Last week while I was speaking in Nebraska, I received some tweets out of the blue from Joseph Lumbard, a convert to Islam who is Professor and Chair of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies in the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. Lumbard excoriated me for what he claimed was a factual error I had made in a Jihad Watch post about Brandeis’ rescinding of an honorary degree for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, although what he claimed was false was actually something that she, not I, had written:
Hirsi Ali had not made any false statement, either, but that didn’t stop Lumbard from going on to send me a series of arrogant, contemptuous tweets, including:
After this had gone on for awhile, I challenged him to a debate. He readily accepted, saying: “anytime any place. I will dominate you!” And continued in his previous arrogant vein:
I asked him to email me to set up the details of time, place, topic and parameters, but it was several days before he did so; in the meantime, he continued to hurl insults and false charges on Twitter, making it clear that he was yet another in an apparently endless line of Islamic supremacists (Hussam Ayloush, Reza Aslan, Hussein Ibish, Qasim Rashid, Salam al-Marayati, Ahmed Rehab, Ibrahim Hooper, Dean Obeidallah, Haroon Moghul, etc. etc. etc.) who behave in absolutely vile ways toward those whom they hate and fear: gutter language, contemptuous hectoring, claims that their foe is too stupid and hateful to deal with on the level of rational argumentation, straw-man mischaracterizations of their positions, accusations of “hate” and even complicity in murder, etc. It comes across unmistakably that for all their pious posturing about their opponents fostering “hate,” in reality these Islamic supremacists are supremely hateful human beings, with hearts full of rage, minds full of arrogance, and tongues full of venom. They apparently believe that a non-Muslim who dares to oppose them has no rights they are bound to respect.
And on top of all that, they’re abjectly incapable of defending their positions — a fact that they hide behind an arrogant refusal to engage in rational discussion or debate with their opponents. They treat them as inferior human beings, not worthy of their time or attention, mirroring the second-class status Islamic law mandates for non-Muslims. Why should “the most vile of created beings” (Qur’an 98:6) be accorded the opportunity for a discussion as equals with one of the “best of people” (Qur’an 3:110)? And so here is my exchange with Joseph Lumbard of Brandeis about a debate:
1. Lumbard to Spencer
Dear Mr. Spencer,
In response to your desire for a debate, I propose that we hold a public debate regarding the accuracy of your book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), with regard to the topics of Shariah, jihad, “dhimmitude”, and taqiyyah.
To make sure that each of us has the opportunity to speak without interruption, I propose that we employ something along the lines of the Lincoln/Douglas debate format. This will also allow the opportunity for some interaction. A proposed format comes after my signature at the end of the email.
I prefer in person debates, as this allows for the ambiance to be sensed by the broader audience when watching a video. Along these lines, I propose that we find a mutually agreed upon neutral location with an agreed upon neutral moderator.
Last, I think it is of the utmost importance that we agree to only post the debate in full when it is posted on various online fora.
Chair Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
Proposed Debate Format
Opening Statement (Affirmative: 10 minutes)
Opening Statement (Negative: 10 minutes)
Rebuttal (Negative: 5 minutes)
Rebuttal (Affirmative: 5 minutes)
Cross Examination (Affirmative: 5 minutes)
Cross Examination (Negative: 5 minutes)
Break (5-10 minutes])
Second Rebuttal, or Second Statement (Negative: 5-10 minutes)
Second Rebuttal, or Second Statement (Affirmative: 5-10 minutes)
Closing Statement (Negative: 3-5 minutes)
Closing Statement (Affirmative: 3-5 minutes)
Audience Questions (Optional: 20-40 minutes. Can be moved before Closing Statements.)
There was an obvious problem with his suggestion: no debate topic. I’m happy to defend my positions, but his debate format provided for an affirmative and a negative statement and yet he didn’t propose any statement on which an affirmative or negative position could be taken. An amorphous discussion about my book in general would give him too many opportunities simply to change the subject and thereby avoid being pinned down about uncomfortable facts — I’ve been in too many radio debates and exchanges with Islamic apologists not to guard against that by having a clearly defined topic. Accordingly I wrote this back to Lumbard:
2. Spencer to Lumbard:
While your format follows standard debate topic, you haven’t proposed a debate thesis. Do you know how one is properly formulated? If not, I will send you some suggestions. Let me know.
3. Lumbard to Spencer:
That’s why I said “something along the lines of” not just following exactly.
4. Spencer to Lumbard:
That phrase refers to the format, not to the debate thesis. Again: do you know how to formulate a debate thesis? If not, as I said, and apparently you do not, I will suggest some possible ones.
5. Lumbard to Spencer:
Do ou [sic] mean to say that you do not wish to debate the veracity of your works because you cannot stand behind them?
6. Spencer to Lumbard:
Where did I say that?
Do you seriously not know what a debate thesis is?
Do you seriously not know how to formulate a debate topic?
You’re a college professor, and you’re full of sneers and arrogance at my alleged non-acquaintance with the facts. And you don’t even know how to formulate a debate topic properly?
7. Lumbard to Spencer:
Everyone knows what a debate thesis is. You are obfuscating by trying to make it seem that one cannot have a debate along the format I proposed without having a specific thesis. You clearly do not want to debate the accuracy of your own works because you know they cannot stand up to scrutiny.
8. Spencer to Lumbard:
You are making assertions without evidence.
I will not debate without a thesis — that is a license for you to slide off-topic and spend the whole debate on personal abuse, as I know you will anyway.
Here, since you clearly don’t know how to formulate a debate thesis, I will do it for you:
Resolved: The Qur’an teaches warfare against and subjugation of unbelievers
or if you don’t like that one, how about
Resolved: Sharia denies equality of rights to women, non-Muslims, and gays
If you don’t like those, I’ll come up with some more. But that, akhi, is how to formulate a debate thesis.
Note that he had specifically listed Sharia among the topics he wanted to debate, as well as jihad and dhimmitude, which would have been subsumed into a debate on the Qur’an. But I sent that email last Tuesday, and aside from a few more snipes from him on Twitter, that was the last I heard from Joseph Lumbard. So once again we encounter a preening, strutting, but ultimately empty-minded Islamic supremacist academic who only holds his position because he parrots the politically correct line that dominates a corrupt and compromised academia today. There are so many of those, and so few honest academics telling the truth about Islam and jihad in our nation’s universities today. This, too, will not end well.