Spencer comes to Rep. Goode’s defense, sort of

I love Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia for being the first U.S. politician to say that Islam as such is a threat to our society and that Muslim immigration must therefore be reduced or stopped. For speaking this vital truth, Goode has become the target of an outpouring of vilification from the respectable liberal opinion organs of our society, as detailed by Robert Spencer today at FrontPage Magazine. After quoting these attacks for four paragraphs, Spencer defends Goode from the charges of bigotry and nativism that have been heaped on his head. But he does so in an indirect, Spencerian manner, using the evasive rhetorical tactics he always employs when the subject of immigration comes up.

Pointing to the evidence that Muslims around the world and in the U.S. support sharia, Spencer repeatedly poses the same question:

Is it reasonable to ask [newly elected Muslim congressman Keith] Ellison if he shares such views? When he speaks at a conference sponsored by such organizations, is it simply bigotry to ask him if he holds views they are on record as having? When Muslim leaders around the globe have spoken about the necessity to impose Islamic law upon the world, is it sheer nativism to ask Ellison and American Muslims if they hold the same views? …

… On the basis of what evidence do Goode’s many detractors assume that neither Ellison nor any other Muslim in the United States subscribes to these views? Bigotry is an obstinate and irrational hatred of a particular group. Is it obstinate or irrational, or any kind of act of hatred at all, to ask Ellison to clarify where he stands on the [Muslim American Society’s] desire for the eventual imposition of Islamic law in the United States?

While Spencer’s argument is perfectly reasonable in itself, it is noticeably odd in the present context, since the position for which Goode is being attacked as a bigot and nativist is not that Muslims should be asked for their opinions about sharia. Indeed, Goode has not proposed asking Muslims for their opinions about anything. Goode has called for ending the immigration of Muslims to the U.S—because their religion, including sharia, is antithetical to our beliefs and values and the very form of our society. Goode is thus beyond the question-asking stage. Spencer, as is evident, is not. So, instead of coming out and supporting Goode’s brave and vitally urgent position on Muslim immigration, Spencer turns the whole article into a plea for Spencer’s own indirect and inadequate position on Muslim immigration, which is that we ought to subject prospective Muslim immigrants to a questionnaire about their beliefs.

What it comes down is that Spencer has said that it is morally ok to ask Muslims if they are sharia supporters. But, most pointedly, he has not said that it is morally ok to call for an end to Muslim immigration. Spencer has thus defended himself from the charge of bigotry; he has not defended Goode, who is, after all, the ostensible subject of the article.

Just a week ago, Spencer wrote about an unnamed horrible person, i.e., me, who had supposedly written “numerous personal slurs” about him. The chief of these slurs was that Spencer’s position on Islam is inconsistent, since he describes Islam as a mortal threat to our society, yet declines to call for a reduction or cessation of Muslim immigration, as his draconian views of Islam surely require. Spencer went on to insist that he does have a serious position on immigration, but, as I showed at the time, his position added up once again to … his promotion of a questionnaire. Now that an elected politician has gone beyond the shilly-shallying stage, now that a member of Congress has actually called for reducing Muslim immigration and thus turned Muslim immigration per se into a national issue, Spencer had a golden opportunity to prove that I was wrong about him and that he, Spencer, does indeed have a policy on Muslim immigration that corresponds with his deeply alarmist view of Islam. Instead, Spencer proved once again his unwillingness to take any substantive stand on the immigration issue—even in defense of the clear-thinking and courageous Rep. Goode.

- end of initial entry -

Under the subject line, “TRUTHS THAT LIFE IS BLACK AND WHITE” (aptly reversing a line in Bob Dylan’s song, “My Back Pages”), Jeff in England writes:

More of the Spencer tightrope walk and then if you dare say that he is hedging or that he isn’t being clear he replies that he is being personally attacked or like Melanie, “misrepresented.” Charming! It’s really very simple. Either he and Melanie and Pipes and Hanson and all the rest of the “Usual Suspects” are for a reduction of Islamic immigration or not. How many times do Lawrence Auster and the readers of VFR (such as myself) have to press them for a clear statement on the question of immigration reduction?

As I’ve previously said concerning this scenario, if they don’t come out and support Islamic immigration reduction, then stop wasting our time with their endless rants about the dangers of Islam, Islamism, Radical Islam, IslamoFascism, Fundamentalist Islam, or whatever name you want to call it. We KNOW it’s dangerous. We KNOW there is a serious problem going on. What we want a serious SOLUTION. Which Spencer and the rest of the Suspects seem not to want to give. No doubt there is an undercurrent of liberal guilt going on within Spencer and Melanie and all the Suspects.. I understand that. I’m not saying I’ve never had some myself. As a former liberal Jew calling for the exclusion of Muslims one is bound to feel some guilt and even fear. But there is a time for guilt and a time to put guilt behind one and stand up for what needs to be done. This is the task facing the likes of Spencer, Melanie and the rest of the “Suspects.” They have made a huge contribution to our understanding of the problem. But now it is time to stop talking and fight. When I say fight, I reiterate that I don’t mean violence against Muslims. No, we are talking about advocating and helping to implement a serious change in immigration policy towards Muslims coming into the West. Spencer, Melanie, and the Suspects have been “Talking the Talk.” Now it is time for them to “Walk the Walk.” C’mon guys, show us what you are made of!

LA replies:
That’s a magnificent statement, Jeff. Just great. And your Dylan paraphrase is inspired and profound.

LA continues:

In one sense, our argument with Spencer, Phillips, and the Suspects doesn’t revolve around their substantive position so much as their anger when their substantive position (or rather their lack of one) is pointed out. If they just came out and honestly admitted that, for whatever reason, they are not ready to call for immigration reductions, that would be much better. It’s their dishonesty and defensiveness about their actual position (or lack of an actual position) that has caused the problems and the ill-will.

But, having said that, I realize that we cannot separate the substantive issue from the “honesty” issue. The fact that they are so uptight about any exposure of their total lack of an immigration policy shows that they are very uneasy about it.

So it seems to me that this is what’s going here: (1) their views of Islam logically require them to call for an end to Muslim immigration; but (2) their fundamental liberalism—i.e., their inability to say that an entire non-Western group is incompatible with our society and that we must discriminate against that group as a group—makes it impossible for them to take such a position; and (3) they cannot admit their inability to take such a position, because it would expose the falseness and insubstantiality of their roles as anti-Islamization prophets.

Thus their lack of an immigration position, and their lack of honesty about their lack of an immigration position, are not different issues, but one issue.

LA continues further:
Some people reading the above will think, there goes LA again, obsessed with the half-full glass, attacking his own allies instead of standing with them against the other side. The assumption of these critics is that Spencer, Phillips, and the Usual Suspects are on the same side as I am vis à vis Islam. The problem is that in modern conditions in which diversity and open immigration are the dominant ideologies, a person may have some deep concerns about the Other, but as long as he has not definitely taken a non-liberal stance toward the Other, in the long run he is likely to surrender to the Other (as I suggested yesterday may be happening with Daniel Pipes). Liberalism, the default position of the modern West, means surrender to the Other. The only alternative to liberalism in mainstream politics is the right-liberalism or neoconservatism that involves fanatical kvetching about the Other … followed by surrender to the Other. Only a person who consciously and on a principled basis has ceased to be a liberal can be counted on to go beyond kvetching and take a firm position about what needs to be done to save our civilization from the Other, and not back away from that position when he is attacked.

This is not about me versus other writers. This is about the question of what is the indispensable basis for an effective defense of the West against Islam.

Finally, let me repeat that what I’m talking about here is not some extreme position. It is what all Western leaders and commonsensical, normal Western men and women would have believed up to 50 or 60 years ago. For a thousand years, the West strove to keep out Islam, and never felt guilty about it. In the 1950s, America had Operation Wetback, and never broke a sweat about it. It is only modern liberalism and its adjunct neoconservatism that have made a common sense defense of our society—and of normality itself—seem extreme and scary. It is thus modern liberalism and neoconservatism that are extreme, not traditionalism.

LA writes:

Reader James S. points out that in mid November, just weeks before Rep. Virgil Goode became a national name, he was mentioned by VFR reader Clark Coleman as a congressman who answered questions on immigration directly and told you exactly where he stood.

Also anticipating this current entry, in that same entry in November I offered a litmus test for certifiable non-liberal conservatives. The litmus test was: does one oppose Muslim immigration. So, ironically, in the very same entry in which Goode was mentioned, I suggested a standard for non-liberal conservatism which Goode a few weeks later became the first U.S. politician to put into practice. That’s more than coincidence; that’s synchronicity.

LA writes:

The sheer oddity of Spencer’s treatment of the Goode issue—ostensibly defending Goode’s position, but actually defending his own position—leads one to speculate about the nature of his thought processes. It seems to me there are two possible explanations for what he’s done here:

Either Spencer deliberately directed the discussion away from Goode’s issue of immigration restriction to Spencer’s own project of asking Muslims what they think—which would suggest that Spencer doesn’t want to go anywhere near the immigration issue, which would disprove his indignant claim that he’s serious about the issue; or Spencer directed the discussion away from Goode’s issue without being consciously aware that he was doing so—which would suggest that to restrict Muslim immigration, or even to defend such restrictions from the charge of bigotry, is so alien or uncomfortable to Spencer that he automatically changes the subject to a subject he can handle, namely his idea of asking Muslims how they feel about sharia. Such an unconscious avoidance of the topic would show that he has never thought about it seriously, and is not prepared to talk about it.

Either way, he has decisively disproved his claim of a week ago that he’s a serious guy on the subject of Muslim immigration.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 28, 2006 05:24 PM | Send

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