Filipino Christian youth group protests “Lady Gaga”; and more on Robert Spencer’s liberalism

The other day, in response to the barring of “Lady Gaga” from performing in Indonesia, Robert Spencer wrote:

Modern, moderate Indonesia is not moderate enough to tolerate this “envoy of the devil’s child.”

Meaning that a truly modern and moderate Muslim country, the kind of which Spencer himself would approve, would allow “Lady Gaga” to perform there. I said that Spencer’s implied preference for the freedom of “Lady Gaga” to perform in Indonesia over the moral good of the Indonesian society that seeks to exclude such filth from its culture shows that he remains at bottom a liberal.

But now, reports the AP,

Christian young people in the Philippines protested Saturday against upcoming concerts by Lady Gaga despite organizers’ assurances that her performances would not threaten morality.

About 200 Christian youths marched in Manila for a second straight day, holding placards urging the pop singer to “respect our faith, stop the blasphemy.”

The Biblemode Youth Philippines members plan to hold a vigil starting Sunday near the concert venue. They said they are offended by Lady Gaga’s music, particularly her song “Judas,” which they said mocks Jesus Christ.

So it’s not just Far Eastern Muslims who don’t like “Lady Gaga,” but Far Eastern Christians as well. And of course Spencer himself is a Christian (though he never seems to introduce a Christian perspective into his writings, and the secular society is his oft-stated ideal). So where does Spencer come down on this? Does he consider the Filipino Christians who would prevent “Lady Gaga” from putting on concerts in their country insufficiently modern and moderate for his tastes? Are they as bad as the anti-“Gaga” Muslims?

Bottom line: Is Spencer’s guiding principle freedom (including the freedom of “Lady Gaga” to spread her degeneracy to every country in the world), or is it the good? If the former, he’s a liberal; if the latter, he’s a conservative in the true sense.

And I would add this: it is only a conservative Western country, a country that makes the good its highest principle (by which I mean, of course, its understanding of the good), that can bar from its shores the evil of Islam. A country that makes freedom its highest principle must remain open to everyone and everything, including Islam. And an Islam-critical intellectual who makes freedom his highest principle can never do anything about the Islam threat except to watch it; he is incapable of making or embracing any serious proposals to stop and reverse the fatal spread of Islam amongst us.

- end of initial entry -

May 20

Matthew H. writes:

According to Robert Spencer’s Wikipedia entry, he was born in 1962. (One also learns he formerly worked in a Communist bookstore). In the early ’60s a number of obscenity trials were held in the United States. Among them were those concerning William S. Burroughs’s putrid and illiterate Naked Lunch, Henry Miller’s soft-porn Tropic of Cancer, as well as Lenny Bruce’s prosecutions in various municipalities for his (by then-prevailing standards) grossly vulgar comedy performances.

So, within Spencer’s own lifetime our own society was in some ways more vigilant about cultural pollution than even Indonesia or the Philippines are today. In Indonesia authorities have apparently responded to public pressure in shutting down Lady Gaga’s shows. In the Philippines Christian groups are protesting. Contrast this with the fact that in the U.S. as recently as the 1960s even much less “in your face” fare was subject to legal prosecution with a real possibility of jail time.

Maybe Spencer feels someone should have invaded the hateful and oppressive theocracy that was pre-1960s America and forced it to conform to his idea of what a “modern, moderate” society should be. But then, someone did.

For a characteristically smarmy contemporary account (from the Village Voice) of one of Bruce’s trials see here. Note the smug tone of contempt for the very idea that a society has any right whatsoever to defend public morality. This glib ethos now informs not only Spencer’s view of a just society but American foreign policy as well. No place on Earth may be permitted not to conform to the cultural standards of Christopher Street.

LA replies:

Matthew’s excellent comment underscores the point that (a) Spencer supports the modern liberal order, including its destruction of traditional and local restraints on obscenity via the Incorporation Doctrine and the revolutionary expansion of the power of federal courts over states and localities, and (b) Spencer thinks that to support the modern liberal order is a conservative thing to do.

Paul K. writes:

What strikes me about Lady Gaga, Madonna, and other like performers is not only their wanton sexuality, but their fervent support of homosexuality as the holiest of holies. In some ways this a shrewd career move, as both established their fan base first with homosexuals, but it also associates them with a cause highly admired in liberal society.

About ten years ago I used to watch The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. One of the things that put me off them is that the hosts frequently work homosexual slang into jokes as if those terms referred to acts that were a bit comical, but not terribly objectionable. I believe it was from these shows that the term “tea bagging” entered the national discourse, but the hosts tossed around others, such as “a reach around,” “a Cleveland steamer,” and “a dirty Sanchez,” all while chuckling indulgently. I would advise readers not to research the meanings of these terms if they don’t want to know how vile human behavior can get. My point is that these popular shows have made it their mission to popularize and normalize every aspect of homosexual life, however disgusting.

I don’t expect to live in a society in which there is no homosexual subculture or a market for pornography. I just expect that it remain a subculture, not the mainstream culture or the entire culture. Without censorship, modern Western entertainers compete to plumb ever new depths of depravity. Any society concerned with its long-term survival must stop them.

LA replies:

Right. And many self-described conservatives would mock you and say that there’s something wrong with you for having this position. They are completely a part of the liberal culture—including its enforcement mechanism of mockery and intimidation of dissenters— and have no grasp of that fact.

May 20

Jim Kalb writes:

I think a big reason for this sort of thing is polemical opportunism. Spencer doesn’t like Islam, and he wants to win the battle, so he uses every weapon that comes to hand. If there are lots of libertine feminist gay marriage supporters he’ll denounce Islam for its opposition to feminism, gay marriage, and (many forms of) libertinism. He may or may not have strong personal views on the matter. (I have to admit though that I haven’t read much of his stuff.)

Daniel S. writes:

This exactly why I have long since been disillusioned by Robert Spencer and his followers. Spencer, Geller, and company are essentially liberals that have accepted a critical view of Islam in the abstract. They are not traditionalists seeking to defend a particular place and particular people, but rather liberal globalists who believe that the rest of the world, especially the Muslim world, must accept the principles of liberalism. Look at it this way: which does Spencer spend more time on, calling for an end of Muslim immigration to the West, or criticizing Muslim countries for failing to embrace feminism, democracy, and degenerate entertainment?

LA replies:

That is powerful. The truth, of course, is that Spencer spends zero or virtually zero time calling for an end of Muslim immigration to the West, and a great deal of time criticizing Muslim countries for their treatment of women. I don’t know that he’s called on them to embrace feminism per se, or democracy per se, but your underlying point remains valid: a major thrust of his writing is taking Muslim countries to task for their illiberalism; a minor or non-existent thrust of his writing is calling for the end of Muslim immigration to the West.

Jeanette V. writes:

What is especially disturbing about Spencer’s suggestion that a “free society” would allow Lady Gaga’s pornography is the fact that he is a Melkite Greek Catholic.

LA replies:

Spencer did not actually say that a “free society” would allow her to perform. That was my interpretation of what he said. What he said was:

Modern, moderate Indonesia is not moderate enough to tolerate this “envoy of the devil’s child.”

Now since Spencer is always challenging Muslims to show that they are moderate and supportive of freedom, which would be good, and since they are always failing his test by showing themselves to be extremist and Islamo-supremacist, which is bad, we can reasonably infer that in his mind an Islamic society that allowed “Gaga” to perform would be moderate, pro-freedom, and good; and, further, that any society which allowed “Gaga” to perform would be good, and that any society that prevented her from performing would be bad.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 19, 2012 09:53 PM | Send

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