Like a punch-drunk fighter dragging himself up off the canvas after yet another knockdown, Adam Serwer, Leftist blogger for the American Prospect, is back for more after this -- and once again provides a useful illustration of how the Left and their Islamic supremacist allies argue, or rather, evade argument. True to form for the Left, all Serwer has to dish out here is a repulsive stew of lies, smears, and juvenile twittery. Once again a Leftist jihad enabler fails abysmally to compete on the level of the evidence. "Spencer's (Still) Tenuous Evidence," by Adam Serwer in the American Prospect, June 14 (thanks to James):
Robert Spencer, the professional anti-Muslim activist who has been working to oppose the construction of an Islamic center near Ground Zero and a Mosque in Staten Island, takes issue with several of the claims I made in my post last week.
The term "anti-Muslim" is used to imply that I am "against" a group of people, personally, rather than against a supremacist and oppressive ideology. But in fact, oppression is oppression, no matter who is oppressed, or how much they love that oppression. I don't subscribe to Wilsonian pipe dreams of bringing democracy to the benighted masses, and in reality there is little one can or should do for the oppressed if they do indeed love their oppression and wish to remain under its boot, but the fact remains that I am not "anti-Muslim." Some years ago here at Jihad Watch I had an exchange with an English convert to Islam. I said: "I would like nothing better than a flowering, a renaissance, in the Muslim world, including full equality of rights for women and non-Muslims in Islamic societies: freedom of conscience, equality in laws regarding legal testimony, equal employment opportunities, etc." Is all that "anti-Muslim"? My correspondent thought so. He responded: "So, you would like to see us ditch much of our religion and, thereby, become non-Muslims."
In other words, he saw a call for equality of rights for women and non-Muslims in Islamic societies, including freedom of conscience, equality in laws regarding legal testimony, and equal employment opportunities, as a challenge to his religion. To the extent that they are, these facts have to be confronted by both Muslims and non-Muslims. But it is not "anti-Muslim" to wish freedom of conscience and equality of rights on the Islamic world -- quite the contrary.
Anyway, Adam Serwer careens from this smear straight into some more:
I'll just start with the easiest claim Spencer disputes, that his colleague Pamela Geller -- who recently had the Paypal links on her site removed because the company started to view her site's hysterical Islamophobic content as hate speech...
Actually, Paypal reversed this outrageous decision. One would think, parenthetically, that if Adam Serwer had an ounce of foresight or capacity for reflection, he would realize that if businesses start refusing business to people on the basis of their political views, he could be next. What Paypal tried to do to SIOA, FDI and Pamela Geller could be done to him someday, should the political winds shift. Maybe he assumes that the political winds won't shift -- and indeed, even if they do, conservatives aren't going to move to marginalize and silence him the way Leftists, who have always manifested a taste for authoritarianism when in power, try to do to conservatives.
But it's more likely that he simply hasn't considered the implications of Paypal's attempt at politically manipulative mercantile thuggery. His side is winning, and that's all he cares about.
Then Serwer drags out the old Pamela Geller/Malcolm X canard again, brushing aside her explanation of why she ran that post and attempting to tar Geller with it in a rather spectacularly inept manner, culminating with "Geller is a birther, which for some reason doesn't bother Spencer either. Then again, Spencer and Geller have trouble finding friends at CPAC so maybe he's just not very choosy."
Coming from a man who identifies himself as "a Jew, the child of a white man and a black woman," who despite his Jewish self-identification has no trouble befriending Jew-hating members of the Muslim Brotherhood and retailing their deceptions uncritically, the bit about not being choosy about friends is rich. But it is ultimately just a juvenile jape, devoid of substance. CPAC, as Pamela explained here, is tied to Grover Norquist, a friend of Islamic supremacists who seems to have made sure the conference will not deal honestly with jihad-related issues. I will shed no tears for not having "friends" among Norquist and his ilk.
In any case, Serwer and his ilk would define Pamela Geller -- and me by association -- entirely according to the material they find most absurd or objectionable according to their own canons. If they weren't so utterly devoid of a moral compass when it comes to Islamic supremacism, and so hospitable to violent intimidation in connection with it, their dismissal of the entire corpus of her work based on a few misrepresented posts might be more plausible.
Spencer also claims that the link he posted to an Investigator Project on Terrorism report on the Muslim American Society works.
Someone should tell the ace journalist that he is referring to the "Investigative," not the "Investigator," Project on Terrorism.
(On Friday, I erroneously attributed the report to Spencer, it is a product of the IPT.) It does now. It didn't on Friday, and since I figured that Spencer was the type of person who would retroactively fix the link and then claim nothing had been wrong in order to cast doubt on my honesty, I saved a screenshot of the link not working...I actually think this tells you just about everything you need to know about Spencer, frankly.
Actually, it tells you everything you need to know about Serwer: that he is a dishonest, juvenile twit. Did I actually "retroactively fix the link and then claim nothing had been wrong in order to cast doubt on my honesty"? No. What I wrote in my initial post about Serwer about the broken link was this, in its entirety: "The link is in this post. It does work. Here it is again."
Anything in there about claiming the link always worked, or that Serwer was lying about it? Nope. Not a syllable. In fact, the link was broken at one point; a reader notified me of that fact, and I fixed it. Later, when I saw Serwer's report, I didn't think it necessary to try the reader's patience with a tedious and tangential explanation of a broken link and how it was fixed. Instead, I just provided the correct link, and moved on -- and Adam Serwer uses this to accuse me of accusing him of dishonesty.
Well, I wasn't then. I am now.
As far as the Muslim American Society is concerned, some of Spencer's claims are substantiated, although they don't prove what he seems to think they prove. Having read the Investigative Project on Terrorism report and the 2004 Chicago Tribune article to which Spencer links, it's clear that some of MAS' founding members were part of the Muslim Brotherhood. The former Secretary General of MAS, Shaker Elsayed, claimed at the time that the group had distanced itself from the Brotherhood, although a Brotherhood official in Cairo is quoted as saying this was done for political reasons. MAS today maintains that "MAS has no affiliation with the Ikhwan al Muslimoon (Muslim Brotherhood or the Ikhwan) or with any other international organization," which is exactly what I was told on Friday.
The Brotherhood itself, as I pointed out in this post, carries the link to the 2004 Chicago Tribune expose on its site -- that is, the Brotherhood itself now posts the story in which the Muslim American Society is identified as the principal American arm of the Brotherhood. Serwer even adds that a Brotherhood official in Cairo says that the Muslim American Society distances itself from the Brotherhood publicly for "political reasons." But he still rejects any link between the MAS and the Ikhwan -- and why? Because the MAS told him there wasn't one!
The tough, hard-nosed journalist really dug for the truth on that one.
And his naivete continues: "Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, but so is the Islamic Movement in Israel, which has representation in the Knesset." Oh, well, then! They must be benign! Then about the evidence regarding Mahdi Bray's support for Hamas and Hizballah, Serwer says:
Other contemporaneous accounts Spencer cites of protests Bray attended, as well as excerpts from MAS publications and statements by MAS officials cited in the IPT report, show that some members of the organization hold anti-Semitic beliefs. Excerpts cited in the IPT report from MAS' publication, The American Muslim, vacillate between clear condemnations of terrorism and sympathy for groups like Hamas, legitimate critiques of U.S. policy and paranoid screeds. None of this proves MAS is actually tied to terrorists or intends to implement Taliban-style Sharia in the U.S., and neither the IPT report nor Spencer substantiate that claim. This stuff is troubling, but it's not criminal. Lucky for Spencer, holding tremendously ugly beliefs in this country is not a crime -- although Spencer would like to make it so, on the grounds that if we don't American Muslims will.
So apparently Serwer is granting that the MAS holds "tremendously ugly beliefs," including support for genocidal Jew-haters, and yet he is willing to take at face value their statements about not being affiliated with the Brotherhood. All right.
But as for his charge that I would like to make it a "crime" to hold "tremendously ugly beliefs in this country," it is, like so much of what he claims, utterly false. I have no interest in criminalizing Adam Serwer's beliefs. In reality, I'd be satisfied with the enforcement of existing laws. Section 2385 of the federal criminal code states that "whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government...shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction."
If this already existing law -- revised as of January 2, 2006 -- were applied to Islamic groups in the United States that are working to advance the scope of Sharia here, the stealth jihad could be stopped in its tracks. The clause "by force or violence" may appear to be an impediment to this, and that is a matter for legal scholars to study in light of the fact that Sharia denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights before the law of women and non-Muslims. Clearly the advance of such a legal framework in the U.S. is at odds with Constitutional principles and freedoms, and that will have to be addressed sooner or later.
Serwer, of course, will not be the one addressing them. Rather, he goes on to smear me and other anti-jihadists with the increasingly common "Muslims are the new Jews" theme, which carries with it the ugly implication that anti-jihadists must harbor dreams of genocide:
What's interesting though, is that remarks about "Zionist" conspiracies cited by the IPT report so closely resemble those of Spencer and his colleagues, who warn of "the Muslim Brotherhood's infiltration at the highest levels of the U.S. government." Spencer probably shouldn't be getting too huffy about instances of bigotry at angry protests either. Needless to say if Spencer wanted to buy a piece of land and build a church there, I'd defend his right to do so.
There's only one problem with this comparison: the "Zionist" conspiracies were fictional, while it is demonstrably true that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated at high levels. See, for example, these accounts by intelligence insiders. Journalist Paul Sperry notes that Islamic supremacists have "infiltrated every security agency from the FBI to the Pentagon to the prison system, which is the top recruiting ground for al-Qaida right now, and they've also worked their way into the public school system." And see these statements of intent:
"We reject the U.N., reject America, reject all law and order. Don't lobby Congress or protest because we don't recognize Congress. The only relationship you should have with America is to topple it. . . . Eventually there will be a Muslim in the White House dictating the laws of Shariah." -- Muhammad Faheed, Muslim Students Association meeting, Queensborough Community College, 2003
"Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth." -- CAIR cofounder and longtime Board chairman Omar Ahmad, 1998 (denial noted and full story explained at link)
"I wouldn't want to create the impression that I wouldn't like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future." -- CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, 1993
"If only Muslims were clever politically, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate." -- prominent American Muslim leader Siraj Wahhaj, 2002
By contrast, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a forgery, and there was no factual basis for all the conspiracy theories about Zionists scheming to control the world, any more than there is today.
And as for "instances of bigotry at angry protests," Serwer links to one of his earlier blog posts in which he smears the June 6 SIOA freedom rally against the Islamic supremacist mega-mosque at Ground Zero on the basis of a misunderstanding between a Coptic Christian and some others at the rally. He ignores (of course) the statement in complete support of the rally and its goal by that Coptic Christian, Joseph Nassralla.
Serwer then claims that I have "absolutely no evidence" for asserting that the Ground Zero Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's father was involved with the Muslim Brotherhood, and adds that "the claim that Rauf is connected to terrorism because his father was hypothetically a member of an Islamist organization is itself pernicious."
Of course, I never claimed that "Rauf is connected to terrorism because his father was hypothetically a member of an Islamist organization," but where in any of this have we seen Adam Serwer interested in honest reporting? In reality, I mentioned Rauf's father's link to the Brotherhood in response to a question about his father that was put to me by Sean Hannity on his show. In everything I've written about the Islamic supremacist mega-mosque, I've never drawn any conclusions from that link at all, or even mentioned it again. And in reality, I don't think that what his father was or wasn't necessarily has any bearing on what Feisal Abdul Rauf may be.
But was Rauf's father a Brotherhood member, or not? Serwer says that "Spencer has nothing on Rauf, or on Rauf's father, other than speculation. But he felt perfectly comfortable going on television and smearing the former as sympathetic to terrorism based on vague information he cannot confirm about the latter." He says this after rejecting the assertions made by journalist Alyssa Lappen here. He takes Rauf's word that his father was "giving lectures all over the world on the [Egyptian] government's dime," and therefore could not have been "fleeing the Egyptian government as a member of a banned organization."
On what basis does Serwer believe Rauf over Lappen? Only that he is more comfortable with Rauf's slickly packaged Islamic supremacism than with Lappen's advocacy for freedom, but consider this: Rauf has lied about his commitment to religious dialogue. He has lied about whether the Islamic center planned for the Ground Zero site will contain a mosque or not. And he has lied about whether or not the project is getting foreign funding. Caveat emptor.
Serwer is eagerly buying, of course, and smears Lappen in the process with a nifty bit of illogic: "As for Lappen, she writes that 'In short, Islam reveres death. Indeed, Islam orders its adherents to conduct jihad warfare, and promises paradise and 72 virgins to those who die in the service of Allah.' Right. Why bother trying to play six degrees of Sayyid Qutb if you ultimately believe all Muslims are terrorists anyway?"
Does Serwer not believe that "Islam reveres death"? He is probably unfamiliar with this Qur'anic verse: "Say (O Muhammad): O ye who are Jews! If ye claim that ye are favoured of Allah apart from (all) mankind, then long for death if ye are truthful" (62:6). Does he not believe that "Islam orders its adherents to conduct jihad warfare" and all the rest? He probably is also unfamiliar with the Qur'anic verse commanding Muslims to wage war against and subjugate Jews and Christians (9:29), and with the one promising Paradise (which is in the Qur'an indeed filled with those virgins) to those who "kill and are killed" for Allah (9:111).
But in any case, does the reality of such teachings mean that "all Muslims are terrorists"? Of course not. As I have pointed out ad infinitum, there is a spectrum of belief, knowledge and fervor among Muslims, as there is among any ideological group, religious or non-religious. Some take Islamic teaching very seriously, some don't, with every variation in between. Some are very knowledgeable about that teaching. Some aren't. I am not saying we can count on those who don't care to wage jihad against unbelievers to transform themselves into staunch allies of the U.S., but that doesn't mean they're all giving aid and comfort to Osama and company either. Some are merely indifferent to all this.
But in any case, Serwer manifests a consistent readiness to take the claims of Islamic supremacists at face value while regarding those of their opponents with extreme skepticism:
Spencer utilizes a rhetorical trope in which he pretends that his targets' plans for world domination have already been revealed, and everyone would know the truth if it weren't for the nation of millions holding him back. He writes that it is "known to be the position" of MAS to bring Sharia to the U.S. See if you can find that on their website.
Gosh, Adam, it ain't there! That must mean that the MAS is full of loyal Constitutionalists! Serwer is probably ignorant, of course, of the internal Muslim Brotherhood document naming the MAS as one of its allied organizations, and declaring that the Muslim Brothers "must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah's religion is made victorious over all other religions." -- Mohamed Akram, "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America," May 22, 1991, Government Exhibit 003-0085, U.S. vs. HLF, et al. P. 7 (21).
In that same fashion, he also says that Rauf is "an open proponent of Sharia," and that I "ignore" this. What Spencer means by "ignores" is "pick up the phone and ask him about it," and here is what Rauf said to me:Rauf says that this is a "complete misunderstanding" and that what he meant was that the U.S. allows Muslims to freely meet their own religious obligations. "The thing that people mistake, is that we're trying to impose Sharia law in America, there are aspects of Sharia law that we are allowed to practice. Like Jews practice their dietary laws, we practice them without contradiction."
A "complete misunderstanding." All right. But Rauf is an open proponent of Sharia, and judging from his honesty on other issues (as explained above), perhaps Serwer will pardon me for not being as sanguine as he is about Rauf's truthfulness when he assures this naive and ignorant reporter that he doesn't want to bring Sharia to the U.S. After all, Rauf says that "what Muslims want is to ensure that their secular laws are not in conflict with the Quran or the Hadith, the sayings of Muhammad." For Muslims in the U.S., that will inevitably involve bringing Sharia here.
But Serwer has no clear idea of what that means anyway:
"Sharia" is Islamic law. In repressive societies like that of Afghanistan under the Taliban, it is indeed brutal and repressive. In say, Turkey, the legal structure is studiously secular, and Sharia only matters to the extent it governs the personal affairs of the religious. Islamophobes like Spencer have dutifully exploited the former incarnation because it allows them to fearmonger in free conscience, because he assumes and hopes that his audience understands and associates Sharia with Taliban style injustice and oppression. The Sharia of Rauf is not the Sharia of the Taliban, and Spencer conflates the two because it is the only way to justify interfering with Muslims' ability to build sites of worship where they please under the freedoms guaranteed to all Americans under the Constitution.
This paragraph is so staggeringly intellectually incoherent that it is hard to know where to begin. First Serwer notes that the Taliban adheres to Sharia while Turkey currently does not, and then says that "Islamophobes like Spencer have dutifully exploited the former incarnation" of Sharia, that is, that of the Taliban, "because it allows them to fearmonger in free conscience." But of course Turkish secularism is not an "incarnation" of the Sharia at all, but rather the absence of Sharia, so what it demonstrates about the nature of the Sharia itself is precisely nothing.
Nonetheless, apparently Serwer believes that the (increasingly tenuous) existence of Turkish secularism somehow demonstrates that "the Sharia of Rauf is not the Sharia of the Taliban," but he offers no actual evidence for that assertion at all. He does not produce, and cannot produce, any statement from Rauf condemning Sharia-mandated stoning, or amputation, or denial of women's rights, or the Sharia-mandated death penalty for apostates. He just takes for granted that Rauf's Sharia must differ from the Taliban's, because he likes Rauf and dislikes his opponents, and Adam Serwer knows that Adam Serwer is an enlightened, tolerant, progressive liberal, and so he can't possibly be putting himself into the position of being a shill for authoritarian oppressors, now, can he? Why, of course not!
But that is exactly what he is, and worse:
As for myself, I am a Jew, the child of a white man and a black woman. I am quite familiar with intolerance and what it looks like. In this instance, it looks like Robert Spencer, whose dark admiration for those he claims as enemies is expressed in the sincere flattery of imitation. Spencer doesn't simply reflect their conspiracy theories or their wish for a society in which equality under the law is abolished, he also clearly imagines himself some kind of martyr.
Look closely at what Adam Serwer is saying here. He is charging me with "imitation" of those whom I "claim as enemies." In other words, he is saying that in resisting Islamic supremacism and Sharia, and in fighting to defend the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and equality of rights for women, I am the equivalent of mass murderers who glory in the deaths of innocents. This is a moral myopia of immense proportions and a monstrous defamation not just of me but of every anti-jihadist -- Pankaj Mishra does the same thing to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
The point here is in no sense personal: I am not affected in the least by what Adam Serwer or anyone else says about me. The point is that we have grown accustomed to these casual exercises in moral equivalence, yet they are as abominable as it would have been in 1942 to equate Churchill with Hitler, or Roosevelt with Mussolini. Adam Serwer is writing in the service of people who would strip him of his rights at very least, and probably do far worse to him besides. The fact that he is serving as their useful tool will not make them go easier upon him in the end, and it should only sharpen the moral indignation that every American who reveres human rights should feel toward this collaborator with evil.