Hot on the heels of Why Can't Muslims Debate? Part 1 and Part 2 comes this: Why Can't Leftists (and Their Islamic Allies) Respect Those Who Disagree With Them? There is a tendency among those on the Left to assume that everyone with a point of view different from theirs is an idiot, as well as a satanic, cynical manipulator. Just think of the caricature of George W. Bush, as simultaneously the half-wit marsupial who can't form a coherent sentence and the evil mastermind behind the 9/11 inside job.
And so we come to a "Dr Marranci," who back in September posted a series of questions to me that I overlooked until today, when a reader kindly pointed them out to me. The questions, although couched in invitations to civil debate, are patronizing in the extreme (see, for example, #7). He cautions me that I should reply civilly, as if I am likely to reply with a string of invective. There's the evil side of the equation. And he accuses me of, among other things, attempting "to link historical facts of the past to the present situation, so that Muslims, all of them, even the ‘moderate’ majority, are trying to reduce us to Dhimmitude, of the same kind experienced in Europe during the Middle Ages." Have I ever said such a thing? Of course not. The idea that I might think that "all" Muslims are trying to do anything in particular puts me firmly in the idiot camp.
Now, I've written seven books, hundreds of articles, and about 19,000 blog posts, and in them I have said a great many things about Islam and Muslims, and jihad and terrorism, and dhimmitude and Islamic supremacism. Before formulating his questions, Marranci seems to have read maybe one or two of those articles and blog posts, and leaps to numerous false assumptions about what I believe and what I argue about these subjects. Now, I am of two minds about this. The questions are leading, condescending, and manipulative, but I think I should answer them anyway. After all, it would be asinine of me to demand that someone read my books before he asks me any questions. But my own question to Dr. Marranci is, On what basis do you assume that I hold the positions you obviously assume I hold from your questions? I'll be glad to have a civil debate, but it has to be civil on both sides, no? Without one side assuming he is dealing with an evil idiot. And finally, before I answer your questions, your contention that I've read some books and am trying to impose the content of those books on an Islamic world that is much larger and more complex than those books is, simply, false. Rather, I report, as you'll see if you read my writings, on how Islamic jihadists today are trying to take the contents of those books and bring it out into the world, and how peaceful Muslims are so far unable to stop them from doing so. You seem, like many others, to assume that it is I who have made the connection between Islam and violence and supremacism, when in fact it has already been made by many, many Muslims, and I simply report on it.
So, to your questions:
1. Do you think that there is only one ‘real’ interpretation of Islam as religion so that only certain Muslims (those whom you labelled Islamo Fascists) are the ‘real’ Muslims?
2. Do you think that Muslims think, behave and act in a certain way because of Islam?
Some of ‘em. Not all of ‘em.
3. Do you believe that Western Civilization is a unitary, unilinear historical process derived from a unique historical reality?
4. Do you believe that there is an attempt to reduce to the state of Dhimmitude the West, so that we have to assume that there exists a unitary plan and project aimed to achieve such a goal? If so, who is behind the plan?
Yes, but I do not think that means that we must assume that there exists a unitary plan and project aimed at achieving such a goal.
5. Do you believe that Muslims are a lobby trying to take hegemonic control of universities, mass media, and other key elements in order to implement the Shari’a at a global level?
Some of ‘em. Not all of ‘em.
6. Is the Shari’a one? If so, could you provide a clear example of the applied version? If this is not the case, where can we find what you define as the Shari’a?
No. From the Shafi’i, Maliki, Hanafi, Hanbali, and Ja’fari schools of jurisprudence.
7. Which is, according to you, the difference between Islam and Muslims? Are they the same?
Um, I think...um...maybe...Islam is the belief and Muslims are the believers? Um, is that it? And no, they’re not the same.
8. How do you define Fascism, radicalism, fundamentalism in general, and what kind of elements can make it ‘Islamic’?
Fascism: everything in society is oriented toward the supreme goal. Radicalism: taking something really, really seriously. Fundamentalism: technically this has to do with the acceptance of five doctrinal points among 19th century American Protestants, but people like you also often apply it to Muslims who stress the traditional faith and literal understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Fascism is Islamic when Muslims push forward a societal program in which everything is oriented toward Islamic purity.
9. Does your definition of the West and Westerners include also the Muslim generations which are born in Europe or the US?
Some of ‘em. Not all of ‘em.
10. What is your definition of Civilization?
A type of culture or society, of a specific time and place.
11. What makes the West a Civilization?
Lots of things. Above all today I’d say a commitment to the equality of dignity of all people, which the schools of Islamic law deny, a commitment to the equality of rights of all people before the law, which the schools of Islamic law deny, a commitment to freedom of conscience, with the schools of Islamic law deny, and a certain attachment to art as ennobling the human spirit, such as is not possible in a strictly iconoclastic culture.
12. Why do you refer to the flirtation of Muslim leaders with Fascists but omit any reference to the parallel relationship of Zion-Revisionists with the same Fascist leaders? What is the difference at a historical level?
The “Zion-Revisionists” didn’t have a program for world domination, and the subjugation of unbelievers. Historically, they never did. The jihadists always have had one, and still do.
That's it. I'll admit my answers are a bit laconic and tongue-in-cheek. I'll admit that I tend to react that way when I'm being condescended to. If Dr. Marranci really wants to debate, I'm game. If he wants to lecture me about the difference between belief and practice, which I have written about ad infinitum, and about the meaning of words, like an errant schoolboy, then he is going to have to find another mark.
UPDATE: I just posted this and then found this post over at Marranci's. Here is another manifestation of the tendencies I described above, along with a strange example of projection: Marranci says that he hopes I will "find the time to debate, correctly and academically" with him, and then sneers that my "worshipers" and I are "extremely good in sophistic polemic, but they seem in difficulties when the discussion is open and civilised." I would suggest in turn to Dr. Marranci that when he refers to my "worshipers" and compares me to Mussolini (and note also his illustration to this post), he is proving his proficiency at "sophistic polemic" and his disdain for "open and civilised" debate, despite his protestations.
SECOND UPDATE: Dr. Marranci again demonstrates his attachment to "open and civilised" debate by, instead of focusing on anything substantive that I have said above or elsewhere, tries to portray me as some kind of cult leader. And while criticizing me for being a humorless SOB and a kicker of kittens, he takes the fact that I posted a link to an "I love Robert Spencer" t-shirt below as evidence that I really am trying to form a cult of personality.
Since I began this post by discussing the intellectual bankruptcy of many of my opponents and their tendency to do nothing but demonize me rather than deal with what I actually say, I can't help but be amused by Dr. Marranci's readiness to prove my points. For the record, this humorless SOB (me, not Marranci) posted the "I love Robert Spencer t-shirt" as a joke. A j-o-k-e. After all his condescending word-definition questions, I suppose I should ask Marranci if he knows what a joke is. For the record, I have nothing to do with this t-shirt. I did not design it, I do not sell it, I do not receive any money from its sale, I do not know who did design it, and for that matter, I don't even think it refers to me. There is a Broadway actor who has the misfortune of sharing a name with me, and I suspect the shirt is referring to him. But I found it by chance on Amazon, and thought it was funny.
However, I am thinking of buying one and sending it to Dr. Marranci, gratis.