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.
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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