Two steps forward, one step back. I have heard now that Jihad Watch is available in most sites where I had learned last week that it was banned, but it is, I'm told, still banned in other places -- including Wright Patterson Air Force Base (only as of last week), and Marriott Hotels (where the ban apparently applies to company computers, not to those of guests).
A thought experiment: if I pointed out that Catholicism considered contraception sinful, which led some (but not all, or even a majority) of Catholics to eschew contraception, would this be "hate speech"? Would it mean that I hate Catholics? Would I be a "Catholophobe" (there's a new one)? If I noted that Buddhism focuses on attaining a spiritual state, a state of consciousness, and not on building a kingdom in this world, would that be a statement of hatred for Buddhists and Buddhism or a statement of fact?
Likewise, when I take note of the fact that jihadists can and do point to Islam's teachings of warfare against unbelievers in order to make recruits and justify their actions, it is not an act of hatred. It is a statement of fact. Nor is it an act of hatred to ask peaceful Muslims to acknowledge the existence of these traditional teachings, and work toward some new way they can be understood in order to minimize their capacity to incite violence. This is actually a rather commonplace observation that follows naturally from an awareness of the martial traditions that are deeply embedded in the Qur'an, the life and teachings of Muhammad, and the rulings of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence.
But imagine if the leading Catholic groups in the country maintained that there was no Catholic prohibition on contraception, and anyone who said there was must be an anti-Catholic bigot. That is the state of unreality that prevails in the public discourse today, keeping the problem of Islamic jihad from being discussed in many fora -- and getting this site banned in various places.
But not all are quietly agreeing to wear the intellectual straitjacket that is being thrust upon us, and for that I am grateful. Bruce Thornton, author of Greek Ways, writes:
Common sense tells us that Khomeini and the other modern jihadists know their own faith and its doctrines, and are speaking squarely in that tradition, as can be documented from the Koran, Hadiths, and subsequent Muslim theologians, jurists, and other commentators.... All these sources tell us that jihad indeed is the imperative to follow the example of the prophet Mohammed, who said in his farewell address: "I was ordered to fight all men until they say, 'There is no god but Allah.'"
Modern jihadists, then, aren't "heretics" or "fanatics" who have "highjacked" the "religion of peace" in order to compensate for their neurotic "humiliation" at Muslim backwardness. Bin Laden and his lieutenant Aymin Al Zawahiri have issued many writings that define their terrorist war as a traditional jihad, backing up their argument with numerous references to Islamic theology and jurisprudence. In a few weeks The Al Qaeda Reader will be published, Library of Congress researcher Raymond Ibrahim's translation of the most significant Al Qaeda treatises, many of which have not appeared before in English. This promises to be one of the most important books since 9/11, a critical resource for accurately understanding the motives of Al Qaeda. These writings, especially those intended for Muslims, ground the war against the West squarely in the Islamic tradition of jihad: "Zawahiri's writings," Ibrahim notes, "especially are grounded in Islam's roots of jurisprudence; in fact, of the many thousands of words translated here from his three treatises, well more than half are direct quotations from the Koran, the Sunna of Muhammad, and the consensus and conclusions of the Ulema [past and present commentators and interpreters of Islamic belief and practice]."
Even the killing of women and children is argued for on the basis of that same tradition, which provides traction for rationalizations based on Islamic military weakness, sophistic definitions of "innocence," and the oft-repeated injunction to kill all infidels. This interpretation may be erroneous, but the mere fact that it can be argued for at all, and accepted by many Muslims, is itself significant. And such an interpretation is possible because there already exists the doctrine of jihad, which glorifies and justifies violence against non-believers. This helps to answer the obvious question why other ex-colonial peoples supposedly "humiliated" by their failure to keep up with the powerful West have not resorted to terrorist violence.
Again, it beggars belief that a Zawahiri or a Khomeini is distorting his faith's traditions and dogmas, particularly when millions of Muslims world-wide agree with those traditional interpretations. Are we to think those millions don't know their own religion? That they are dupes of manipulators and distorters? Or is it rather the case that they know very well their faith and see Bin Laden et al. as traditionalists attempting to restore to Islam the doctrinal purity that fueled Islam's remarkable conquests? Perhaps this agreement with the so-called "Islamists" explains the dearth of protests against these presumed "distortions" on the part of all those "moderate" Muslims we keep hearing about.
No, it is we who are the dupes of distorters, all those apologists, propagandists, and Western useful idiots who obscure the truth of Islam and its history. And they are successful: Washington Times columnist Diana West, writing on July 6 about Robert Spencer's important web-site jihadwatch.org, reports that "very ominously, Mr. Spencer's Web site is being blocked by assorted organizations which, according to his readers, continue to provide access to assorted pro-jihad sites. Mr. Spencer reports he's 'never received word of so many organizations banning this site all at once.' These include the City of Chicago, Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, GE IT, JPMorgan Chase, Defense Finance and Accounting Services and now, a federal employee in Dallas informs him, the federal government." Why? "Some Internet providers deem the factually based, meticulous analysis on display at jihadwatch.org to be 'hate speech.'"
This is the pass that we have come to: facts about the motives of an enemy sworn to our destruction are censored as "hate speech." This betrayal of the truth demonstrates perfectly the West's self-loathing failure of nerve that confirms the enemy's belief in his spiritual superiority-- and his ultimate victory.
And here is an editorial in the Washington Times, "Unblock Jihad Watch":
In the last few weeks, e-mails began trickling to Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer that his Web site had been blocked on the senders' office computers as "hate speech." The same blocking was also happening in some instances against the site memri.org, a translator of Arabic-language media. The sites are being blocked by private firms such as General Electric and JPMorgan Chase, plus a few state and local government agencies, whose filtering services had somehow decided the sites were "hate speech."
"Hate speech" exists on these sites, all right, but not the kind that filters should be blocking -- not as long as there exist doubletalkers who say all the right things in English but breathe anti-Western fire in Arabic. These sites shed much-needed light on this phenomenon, and as long as private firms are allowing political content on office computers, they should not be duped into blocking some. How they got blocked in the first place is a story of political correctness run amok. But it is also a story of what happens when citizens speak out in opposition.
First, the good news. Over the last four days, blocks have been lifted at Fidelity Investments, Whirlpool and a handful of other major companies, Mr. Spencer reports, following a wave of complaints by users. The complaints trigger a corporate reality check, which causes some to reconsider. "People need to realize that this kind of filtering is politicized, just like anything else. Leftists will be willing to use filtering services" just like any other medium, Mr. Spencer says. Various and sundry pro-Islamist Internet opinionists slap the "hate speech" label repeatedly, hope it sticks and sometimes, it does. But with a counter-campaign, their work can be undone.
The other piece of good news is that federal agencies, especially the ones we'd most like to read such material, have not been duped. The sites are available on computers at the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon and the State Department, according to our correspondents. Whether they are actually read there is a separate matter with a likely depressing answer. But at least the material is available.
We don't doubt that the corporate blockers do their blocking in many cases unwittingly through politically unsavvy filtering services which in turn find themselves on the receiving end of various political campaigns. All these companies simply want to avoid social or political controversy.
But it is not really possible to avoid taking a position here, irrespective of these firms' rights to block whatever they choose to, as long as the policy is fair and consistent. Essentially, these firms must either block all political speech -- and we would counsel strongly against this heavy-handedness -- or they would need to allow a wide range of material through, with only very obviously pornographic or incendiary material being blocked.
With any other approach, firms will be caught in the type of politicization that Jihad Watch and MEMRI know all too well. It does not serve anyone's interests.