Monday, 1 August 2011

Defending Spencer

Blogger and Islam scholar Robert Spencer is interviewed by Julian Marshall on Newshour, on 27th July, at about 8 minutes in.  
Marshall makes the moral equivalence argument between Spencer's writings =>> Breivik and those of Islam =>> Violent Jihadis. Ie, that if Spencer's writings are sound but twisted by Breivik, so are Islam teachings sound but twisted by Jihadis.
Two points on this:

One: that Spencer nowhere calls for violence; he has his 5 action points to combat Islamophobia, all of which are peaceable, reasonable and specifically and strenuously oppose violence. Whereas the teachings of Islam — as preached by countless imams across the world, in Muslim countries and the west — specifically, repeatedly, and urgently call for violence against unbelievers, especially Jews and other peoples of the book.  So... Those who do the violence in the name of Islam are simply following its teachings.  
Breivik committing mass murder is acting on his own perversions, with nothing countenanced in the writings of Spencer (or indeed of the many other anti-Jihad writers Breivik mentions).  That this is true, is proven by the anti-jihad writers' reactions to Breivik vs Muslim reactions to Islamic atrocities.  In Breivik’s case, there is no anti-Jihad blogger who has supported what he did: they are universal in their condemnation.  In the case of Jihadi atrocities, there are many — by no means all, but many, in some countries a majority — in the Muslim community who applaud the “martyrs” who have carried out the latest mass killing. We’ve seen this from 9/11 on.
Two: even if you accept that there is a link between Spencer's writing and Breivik's atrocity, and that it’s of the same order as the link between Islam’s teachings and violent Jihad (which link I don’t for one second accept as reasonable: see One above),  even if you accept this clearly ridiculous link, you’re left with another uncomfortable fact: the the number of "Breiviks" in the world vs the number of violent Jihadis’ pales into insignificance.  Indeed, there’s a fellow quoted on the BBC Newshour piece itself who says that there have been jsut 5 right wing attacks in the last four years.  He makes this point to show that the right-wing terror threat is of a much smaller order than the Islamic terror one.  In the last four years, by contrast, there have been xxx  jihadi attacks in the world.(*)

(*) (Note to self: check: but it’s in the thousands.  Update: still not got the last four-year figure, but it's >17,500 since September 2001, see here)