Spencer starts on the high road, then turns back
Amazingly, Robert Spencer actually responds to my proposals on the substance. I agree with some of his remarks, disagree with others, but this is a discussion that could be had.
Unfortunately, he cannot refrain from his “Auster” obsession for long, and instead of staying with the topic, he does an amazing thing. He dredges up e-mails from me having nothing to do with the present discussion, e-mails he had already very improperly and misleadingly quoted last May (though he now says it was last September) in an effort to discredit me. This was subsequent to a long exchange at Jihad Watch which he began by calling me a “dyspectic misanthrope,” then a “racist,” (which he then denied having done) and then a private e-mail exchange between us in which, after enduring his repeated insults, I finally got so exasperated at him I let him have it. I explained this all, including his low and dishonest way of presenting my e-mails, in a comment that was posted at Jihad Watch back then. The comment (which is copied below) explains it all. It is astonishing that Spencer, who does have substantive things to say, now digs up this almost year-old discussion, so needy is he to portray me in the most negative light possible. In that e-mail exchange, he called me a liar, a smearer, a dishonest person, a misrepresenter, a person who distorts truth, over and over and over again, before I finally lost my temper and used the language against him he now selectively quotes. He also spoke in a taunting, insulting tone that one man does not use to another. I have so far refrained from quoting his statements in that exchange because it would lower the tone of this “debate” even further and is not the kind of thing that people would want to see.
He justifies re-posting his quotes of me on the basis that I posted his e-mails to me today. But there is no comparison between his violation of privacy in selectively quoting my e-mails of last May then and now, and my quoting his e-mails in their entirety today, since, as I explained earlier, I told him months ago that because of his “calumny” charge I would not communicate with him any more and if he wrote to me I would only reply publicly at my site. He was thus on notice that anything he wrote to me was likely to be posted. And that’s what happened today. He wrote about eight e-mails to me and three other recipients in which he kept calling me dishonest and a liar and so on, none of which I answered, but they kept coming. The only way I can protect myself from his continuing efforts to damage me is by publicizng them, which is what I did. This is very different from what he did last year, when he took a purely private exchange between the two of us and posted tidbits of it.
Spencer’s method remains the same as always. It is to take a piece out of my hide by trashing me as a person every I make a legitimate intellectual criticism of him. It’s a dirty, effective method, and with most people it would get them to back off. But it’s not going to work with me. The issue is too important. The fulcrum of our age is the encounter between Islam and the West. The Islam critics, led by Spencer, are at the cutting edge of this confrontation, but in their refusal to deal frankly with the fundamental problem, which is the physical presence of large Muslim populations in the West, they leave the issue in a profound state of confusion, and, by their own example, teach people that the way to respond to a mortal threat to our civilization is to kvetch about it and put bandaids on it. I will keep insisting on clear and consistent thinking on this front as long as the most prominent people in the field keep contradicting themselves and evading the logic of their own argument.
On a related point, Spencer in the substantive part of his discussion tonight purports to find a contradiction in my plan, in that, despite my statement that Islam is the problem, I do not call for the removal of non-jihadist Muslim citizens. But, as I explained in detail in my 2004 article “How to Defeat Jihad in America,” my plan does not leap to an end point, it does not speak of deporting the whole Muslim population. Rather it initiates a process. Namely, it reverses our current situation, so that instead of Muslims steadily growing more numerous and powerful among us while we grow more demoralized and hopeless, the Muslims, through a combination of forced and voluntary departures, would steadily be growing less numerous and powerful while we grow in confidence and renewed hope for our collective future. That is why I start at the “no-brainer” aspects of the problem, such as stopping the further legal immigration of Muslims and removing Muslim illegal aliens, and then move step by step to the harder positions, such as removing naturalized citizens. A further key point Spencer misses in my plan is that if, as I propose, the U.S. Congress formally determines that Islam is a political religion lacking First Amendment protections, that would lead to the mass voluntary departure of all kinds of Muslims, not just jihadists.
What I propose is profoundly different from anything Spencer has suggested. But Spencer, like Daniel Pipes before him, falsely portrays my ideas as substantively identical to his own, so as to make it seem as though I was just an egotist drawing false distinctions with others in order to put them down and advance myself. Could any fair-minded person who has read my writings over the years, and understood the consistent concerns that drive me, believe that of me? Yet this is part of Spencer’s low tactics. Instead of engaging fairly with my positions, he tries to destroy me as a person in other people’s eyes, by falsely claiming that that is what I am trying to do to him. And he is empowered in this campaign of personal destruction by his prominent position and by the desire of most people to side with the more powerful party. But, as I said, his dirty methods will not work with me.
David H. writes:
Again I am both encouraged and grateful for your refusal to succumb to the childish, baseless, unprofessional and leftist-mimicking attacks upon your character by the “usual suspects.” I can remember a time when that phrase included only those on the left; now, many so-called conservatives have cast themselves into that same ideological pig sty. I can write this without hesitation, for fraudulent personal insults and false accusations of “liar,” “Hitler,” “fascist,” “racist” are the hooting shrieks of the common leftist ape.
Here is my comment at Jihad Watch, May 31, 2006:
Robert Spencer has taken the concept of “out of context” to new heights. Continuing what has been his intention from the start, which has been to discredit me by portraying me as “dyspeptic misanthrope,” as “disingenuous” (an expression he must have used about 20 times), and other such phrases, he puts together in one list all of the insulting comments I wrote to him yesterday in private e-mails and he gratuitously posts it online. Naturally, without the reader’s seeing what I was replying to when I said those things, and why I said them, the insults give a very false impression. I just want to say this. I tried to keep to an impersonal tone in the thread at Jihad Watch despite unending insulting language from Spencer that should have no place in any public discussion (which, by the way, no one here has held Spencer to account for). But when he lied about having used the “racist” charge against me, and said that I was making that up, I had enough and called him a liar. That was my last post because then he closed the thread.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 06, 2007 11:29 PM | Send