It wasn’t long ago that Robert Spencer, a leader in the anti-Muslim movement, was arguing that “the only good Muslim was a bad Muslim.” Now he has suddenly “reversed” his position on Islam during a recent interview with Fox News’ Alan Colmes. Colmes did a pretty good job challenging Spencer on the holes in his anti-Muslim ideology: his double standards vis-à-vis Islam and Christianity, his downplaying the peaceful teachings of the Quran, his support for Pam Geller’s extremist and “meaningless” rhetoric, etc. Spencer spent most of his time on defense, often interrupting Colmes just when he was making a solid point.
Colmes could have done a better job refuting the point Spencer tried to make with the case of would-be terrorist Faisal Shazad. Spencer claimed that Shazad wholly and independently justified his actions by Islam when, in fact, he justified his deeds citing American foreign policy. This is what he really said:
“I want to plead guilty 100 times because unless the United States pulls out of Afghanistan and Iraq, until they stop drone strikes in Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen and stop attacking Muslim lands, we will attack the United States and be out to get them.”
Shahzad cited the numerous civilian deaths as primary justification for perpetrating retaliatory terrorism, along with vague platitudes about the Quran, justice, and the afterlife; very little to do with normative Islamic teachings and mostly to do with drone strikes and civilian “collateral damage,” as Danios pointed out. Tellingly, Shahzad plainly violated mainstream Islamic teachings about fulfilling pledges and being a good neighbor. The judge rightly told him, “I do hope you spend time in prison thinking about whether the Koran gives you the right to kill innocent people.”
If this is the example Spencer wants to cite, then that’s a debate that I am happy to have. As in this case, Spencer’s own examples often turn out to be proofs against him. The raw data is simply on the side of those people, Muslim and non-Muslim, who wish to live together in a peaceful democratic society. Perhaps Colmes can be forgiven for not pressing him on this point (after all, he does work for Fox News). But it was this exchange at the end of the interview that was truly magical:
Robert Spencer Finally Admits Islam Makes Muslims Good People:
Colmes: Robert, excuse me, is there anything positive about Islam you could say?
Spencer: Islam makes a lot of people be very moral and upright and live fine lives.
Colmes: That’s good right? And wouldn’t that be true of most Muslims?
Spencer: I would certainly say so, yeah, I never have denied it.
At some point, Spencer must have had a “change of heart” and decided all his years of attacking Muslims as a whole, the Prophet, and the Quran wasn’t really fair. More likely, however, is that when pressed in public on his anti-Muslim ideology, Spencer retreats to the “political correctness” he regularly derides in liberals, lest the viewers think he is nothing but a hard-nosed bigot. Because I remember specifically when Spencer denied the fact that most American Muslims are normal, ethical people:
“I have written on numerous occasions that there is no distinction in the American Muslim community between peaceful Muslims and jihadists. While Americans prefer to imagine that the vast majority of American Muslims are civic-minded patriots who accept wholeheartedly the parameters of American pluralism, this proposition has actually never been proven.”
And again, who can tell the difference between peaceful Muslims and terrorists? Spencer observes:
“I have maintained from the beginning of this site and before that that there is no reliable way to distinguish a “moderate” Muslim who rejects the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism from a “radical” Muslim who holds such ideas, even if he isn’t acting upon them at the moment. And the cluelessness and multiculturalism of Western officialdom, which make officials shy away from even asking pointed questions, only compound this problem.”
Spencer had written on numerous occasions and maintained from the beginning that there is no practical difference between the average American Muslim on the street and an indoctrinated, foreign, psychotic jihadist. Did he really forget he said all that? Because Anders Behring Breivik, the Norway shooter, didn’t forget when he justified killing liberal race traitors, echoing Spencer’s talking points about multiculturalism and Islam:
“Tell me one country where Muslims have lived peacefully with non-Muslims without the Jihad
…How many thousands of new Europeans must die, how many one hundred thousand European women should be raped, millions robbed and tractor discarded before you understand that multiculturalism + Islam does not work?”
And again the killer repeats Spencer’s belief in the alleged absence of moderate Muslims:
“And then we have the relationship between conservative Muslims and so-called “moderate Muslims”. There is moderate Nazis, too, that does not support fumigation of rooms and Jews. But they’re still Nazis and will only sit and watch as the conservatives Nazis strike (if it ever happens). If we accept the moderate Nazis as long as they distance themselves from the fumigation of rooms and Jews?…. For me it is very hypocritical to treat Muslims, Nazis and Marxists differ. They are all supporters of hate-ideologies. Not all Muslims, Nazis and Marxists are conservative, most are moderate. But does it matter? A moderate Nazi might, after having experienced fraud, choose to be conservative. A moderate Muslim can, after being refused to enter a club, be conservative, etc.”
And where in the world could he have gotten the idea that Muslims and Nazis are the same?
Is Spencer willing to acknowledge the plethora of errors in his long track record of extremist hate speech, or are his comments to Colmes yet another implementation of Islamic taqiyya on his part? Taking a lesson out of the jihadist playbook, are you Robert? Judging by your latest round of hateful vitriolic spew, in which you railed against the “propaganda line” that “Islam is a religion of peace,” it seems like you are.