UPDATED below (8/20/10).
Michelle Boorstein, a journalist with the Washington Post has written on anti-Muslim bigots Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer and their growing influence amongst Conservatives. We have extensively followed these two, providing evidence of their hate, bigotry, genocidal rants, and pseudo-scholarship through links, snapshots and in-context quotes.
Boorstein puts on the kids gloves when tackling these two, and labels them “Islam critics.” However, they are more than mere “critics” of Islam, (a statement one might make of Orientalist Bernard Lewis), they are anti-Muslim Islamophobes. They wallow in, pander and promote the vilest and weirdest conspiracy theories about Islam and Muslims, and sometimes non-Muslims as well.
Boorstein’s article, though it recognizes Geller and Spencer as the principal front figures and activists propelling the anti-mosque agitation is at the end of the day an epic failure due to its neutrality. Despite one mention of Geller’s nutty claim that Obama was the “love child” of Malcolm X, it glosses over the plethora of bigoted, hateful, irrational and borderline genocidal statements Geller has made.
When it comes to Robert Spencer the failure is even more pronounced, Boorstein cites Islamophobe Daniel Pipes (whom she dubs, “perhaps the most prominent US scholar on radical Islam”) opinion of Spencer as a “serious scholar.” This is like a kid being asked what grade his best friend should get on his report card, especially since Pipes considers himself allied with Spencer and Geller against similar “enemies.”
Pipes, according to Boorstein claims to be in the middle now, but that is belied by the fact that he admits he is “raising money” for the “most anti-Islam” individual out there, Dutch politician Geert Wilders, to supposedly “protect freedom of speech.”
Wilders you will remember says Islam is not a religion, compares the Quran to the Mein Kampf and wants it banned, wants to tax the hijab, and repatriate “criminal” Dutch Muslim citizens to their lands of origin. So how in his right mind can Pipes claim to be in the middle?
In the same breathe that Pipes says the “anti-Islam” agitation is growing in the US he admits that the “anti-Islam” bloggers (presumably including Spencer and Geller) have brought an “unsophisticated tone to the debate,” but then nimbly moves to say he shares the “same goals” as them. Double talk anyone? In reality the divide between Pipes and Spencer is a difference without a distinction.
You cannot have your cake and eat it as well. You can’t say that you don’t share in the methodology or beliefs of vociferous anti-Muslims whose goals are to eradicate Islam and strip Muslims of their citizenship but then join them because you have similar goals of “preserving freedom.” That is hypocrisy wrapped up in a contradiction.
In the mean time what is being missed by reporters and journalists in news papers and on TV alike is that these mere “critics” of Islam are at the forefront of a growing, organized anti-Muslim movement. The Park51 “Ground Zero” mosque controversy did not come out of nowhere, it is part of a plan to dig up and spread controversy about Islam and Muslims.
What is surprising is that Michelle Boorstein made no mention of the link between Geller and Spencer and the anti-Muslim movement, especially considering we featured her as an anti-loon in June for asking the question in her blog, “How influential will anti-Muslims become?”
What is the future of the anti-Muslim movement in the United States?
For years there has been a small but passionate group of people concerned with the influence of Islam, and their activism seemed to be largely focused on blogging and lobbying political conservatives. But their presence — and the arguments they raise — seem to be coming into the broader sphere of late.
There’s the fight over a mosque at the Ground Zero site, and this weekend the on-line electronic payment firm PayPal reportedly cut off the anti-Muslim blog Atlas Shrugs, saying it’s a hate site.
Needless to say, this has prompted a roar from Atlas Shrugs supporters who see political bias.
Commentators across the spectrum, from the libertarian Becket Fund to the progressive Media Matters are asking: Where is this anti-Muslim movement going? How significantly will it steer the debate in this country about religious freedom and bias?
Why couldn’t she make that connection about these two leaders in the anti-Muslim movement in this article? Is it a reversal of nomenclature on her part due to pressure from the anti-Muslims? Hopefully she is not kowtowing to pressure.
Boorstein mentions Loonwatch towards the end of her piece (hat tip: Marco). One sentence, in a very obscure paragraph.
A site monitoring the Muslim critics is called Loonwatch. Conspiracy theories on the blogs about murder attempts and bestiality are common. People on both sides say they get death threats and thus can’t disclose where they live.
This paragraph is odd and it is a poor transition from the previous paragraph. Loonwatch does not monitor “Muslim critics” which is what that sentence implies. Muslims and Islam may justifiably be criticized by anyone. We don’t have a problem with that. We monitor anti-Muslims and Islamophobes. The paragraph also doesn’t specifically assign the “conspiracy theories” and “bestiality” to the Spencer and Geller blogs and for that reason is too ambiguous. It leaves the door open for people to think we partake in “conspiracy theories” or talk about “murder attempts” and “bestiality” which we do not.
Boorstein could have used a number of our posts and pieces to highlight how insane it is for the Right-wing to allow these two Muslim haters to rise up to stardom in their ranks. How, in fact they belong on the periphery amongst the fringe, but she chose not to and for that reason her article leaves a lot wanting.
However, I did find the final few sentences of her piece quite revealing,
Asked if he was being deliberately combative and provocative, Spencer chuckled.
“Why not?” he asked. “It’s fun.”
This gives us a glimpse into who Spencer is and what he really is about. He finds the fact that he is dooping Conservatives and others in America by creating controversy funny. It is not at all about being a “serious objective scholar,” it is all about the anti-Muslim crusade.
Update: Michelle Boorstein changed the title of her article it is no longer, In flap over mosque near Ground Zero, conservative writers gaining influence, now it is “The pens of anti-Muslim conservatives impact N.Y.C. mosque debate mightily.” She deserves kudos for that.