"Polemics don't advance the debate," says the Brown Daily Herald in "Ignoring 'Islamofascism' hype," a vicious little polemic that accuses the organizers of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week of wanting a "fight." The editorialist preens: "We're glad that the debate is being carried out at this level, not with signs and shouting."
Of course, there was shouting when I spoke at Brown last week, although not too much, so the Daily Herald has every right to be proud. Very proud, considering the immense provocation they had to suffer through:
Fortunately, despite confrontational remarks made by Robert Spencer, who said in his lecture here Thursday that he does not believe "that Islam at its core is a peaceful religion," Brown's campus remained largely calm.
Anyway, this was not an assertion I made without evidence. I drew a distinction between teaching and practice and explaining the vulnerability of peaceful Muslims to jihadist recruitment on the basis of the jihadists' use of various passages of the Qur'an and Hadith (which I cited), I explained that all the schools of Sunni and Shi'ite jurisprudence have a doctrine involving warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers.
This was and is a statement of fact. If it is false, the Brown Herald, or the Muslim community at Brown, should refute it. Anyone is welcome to refute it if they can. I can and have (in my books and elsewhere) explained it at length, with abundant citations from the Qur'an and Sunnah, as well as from mainstream Islamic commentaries on the Qur'an and Islamic jurists.
But they don't refute it. No one ever has refuted it. Instead, here the Herald treats it as if the very statement constitutes incitement to violence against Muslims. And in an unconscious irony, the Herald expresses relief that the campus remained "largely calm," rather than erupt into violence over someone daring to assert that Islam is not a religion of peace.
Well, bravo, Brown students! What admirable, nay, noble restraint! But if you really want a debate on the key issues, as you say in this editorial, simply heaping abuse and contempt on your opponent and being glad that nobody popped him one is not actually a demonstration of the falsity of his arguments. If you are willing to engage in a genuine discussion and debate of this question -- does Islamic doctrine actually teach peace? -- I am at your service, and will return to Brown.
If you do not wish to engage in such a debate, as appears clear, then be assured that you will not forever be able to ignore this question, or to act as if the mere asking of it is the equivalent of burning a cross on someone's front lawn. Unfortunately, those Muslims who do not believe that Islam is a religion of peace, who are the ones who benefit most from the ruling of this question out of polite discourse, will continue -- unimpeded by their peaceful coreligionists -- to commit acts of violence in order to advance the cause of Islamic supremacism. It is more than likely that this conflict will touch you personally, and your vilification of the anti-jihad movement and your refusal to engage it intellectually may at that point look very different to you from the way it looks today.