Denis MacEoin, who has published a bit on Islamic subjects, recently came across this Hugh Fitzgerald piece here at Jihad Watch, and sent me the reply below.
His remarks on the comments are a bit out of focus, of course, since I have repeatedly called for civility and good sense from those who comment here (which calls seem to have scared away a good many who could not meet those requirements) and comments nevertheless still remain unmoderated. The subject of jihad provokes intense anger on both sides, and both sides are amply represented in the comments field here. Many people have posted here who either support the jihadist agenda or strenuously oppose efforts to resist it; we are not responsible for their comments any more than we are for those posted by some who err on the other side.
As is true of so many other sites, the disclaimer at the top of the comments field makes it clear that the only material for which we are actually responsible here are the remarks made within the body of the posted articles, not in the comments field — that is, remarks made by me, Hugh Fitzgerald, and Jihad Watch News Editors Patrick Devenny and Eric Schwappach. After I received the message below on September 20, I asked Dr. MacEoin if he was referring to the unmoderated comments or to statements by me, Hugh, and others who actually represent Jihad Watch, particularly since he seems to have missed our many recent critiques of Bush, Rice, Karen Hughes and Administration policy (and absurdly termed those policies “Christian”); he did not so far reply. So here is his message.
I’ve just come across remarks made by Hugh and several other people on my departure from Jihadwatchg/Dhimmiwatch. Since quite a few of you out there seem to have misconstrued a great deal and made a lot of false assumptions, let me clarify. First, I’m not “Dr.” inverted commas MacEoin , but really Dr. MacEoin. I don’t think it’s remotely arrogant to suggest that someone who has studied Islam at an advanced level in the original languages using Islamic texts may be better placed than most laypeople to evaluate Islamic matters. Inb that respect, I do think your websites suffer from commentary from people who clearly know next to nothing about the subject. Would you think it arrogant of me to write that if I were, say, a medical doctor commenting on remarks b y poorly informed layment, or a professor specializing in almost any other subject?
I was indeed a Baha’i for many years, but have been a secularist for much longer. I was not taught by Muslim teachers at any stage of my career. I do not hold a brief for Islam. On the contrary, I have very negative feelings about it, but still try to appreciate those elements that elevate it (such as the finer forms of Sufism, the poetry, the architecture, and the belief in material simplicity over greed). I did not teach at Durham university (though I was for many years an honorary fellow there). I am an opponent of political correctness and did not object to postings because they were not PC, but because many of them were actually racist and bigoted. I’d rather that wasn’t so,m because I think both Dhimmiwatch and Jihadwatch couuld perform an invaluable service if they were not open to postings by people who make the whole thing seem somewhat grimy. That doesn’t mean everyone, but enough objectionable material seems to get through. I am not anti-American, in fact I have a great admiration for America’s constitution and its love for justice democracy. I do, hoqwever, have many objections to the dangerous far-right Christian policies of George Bush and his administration. Or perhaps criticizing American policy is now rthe same thing as hating America? I am not left-wing, but consider myself politically liberal, which means I support things like democracy, human rights, freedom of speech and so on. Much of my unhappiness with Islam derives from precisely those convictions. I am pro-Israeli and involve myself in the defence of Israel, especially against Islamic terrorism and anti-Semitism.
What more should I say? I am, in spirit, with you, but I prefer not to be depressed by gung-ho ignorance masquerading as informed comment. If the owners of the sites could only clean up their act “” or the act of their posters “” both Watches could be beacons in a world where it is becoming almost impossible to say anything remotely critical of Islam. I have not, incidentally, had many letters published in the Guardian, even though I send a lot “” this appears to be because they are, for the most part, critical of Islam or pro-Israeli. I cannot get articles published for this same reason.
I hope you will paste this message prominently in the section where so many of your commentators have written about me without knowing anything about me or my real opinions.