Spencer record on immigration revealed—and a new attack on me by Spencer
(Note, July 8: As explained by Erich
further down in this entry, Spencer at his website refuses to answer polite questions from his own commenters on his position on immigration. He says his list of passing comments on the subject is enough to explain his position, and he doesn’t need to say anything more about it.)
(Note, July 10): In exchanges below with a Reader, Jeff in England, Evariste, and Kidist, I have defended Spencer from what I think are too-sweeping criticisms.)
Robert Spencer for the first time ever has provided a list of links to several passing comments he has made in recent months and years supporting the restriction or cessation of Muslim immigration. I just received from Spencer a copy of his exchange with a reader of his:
Mike S. wrote to Spencer:
Today on JW, you wrote; “How many more young women will have to die before Muslim immigration into the U.S. is ended?”
I wholeheartedly agree, but I was wondering if you have ever uttered this explicit sentiment publicly before? I couldn’t find any other specific reference although your position on unchecked immigration here and abroad is well-documented.
From: Robert Spencer
Cc: Lawrence Auster
Sent: Monday, July 07, 2008 2:09.p.m.
Subject: Re: Robert Spencer
You sound like Lawrence Auster now! He accuses me of never saying this, but he ignores the many times when I have said it.
I just uttered this sentiment a few days ago—June 30:
See also June 21:
And April 25:
And January 28:
And March 13, 2007:
And February 16, 2007:
And December 2006:
Etc. etc. etc.
Spencer can never mention me without smearing me and calling me dishonest. Of course I haven’t “ignored” any statement he has made on immigration, since, as he knows perfectly well, whenever any statement by him on the subject comes to my attention, I immediately post it and comment on it.
I’ve looked at all the linked entries above, and when I have the time I will post relevant excerpts from them and have more to say about them.
For now I’ll just say this. In several of the above entries, Spencer references his 2003 book Onward Christian Soldiers as the source of his support for restrictions on Muslim immigration. However, in more recent years, his main proposal regarding Muslim immigration was his idea of screening out jihadists among prospective Muslim immigrants. During this same period he insisted, in reply to my criticisms of him, that he had a strong position on restricting Muslims immigration. However, as I showed in my December 2006 entry, “Slurring Robert Spencer,” based on his own description of his position at that time, his own supposedly strong immigration position really came down to his idea of screening jihadists, not reducing or stopping Muslim immigration. It was only in June 2007 that, following my repeated criticisms of his screening idea, he gave up his screening idea, saying it would not work because there was no reliable method of telling who was a jihadist and who wasn’t. In that same entry he called for stopping immigration from Muslim countries, not for stopping all Muslim immigration.
The upshot is that Spencer wants credit for having supported restrictions on Muslim immigration since 2003, when in fact, from 2003 to June 2007, he seemed to have abandoned that idea and was pushing for the screening of jihadists, not for the absolute numerical reduction or cessation of Muslim immigration. And furthermore, even in June 2007, he was still only calling for stopping Muslim immigration from Muslim countries, not all Muslim immigration.
Spencer’s statements on the issue remain fragmentary and contradictory. Yet he insists that others take his own self-serving characterizations of his position at face value, and he calls me a liar because I have declined to do so.
Again, I will have more to say on this later.
* * *
I also got this e-mail from Spencer’s reader Mike S.:
It seems that one of your resident sycophants, Katya, is as misinformed about Spencer’s ‘newest’ revelation on Muslim immigration as you are. I see he cc’d you as well, but I am quite sure that you will not relay that information on your site. It would ruin the mystique of you always being right, and conservative enough to save us all. Don’t worry. I’ll do my best to expose you as the charlatan you are.
Only honest dealers allow open exchanges. Your site, however, does not.
I especially liked the piece by one of your lackeys about a black-free American future. That was priceless, especially the comment you printed about IQ differences between the races. I can see you really like to keep the quality up over at VFR.
And you wonder why so few take you seriously and why you have been relegated to the sidelines? You never responded to me from my comment on Erich’s blog as to why all conservative internet news sources shunned you a few years ago. Do you care to share?
I replied to him:
If you want to get a substantive reply from me, then re-write this e-mail showing respect for me and my good faith and intentions. I have no interest in replying to insulting e-mails which call me dishonest.
Mike S. wrote back:
Respect is earned, not given.
In light of the factual backings of the links that Mr. Spencer provided in response to “anonymous’” challenge at JW today, obviously as a result of your posting at VFR, are you really going to continue to claim that your representation of Spencer’s position on Muslim immigration is an honest one?
Everyone makes mistakes. It takes a man to admit when he has made one.
To which I replied:
Apparently you are not aware that every time a Spencer comment on immigration comes to my attention, I link it and discuss it.
For again calling me dishonest and insulting me, as though I needed to be taunted by a low class idiot like you in order to speak the truth, you are permanently closed out. Don’t bother writing to me again.
Your tragedy is that you believe Spencer’s smears.
Below is Spencer’s reply to Mike S., which Spencer also sent to me as a cc. Note that I have not corresponded with Spencer since, in November 2006, he accused me of “calumny” simply for writing that he defended Western civilization on a liberal basis, as explained here
. As he well knows, any e-mail I receive from him I post online and reply to online.
Spencer wrote again to Mike S.
Well-said. This man has been defaming me personally and misrepresenting my position on immigration for years. His latest—that he won’t think I’m against Muslim immigration (despite my telling him I was several years ago now) until I write an article about it rather than a blog post, is beyond ludicrous. So now I don’t mean what I write at my blog, but only mean what I write in articles? Last time, as I recall, it was that I only said it in an interview, and that wasn’t good enough either. So are we to understand that Mr. Auster himself does not mean what he writes at his blog or in interviews? (Actually that might be, for him, a convenient out.)
Here are just a few of the places where I have clearly stated my opposition to Muslim immigration in the past—all of which Mr. Auster has ignored, so that he can portray my statement today as something new. [He included the same list as above.]
Spencer then wrote to me directly:
No answer to me either, as expected: I know, you don’t like that I said that something you said was a “calumny.” Yet when confronted with clear and abundant evidence that what you have been saying about me is false, and has been false even as you continued to say it, you can only huffily insist on your integrity. Well, now is the put up or shut up time for integrity, no?
This is standard Spencer technique by now. In the past, he said to me and several notable figures that I am a liar, because I had not posted a statement of his, even though I did not know
about that statement. As soon as I found out about it I posted it, yet he continued to accuse me of deliberate lying. Others intervened to get him to drop the charge of lying, yet it did no good. See the thread, “Told he should stop calling me a liar, Spencer insists I am one.”
It’s the same here. As soon as I received the e-mail from him with his list of links to his comments on immigration, I eagerly posted it. Yet he continues to suggest that, left to my own devices, I would not post it, and that I have only done so because of his charge that I conceal things.
We should also remember that Robert Spencer is a close personal friend and associate of Charles Johnson, the number one smearer in the so-called conservative movement. Spencer sided with Johnson’s campaigns to destroy Vlaams Belang and Paul Belien, even after Johnson’s vicious techniques of character assassination had been going on for weeks and had been thoroughly exposed as such. See my article, Spencer: ally of Charles Johnson.
* * *
Robert Spencer writes:
“every time a Spencer comment on immigration comes to my attention, I link it and discuss it”
You won’t even admit that several of my comments on immigration quite obviously did not come to your attention at the time they were written?
Perhaps someone can make sense of this.
* * *
Here’s the latest. Robert Spencer has sent ten e-mails attacking me over the last couple of hours. I’ve posted several of them, but now he’s complaining that I haven’t posted all of them. Apparently he’s under the impression that when I said I do not reply to him personally, but online, that obligates me to post everything he sends me.
It’s especailly funny that he expects me to post everything he sends, since, about 40 minutes ago (it’s 4:45 p.m. now), he told me, “I would leave any room in which you were present.”
So he’s banished from his world, he’s declared me officially persona non grata, yet he expects me to keep posting his messages and replying to them!
You know, the last I heard, Robert Spencer has his own website, where he is free to attack me to his heart’s desire.
* * *
Robert Spencer writes:
OK, you’re not a liar.
You said first, “As he well knows, any e-mail I receive from him I post online and reply to online.”
But now you say: “now he’s complaining that I haven’t posted all of them. Apparently he’s under the impression that when I said I do not reply to him personally, but online, that obligates me to post everything he sends me.”
So in other words, you post any email you receive from me, except when you don’t post any email you receive from me.
But you’re not a liar! Oh no! Perish the thought!
Ok, I misspoke. I obviously meant that I post things from Spencer that I think are appropriate to post. Does he really think that when I said, “any e-mail I receive from him I post online and reply to online,” I meant that I am somehow obligated to post every single thing he sends me, regardless of its nature, and immediately, before I’ve had a chance to take it in and write a reply; and, further, that I am obligated to keep posting his e-mails after he’s told me that he would walk out of any room in which I was present?
Spencer can’t have it both ways.
And his labeling as “lying” an obvious instance of mere misspeaking is typical of him.
- end of initial entry -
Michael P. writes:
Robert Spencer writes:
“OK, you’re not a liar…But you’re not a liar! Oh no! Perish the thought!”
Obviously you’ve struck a sore nerve with Mr. Spencer. But his strange misrepresentation of what is implied in common language and written speech shows a very limited understanding, and a curious weakness of perception on his part. “We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us,” said the Bard.
Spencer grasps straws in his attempts to argue. Very sad. At least he’s not perpetrating childish pranks, like Johnson, though.
Robert Spencer writes:
I can only imagine the outcry that would have ensued if I had said on Jihad Watch that I would publish “any email” that Auster sent me, and then had declined to publish ones that didn’t make me look quite as good as I wanted to look.
- end of Spencer e-mail -
It’s easy to win an argument when you selectively control what your opponent is saying, isn’t it, Mr. Auster?
You will also note that I never seem to “attack” you except in response to your relentlessly mean-spirited and falsely based attacks on me at your website. Search and see how many times your august name has appeared in posts at Jihad Watch (and that number is never, ever going to increase henceforth), and compare it to your innumerable misrepresentations, fanciful flights of misinterpretation, and sly personal attacks (all masquerading as sober objective analysis), and tell me who is doing the attacking.
You have been caught out today. You put up at VFR a post in which one of your acolytes claimed that I have “changed” my position on Muslim immigration. I then sent you emails showing that I have stated the same “new” position many times in the past—statements you seem to have missed. But instead of acknowledging your error and noting that I am stating the same position I have stated many times before, you chose to dig yourself a deeper hole with pseudo-psychoanalysis and ever more challenges to my integrity and powers of judgment.
I charged some time ago that your obsessive attacks on me and others who largely agree with you were a rather unseemly example of a man doing everything he can to discredit those he perceives as his competitors, in order to gain some of the market share that they enjoy and you don’t. Nothing in your behavior since then has disabused me of this view—particularly your repeated treatment of a cavalier rhetorical flourish in that same email from me as a serious statement that you were out for world domination. You are not out for world domination, but you have lost all sense of perspective and have become the lowest form of character assassin, and have alienated most thoroughly someone who once was and would have continued to be your ally (which is not to say I agree with all of your positions, some of which are becoming increasingly vile).
Have you ever for a moment stopped to consider that you’re increasingly isolated not because you’re the courageous, fearless one and everyone else is inconsistent, sold out, politically correct, or whatever, but because you’re unremittingly obnoxious and unfair?
I really don’t know what Spencer is talking about. I’m always interested in what Spencer has to say about Muslim immigration, and when Katya’s comment came in today noting Spencer’s strong-sounding statement on immigration, I immediately posted it:
In a blog entry at Jihad Watch about an honor killing in Georgia, Robert Spencer writes: “How many more young women will have to die before Muslim immigration into the US is ended?”
A mite late coming to the conclusion, but let us just be grateful he’s joined up.
I’m glad he said it, but having gone through Spencer’s flirtations with the immigration issue before, I’ll only believe he has “joined up” when he writes a full length article arguing seriously for the cessation of Muslim immigration—not just a throwaway rhetorical question in a blog entry.
There was nothing new here, but rather my long-time argument about Spencer, that he is highly inconsistent on this issue. I have written many articles laying out the record on this, and that record is not going to be discredited by Spencer’s fulminations. I felt the inconsistency especially strongly when, after I had welcomed
his apparent embrace of a restrictionist policy in a blog entry June 2007, he did not revisit the issue for many months, while he continued to make various statements that sounded as though he had returned to a kind of Bernard Lewis-type helplessness about the growing power of Islam in America, such as this article
written in January 2008. As a result, I was no longer sure if he had taken a definite position on immigration or not. So, when Katya sent his comment today, I noted it, said that I was “glad” for it but that I was holding off a definite conclusion about what it meant.
Shortly afterward I received the e-mail from Spencer to his reader Mike S. with the list of links. Since Spencer had never before provided such a list of his comments on immigration, I was intrigued, read them, and posted the list, under the title, “Spencer record on immigration revealed.” (In fact, “revealed” was the wrong word, I wanted to say “unveiled,” but the word didn’t come to me at the time.) Even as I was preparing to post this, I was receiving insulting attacks from Mike S. and Spencer, accusing me of sneakily suppressing the information he had sent.
The entry (which is this entry) began:
Robert Spencer for the first time ever has provided a list of links to several passing comments he has made in recent months and years supporting the restriction or cessation of Muslim immigration. I just received from Spencer a copy of his exchange with a reader of his…
I then, without going into details, which I didn’t have time to do, put the list of comments in the context of Spencer’s record on the issue, reminding readers that the list of comments did not necessarily mean what it appeared to mean, because of Spencer’s frequent shifts on the issue. Anyone reading it will see that I am describing Spencer’s record in critical though objective language. There is no personal attack there—it is the same record I have discussed before.
The rush of personal attacks from Spencer and Mike S. continued. I posted several of Spencer’s e-mails, then he let loose with his comment that if he saw me in a room he would walk out. Yet he still expects me to engage in a dialog with him.
If he had held off on his attacks on my honesty and character, which obviously required resopnse from me, and just stayed with the issues and the record—after all, what else was the purpose of his gathering the links to his past comments?—there would have been time for a fuller consideration of his written record, with quotations presented in context, than I offered at the beginning of this entry. But Spencer made such a discussion impossible with his stream of vitriol. At one point he even mocked my statement that I intended to write a fuller consideration of his written record.
Readers can look at the language Spencer has used about me in his numerous e-mails that I have posted here, compare it to the language I have used, and reach their own conclusions about who is defaming whom. Who knows? I may even get around to posting his so-far unposted e-mails.
* * *
Van Wijk writes:
It’s amusing that you’re accused of having acolytes and sycophants…by one of Spencer’s acolytes and sycophants.
Working my way through this entry, I thought this was a champion bumper sticker idea from Mr Awake:
Lawrence Auster—Conservative Enough to Save Us All
Now that’s conservative! If elected, Mr. Auster, will you pledge to get by on conservatism alone, at zero cost to the taxpayer?
I just read through your lengthy exposition of the Spencer exchanges. It seems to me you are being too kind to Spencer. He has a habit of being maddeningly slippery and using language like a tap-dancing lawyer, forcing his interlocutor to have to go through groin-pulling gymnastics just to keep up with his sophistical evasions and impeccably phrased half-truths. But I suppose I credit you for putting in the effort to get at least a large chunk of it on record. I labored extensively to do the same on my now retired Jihad Watch Watch site, and for a lot of it I used the excellent attempts by other commenters who had the displeasure of getting tangled up in his defensiveness that seems, inevitably, to devolve into paranoia and arrogant ad hominems.
As I read through your post in which you cite the correspondence (both direct and indirect through his proxy) between you and him, I could almost see Spencer’s Nixonian five-o’clock shadow darkening. I wish Spencer would just knock it off and relax for once in his life and not consider everyone an enemy or a “saboteur” who disagrees substantively and with honest persistence.
In retrospect, I’m sorry I posted any of the emails from Mike S. or Spencer.
* * *
I forgot my own rule: not to post anything with abusive language. I should have said to them: either you send me non-abusive e-mails, or I don’t post them. Then they would either have gone silent or been forced to make their points without ad hominem smears, and much of the unpleasantness would have been avoided, at least at this site.
LA writes (July 8):
Spencer wrote yesterday:
You are not out for world domination, but you have lost all sense of perspective and have become the lowest form of character assassin, and have alienated most thoroughly someone who once was and would have continued to be your ally (which is not to say I agree with all of your positions, some of which are becoming increasingly vile).
While, as I’ve said, I regret that I posted any of this garbage yesterday, it does serve a purpose, as it shows the kinds of things Spencer routinely says about me.
Also, Spencer’s line about his being my ally—at any time—is untrue. He has been consistently hostile and stunningly insulting to me from my earliest communications with him.
As an example of Spencer’s way of dealing with me from the very beginning, in June 2004, Spencer quoted at Jihad Watch an article of mine from FrontPage Magazine, “How to Defeat Jihad in America.” His editing made my article seem to be saying the exact opposite of what it was actually saying, namely, he made my article which was calling for the removal of Muslims from the U.S. seem to be calling for the assimilation of Muslims in the U.S. I wrote to him, in what may have been my first e-mail correspondence with him, and politely asked him to correct the mistake, or else just link to the original article at FrontPage. He replied by saying that he would never link any article of mine at his site again. Then he said, “Thanks for writing.” After I patiently and politely pointed out that I had made a reasonable request and that he was being too touchy, he ultimately apologized, as on later occasions he apologized for much more insulting things he said to me, but then he would immediately return to the insults again. That was the pattern of his contacts with me from the start. When my huge two-part article “The Search for Moderate Islam” was published at FrontPage in January 2005, in which I exposed the falsity of Daniel Pipes’s view of Islam and articulated a radically new “civilizational” strategy toward Islam, Spencer at Jihad Watch dismissed the article with a single line, saying that it was all familiar stuff.
For the record, his claim that he has ever been an ally of mine is untrue.
There’s more on the Jihad Watch thread from which I believe this latest interchange between Spencer and you emanated. A reader of Jihad Watch named “Infidel Pride” asked Spencer a reasonable question:
Why is a simple yes/no response, as anonymous requested, so complicated? I accept your contention from the earlier quotes that you are opposed to Muslim immigration, but when somebody unequivocally stands for something, such simple responses shouldn’t be difficult.
I didn’t give a “simple yes/no response” because it seemed to me that the answer was abundantly clear from the posts linked above [that list of links Spencer provided that is supposed to clear up all confusion], and the quotations from them that I provided. If you can’t figure out the answer from them, I would question your ability to read and understand anything. But I am not going to feed the perception that they are in any way unclear by saying anything more than what they say. If the yes/no request had come from anyone else besides this prosecutorial individual who refuses to read what I say before condemning me, I would not hesitate to answer. But I don’t like being bullied.
The problem with the passage I bolded above is that Spencer never answers anybody’s questions about these key matters (where he stands on Islam itself, and on immigration let alone deportation) in a clear and unambiguous let alone coherent fashion. Whenever anyone—even someone who expresses his questions and comments reasonably, intelligently and maturely—presses Spencer to be clearer and less ambiguous, Spencer accuses them of having some sinister and hostile motives, which then gives him an ostensible excuse to terminate the discussion. At best, he might string his interlocutor along with maddeningly evasive and sophistically slippery tap-dancing for a while before the final unilateral termination of the discussion that never really was a discussion in the first place.
How about that. He can now use me as an all-purpose excuse never to address the issue plainly. Even if his own, respectful commenters ask him to be clear on Muslim immigration, he can say that he declines to answer because he refuses to be bullied—by me.
The important thing here is that Robert Spencer has never written an article on the subject of Muslim immigration. His longest writings on the subject have been, literally, a sentence or two, at most a brief paragraph. Since he’s never worked out his views on the subject in a discursive, reasoned way, he does not know what he thinks about the subject, he does not know what exactly he thinks ought to be done. He hasn’t tried out different positions to see if they work, he hasn’t answered challenging questions. Thus he lacks a coherent position that he can explain and stand by consistently. And the fact that he has never written on this key subject at longer than a brief aside is the strongest indication that he is not interested in it, not serious about it.
That’s one of the reasons I said, in the brief entry yesterday that set off this latest fracas, that unless Spencer writes a real article on the subject, instead of tossing off throwaway lines, parenthetical comments, and rhetorical questions (e.g. “How many more young women will have to die before Muslim immigration into the U.S. is ended?”), then collecting these throwaway lines into a list, I will continue not to take seriously his comments on immigration.
Spencer really ought to get over his obsession with my supposed meanness to him, and deal with the issues. For him to use my putative bullying and distortion of his record as an excuse for him not to deal responsibly with the ultimate issue facing us, is not right.
Also, he has repeated his reasoned belief that we cannot tell the difference between harmless Muslims and dangerous Muslims:
“As I’ve pointed out for years, there is no reliable way to distinguish between jihadists and peaceful Muslims. The implications of this are many. No one is considering them, in Iraq or elsewhere.”
Given this reasoned belief of his, and given the unprecedented dangers we face from Muslims which Spencer knows all too well and has spent years documenting with an ever-growing mountain of evidence on Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch, the logical conclusion is to treat all Muslims the same, and to call for both the cessation of immigration of all Muslims, and the deportation of all Muslims from the West. (
(I think you disagree somewhat with this logical conclusion, in that you call for a comprehensive set of sociopolitical changes in the West to make the Muslims already here feel so uncomfortable, they will slowly but surely emigrate voluntarily. I disagree: such a proposal depends upon hypotheticals, and it also necessitates the retention of already millions of Muslims in the West for an indeterminate period of time while they decide voluntarily whether or not they want to leave. Meanwhile, the dangers will persist, and likely will get worse as the Muslims in the West will become increasingly hostile due to their discomfort we have imposed upon them.)
The sooner the West can collectively come to the logical conclusion of total deportation, the less bloody, the less messy, and the less expensive will be the inevitable global conflict. I know my logic is not pragmatically realistic, given the fact that political correctness is dominant and mainstream throughout the West currently; but that doesn’t make my logic wrong nor improvident.
First, I am interested in any policy based on recognition of the truth that significant numbers of Muslims do not belong in any Western society, period. If anyone calls for a policy of deportation, I’m not going to disagree with that. It’s just not the thing that I would argue for. I have nothing in principle against it. We’re talking about different means to the same end.
Second, I have not exactly called for a “comprehensive set of sociopolitical changes” to make Muslims uncomfortable enough to leave. I’ve called for something very specific to achieve that end: a federal statute restricting, or, better, a constitutional amendment banning, the practice of Islam in the United States. (And by the way the idea must be a real turnoff to VFR readers, because I’ve never gotten a single comment on it, despite repeatedly re-linking it.)
Of course I’ve also called for stopping all Muslim immigration, combined with a graduated set of steps making Muslims leave both voluntarily and involuntarily.
However, I have to agree with you, that if we wanted the simplest and most direct path to what we want, your deportation idea is the ticket. No complexities. They just have to leave.
[Note (July 9): I posted a comment by the below reader yesterday, while deleting two sentences where he dismissed Spencer’s writings on Islam. The reader asked me to restore the cut sentences, and I have done so, while adding my own reply.]
A Reader writes:
Hitherto, I’ve always thought of Spencer as a reliable and well-informed critic of Islam, albeit one who was unwilling to draw the obvious policy implications from his observations. And, rather cynically, I assumed that this unwillingness was due to the economic constraints on someone who earns part of his living as a pundit (not an original observation). Thus I have not found surprising his tetchiness when the inferential failure is noted by you and Erich and others.
He clearly feels very strongly about you and this has led him to misrepresent you and to write in an undignified and intemperate manner. But he also feels very strongly about Islam. So it may not be wise to treat his books as reliable sources of information on that topic.
I most certainly do not want to turn this into an attack on Spencer’s value as a critic of Islam. I have always said I respect Spencer’s understandings of Islam and regard them as indispensable. Each person has his own strengths and weakness. A person may be rational and virtuous in one area, and irrational and vicious in another. To say that a person has a serious character flaw does not mean that everything he does is worthless. In that case we’d all be worthless.
So I disagree with your comment which would deny to Spencer’s writings any value at all. Yes, that’s the way Spencer and his commenters relentlessly talk about me. I do not speak that way about him. And, as I said, I just don’t think it’s true.
Jeff in England writes:
I’ve read it all now (Spencer’s blog entry and all the comments) and it has put me off of Spencer and Jihad Watch forever. Hopefully VFR readers would never write in the same tone. You know how I feel about nastiness and vulgarity whatever one’s views. Spencer and his pack have disgraced themselves and discredited serious anti-Islamic journalism. Muslims who read Jihad Watch must be celebrating.
In addition, as you know, Spencer won’t give a one word answer to whether he is for a complete immigration halt of Muslims (see “anonymous”), defending this cowardly refusal by saying he has said all that is necessary already. Oh.
Jeff in England writes (July 9):
All of a sudden (in today’s Jihad Watch), Spencer, in reply to the latest publicised honour killing in the USA, clearly asks how long will it be before Muslim immigration to the USA is stopped.
Of course that has nothing to do the recent sensible criticisms by you and others (including myself) that he has not made and will not make a simple (yes or no) statement supporting complete hypothetical immigration restriction of Muslims.
Nor has it to do with the recent vulgar and unjustified PERSONAL attacks (in response to your IMPERSONAL criticism of Spencer’s position on Muslim immigration) on you by Spencer and his Jihad Watch pack of supporters and your forceful but dignified reaction to them.
Move over Obama, Spencer is the consummate politician, saying for maximum effect whatever people want to hear at any particular moment and then claiming he’s felt that particular way all along, while attempting to undermine the integrity of his critics by personal attacks. God is great indeed.
Thanks for this, but I think you’re being a little unfair to him, since he made two other statements like this in the last ten days. In fact, his statement two days that I discussed, thus setting off the fracas, was something very like what he says today.
Today he writes:
The price of this politically correct refusal to confront the ugly realities of the Islamic link to honor killing will be, quite simply, more honor killings. No one will call upon Islamic groups to do something about this practice. No special scrutiny will be focused upon Muslims in the United States, or any studies undertaken about how honor killings can be prevented. No one will examine the question of unrestricted Muslim immigration in light of this problem. While learned analysts search for clues in South Asian cultural habits and the practices of European royalty, more young women will be murdered by their Muslim fathers, husbands, and brothers to cleanse their family’s honor. These young women are the ultimate victims of political correctness.
On July 7 he wrote, (quoted by Katya at VFR):
All things come to him who waits.
So if now he is continually (three times in the last ten days) bringing the immigration issue into his discussion of Islam in the West, that is a great improvement. He has not done that before. But, as you point out, he will claim that he’s been doing it all along.
In a blog entry at Jihad Watch about an honor killing in Georgia, Robert Spencer writes: “How many more young women will have to die before Muslim immigration into the US is ended?”
A mite late coming to the conclusion, but let us just be grateful he’s joined up.
I am for Proscription of Islam and Deportation of Moslems from America. We can’t hope to effect that until we get the truth about Muhammad, Islam, and its history fully into the public domain. Just keep fighting the good fight.
LA wrote to Evariste:
… At the same time, I also need to write something on the Spencer matter, to put this fracas to rest.
Robert Spencer’s emails to you are a complete fiasco. I’m really embarrassed for him. His selfhood must be very fragile and brittle; your criticisms of his inconsistent positions, or his actions (or inactions) are taken as assaults on his very being, and his response is to attack your being. It’s the mirror-image of a liberal shibboleth—not only is the personal political, but the political is personal, so pointing out the shortcomings of his oeuvre is attacking him as a person, an act that provokes not thoughtful reply and reflection, but reciprocal personal attack. He doesn’t even argue with any of your positions, the way you do his. He just attacks you and calls you names, a la Johnson. Like the latest collection of names: “despicable, deeply dishonest, and highly unbalanced.” Despicable why? Deeply dishonest how? Highly unbalanced in which regards exactly? He doesn’t say. Nothing is necessary except the name-calling, which serves as its own support and its own proof. And you’re not just dishonest, which is bad enough but could be a criticism of your actions, but deeply dishonest, which indicts you as a person. You’re not just unbalanced, but highly unbalanced. It doesn’t withstand sustained scrutiny; all it reveals is that he’s really enjoying the act of calling you names, and lingers on his preferred epithets, embellishing them with meaningless intensifying adverbs.
Meanwhile, you scrupulously give him credit where it’s due, but remain rigorous, critical, and aware. I think the idea of having to live up to a consistent intellectual standard that stands outside of, and rebukes, his own casual, momentary whims must offend his sense of personal agency, and impinges in an unwelcome way on his freedom to avoid committing himself to any controversial position. Especially controversial positions which are socially unpopular in our liberal society. His position is basically, “Look at these illiberal Muslims. They keep doing things that aren’t liberal. I’m a very daring iconoclast for pointing this out. Since everything is malleable in this, our liberal world, I will keep waiting for liberal Muslims to appear and make Islam liberal. Conclusively to rule this out is to rule out the truth of liberalism itself, so we must keep hoping for it, no matter what. Please don’t cast me out of polite society, I’m one of us.” You are a threat to his compulsive fence-riding, because you keep pointing it out. As long as no one points it out, he’s safe, but as long as you insist on doing it, you make yourself the enemy.
I think guys like Spencer and Johnson are effectively nothing more than entertainers, and aspire to nothing more than that role. They’re definitely not serious intellectual figures, and have no interest in any thought deeper than pointing at obviously bad things and calling them bad, to the applause of their audiences. They’ll both be happy to keep blogging about the latest Islamic atrocity until the end of time, never offering serious solutions or evidence of searching thought.
Template: “Religion of Peace explosion in [location] kills [number].” Insert dozens or hundreds of comments denouncing it and praising Spencer/Johnson, rinse and repeat, ad nauseam.
When I call Johnson and Spencer “entertainers,” I mean it in the same sense that mainstream conservatives like Limbaugh, Coulter, and Steyn are called, or style themselves, entertainers. As long as they can hide behind that moniker, they’re safe. And as long as their conservative audiences can excuse away any too-truthful statements by pointing out that they’re “just entertainers,” they too can avoid facing liberalism head-on and having to stand all alone in front of a disapproving crowd, agreeing with socially radioactive statements. It’s a fear-based outlook.
People like Spencer can be useful in spite of themselves as long as people like you fight the serious fight and, after sustained intellectual engagement and persuasion, make it socially acceptable to voice the forbidden thoughts. You can see him almost dipping his fearful toe in the waters of social ostracism, like the spark for the most recent fracas, in which he timidly dares to suggest immigration restrictionism. Actually, he doesn’t even suggest it, he just asks a rhetorical and unanswerable question, the true answer to which is “an endless number of young women will die, forever, as long as people who think like you remain in charge.” He doesn’t suggest restrictionism because Muslims in the West are bad for Western peoples and societies, but because Muslims are bad for their young Muslim daughters in the West. By this ultimate logic, even if we restrict immigration and stop Muslims from abusing and killing their daughters here, we still have to invade Muslim countries because they’ll keep mistreating their daughters there.
“They’re definitely not serious intellectual figures, and have no interest in any thought deeper than pointing at obviously bad things and calling them bad, to the applause of their audiences. They’ll both be happy to keep blogging about the latest Islamic atrocity until the end of time, never offering serious solutions or evidence of searching thought.”
That’s very insightful. There is certainly a great deal of that at Jihad Watch. Spencer points out the latest hideous Islamic outrage, and the commenters, whose average age seems to be around 19, all say, “Yes, Robert, Yes!” And this goes on day after day. Perhaps when John Derbyshire said that Islamo-criticism is a kind of pornography, this is the kind of thing he was thinking about.
At the same time, it’s not fair to reduce Spencer to that. He has a serious analysis of Islam, and he expresses it consistently and with genuine intellectual authority.
Again with the scrupulous fairness! I’ll take your word for it, but I haven’t actually followed his career all that closely. I haven’t read any of his books, for instance. I did read Jihad Watch daily for a couple of months four years ago or so, but the only writing on Islam with a scholarly tone that appeared on the site at that time was Hugh Fitzgerald’s. Which is not to say that Spencer doesn’t do any of that—only that I’m not acquainted with his serious analytical work on Islam.
That notion of Derbyshire’s is a new one on me, but if this is what he was talking about, he’s right on the money.
Your scrupulous fairness to the value of Spencer’s scholarship, and your insistence on giving him credit where it’s due him, are of course evidence of your deep dishonesty, and they indicate that you’re highly unbalanced.
A Reader replies to LA (July 10):
I agree that if a man is a glutton it does not follow that he is also an adulterer. But if someone utters untruths on one topic then, ceteris paribus, that fact impugns their credibility on all other topics. That’s just the way credibility works. One cannot rely on people who are “usually truthful” or “often truthful”.
Well, it’s a reasonable point. But other than the abstract logic you’ve just given, do you see any concrete evidence for thinking that Spencer is dishonest on the subject of Islam? Indeed, do you see any similarity at all between the way he expresses himself about Islam and the way he expresses himself about me? For example, does he use highly emotional, denunciatory, gutter language in characterizing Islam, as he does in characterizing me? No, of course not. The fact is that when he speaks about Islam, even very critically, he’s calm and rational, and his judgments on the subject are nuanced and balanced. So your analogy between Spencer re Auster and Spencer re Islam doesn’t hold up. You need to evaluate his various statements on their own merits, not sweepingly dismiss all his work on the basis of an abstract analogy.
Kidist Paulos Asrat writes:
Don’t you think that one of the major problems with Spencer’s writings on Muslims is that he takes them as individuals? This seems to be the problem with writers and intellectuals these days. I remember Paul Gottfried saying how much he liked Turks (although it is not clear if the ones he likes are really Muslims). But if he bases his impressions of all Turks on the few nice, friendly and interesting ones that he knows (as might be the case with Spencer’s Muslim friends), then the whole attitude of these writers towards Islam is tainted. I remember talking this way about Mark Steyn’s demographically friendly/harmless Muslims (according to him.)
The Muslim girl at my grocery, all dressed up in her hijab, is very friendly, fast and a quick cashier—which is more than can be said about the others. I always look out for her to get out of the store quickly.
But, woe is me if I think she will watch my back when her religion makes its indomitable path towards world dominance. I would only trust her when she converts to Christianity. Even atheist Muslims (see Hirsi Ali) are problematic.
So Spencer’s ire is personal. He likes his Muslim friends. And how dare others criticize them/him!
I don’t see this at all. Spencer and his commenters strongly criticize Islam all the time. He continually says that Islam is a grave threat to the West. And, as brought out in the exchange with Jeff above, Spencer in the last ten days has three times rhetorically asked how long Muslim immigration should be allowed to continue.
I simply don’t understand where you’re getting the notion that Spencer is some kind of apologist for Islam. Yes, he’s gone back and forth and been very unreliable on the subject of what to do about Islam, but not on the subject of the problematic nature of Islam itself.
You quoted “A Reader” who wrote about Spencer’s credibility on Islam:
[Spencer] also feels very strongly about Islam. So it may not be wise to treat his books as reliable sources of information on that topic….
“A Reader” is confusing two different things here.
… if someone utters untruths on one topic then, ceteris paribus, that fact impugns their credibility on all other topics. That’s just the way credibility works. One cannot rely on people who are “usually truthful” or “often truthful”.
1) On the one hand, there is the issue of the credibility of someone who wants us to believe his interpretation of data, or who claims he has data that is so important we should re-orient our priorities in order to spend the time looking at that data.
2) On the other hand, there is the issue of the credibility and the import of the data itself.
With regard to #1 and Spencer, “A Reader” has at least an arguable case: it is possible that Spencer’s biases are affecting the interpretations he constructs out of the data about Islam, and it is possible that Spencer’s sense of the urgent import of the data about Islam is compromised by his biases and that therefore people should not re-orient their priorities to spend time looking at that data.
With regard to #2 and Spencer, however, “A Reader” has no case at all. Spencer’s flaws are irrelevant to whether or not the data about problems with Islam exist, what the extent of that data is, and what the import of that data is. What the data means and what conclusions one draws from the data are up to readers of Spencer, and they are free to agree or disagree with Spencer’s interepretations of the data. Spencer has repeatedly stated over the years that he is simply presenting data from Islamic sources, not fabricating the data himself.
Since Spencer is not the only person calling our attention to that data with urgency about its problematic import, and since the data is massive and global, it behooves any concerned person to give the data a good examination and come to his own conclusions—again, something Spencer has repeatedly said.
Kidist replies to LA:
Well, you have actually misunderstood my point. Spencer isn’t being an apologist to Islam, at all. He is being an apologist to Muslims—the people.
I’ve tried hard to recall the moment which I think gave me this perspective. It was after a debate (with D’Souza?) where Spencer started apologizing to a Muslim friend after that debate. It was almost like Stockholm Syndrome—being attracted to, or at least sympathetic towards, the very people who have it in their holy book to kill you.
Also, his long and strangled struggle to screen jihadists was an attempt to find these good Muslims, who can be his friends and live in peace with all of us in the West.
I think he does have Muslim friends, or at least Muslims he feels goodwill toward. I think we all do to some extent, but he must have many more due to the nature of contacts he must make all the time.
He cannot dissociate the humanity from the religion, the Muslims from Islam, the “good” from the “bad.” That is my perception, at least.
Other than that, his over-the-top emotional reaction doesn’t make sense. He wants to be the good guy, who saves or understands these poor people, about whom he knows so much and who have been the topic of his study for so many years.
Or … He has another agenda. To introduce the policies of dealing with Muslims and Islam slowly. From starting with screenings to gradual immigration controls, etc. to get the Western world to get used to the idea of this enemy gradually. And your insistence that he come clean may infuriate him since that may be too hard core for his public, for now, which still thinks well of Muslims.
I doubt, though, the latter is the case.
As Kristor says, “He has not seen … like it or not we are at war with more than a billion people; a war to death”
All those reformable, screenable, good Muslims are actually his enemies.
Thanks. I get your point now. I didn’t before.
LA writes (July 11):
Over the last couple of days, I’ve filtered from my Inbox the approximately 40 e-mails that have come from Robert Spencer and Mike Slumber, Spencer’s chief Auster attacker, and had not read them. I decided yesterday to move the e-mails from the Deleted Items folder into a permanent folder in case I needed them for future reference, and I’ve now looked a couple of them. The below exchange is so striking it’s worth posting. Remember, this is just a tiny glimpse of the voluminous Spencer-Slumber exchange in which I was on the cc line, almost all of which I have not looked at.
Mike Slumber wrote to Spencer (Jul 10, 2008, 10:35 AM):
Now Auster is compelled to defend you against unsavory comments by his readers? It seems like a tacit admission of guilt and an apology of sorts, but not quite.
Robert Spencer replied to Slumber:
The lord of all proper dialogue and etiquette Auster defends your intrellectual scholarship with regards to Islam but in the same breath basically called your entire readership immature sheep, with an average age of 19, who merely echo praise for your statements?
Thank goodness he is not into name calling.
Is Auster a real person? He frames an absurd fairy-tale like thread, picking and choosing every single comment and in whatever context he chooses and then has the audacity to belittle your readership, on your site that allows free unmoderated comments, even ones that are critical of you?
He has to defend you to his readers? Why? Because maybe in Larry’s internet screenplay that he writes, he might have given people the wrong impression of you by his disingenuousness on what you stand for?
Some of those comments, all which were vetted and posted by him, were there since early yesterday and now he is correcting their misconceptions? What a ship of fools he has over there.
Auster responded to A Reader:
“But other than the abstract logic you’ve just given, do you see any concrete evidence for thinking that Spencer is dishonest on the subject of Islam?”
This is hysterical. His reader is calling you dishonest in general because Larry has stated that you are unfairly accusing him of lying about your position (to which he has), and then tries to frame the readers accusation of dishonesty on your discussion of Islam. Also, in Larry’s world, your “gutter language” is uncalled for, even though your exasperation about being lied about is valid.
Honestly, Robert, I’ve never in my “19 years of life”, seen anything like this guy. He is the textbook definition of a liberal fascist and a coward at that.
From: Robert Spencer
So in the world of Slumber, my simple fair-mindedness, of correcting attacks on Spencer that were not true, seems like an “admission of guilt,” but isn’t really, it’s really some sneaky ploy by me in which I seem to be admitting guilt but am actually advancing my attack on Spencer. And Spencer agrees with Slumber on that.
To: Mike Slumber
Cc: Lawrence Auster
Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 10:37.a.m.
Subject: Re: I just read his latest entry
Yes, all true. Your observations about his comments and the ones at JW are especially apposite given that I allow dissenting comments and he does not.
In the world of Slumber, I asked a Reader for “concrete evidence” that Spencer is dishonest on the subject of Islam, and Slumber calls this “hysterical” on my part. And Spencer agrees with that.
Slumber calls me a “liberal fascist and a coward.” And Spencer agrees with that.
Slumber says that what I described as Spencer’s “gutter language” about me is justified by Spencer’s exasperation at my “lies” about him, and Spencer agrees with that.
Spencer says he agrees with “all” of Slumber’s comments, and then Spencer adds that I do not allow dissenting comments at VFR. That’s a ridiculous lie and a slander. I post anything that is reasonable and interesting. I regularly post and reply at length to all kinds of comments that disagree with me and challenge my positions on fundamentals. Indeed, such exchanges are a major part of VFR. Since Spencer regularly reads VFR, he surely knows that.
Amazing. It seems as if every critic who knows nothing about VFR seizes on this point, that you do “not allow dissenting comments,” as if it were an undiscovered diamond in the rough.
You may not compulsively and automatically post every last comment you receive, but at least you don’t spend your days bullying and browbeating commenters, berating them like a petty tyrant, banning them, etc a la Johnson and Spencer. I was unaware that Spencer and Johnson were so alike in this until I read some sample exchanges on Erich’s defunct site the other day.
Each of your correspondents on VFR is treated as a peer with whom you are having a respectful dialog, not as a cowering subject of a petty tinpot dictator’s whims. How can such an environment be upheld as an example of freedom vs VFR?
It would seem that your style of posting and/or addressing comments, versus that of other, unfiltered mechanisms, is an excellent small-scale illustration of conservative as opposed to liberal operating principles. I am sure this lesson in discrimination as against “pure democracy” is not lost on your readers and I suspect I am not alone in thinking that your “restrictionist” approach saves me going through miles of redundant yammering. Instead of worrying about what treasures have been withheld, it is better to be grateful for the rubbish we have been spared.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 07, 2008 03:20 PM | Send