The unchanging reality of Islam, and the unchanging reality of Robert Spencer’s inadequate take on Islam

The blog Ideologee posts the video of an exchange between a Dr. Peterson and Robert Spencer about the teachings of Islam and whether Islam is a threat or not. Spencer, who starts speaking halfway through the first video link, presents his usual, cogent message:

  • the authoritative consensus within Islam is that Muslims must support holy war to subjugate non-Muslims;

  • notwithstanding more mild statements in the Koran calling for tolerance of non-Muslims and for strictly defensive jihad, those statements are presented within historical contexts that no longer obtain, and the ultimate and true teaching of the Koran is that Muslims must wage aggressive jihad until the non-Muslims are subdued;

  • Islamic “reformers” who deny these facts about Islam are frauds (that’s my word, not Spencer’s), since an indispensable condition of Islamic reform is the acknowledgment of what Koran actually teaches, so that what the Koran actually teaches (or, in Spencer’s words, the “literal understanding of the Koran”) can be rejected.

Everything Spencer says is good. At the same time, he frustratingly leaves the discussion where he always leaves it: with the enormous obstacles in the way of Islamic reform, and—nevertheless—the lingering hope that these obstacles can somehow be overcome. He seems to feel that he must end on that hopeful note, in order to show that he is not—as his liberal critics including Dr. Peterson accuse him of being—an extremist who simply treats Islam as an enemy. He never boils down the problem to its essentials and clearly says:

In all likelihood, Islamic reform is never going to occur, and even if, against all the odds, it occurs at some point, it is not occurring now and may not occur for decades or centuries. What, then, do we, Islam’s intended targets, DO about the REALITY of currently unreformed and most likely never-to-be-reformed Islam?

Just as Islam remains what it has always been, Robert Spencer remains what he has always been: a superb explainer of the Islam threat, who declines to address seriously what should be done about this threat, and thus leaves his listeners intellectually and practically helpless before it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 12, 2010 07:54 AM | Send

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