Where Spencer’s critique of D’Souza goes wrong

While I highly praised Robert Spencer’s demolition of D’Souza at FrontPage Magazine today, Carl Simpson has seen something in Spencer’s article that I missed. It is an aspect of Spencer I have noted often: his underlying liberalism, or, rather, in this case, his insufficient opposition to leftism.

Mr. Simpson writes:

I agree with you that Spencer has destroyed D’Souza’s premise very effectively here. He basically has pulled the rung from under D’Souza’s core assertion: Muslims hate us and want to attack because of Western liberal depravity. As you’ve mentioned, this is yet another Western explanation that fails to acknowledge the centrality of jihad in Islam. In that sense, D’Souza is playing the same game as the neo-Jacobins and leftists, albeit from a different angle. As Spencer points out, there would be jihad regardless of the moral state of the West. Likewise, Spencer is absolutely correct that we cannot entertain any idea of even a temporary alliance with Muslims. Their track record speaks for itself.

My only complaint with Spencer is his indulging in a form of blindness when it comes to Western leftists, their own bloody murderous track record, and their even more devastating ongoing jihad against the traditional West. Even though Spencer acknowledges the radical left’s alliance with Islam, he glosses over the devastation wrought upon every single nation within European Christendom by liberalism and its natural outgrowth: nihilistic leftism. Thus Spencer writes:

“Jihadists are pressing forward with jihad activity around the world today, after a long period of relative quiescence, because Saudi oil billions and the Khomeini revolution in Iran have made this reassertion of the jihad ideology possible.”

True enough, but Spencer neglects to mention that they would not have been nearly as successful in this endeavor without the propagation of liberalism’s absolute dogma about the fundamental equality of all people, which has led to open borders, free trade, and other business dealings with Muslims like the Saudis that resulted in the great pile of cash to fund jihad. Moreover, thanks to liberalism’s own jihad against traditional morality in the West, a general climate of corruption and outright treason has taken root and now completely dominates the thinking of Western elites, media, and vast segments of even the general populace.

Take for example the recent statement by Tony Blair about the need to use state power to force Catholic adoption agencies in the UK to hand out children to homosexual “partners.” Does Spencer somehow think that people like Blair, Bush, Cameron and the Eurocrats are going to suddenly see the light, fall on their knees and repent when the next bomb goes off? I’d dare say a crazed jihadi is more likely to do that than the likes of them. Does Spencer somehow believe that this odious policy will be applied to any Islamic adoption agencies in a serious manner? We both know that the real target of this is Spencer’s own Catholic church, beset as it is with its own failures of leadership. Even if Blair’s apparachiki manage to apply it to some Islamic “charity,” it will be a mere window-dressing operation applied only temporarily to an isolated example in order to draw attention away from the wholesale demolition campaign carried out against Catholic and other Christian agencies.

Spencer would do well to pay attention to the following statement of Cicero’s:

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But, it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But, the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government, itself.”

Admirably, Spencer has no illusions about the enemy at the gates—Muslims. In contrast, D’Souza foolishly denies the reality of this enemy’s objectives and his long history of murderous evil. However, Spencer is at least partially blind to the enemy within. While D’Souza attempts to construct a fictional group of “traditional Muslims,” Spencer seems to believe in the existence of an equally fictional group of leftists that remain loyal to our civilization. Having already made a deal with the Muslims, the Western left—including many so-called “conservatives”—have committed the crime of treason. By embracing a leftist like Hirsi Ali, who as Dutch MP advocated totalitarian measures to destroy a Christian party, Spencer indulges in a mirror image of the same type of folly for which he denounces D’Souza. This is not to say that Spencer’s blunder is as grave or foolish as D’Souza’s, because Spencer does at least acknowledge that the extreme left has made their devil’s bargain with Islam. But he’s not willing to face the fact that these people are traitors—enemies within the gates who if anything are even more deadly and malicious than Osama Bin Laden. There’s only one way to deal with traitors, Mr. Spencer, and making nice with them isn’t it.

- end of initial entry -

Jeff in England writes:

So where do the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Observer UK columnist Nick Cohen fit in? They both still identify themselves as leftists. Melanie Phillips still calls herself a liberal. They are all three extremely anti-“radical Muslim.” I’d say rightwingers like Pat Buchanan are more sympathetic to Muslims and Islam than leftwingers like Hitchens and Cohen. So the problem is one of many leftists and liberals, not all of them.

Joseph C. writes:

I read Robert Spencer’s rather pointed article on Dinesh D’Souza. I agree he makes some good points, but he also shows his own hypocrisy. Witness the following quotes:

“…D’Souza’s propensity to make statements without apparently having examined their implications.”

Though an excellent point, Robert Spencer has done the same thing—repeatedly. Most salient is his refusal to call for a halt to all Muslim immigration, and instead rely on “weeding out the jihadists.” Just how would he do this?

“…He offers no prescription for how his ‘traditional Muslims’ can repel the appeal to violence that jihadists everywhere base on the teachings of ‘their religion and their prophet…’”

Again, Mr. Spencer, what is your prescription for success? And if the Muslims can’t repel the appeal to violence, what do we do then?

“…even if most Muslims today do live under democracies, to assume that this means Islam is compatible with democracy is like saying that most Russians loved Stalin’s reign of terror, since they lived under it regime for so long.”

If Islam is not compatible with democracies, even if Muslims are among their own kind, how is Islam compatible with a Western democracy, when they are among infidels, and are so small in number that the infidels will continue to make the laws?

“In any case, despite the fact that D’Souza is aware, as he puts it, that ‘traditional Muslims are not “moderates,”’ and that there are no theological differences and few political differences between them and the jihadists, he recommends that conservatives ally with them.

“Dinesh D’Souza, no less short-sighted and naďve as John VI Cantacuzenes, is exhorting conservatives today to rush into an alliance that would ultimately bring upon themselves the same disaster.”

Larry, you said in a prior entry that you had heard that Spencer privately indicates he believes in outright restrictions on Muslim immigration, but feels there is no political consensus behind such a step at present, and therefore no point in calling for it.

If one takes seriously Spencer’s argument that we should “screen out the jihadists” one must then ask how should we do it, to—in the words of Spencer—examine the implications and offer a prescription?

Do we not ask foreigners for loyalty to the US anyway in our Oath of Citizenship? What other test would Spencer implement? Would all applicants (assuming that, in a scenario preposterously favorable to Spencer’s Pollyanna point of view, 100% of all Muslims come in legally) be given a questionnaire? Would it be multiple choice or essay? Who would get to ask the questions? What would be a passing score—7 out of 10? 8 out of 10? 9 out of 10? Would the test get graded on a Bell curve? Would the applicants get to appeal, and to whom? Would they take the test in their own country, or would they take it once they are already on our soil? If they fail, how would the deportation hearings work? What would happen if they passed and then reneged on their promise of loyalty to the US?

Furthermore, what happens when the first x number of applicants gets rejected, and the rest realize what the “right answers” are? Do we develop another test? Would we dig up Joe McCarthy to ask “are you now or have you ever been a jihadist? Can you prove it? Why should we take your word for it? On such and such a date you were seen with so and so. We have the records. What do you have to say for yourself?”

Does Spencer believe, even for a minute, that there is a “political consensus” for doing this? If not, how do we separate the good Muslims from the bad? Has anyone bothered to ask him these questions, even those in the media sympathetic to his argument?

If the cold reality is that we cannot stop immigration because most Americans see their grandparents in every immigrant, and want to believe assimilation is possible, then we are sunk. Spencer will continue spitting into the wind, liberals will continue appealing to our collective better natures, and the Muslims will take over.

There is only one solution—a halt to Muslim immigration, followed by a true out-migration, and an unapologetic statement that America will remain an Anglo-Saxon country based on Judeo Christian values. Until Spencer (and Lewis, and D’Souza, and Prager, and Pipes) is going to make that point, and force Americans to choose between their hopes and their fears, then they should shut up. They are taking up the oxygen of the debate.

But maybe that’s the point after all. Maybe Spencer and Lewis truly don’t want to see the West survive, or at least believe it has lost the will to do so, and feel it is their duty at least to say something, lest the baton be taken up by those who would recommend doing something constructive. Perhaps they think if they talk in abstractions, those who would talk concrete realities, i.e., nuts and bolts, will not be listened to. Then the debate can be dominated by the twin killers—liberals who don’t want to choose between openness and survival, and moderates who believe that they can actually have both, even though history tells us otherwise.

LA replies:

Well, I feel Joseph is being too hard on Spencer, in fact, way too hard. I see no evidence that “Spencer truly [doesn’t] want to see the West survive.” There’s no basis for such a statement.

On the questionnaire, Spencer, as I understand it, does not just call for asking Muslims questions, but for looking at the background and associates of Muslims to determine if they are reasonably likely to be sympathetic to jihad.

And it’s true, no one in the mainstream to my knowledge has ever asked Spencer any critical questions about his questionnaire idea, any more than anyone in the mainstream has asked me about the Separationism idea, because these ideas are still so far out that there is no interest in them.

But certainly Joseph’s idea is correct that if Spencer declines to advocate an immigration halt because it’s not politically feasible at the moment, then by the same logic he should also decline to call for a questionnaire. I guess he thinks the questionnaire is less “far out” than the immigration halt.

However, notwithstanding Spcncer’s insistence that he “really” wants to restrict Muslim immigration, his total dealing with that issue strongly suggests that this is not true. For example, no one who really (if privately) believed in stopping Muslims from coming into America would have defended Virgil Goode from the charge of bigotry by, as Spencer did, defending Spencer’s own questionnaire idea, instead of defending Goode for his statements on stopping Muslims immigration. I’ve never seen anything like it, it was bizarre.

Also, a couple of years ago, Spencer did a similar thing to me as he did to Goode. When my article, “How to Defeat Jihad in America” was published at FrontPage Magazine in 2004, Spencer quoted sections of it, but he left out the key passages, with the result that his excerpt of the article made it sound as though my plan was a plan to get Muslims to assimilate into America, rather a plan than to make Muslims leave America, which, of course, was what my whole article was about. Just as, in his bizarre non-defense of Goode, he changed Goode’s call for immigration restriction into a call for a questionnaire, he changed my position from a call for immigration restriction and deportation into a call for assimilation!

Thus Spencer seems instinctively to recoil from the very idea of immigration restrictions. This is what makes it hard to believe that he “really” believes in restrictions, but is only remaining silent out of reasons of political prudence.

But let’s hope that I’m wrong. Also, it’s possible that Spencer may be hoping for someone else to take that tough position, so that he himself wouldn’t have to do so. I suspect that many “conservatives” are like that. They want the problem taken care of, without THEIR having to do it. When I remember the spiritual changes I had to go through in my life before I felt comfortable publicly criticizing non-Western immigration, I can understand the depth of people’s fears and inhibitions in this area.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 30, 2007 06:49 PM | Send

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