Slurring Robert Spencer
Taking the side of Rep. Virgil Goode who has been attacked by CAIR for advocating restrictions on Muslim immigration, Robert Spencer insists that he himself has a strong position on Muslim immigration, and he protests the unfair treatment he’s been receiving from a certain unnamed “writer of some prominence,” who Spencer says has been misrepresenting Spencer’s immigration views. Spencer complains of how the unnamed writer, who is myself, has responded to Spencer’s “courtesies” only with discourtesy. Spencer even repeats the charge that I have published “numerous personal slurs” of him. It would be interesting for Spencer to provide some examples of these “slurs.” Since the worst of these “slurs,” which he described as a “calumny” (a charge I several times demanded that he retract, which he several times refused to do), consisted of a descriptive statement of his definition of Western civilization, in a passage in which I was portraying Spencer as my pro-Western civilization ally against Ralph Peters (see full explanation here), we can imagine how terrible my other “slurs” of Spencer were.
The remarkable thing is, last month Spencer wrote me a bunch of e-mails complaining again of my supposed smears of him and said that if my answer was less than satisfactory, he had in his possession all the information to prove me wrong and would post it at his site. Well, I published a detailed reply exposing the absurdity of his charges, and he never replied to it. I hopefully concluded that he had finally seen how ridiculous his charges were and had retired from the field. I thought with relief that his silence meant he was finally allowing me the right to engage in intellectual criticism of him without having to be constantly attacked for “smearing” him. But I was wrong. Spencer can’t give it a rest. On one hand, he has no arguments to prove his “smear” charge. On the other hand he cannot bear my legitimate intellectual criticisms of him. So he keeps coming out with content-free attacks on me, as in his blog entry of today.
Spencer doesn’t even notice that just one week ago I praised him for writing a non-liberal defense of Western identity. If I was motivated by the mean personal motives he accuses me of, would I have done that? Also, as I’ve previously pointed out, notwithstanding Spencer’s claims of discourtesy and mistreatment, the fact is that I regularly discuss Spencer and have approvingly quoted him and praised him as one of the most significant Islam critics of our time, even while I am treated as a non-person at his website, with none of my writings and ideas about Islam ever being mentioned. Now he carries the de-personalization and marginalization further, by discussing me without using my name.
As for Spencer’s position on immigration, restated in the second paragraph of his blog entry, beyond his proposal that we screen Muslims for pro-jihad sentiments (which, as I have shown, is an inadequate response to the Muslim challenge), the rest of the paragraph consists of vague general language telling us that Spencer has “written about the problem,” that he’s given “numerous addresses to audiences all over the United States,” that he’s called for an unspecified “restoration of sanity in our immigration policies” toward Muslims, and that he favors unspecified measures “that can be reasonably be instituted given the current political situation.”
In other words, Spencer’s immigration policies are exactly as I’ve characterized them, consisting of a call for the screening of prospective Muslim immigrants for jihadist allegiances, and of not much else.
But gosh, there I go again, slurring Robert Spencer.
This discussion returns us to a question that I have addressed many times but will do so again now. Why do I so strongly criticize worthy people such as Spencer, Melanie Phillips, and Dennis Prager? Am I doing it to put them down as people? Am I doing it (as one commenter today at Jihad Watch says) in order to delegitimize all other conservatives and glorify myself? I’m doing it because those writers are caught in a contradiction that typifies liberal society and makes it unable to defend itself. That is, they decry Islam as utterly incompatible with Western society, even as a mortal threat to our way of life, while at the same time they refuse to say that the Muslim immigration that has brought Islam into the West is a mistake and ought to be stopped. As a result, they are constantly jacking up their audience’s anxieties about how terrible Islamization is and what a desperate fix we are in, while giving them no explanation of why this problem exists, and no way to solve the problem. This leaves conservatives alternating between despair about the advancing power of Islam and aimless hyper-aggression toward Islam, the braggadocio of Bush-era conservatism. It fuels an irrationality and escapism in the only group in our population that has the potential of saving the West, and therefore needs clear thinking above all. Prager thinks that Islam is so horrible that a Muslim elected official should be forbidden from taking his oath of office on the Koran, yet Prager also believes that all religions including Islam have equal rights in America, and that America is the land of immigration, including Muslim immigration, and that to criticize immigration is racist. Is that being intellectually serious? Spencer says that Islam aims at our enslavement and destruction, yet his questionnaire would continue to allow a mass immigration of Muslims into the West. Is that being intellectually serious—and is that the solution? Melanie Phillips, who in the first chapter of her book says that Muslim immigration into Britain was a fatal mistake, has one sentence in the last chapter of her book calling for undefined “tough controls” on immigration in general. Is that being intellectually serious—and is that the solution?
It’s ironic that Spencer refers to me today as a “writer of some prominence,” given that he and Phillips and others are orders of magnitude better known than I am. Their very prominence means that their confused and inconsistent approach to Islam damages the West’s ability to grapple with it. Therefore, as long as these prominent writers continue their florid contradictions on the Muslim problem, I will continue to take them to task for it, no matter how many times Robert Spencer cries that I’m “slurring” him.
Jeremy G. writes:
Keeping conservatives on the righteous path must be tough and unrewording work and I salute you. Someone (I would love to see more than one person) has got to do this. Anyone who believes we should only support and never criticize conservatives should take a look at the left, where criticism of conservatives and moderate liberals is incessant and has been hugely successful in pulling America to the left. You are re-establishing strong traditionalist principles that can anchor the right and help us start pulling America back towards us. But these principles are worthless if they are not enforced. If conservatives get a free pass from the right, they will continue to disregard whichever conservative principle they find too difficult to express publicly.LA replies:
Jeremy, thank you very much for that. Your reminder of what this is about is exactly what I needed to hear.In a second reply to Jeremy, LA wrote:
That’s me, the enforcer. ;-)Jeremy:
I was thinking the same thing when I re-read my email on your web site yesterday :)LA:
Yeah, the man whose job it is to make lots of other people hate him. Something I’m naturally good at, it seems. :-)Jeremy:
I haven’t read the Christian Scriptures, but my Christian friends relate that Jesus often had stones thrown at him. So it appears to me you are walking in a well established Christian tradition.LA:
Well, let’s not go too far. :-)Stephen F. writes:
I join Jeremy G. in his expression of gratitude for your critique of contemporary conservatism. Funny, isn’t it, how the writers at the National Review are putting you down as being too…conservative (as Derb calls it, “paleocon”). Actually, of course, VFR is hardly a medieval, dogmatic advocate of social control. The site is rich in humor and in nuanced consideration of issues from a contemporary perspective. It is a testimony to your work that the people who have “fallen out” with you keep going back to peek at VFR.Ben writes:
Your insight about how he demands all this respect from you while he won’t even acknowledge your name at his site was key. Also, for the umpteenth time, how can you be misrepresenting someone if you quote him word for word.KPA, an Ethiopian by birth, writes from Canada:
There are many, many things to be praying about during these holy days. The irony of Mary Cheney’s pregnancy, announced right around Christmas time, along with her name is on top of the list.LA replies:
Thank you very much. Merry Christmas to you.KPA replies:
Yes, that is what I’m saying. I think perhaps Spencer thinks we can contain the Muslims if we know what they’re up to. But, they had shown incredible resilience in essentially a Muslim-hostile Christian country. The Emperor Amda Seyoun fought constantly with the Muslims, defeated them continuously, and even after his famous quote, never trusted them completely. I think he was just doing his Christian and nationalistic duty when he allowed them to stay. The Muslims “behaved” themselves for two centuries!LA replies:
Very interesting. I’ll have to read more about this. However, I would not expect someone of Spencer’s visibility to propose the expulsion of all Muslims from America. That’s too extreme a position at this point and would just get him relegated to the sidelines. But there’s no reason he could not call for essentially all Muslim immigration to stop. I think his description of the nature of Islam and the threat is poses logically requires it.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 21, 2006 01:43 PM | Send