Robert Spencer, the publisher of Jihad Watch, has been a controversial figure in the blogosphere for some time now. Some liberal bloggers love to bash him, considering him racist against Muslims or Arabs.
Of course, almost none of those bloggers actually speak Arabic or know much of the intricacies of Islam and sharia law, all of which Robert does. Nor are they particularly interested in the ideas involved. Sharia may be one of the most misogynistic and homophobic legal systems ever invented, it may be at its essence antithetical to the separation of church and state and to everything we stand for, proselytizing the world while specifically subjugating all other religious groups and individuals who do not convert, but Spencer’s critics don’t seem to care. This isn’t about knowledge or truth. It’s about anger, envy, the need to be “right,” and all the rest of those “attractive” traits that motivate so many of us.
Indeed, what fascinates me about the current controversy surrounding the World Trade Center mosque is how little most of the mosque’s defenders actually seem to know about sharia. It’s amusing to watch their blank stares on television when questioned about the the subject by Sean Hannity, himself not particularly a scholar, as we know.
It reminds me a great deal of the old debate about legalizing the Communist Party back in the fifties. Should the CP be legal when communism calls for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government? Sharia, similarly, calls for a world united under the caliphate, with those of us who do not accept Islam subject to dhimmi law or worse, depending on our status. Essentially, it’s the end of Western civilization. Is this grounds for outlawing sharia? It’s an interesting and complex free speech/civil rights question, but only if you know what sharia is and have some idea what it intends. Most — including, I am almost certain, NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg — do not.
But back to Robert Spencer. Speaking personally, I have always learned from Robert, whom I know slightly, and never found him to be racist or anything close, even though his style and mine are far from the same. To some I may seem confrontational, but compared to Spencer, I’m a shrinking violet. He is one of the ideological point men in the global war on terror. He keeps telling us what a lot of us — including me — don’t always want to hear, reminding us that there are real issues at stake. Is he always right? I don’t know. Is anybody?
But I am hardly surprised to hear he is the subject of a new campaign from CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR is evidently tremendously upset that a few weeks ago Spencer gave a lecture on jihadism to the FBI’s Tidewater Joint Terrorism Task Force, a group the brings FBI agents together with local law enforcement officials.
Frankly, I was pleased to hear the FBI was welcoming the likes of Spencer, especially since our Department of Justice (as has been reported at PJM and elsewhere) has gone out of its way to ignore radical Islam as a motivation for terrorism even when it couldn’t be more obviously so. From Ft. Hood to Times Square, it hasn’t been just the thousand pound gorilla in the room, it has been every gorilla in every room from here to Beijing and back.
But not to Eric Holder and Company. To them, “Allahu Akbar” — the words shouted by Major Hasan as he murdered 12 of his fellow soldiers — evidently translates not as “God is Great!” but as “I’m unemployed, I’m discriminated against and I can’t find a girl on eHarmony who will date a nice Pakistani guy who already has three wives and six children back in Islamabad. So I think I’ll kill a few people.” Or something like that.
Actually, I apologize for making a joke about something that is far more serious than that. As has been detailed here and on PJTV, our own government has banned the use of the very Islamic terminology whose doctrine and provenance Spencer had the bravery to explain to those FBI agents. He told me on the phone that the agents received him well too. That’s good news.
CAIR, not surprisingly, doesn’t see it my way. To them, Spencer — and all of those who are trying to educate us about the dangers of jihadism — is anathema. They have written FBI Director Robert Mueller to demand an explanation why such a man — the member of a “hate group” — had been allowed to speak to FBI agents and to receive the director’s assurance that such a horrible thing would never happen again. In keeping with our contemporary fixation, they want Mueller to apologize. CAIR has even enlisted that noted expert on Islamic studies, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, in their cause. (I know. You’re shocked.)
If you want to read CAIR’s predictable attacks on Spencer, they are here, here and here. If you need a reminder, which I suspect you don’t, about CAIR’s actual activities and its relationship with Hamas, it’s here.
In any case, this is clearly a free speech issue and, once again, in the grand tradition of the Danish cartoons, those who claim to support Islam against supposed slander are in reality trying to suppress their critics by any means necessary. You don’t have to agree with everything Spencer says to support him here. Or even with his methods. If you care (no pun certainly intended) about Western civilization, you know that his right to speak to an audience of FBI agents and inform them of his views is not only justified, it’s critical.