Friday, February 4, 2005

A little extra security was on hand last night when Robert Spencer took the podium for his talk, "The Boston Mosque: Do Tolerance and Diversity Go Both Ways?" There were people there who were clearly from the Mosque, as well as their Jewish supporters waiting for their chance during the question and answer period.

There was a news crew there from the local FOX affiliate who stayed and filmed the entire session, but, perhaps because it was raining, there were no protesters outside. The only heat was inside the talk where about 75 people had gathered.

The audience was completely well-behaved during the main portion of Spencer's talk, during which he discussed various concerns and brought forth many questions reasonable people might have about the new Mosque being built. Concerns about the involvement of Sheik Qaradawi and Walid Fitaihi with the project were brought up, and in each case it must be said that Spencer was fair and measured in his remarks, admitting that Qaradawi's involvement was seemingly peripheral, and that Fitaihi's clearly anti-Semitic statements left questions and concerns. He also discussed the difficulty of getting answers to legitimate concerns due to the ordinary Western worry of being looked at as racist or intolerant for even asking questions or telling historical truths, as well as the Muslim principles of Taqiyya and Kitman which make accepting the answers one does get at face-value slightly more problematic.

The fireworks started simultaneous with the questions and answers. Some, of course, were pretty standard stuff - regular questions, regular answers. The one identifiably Muslim gentleman who stood up was just that - a gentleman. He was impeccably polite, although he took issue with what Spencer was saying, insisting that what he was hearing did not describe the Islam he had been trained in and he suffered form the same malady that the others who stood up to protest - he was really there to make some statements, not ask questions, and didn't want to relinquish the floor. But, it should be emphasized, he had a mild case of the problem.

No, the real rudeness, the people who tried to take and seize the floor without giving it up in order to speechify - that place was occupied by the Dhimmi Jews in attendance. These kippah-wearing Renfields took it upon themselves to be the vocal opposition. I suppose it was because they thought that their status as "Jews" made it OK for them to appoint themselves the lecturers for the evening, but all they were doing was spouting the same old platitudes, the same old leftist clap-trap, the same old reality-denying "ask no questions" nonsense. A couple of them made a fair point - 'Talk to Muslims' - but everything else stated was so deluded and demonstrated that they had no idea what it was they should talk about that I swear, even Pollyanna herself would have wanted to slap some sense into them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you cannot suss the difference between some Baptist Preacher who says Jewish prayer won't lead them to heaven, and a Saudi Imam who justifies suicide-murder and exhorts his followers to kill non-believers - and worse, they believe him and follow through...if you can't get the difference in proportion and the difference in threat between these two, then pal, you need the type of professional help that I cannot hope to provide. Seek it elsewhere. If you cannot see the differences between the long-since repudiated and practiced by no one horrors that exist in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, and the very real and still advocated portions of the Koran still practiced and preached for today - stoning, wife-beating, child-marriage, killing of apostates, slavery - then, again, it appears you may have some sort of built-in immunity to reason. Am I saying all Muslims believe in an Islam that supports those things? NO! But the people who do believe in them exist world-wide and are not just a fringe that can be ignored. I also hold out the possibility that there may, indeed, be some wacko-Christian or Jewish cult out there in the Arizona desert somewhere looking to re-institute the stoning of adulterers, but there it is again...those inconvenient principles of proportionality and potential for threat.

Specifically Muslim-inspired terrorism and the infliction of Sharia Law on unwilling participants is a world-wide phenomenon. Wishing and good-intentions won't make it go away or protect us from it. Let me hip you to another thing. Much of the support in the way of funding and literature for all this comes from one place - Saudi Arabia. So when we hear that there may be Saudi money, and Saudi hate-literature, and a Saudi Sheik's endorsement, and Saudi members of the Board all involved in this Mosque I say it's fair to ask serious, pointed questions.

I hope the Muslim gentleman who stood up to speak, and the other public statements of the Mosque elders are all truthful - that they don't support the hateful Islam some of us are worried about, that they never will, and that they know enough about their religion to inoculate themselves against any such stuff. I further hope they have ways of seeing that their community is ALWAYS run by such people, but given what's going on out there in the world today, I'm not assuming anything, and it's obvious, given the utterly naive views of many Jews out there, that a lot more lessons in reality are warranted.

One last thing. A message to a lot of blog readers/writers out there. I often see a mistaken assumption out there that a lot of these efforts - to protest and disrupt talks by people like Spencer, to divest from Israel, to make the IDF's job of providing security tougher - I see a lot of people assuming that these are mostly Muslim-backed efforts. Let me remind you that a great many of the movers and shakers behind these efforts are Jews - some of the secular-Marxist variety, and some of a yarmulke-wearing sort. Jews are walking hand-in-hand with their own worst enemies - it was true last night, and as I understand it, it was true during the Somerville Divestment fight where I understand that some of the most vicious and vocal supporters of the measure were people identifying themselves as Jews.

Let me remind you also that some of our greatest supporters on the web, some of the biggest pro-Israel sites, are run by non-Jews - and they're not religious Christians, either. They're people who understand the issues and support the right side for the right intellectual reasons. This means that these matters are NOT JEWISH/MUSLIM ISSUES. These are not matters of competing Theologies, or competing views of foreign policy. These matters have their roots in the pure practical discourse of right and wrong, of ethics and practical good government having nothing whatsoever with the right way to worship God. What "side" one takes may, but often does not, have anything to do with the religio-ethnic group one identifies with and one never knows from looking at a person's outside, what side their heart and mind will emerge on.

I learned very little new last night, aside from the lengths some people will go to avoid having to face ugly truths. That had nothing to do with Robert Spencer himself. He handled a difficult circumstance with aplomb. I was glad to see a representative of the Mosque there, and hope to see more of him and people like him, and I hope that they do more to seek out and assuage the concerns many of us have. I'll be honest. Given some of the political baggage that inevitably comes along with, I'm not sure it will be 100% possible to do so, but a better effort could be made, and simply writing legitimate concerns off as intolerant hatred will certainly not make it. I still have questions, and most of the people who rose to challenge Spencer last night did absolutely nothing to answer them.

Final note: I have an audio tape of the evening which I will look into putting on line. There were about three video cameras, multiple audio tapes and copious notes being taken, so I don't think anyone will mind. It was also nice meeting several Solomonia readers at the event. Hello out there!

Update: Spencer writes about the attempts to drown him out here.

Update2: Audio of the event taken from my small, hand-held tape recorder are here: Part1, Part2, Part3. (Suggest you right as...)

There is a slight gap between parts 2 and 3 as I flipped the tape. Sound quality is pretty so-so. The files will remain up as long as bandwidth and storage space allow.

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Spencer talk on the Mosque - the day after.

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» Jews and Muslims at the blog Libertarian Girl

Solmon, of the blog Solmonania, has a summary of a talk given by Robert Spencer from the blog Jihad Wach. Solomon has some excellent observations about Jews who are so leftist that they identify more with Muslims (the underdogs) Read More


These matters have their roots in the pure practical discourse of right and wrong, of ethics and practical good government having nothing whatsoever with the right way to worship God.

But that is sort of the crux of the issue. Whose idea of right and wrong? The fundamental ethical differences between christian and muslim thinking are really very profound. We all want justice - but whose definition of justice shall prevail? Some imams say that for muslims to enslave people is an act of charitable mercy! To put them to death for opposing Islam would be just, but it is more merciful to let them stay alive, serving in a Muslim home, where they at least have a chance to receive the wisdom of Allah. This same imam goes on to explain that muslim masters having sex with their various female slaves is a good thing, because it makes them feel loved and appreciated so that they won't miss their home and (slaughtered) family so much. I kid you not.

My personal opinion is that as long as even one side sees it as an either/or proposition, we are doomed to religious warfare. That's what the Thirty Years War was about, and that's why the Treaty of Westphalia included the critical sentence "Quius regio, eius religio." While it was a territory-based way of getting out of each other's spiritual issues, the point for today's world is that we need to quit trying to enforce our own vision of right and wrong on each other. Democracy has no chance unless the prospective loser thinks the prospective winner won't stomp on him. If one side fears that, it will start pre-emptive stomping.

Does mean a mushy-headed "why can't we all just get along?" posture? No. I may be quite willing to live and let live, so long as other people don't infringe on my freedom, and still be willing to stand up and fight when they do.

With the URL:

Some imams say that for muslims
to enslave people is an act of charitable mercy!

I think, if I understand you correctly, you've gotten to one of the cruxes of the issue. I think what supporters and Mosque project leaders would explain - indeed, what they are explaining - is that the Islam that they practice is completely compatible with a current understandings of Western tolerance and morality. In other words, No need to fear, we believe most of the same things you do on the important stuff, the differences are window dressing.

If I could be assured that were true, *and remain true* then obviously, I would have far less concern than I do. But I worry, even if we take the assurances of the current leaders at face-value, that they will not always be in charge there, that a new group with a different view of Islam will not take control, or that they may tolerate or not have knowledge of a sub-group within their community, or...and this is key...when some radical young turks come along, the current leaders won't have the theological ammunition to counter their more radical views. This last is something Spencer is always warning against. The radicals have as valid an interprestation of Islam as anyone else's, and the "moderates" have to be ready and willing to counter it. They usually aren't - especially when they denie there's an issue in the first place.

We would not tolerate Nazism in our country, and we're looking at exactly the same thing.

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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