Spengler weighs in on the Armstrong/Spencer kerfuffle in “Are the Arabs already extinct?” in Asia Times (thanks to James), and gets me all wrong:
As a poet, Adonis does not describe the spiritual state of the Arabs, but rather evokes it existentially. The available literature on Islam consists mainly of a useless exchange of Koranic citations that show, depending on whether one is Karen Armstrong or Robert Spencer, that Islam is loving or hateful, tolerant or bigoted, peaceful or warlike, or whatever one cares to show. It is all so pointless and sophomoric; anyone can quote the Koran, or for that matter the Bible, to show whatever one wants. With Adonis one gains access to the inside of the Arab experience of modernity. It is a terrible and frightening one, not recommended for the faint-hearted, but indispensable to anyone who wishes to get beyond the pointless sloganeering of the pundits.
As anyone knows who has ever actually read what I write, rather than second-hand characterizations of what I write, I do not use Qur’anic citations to show that Islam is hateful, bigoted, or warlike. In reality, I report on how jihadists use Qur’anic citations to justify hateful, bigoted, and warlike actions. And I show that in doing so, they can and do invoke Hadith and Islamic jurisprudence to support their points also.
I have never said, and will never say, that any view of Islam is correct or incorrect. That is because there is no central authority in Islam that can decide such matters. I do say, and have said many times, that jihadists recruit by presenting their version of Islam as pure, true, and correct Islam, and that this view is buttressed by passages from the Qur’an and Sunnah as they have been understood by mainstream Islamic commentators, and by all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, which all teach warfare against unbelievers — as well as by the fact that peaceful Muslims have never formulated any effective theological/juridical response to any of this. Thus the only possible avenue for Islamic reform, against which are prohibitive odds, would be a rejection of Qur’anic literalism, and literalism in regard to Muhammad’s words and example.
But to reduce all this to Qur’an citation wars and to assert that “anyone can quote the Koran, or for that matter the Bible, to show whatever one wants” is, to borrow a phrase, pointless and sophomoric. There are no armed groups of Jews and Christians committing violence today and justifying that violence by reference to their Scriptures. And, as I show in my upcoming book Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t, a close examination of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures and how they have been interpreted, as compared to the Qur’an and how Muslims have interpreted it, shows that the texts are by no means equal in their capacity to incite to violence.
Spengler has been better in the past.