Wednesday, 18 September 2013

"Muslims are the new Jews": an argument that should just die

John Quiggin talks of Zombie ideas: those that rise from the dead, and just won't be killed.
But what about ideas that ought not to be born, but are. That ought to be dead, but aren't?  Ideas that are instead very much alive, thriving and replicating.  I think I'll call them Zombie ideas anyway, for zombies are ugly creatures, and ought to be dead.
One such Zombie idea is the claim amongst Muslim and non-Muslim Islamopologists  that "Muslims are the new Jews".  This trope is trotted out whenever they feel a bit threatened and rather than face and counter valid criticism, resort to this rather feeble ad hominem. It's a counter that tries to shut down conversation: for we wouldn't want another "Final Solution" on our hands, would we?
We are supposed to think that valid criticism of the ideology of Islam is somehow morally equivalent to Nazi calumny, that  critique (they call it "Islamophobia") is one step from a holocaust.
It's a Zombie idea that seems to be gaining currency.  Though it ought not. For it is, of course, nonsense.
Christopher Hitchens, the late the great, put the idea in its place:
Reactions from even "moderate" Muslims to criticism are not uniformly reassuring. "Some of what people are saying in this mosque controversy is very similar to what German media was saying about Jews in the 1920s and 1930s," Imam Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain at Duke University, told the New York Times. Yes, we all recall the Jewish suicide bombers of that period, as we recall the Jewish yells for holy war, the Jewish demands for the veiling of women and the stoning of homosexuals, and the Jewish burning of newspapers that published cartoons they did not like. What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith is more self-criticism and less self-pity and self-righteousness. [from Slate, Sept 6, 2010]
The leftist academic blog, Crooked Timber, at which Quiggin blogs, ran a post about the book on Jesus' life, "Zealot" by Reza Aslan, in which it wondered if criticisms of Aslan(*) made it "hard to escape the conclusion that Islam is the 21st century's Jewish Question".  Get it?  Criticise Islam and you're a 21st century Brownshirt, a step away from rounding up and gassing Muslims....
One of the commenters -- agreeing with the Zombie idea that "Muslims are the new Jews" links to a site that compares the statements of Robert Spencer and the Nazi Julius Streicher.
Now, I've read much of Spencer and seen many of his videos.  His driving aim is to speak out on behalf of freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, equal rights for all genders and all minorities.  He is not "anti-Muslim", but anti the jihad that seeks to spread an intolerant ideology on the west.
Streicher was a Nazi and the publisher of the odious magazine "Der Stuermer".  What could be similar about these two?  Well, in the mind of Colm O Broin, there are at least 10 points. And the commenters on Crooked Timber have taken this bogus equivalence at face value.
I have not. I have worked throough each of O Broin's claims and the results are here. [warning: it's a bit of a long read; one for hard-core anti-jihad geeks, perhaps]
I think it's pretty clear that O Broin, at best, is deluded, and at worst has deliberately misrepresented and lied to make a false equivalence between Spencer, a careful and concerned writer, and Streicher, an odious murderously anti-semitic Nazi.
After doing that little excercise, I came across, just yesterday, another case of "Muslims are the new Jews" in this article, by Ihsaan Gardee.
Gardee starts off with the sentence "Good Jews lie to advance Judaism. It's the law" and says that such a sentence would be taken -- rightly -- as an "anti-Semitic slur".
He then suggests that if you substitute "Muslim" for "Jews", if you said "good Muslims lie to advance Islam. It's the law", then, says Gardee, "... people aren't quite so offended".  Geddit?  Muslims are the new Jews.  You can't say nasty things about Jews, but you can say them about Muslims, because, well, because they're the new Jews....
But the thing is this: that the statement above about the Jews is patently and provably false.
Whereas the statement with the word "Muslim" is patently and provably true.  It is in Islamic Law;  it's in the Sharia; it's in the Hadith.  Muhammad himself recommended deception.
Ironically Gardee himself provides an example of lying in the cause of Islam .  In a little-seen video, Gardee says (at 2m30s) that Muhammad on "numerous occasions" was at the receiving end of insults, but did not respond in the way that "we're seeing now" -- referring to the Muslim riots against the film "Innocence of Muslims".
But that's just not true.  In the Islamic Trinity, especially in the official Muslim life of Muhammad -- the Sirah -- there are numerous examples of Muhammad taking offence at people poking fun at him and had them killed (not just rioted against...).  In one case he had a satirical poet, a woman with family, murdered by one of his followers over some verses that made fun of him. So, does Gardee not know this?  Given that he's head of CAIR-CAN, I doubt it.
Lies, then. Lies in the advance of Islam.
(*) The CT post was about a Fox TV interview of Aslan, in which the interviewer rather unwisely questioned the appropriateness of a Muslim, Aslan, to write about Jesus.  Of course anyone ought to be free to write about anything, including Jesus.  Still, the author of the post drew a rather long bow in making the claim -- on the basis of a dubious Fox interview -- that "Islam is the 21st century Jewish question" and many of the comments focussed on that point.  As an aside: Robert Spencer (de quo alibi) recently published a book on Muhammad called "Did Muhammad Exist?".  Unlike the furious defence of Aslan from the Left of Aslan's right to write about Jesus, the Left was critical of Spencer for writing about Muhammad, with BBC suggesting he was trying to rabble rouse. Plus ça  change....
RELATED on "Muslims are the new Jews":
20 June 2010: "Muslims are the new Jews".  Huh?
24 August 2010: Academic former terrorist claims that Muslims are the new Jews
12 October 2010: Germany risks a lurch to the right
12 October 2010: On the furphy that "Muslims are the new Jews"
5 July 2012: BBC: again carrying water for Muslim criminals in Malmo, Sweden