Max Abrahms gives his capsule resume on Twitter: “#Terrorism Theorist / Northeastern Prof / Council on Foreign Relations / Center for Cyber & Homeland Security.” He is just another establishment counter-terror analyst, purveying the same old failed policies: “My recommendation to all Western governments is to make the Muslim community feel at home because discrimination only promotes radicalization.” He claims that “the connection between religion and terrorism is exaggerated” and asserts that “it can be useful to point out how Islamic State’s interpretation of Islam departs from the modal Muslim opinion. Islamic State must be exposed as extreme in terms of both its tactics and ideological preferences.”
Perhaps hoping to do just that, Abrahms recently challenged me to a debate on whether or not the Islamic State was Islamic:
That’s straightforward enough. I contacted my old friends at ABN, with Abrahms’ approval, to set up a debate via Skype that would go up on YouTube. But as the conversation continued with me inquiring of the Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano as to whether Heritage would be interested in hosting the debate, things got weird. Abrahms began to back off from the agreed-upon topic:
I took that to be a component of the debate topic that had already been agreed upon, and so agreed it could be part of the debate, but the next day Abrahms insisted that whether or not it was useful to identify the Islamic State as Islamic was the actual debate topic, not whether it was true that the Islamic State was Islamic.
After making sure that Abrahms was refusing to debate what he had initially agreed to debate, I accepted the change — but by then Abrahms was growing abusive, preening arrogantly about being a “scholar” who was going to show me how real research is done. Finally, after a long exchange, he backed out of the debate (the debate, remember, to which he had challenged me) on the grounds that I was not a scholar and hence, apparently, do not have opinions worthy of consideration. Apparently he bases this on the fact that he has a university position and I do not, and does not take into account the severe corruption and ideological lockstep of today’s universities.
In any case, the back-and-forth on Twitter is long and tedious. I am not going to bore you further with the details of it, but anyone who is interested can go see for himself or herself what happened by reading the Twitter feed. Here are some of the highlights:
The only reason why this strutting pseudo-academic puffball is of any interest is because he is sadly representative of the state of academia and counter-terror analysis today. Establishment academics are neither able nor willing to defend their views. I don’t know why Abrahms lost his nerve after challenging me to debate and fled in a cloud of ad hominem attacks and insults. After all, if I were really the dunce of his latter view, the fact remains that I have sold hundreds of thousands more books on jihad and terrorism than he has: he could beat me handily in a debate and thereby end my baneful influence forever.
But he doesn’t dare try, and I believe it is because he knows how counter-factual his assertions really are, and he knows he would not be able to defend them against me — not because I am so great a debater, but because his views just don’t stand up in the harsh light of reality. So he, like so many other establishment academics, takes refuge in degrees, as if they automatically conferred knowledge and truthfulness. In reality, if our universities were worth their salt today, they would fire any professor who ever argued that he was right and his opponent was wrong because he has more degrees than his opponent. Abrahms ought to know that the argument from authority is the weakest of all arguments. He doesn’t.
With the world on fire from Islamic jihad, the proclamations from Barack Obama, John Kerry, David Cameron and so many others that the Islamic State’s atrocities have nothing to do with Islam, “a religion of peace,” are looking increasingly ridiculous — and they’re fueled by the pseudo-scholarship of people like Max Abrahms. Abrahms and others who further this view with their fantasy pictures of Islam are running scared, despite the fact that they have made this the dominant mainstream view in America’s universities. They’re covering up their abject inability to defend this point of view with a haughty refusal to do so, and an insistence that those who hold opposing views are not worthy of their attention.
Max Abrahms in particular has made himself look ridiculous by challenging me to debate and then claiming I’m unworthy of consideration. If you read the entire Twitter exchange, you’ll see that he ties himself up in knots trying to cover for his intellectual cowardice. But his running away is understandable: when a “terrorism theorist” meets a “terrorism realist,” the results cannot be good for the “theorist.”
Max Abrahms is a poster boy for today’s mainstream academics, who are supposed to be professionally dedicated to the discussion and debate of ideas but are instead intellectually bereft propagandists, as self-infatuated as they are ignorant. Abrahms’ absurd behavior illuminates the unhappy fact that our nation’s universities are increasingly not places where genuine intellectual inquiry takes place, but centers of Leftist indoctrination, not interested in pursuing truth or examining ideas, but only in turning out cadres of thoroughly propagandized worker ants who will ever after unthinkingly toe the party line.