American Thinker sloppily misrepresents Wilders

Rick Moran, who does not support Geert Wilders’s positions on Islam but only his right to speak, has a brief article at American Thinker on the re-opening of the Wilders trial. As I mentioned in the previous entry, it looks as though the trial is going to be stormy. Unfortunately (as John Dempsey has informed me), Moran makes a stupid and false statement about Wilders:

There are “fighting words” and then there are opinions. Saying the Koran is no different than Mein Kampf and Muslims the same as Nazis may be wrong on its face but jailing someone for saying it is a greater wrong.

Wilders has never said that Muslims are the same as Nazis, and it would be completely out of character for him to do so, since, as is well known by those who have paid any attention to Wilders over the years (a group to which Moran evidently does not belong), Wilders is constantly repeating his mantra that he has no problem with Muslims as human beings but only with the political ideology of Islam. Of course Wilders has, entirely correctly, pointed to parallels between the Koran and Mein Kampf, and it would appear that Moran, one of the many less-than-actually-intelligent writers who man the ramparts at American Thinker, translated that into Wilders’s saying that “Muslims are the same as Nazis.”

- end of initial entry -

David N. Friedman writes:

I enjoy your blog, Mr. Auster, but in fairness Rick Moran said nothing wrong.

To repeat-with emphasis on his final sentence missing from your remarks:

“If there is fairness in Dutch courts, Mr. Wilders will get his wish and that politicized judge will be gone…. I hope Wilders uses the proceedings to put Dutch society on trial and opens some eyes about the direction their country is headed.”

What is wrong with Rick Moran’s posting? He is clearly on board and in support of Geert Wilders. Is it possible in HIS SUPPORT he nonetheless lacks all force and exactitude for the issue—sure. We all do. No one can see any broad topic identically. But Rick Moran is on the same page so it seems you are being too fussy over a colleague. Am I mistaken?

LA replies:

You miscomprehend what I said and what Moran said.

First, you miscomprehend what I said. When you ask me, “What is wrong with Rick Moran’s posting?”, you make it clear that you have not read my entry with your brain engaged, since I plainly stated what I think is wrong with Moran’s posting, namely his statement that Wilders says that “Muslims [are] the same as Nazis.” That was the totality of my criticism of Moran. Yet somehow you have constructed that narrow and simple point into my expelling Moran from the ranks of the good and being unfair to a “colleague.” And by the way, Moran is not my colleague.

Second, you miscomprehend what Moran has said. It is not the case that Moran is on “on board and in support of Wilders.” As he himself makes clear (“I don’t agree with everything Geert Wilders has to say about Islam. But I will die in defense of his right to say it.”), he does not support Wilders, or rather he supports him in some ways and opposes him in others, though he doesn’t mention any parts of Wilders’s message that he agrees with. The only thing about Wilders that he does tell us he supports is Wilders’s right to speak without being prosecuted, just as you or I would support the right of people we oppose politically to speak and not be prosecuted. Obviously to support a person’s right to speak is not to support a person’s position, especially when the speaker states upfront, as Moran does, that he does not support that person’s position.

Therefore when Moran says that he hopes that Wilders “uses the proceedings to put Dutch society on trial and opens some eyes about the direction their country is headed,” he evidently is not speaking about Wilders showing the Netherlands their wrong direction on Islam, since Moran doesn’t agree with Wilders on Islam, and certainly in this article he has not stated any points on which he agrees with Wilders about Islam, but has only stated points on which he disagrees with Wilders on Islam. Rather he is speaking about Wilders showing the Dutch their mistaken course in prosecuting people for hate speech.

To make that point crystal clear, look at Moran’s sentence preceding the sentence you quoted:

There are “fighting words” and then there are opinions. Saying the Koran is no different than Mein Kampf and Muslims the same as Nazis may be wrong on its face but jailing someone for saying it is a greater wrong.

Thus Moran believes that Wilders’s statement, that the Koran is like Mein Kampf, is “fighting words” and “wrong on its face.” But he believes that a greater wrong is seeking to jail someone for saying it. That is the wrong that he wants Wilders to put the Netherlands on trial for.

Moran’s sloppiness is further shown when he says that Wilders says that “the Koran is no different than [sic] Mein Kampf.” Wilders has never been so stupid as to say that the Koran is NO DIFFERENT from Mein Kampf. He has said that the two books are similar in the sense that they are both explicit guidebooks calling for unrelenting hatred of enemies and war against them.

On the day when Rick Moran writes that he agrees with Wilders’s actual positions on Islam,—that all further Muslim immigration into the West should be stopped, that sharia supporters should be deported—then, and only theh, will we be able to say that Moran is on board with Wilders. Until then, he is not on board with Wilders. And the same is true of Wilders’s American supporters generally. At present, not a single prominent Islamism critic who says he supports Wilders is actually on board with Wilders, because not a single one of them has agreed with Wilders’s position on what to do about Islam.

I think that there is a larger point to be seen in this exchange. Conservatives today display a pervasive lack of attention and lack of thought that leads them to be fooled and conned over and over again by pseudo or weak conservatives who sound as though they are taking strong conservative positions which in reality they are not taking. Thus if conservatives hear X agreeing with Y on some point, they falsely take that as meaning that X supports Y’s entire position. In this way, they fool themselves into believing that, e.g., Mark Steyn is a staunch opponent of the Islamization of the West, when in reality Steyn has advocated surrender to the Islamization of the West, and has never suggested a single measure to stop the Islamization of the West. Thus (as Peter Brimelow did this week) they fool themselves into believing that Joseph Sobran “converted” and became an immigration restrictionist, when in reality, as I showed yesterday, Sobran said that nothing could be done about the immigration invasion except to accept it. Conservatives do not read with care. They see a statement that is in the neighborhood of some position which they embrace, and they take it as a definite statement of agreement with that position. And this lack of attention and thought, as I said, makes it very easy for them to be fooled.

David N. Friedman writes:

Yes—I did mis-read Moran’s statement concerning the Nazi analogy and I easily see that that is poisonous in the debate. In fact, I would accept the argument that coloring Wilders as a Nazi is perhaps the most important thing the prosecution can do in this case. Therefore, if Moran thinks he is helping by agreeing with a dumb analogy—he should have clearly deleted that sentence.

So Moran stands conditionally with Wilders. I accept LA’s assertion that standing up for free speech is only part of the demand under the circumstances and we must stand with Wilders completely. We need to stand up for the right of a state to deport people it considers dangerous and to create and enforce immigration quotas—for starters.

Therefore, I accept the mistake of not reading Moran’s statement carefully and missed his gratuitous insult. I will, on the other hand stand by the sense that Wilders needs to get free of any court proceeding so he can survive as a political player and Moran clearly intended to give Wilders support and I have no doubt Wilders would be pleased to hear that support.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 05, 2010 09:04 AM | Send

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