.

***

Jasser hasn't explained how he is not simply doing a "reverse abrogation" -- making the seemingly peaceful verses cancel out the bellicose & hateful ones -- and, of course, Gaffney is no help here.

***

Jasser:   And then, do you call Christians 'infidels' when in fact God also allows us to marry them and allows us to have them be the mother of our children without conversion.

***

This is Jasser's way out of the seething hatred the Koran expresses for Jews and Christians?  To offer the bone that Allah allows Muslims to "marry them" and "allows us to have them be the mother of our children without conversion"...?  First of all, even taking seriously that this in any way suffices to offset the profoundly anti-Christian and anti-Jewish sentiments with which the Koran reeks, it remains a mangled piece of complex crap.

1) Notice how Jasser is indirectly conceding that the Koran presents the uncomfortable problem for Reformers like him of calling Christians "infidels", but he adduces no Koranic verse for the seemingly tolerant precept he is citing to offset that problem: That's because the Koranic issue is more complicated than he is implying.  Two Koran verses (2:221 and 60:10) clearly forbid marrying any woman who is not a Muslim (see this detailed explanation).  There is, however, one other verse (5:5) that seems to allow Muslim men to marry "women of them that were given the Book before you".  However, Jasser makes it sound like this allowance is an unproblematic and clear-cut command from God for Muslims, which (without letting his audience know the complications I just explained) he is then using in order to circumvent the problem of abrogation -- by reverse-abrogating 2:221 and 60:10! 

2) Notice how Jasser tries to slide past our attention the fact that this supposedly wonderfully progressive allowance from God is only one-sided: it only pertains to Muslim men marrying non-Muslim women -- not to non-Muslim men marrying Muslim women.  I thought Jasser was a great reformer who deeply esteems modern human rights; and yet here, he is standing with the Koran's regressive view that forbids non-Muslim men from marrying Muslim women (unless, of course, the men promise to convert to Islam).  This is not merely a matter of inequality, but also reflects the regressively misogynistic framework of Islam dovetailed with its religious supremacism:  the man is the master of the household & family, not the woman (see Koran 4:34), and so Muslims do not want to allow non-Muslim men to have that much control over the families of the Umma, such that they could "corrupt" the children by leading them away from Islam.  The family unit in Islam serves Islam, and anything that undermines Islam must be opposed -- whether blatantly and candidly, or cleverly and surreptitiously (as Jasser is doing).

3) Finally, notice how Jasser only mentions "Christian" women, not Jewish women.  A curious omission when one would think he would want to express as much as possible (given his oily sophistry) the supposed magnanimity of the Koran.

***

Jasser:   The issue of a child-bride: you know, listen, the apologetic I learned -- and I call it an apologetic because I have no way to prove it -- but the apologetic that I learned, is that there were marriages that happened to prevent wars, and that ultimately he may have married her, but the question -- 'cause pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder -- so the question is at what age did he consummate that marriage, and most Muslims believe that that happened when she was much closer to adulthood, at 17 and 18.

***

Again, so much subtly wrong with this.  The worst of it is his blandly sweeping claim that "most Muslims" believe Muhammad consummated his marriage to Aisha when she was 17 or 18.  We remind the reader of our points #1-3 above.  There is no way Jasser doesn't know that his statement about the minds of "most Muslims" is massively, monstrously false.  As we mentioned above, the most authoritative hadith source, Sahih Bukhari, representing the heart of the Sunna, records that Aisha was 6 when Muhammad married her, and 9 when he consummated that marriage.  At this juncture, Gaffney ineptly fumbles with the ball:

Gaffney: Hm, so there is some tradition of it being 9, too, so I mean, I guess what, it comes down to... [hemming and hawing]

-- allowing Jasser to slide through for his touchdown:

Jasser:   ...and ...those are the hadiths that we reject.

Naturally, Gaffney didn't press him on this by asking the screamingly reasonable questions such as -- Why do you reject Bukhari, the most authoritative muhaddith (collector of ahadith) in the Sunni tradition?  You say "those are the hadiths" you reject -- does this mean you accept some hadiths?  If so, which ones?  And under what criteria such that you avoid the charge of arbitrary cherrypicking to build confirmation bias?

Instead, Gaffney mumbles:

Gaffney: Yeah.  Well, and, and... I guess Zuhdi... I'm good with this, personally.  

Good God.  I look out over the railings of this ship of fools, this Titanic we're all on, and see ice storms brewing on the lowering horizon...  The presage of a chilling rain: minute drops on my laptop screen.  Better go in to the stateroom and drink this surreal nightmare away...

And Gaffney in the next breath reveals, unintentionally no doubt, the real reason why he's cutting Jasser so much slack:

Gaffney:  Many of us who very much want to see Muslims, particularly in this country, but around the world as well, practice their faith in a way that is genuinely tolerant, genuinely moral, genuinely peaceable, genuinely aligned, really, along the very principles that you've laid out in this remarkable document -- your declaration of the Muslim reform movement.  

I.e., he desperately wants this untenable, impossible reform to be true, and so he therefore helps Jasser promote it, no matter how flimsy and flawed it is, come hell or high water -- or deep iceberg.

Then Jasser has the grotesque audacity (how do you say chutzpah in Arabic...?) to assert that if Mohammed were alive today -- 

Jasser:  ...if Muhammad were alive today he would tell us, "Listen, those applied to a 7th century pagan tribe that Muhammad [sic] was revealing his message to and it does not apply for equality of men and women, for all these other principles that we need to lift up, that there was the seed of the beginning in the 7th century, but now there is such clarity that that's a much better society and principle that we need to put a circle around those passages and say 'they just don't apply anymore today!"

http://www.21st-century-christianity.com/images/dream-the-impossible-1-9.jpg

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What isn't an impossible dream, however, is hoodwinking key members of the Counter-Jihad (and counting on others -- such as Andrew Bostom, Robert Spencer, Diana West, et al. -- who may be skeptical but who don't think the matter is important enough to press, because, after all, he seems to be such a decent fellow and even though he's deeply confused, "his heart is in the right place") into thinking that innumerable Muslims like Jasser throughout the West are hopeful and benign, and that therefore we shouldn't promote any policies of self-defense that would unduly inconvenience them.