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March 21, 2004

Comments

Perhaps we might work toward the establishment of a cross-partisan, nonideological site that catalogues the same subject matter with equal or greater thoroughness, sans the attendant foolishness? There are few places better than LGF in making accessible and public the things that it does; despite Charles Johnson's juvenile behavior, it remains worth reading (for posts if not for comments) for that reason alone. Still, I'm sure it could be done better, and more reputably, than this. Any thoughts?

Perhaps we might work toward the establishment of a cross-partisan, nonideological site that catalogues the same subject matter with equal or greater thoroughness, sans the attendant foolishness?

I, too, would like to encourage such a site. Heck, it doesn't even need to be non-partison: just run by someone who's willing to do some actual investigation of the facts of a given matter, and willing to correct him- or herself when he or she is wrong.

The problem, of course, is to find a blogger willing to take on the task.

despite Charles Johnson's juvenile behavior, it remains worth reading (for posts if not for comments) for that reason alone.

Yup, the unfortunate truth. Which is why I'm also not going to stop reading LGF -- but neither can I remain silent about its errors and prejudices.

I still read Charles but have stayed away from the comments for the most part. A lot of what he's done--the bringing to light of Muslim extremism--has been a valuable public service. Personally, I think he's taken so much abuse from the legions of detractors that he's losing the ability to detect who his allies are. Tacitus could have been a valuable ally. That he chose to respond with ridicule is unfortunate.

Perhaps we might work toward the establishment of a cross-partisan, nonideological site that catalogues the same subject matter ...

Tacitus, I thought that was more or less your site, albeit without the specific focus. (I swear I'm not sucking up when I say that.) The problem, I think, with LGF (and also Atrios' blog) is the degree to which Charles has become a "red meat" blogger who lets commenters set his agenda far too often. Since so many of his commenters are "kill 'em all, let G-d sort 'em out" types, their causticness rubs off on him.

I think any effort to supplant LGF with a blog that offers "good faith" critiques of present-day Islam and sheds light on Islamic extremism has to deal with the commenter problem first, then find a way to tackle a more insidious problem -- the fact that the blogosphere as a whole seems to prefer knee-jerk nastiness about Islam to well-reasoned criticism.

I find LGF quite literally unreadable - not just the comments, but the posts. Any religion has its fanatical adherants, and any fanaticism is dangerous, because it elevates bigotry above either common sense or common feeling.

If someone wanted to do a blog on the dangers of fanatical religion, without the element of anti-Islamic bigotry, that I'd be interested in: but it's precisely the anti-Islamic bigotry that eventually drove me away from Tacitus's site, and what makes LGF unreadable.

I think when you focus on attacking one religion, you are treading on dangerous ground that leads to bigotry in you yourself, and most certainly attracts bigots to the blog.

I think it would be a great idea to have a blog that actually fulfills the mission that LGF is supposed to. Since a lot of the value you're talking about is perceptual, and you're going to want to provide a tremendous contrast both in attitude and knowledge of relevant subjects, I think it would be extremely valuable for one of the maintainers to actually be Muslim or Arabic. Intellectual inconsistency and playing loosely with facts is part and parcel of blogging life; it's the niggling feeling that Mr. Johnson would want to send my Syrian-American family to Camp X-Ray that gets my goat.

An you're right, J, which is why I think a Muslim or Arabic maintainer would be really important, and not just for some wishy-washy feeling of "inclusion." It would let everyone, including bigoted trolls looking for a new bridge to hide under, know that it would be about ways to examine and solve the problems of the Middle East in good faith, not attack any one religion. Whatever the feelings of the maintainer, a blog narrowly devoted to attacking anything is, as an aggregate, naturally biased against that thing.

Mr. Johnson deserves no more free passes from the Blogosphere. It's time to start calling him on his mistakes.

Who's giving him free passes? Everyone knows what the skinny is over at LGF and, if anything, we should just ignore it. As others have said, Charles has worked hard to gain his rabid following and nothing's going to change their minds.

The illogic of the equal-time meme....honestly, Jesurgislac. On the other hand, you are far more palatable than Johnson.

Anyway, some real good suggestions here. The focus of the hypothetical site could fall into several broad categories:

1) Problems within Islam and/or the Muslim world (ie, LGF's current self-appointed mandate -- negative stories).

2) Efforts to reform Islam and/or the Muslim world (positive, solution-oriented stories).

3) Attendant miscellania (stories affecting the subject matter of 1 or 2, eg, a post on Kerry's position on the war on terror, etc.)

Rather than a single, personality-driven site, a stable of bloggers would run the place. Each one would be required to post a standing statement about his/her basic views on the subject matter of the site. For example, I would have a short essay on my fundamental endorsement of the thesis that Islam per se has some flaws that need fixing; a co-poster would have his/her essay on up on how there is no fundamental problem with Islam, and the real troubles stem from X, et al. That way, you know where everyone is coming from.

And yes, a Muslim blogger, or two or three, would be a must. Plus academics. Brian Ulrich comes to mind. Juan Cole, although I doubt he'd jump in. Perhaps Michael Ledeen. The OW crowd. Collounsbury. Aziz Poonawalla. That fellow doing Jihad Watch.

On the one hand, this might create some lack of thematic consistency. On the other hand, it would go far toward making the site a true resource, and avoid the comments-driven, personality-driven phenomenon that has degraded LGF.

We'd need a Scoop platform. And we'd need hosting space. Which means we'd need money. Again, thoughts are appreciated.

Everyone knows what the skinny is over at LGF and, if anything, we should just ignore it.

The problem is, Skip, this ain't so. LGF is frequently cited by the WSJ Online, and linked by InstaPundit and others. It's not being ignored. And these issues are too important to practice selective ignorance.

Rather than a single, personality-driven site, a stable of bloggers would run the place.

This is an excellent idea, Tacitus. And I'd be willing to provide some funding (pay the cost of the bandwidth, at least).

Might as well add a blogger to cover the dangers of xian fundamentalist terror in this country to round things out - David Neiwert might volunteer. And perhaps one of the more responsible anti-Zionist voices (I'm not quite sure who that would be, and anyway Zionism is actually secular - hmm - maybe an anti-settler voice). At which point one might as well call it the Threats from Religion blog.

von>>

Even the most cursory skim of the comments reveals LGF's true colors -- it's a hate site, pure and simple. Maybe it's just me being dumb, but I don't understand how anyone could think otherwise. Its ecosystem ranking and frequent citations show that you're probably right, though.

But again, what's left to say about LGF that hasn't been said before? Glenn Reynolds knows what's up, WSJ online knows what's up, hundreds of other bloggers know what's up, yet they still post links. People have been calling Charles on his mistakes ever LGF's decline started, but they have had no appreciable effect.

Matthew -
"The problem, I think, with LGF (and also Atrios' blog) is the degree to which Charles has become a "red meat" blogger who lets commenters set his agenda far too often."

I hear too much of this. Charles is too frequently portrayed as a victim of his commentors, as if he were a thoughtful and restrained poster driven to extremism and vindictiveness by his uncontrollable fans. This excuse has to stop. Charles is the only person responsible for his posts, his actions, and the maintenance of his site. The problem is Charles. His comentors just make it worse.

"Still, I'm sure it could be done better, and more reputably, than this. Any thoughts?"

I think it could be extremely valuable. However, it would be difficult and fragile. The very mandate of the site (criticisms of certain elements of a particular religion) would unavoidably draw certain personalities, eager to criticize that religion, who would then drive out other personalities. For that reason, I'd err on the side of caution. Probably no comments, though it kills me to say it. Definitely incorporate muslim voices. Heck, even involve people who think there are no problems in Islam at all. As long as that's the ambit of the conversation, it will be constructive.

Death by a thousand cuts may be slow, Skip, but it's still death. Patience.

As for a generalized "danger of religion" blog....well, count me out on that one. Also, I'm not sure how anti-Zionism would be a qualifier here, unless you buy into the notion that one's opinion on or affinity for Israel inherently affects one's ability to be fair or objective on the subject of Islam. This is a prejudice I think we shouldn't pander to. It ought to be enough that we have Muslim voices among the contributors.

I seem to remember a similar idea coming up before, on Tac's site: a Scoop-driven blog for conservatives, sort of a Daily Kos for the reasonable right. I'd read it. I'd participate. But I think we're on to something here as well: there's definitely a need out there for a place which addresses the issues behind Islamic terrorism and radicalism. It would need to ultimately be a solution-oriented environment, instead of just another place to go "look at what them sand-niggers are doing now!"

I think the former blog could very easily be a "parent" site for the latter, except that you'd run the risk of alienating those on the left who can't get past the fact that this is a "conservative" site.

Hmm. I'm most intrigued by the blog-as-informal-think-tank idea.

I am gaining expertise on the mistreatment of women in Muslim West Africa. But I don't know if it really is linked to "Islamism" in any real way. Some of it's nominally justified by Islamic beliefs, but the same stuff often goes on in Christian countries and Christian tribes/ethnic groups in the area. To tie it to Islam might be a cynical attempt on my part to get people on the right to care.

I don't think a "Dangers of Religion" theme makes much sense--as much as I loathe Jerry Fallwell, Ladies Against Women, The Family Research Council et. al, for the most part they want to use the political process to deny the civil rights of people they don't like. They don't want to murder them in their sleep. It's a difference in kind, not just degree.

That said--"Dangers of Islamism" is not really for me. A perfectly fine idea, but not my cup of tea. It degenerates too readily. And I worry too much about what will happen to innocent Muslims, Arab-Americans, Sikhs, South Asians, Arab-Canadians who pass through our airports, Arab-Britons, etc. in the event of another attack. I don't want to contribute something that even indirectly or accidentally predisposes people to support round-ups, mass deportations, worse profiling, more "extraordinary renditions", or whatever else might come their way.*

If it was "Islam and Islamism," though...I am not suggesting feel-good multicultural handholding, just that most of us know very little about this religion & it would be very useful to know more.

*Does this mean I fear John Ashcroft more than Al-Zawahiri, or I think the civil rights crackdown that followed would be the worst thing about another attack? Absolutely not. Just to be clear on that point.

(Has anyone else seen these stories today about Al-Zawahiri claiming to have suitcase nukes? I think he's more likely than not bluffing, but...God. I can't even talk about it.)

It degenerates too readily.

Depends on what you mean by "degenerates," but for the sake of argument, let me note that it doesn't have to. Readily is not inevitably, after all.

Let me also put forth the contention that if people like you do not undertake these activities, then only people like Charles Johnson and the LGFers will.

Color me skeptical -- who's the audience for such a site? Are you aiming for non-Muslims who aren't aware of the fact that there's a strong current of extremism in many contemporary Muslim societies? Because that pool seems to me like it's pretty small. Are you hoping to reach a Muslim audience? I doubt they would be interested in hearing the criticisms of people who are not Muslim, who have little or no direct experience with Islam or Muslims, and who seem ready to believe that Islam itself is irredeemably flawed. Even if all your criticisms were 100% accurate, you'd have no credibility in the communities that matter. It's like, I can call my father a nutcase, but you dern well better not. For the same reason, I rather doubt you'd be able to find any Muslims to join in this venture. Would any of you be likely to join up with, say, a group of European bloggers to help document all the shortcomings of American society?

A blog along these lines that's put together by reform-minded Muslims would be a wonderful thing; but I fear that this particular project would end up just being a way to give right-leaning bloggers a sanitized version of LGF so that they can link to putative examples of Muslim extremism without the taint of obvious prejudice.

However, I'd be happy to be proven wrong...

LGF's substantive points without its regrettable shortcomings would be a public service in itself. As for the community we'd reach, I would think it would be a resource for the same people who currently turn to LGF, MEMRI, et al., for information on Islamic extremism and its context.

But it could be a lot more than that. That's only what it would be if I were doing it alone. But I already have my own site. Add in Muslim voices to defend their faith; add in academics and people in the Middle East; add in people who know as much about positive developments as some of us know about negative: then the site becomes something different. It's not just a forum for pushing a particular point of view. It's a resource on a pressing public issue, with all sides participating and talking.

I would think that would be something pretty helpful.

Let me also put forth the contention that if people like you do not undertake these activities, then only people like Charles Johnson and the LGFers will.

I agree. This is too important to cede to the LGF crew.

Leave a comment on this thread if you're interested in participating.

The idea being kicked around sounds like a very good one, although I am unable to help out with the project.

I do want to respond to something written and copied in passing above: The problem, I think, with LGF (and also Atrios' blog)...

I am a regular reader of Atrios's posts. He does good research and has a knack for illuminating comparisons. (Frankly, I don't find much value in the comments, unless Atrios points to a particularly good one.) Equating Charles Johnson and Atrios is not fair at all; although Atrios can lose his temper, he is not a bigot. And as far as I know, Atrios's commenters are not calling for genocide.

Woeful day that I must say this, but Mithras is right about Atrios. He does not appear to have the same character flaws as Johnson.

Atrios' commenters, on the other hand, can be just as vile a swarm at points.

The difference is palpable between various blogs. There is fundamental frequency of collected posts and posters and often the moderator plays to this audience or clientele.

What we are seeing here is the evolution of the conservative blogosphere. At first it was just a novelty to hear people espouse conservative thoughts and one was satisfied to find an outlet where generally like-minded individuals could converse, but now there is much more availability of conservative thought and one becomes more discriminating. Eventually everyone gravitates to that which is closest to their own fundamental frequency. So the folks who just are pleased to mouth off at the liberals in the media, such as the BBC, will find a place but there are others whose needs are no longer satisfied with such a place and need more - more intellectual debate and give and take.

However, at the same time, one should not get all bent out of shape because you can't order Filet Mignon at McDonald's or that the salad fork isn't chilled to 33 degrees when they give it to you.

Different blogs are necessary and desirable. I would sooner see LGF left out of the debate from this point on and let the good for it to come from creating new blogs that encourage solutions, foster communication, intellectual thought and subsequently greater understanding.

Perspective and balance.

Those two make excellent watchwords for context and action. If LGF did not exist this new idea would never have come into existence. All good things in the world are often the byproduct of negative things. Remember, from the largest dung heap, the fairest lilly grows.

SDAI-Tech1

Consider me tossing my hat in on this new blog idea as a resource, for what that's worth. My time is limited these days, but I'll do what I can--even if that's just joining in as a participant.

I agree that there should be a place that does what LGF used to do (it actually did what we are talking about early on). However I can't agree that David Neiwert would be a good addition to such a place. He is irresponsible in many of the same ways Johnson is. He just doesn't like what he calls 'right wing militia groups' and their supporters--who in his mind include almost every member of the Republican party.

I find KenB's comment on point.

And while Neiwert's views might or might not be useful for the proposed blog, I don't think he's any unfairer to Republicans than say Tacitus is to the Left, and certainly not as unmeasured as some of Tacitus's guest bloggers.

Katherine, I wasn't talking about Fallwell&Co so much as Eric Rudolph, Buford Furrow, The Order, the occasional suicidalist cult, etc.

Woeful day that I must say this, but Mithras is right...

Thanks, Tac. I think. Yes, thanks.

Oh, I meant woe to have to defend Atrios, not woe to acknowledge your rectitude. ;-)

I think Tacitus' idea would be enormously useful if implemented as he suggests; I think that there are problems within mainstream Islam (which have their roots in the cultures of countries rather than the religion itself) that need addressing but it's important that we acknowledge that the terrorist problem is one of extremists within the faith.

If Muslim bloggers could join this initiative, as carpeicthus first suggested above, this would go some way toward the unity many bloggers - Kevin Drum on his new blog, Bird Dog on Tacitus - have recently stressed the need for, and would also show that non-extremist Muslims condemn the violence as much as anyone.

The blogosphere may not be a big part of the world, but it's a microcosm and it's no excuse not to address these issues here just because it may not have *that* big an effect.

I think KenB is dead on, as well...a Muslim voice (or two) in the mix would go a long way toward avoiding a "sanitized" version of LGF, but that poor voice would be open to charges of Uncle Tom-ism. The site would have to be contentious. By that, I mean, if Muslim posters who feel "Islam is fine the way it is" didn't contribute, the site would be a more civilized echo chamber (and perhaps more accurate), but goalwise, it might as well be LGF. The idea that nonMuslims would reach some consensus and then (what?) present it to Muslims, waiting for their gratitude, is rather condescending.

If the site did succeed in attracting intelligent, staunch pro-Muslim defenders, then you'd have something.

Re: sidereal's point about "The problem, I think, with LGF (and also Atrios' blog) is the degree to which Charles has become a "red meat" blogger who lets commenters set his agenda far too often." I fully agree. Charles is totally responsible for the tone of the debate on his site. He's the one with banning authority. The fact that he'll ban a voice like Tacitus's but let other posters spew the idiotic hatred they do is a good indication he's not at all interested in perspective or balance (agree 100% with SDAI-Tech1 on that).

If the site did succeed in attracting intelligent, staunch pro-Muslim defenders, then you'd have something.

We're going to need to compile a wishlist of people we'd like to contribute. Post here, or e-mail to me and Von. Feel free to nominate yourselves. I certainly will.

We're going to need to compile a wishlist of people we'd like to contribute. Post here, or e-mail to me and Von. Feel free to nominate yourselves. I certainly will.

I will certainly read and comment on such a site, Tacitus, but I mean Muslim pro-Muslim defenders...people who actually feel the problem is not with the religion, but rather the perversion of it. A few voices from that corner would give it more integrity.

Aren't you one of those people? How about Aziz Poonawalla? Adil Farooq? We need names -- I'm open to suggestions. I don't think it's impossible to find such individuals.

Aren't you one of those people? How about Aziz Poonawalla? Adil Farooq? We need names -- I'm open to suggestions. I don't think it's impossible to find such individuals.

I will actually put out some feelers (most of my Muslim friends are immigrants and a bit self-conscious about their English and a bit wary of speaking out too loudly), but I'm not sure when you ask "Aren't you one of those people" if we're on the same page. I'm not Muslim, and my opinion would not serve the same purpose as that of a defender of Islam who is Muslim...further, I'm pro-reform (just with an emphasis on supporting grassroots efforts, and not letting the rhetoric turn the whole mess into a one-sided referendum on Islam that prompts Muslims who feel threatened to side with the idiots or murderers), and because I'm pro-reform, again, my opinion would not serve the same purpose as someone who's not pro-reform (but intelligent).

Obviously, I (personally) hope that an anti-reform voice would be eventually convinced, but I would also hope that pro-reform voices would listen and be open to considering the opposing point of view, as well.

I'm happy to contribute and work on this project, but I don't want to be considered "The Defender of Islam." I'm not qualified (not that I let that stop me from playing referee, mind you).

I'm sure she's really busy with her own projects, but I'd at least invite Irshad Manji. She'd be an awesome contributor.

I want to toss out a suggestion - and this is one that, in light of the issue that bore this thread to the point it is currently at, will leave a bad taste in some mouths:

Let charles participate - but in a regulated fashion.

Dont think im crazy - im not the only person here who finds an enormous utility on his site - and im not the only regular LGF reader on this site - im also not exactly a regular LGF poster - nor are many of the people who used to be 2 years ago or so.

Find a way to allow him to participate - he will - and he will follow the rules set down by everyone else (or maybe he wont participate ??)

By asking him to participate you are giving him a way to get beyond the fact that he has taken so much heat not just from people that should be his allies, but from the "moodbats" as he calls them on the other side. Would there be utility in doing more than replacing him as a source? Could he be fostered from a position of implied friendship?

Think it over and flame me ;) Im not kidding about this.

Dammit, screwed up the HTML. Before Mahmood it should be

Salam Pax in Iraq , Mahmood in Bahrain

(If an administrator, could clean up tthe HTML in the comment above using the text here, and then delete this comment, I would appreciate it)

Thanks for all those great links Ikram!

Bender for Secretary of State!!! I think you're on to something...its longer-term effects on LGF might be positive as well...

I admit to being very intrigued by the idea, on the strength of my esteem of Tac alone (though our areas of disagreement are perhaps perfectly characterized by our stances on the Mulsim footbal team name issue).

I think that I would be interested initially to see how it plays out. And to play a role in shaping the overall direction it goes.

I'd really like to see some kind of simple list of purpose and goals before I could completely commit.

Bingo. I mean, it's a big world; you can even find people willing to be a token moderate for Tacitus.

But to be subjected to the LGF filth, day in, day out, day in, day out, the constant unrelenting hostility and willful misperceptions about your faith and culture; and *then* to have people (ostensibly on your side) try to find the small iota of non-filth that might lurk in the hearts of these goombas... well, good luck trying to find that sort of masochist, if that's the way you want to do it, Tac.

These people are like Holocaust deniers. The only appropriate response is lock and load. And I really don't have much use for people who appease them, or try to appeal to their better sensibilities. You know who you are.

C.

"Token" status is more often than not a choice of the perceived token in question. I can assure you that no one would be asked to participate merely to provide social cover for the others; I can also assure you that participants would have to make their own way and establish their own voice. We ought to treat one another with civility and consideration -- this does not translate into a slackening of viewpoints.

In any case, the subtext of your comment, Ikram, is that viewpoints like mine and Ledeen's are not worth your (and your fellow travelers) engaging. This is deeply wrong. Withdrawal from the arena resolves nothing and promotes nothing, except perhaps intellectual isolationism. You do not have to accept my POV as valid; but you ought to accept it as reasoned, and hence capable of engagement.

we *are* going to need a filter on, or at least a cmmon-agreed-upon dictionary page for, terms like "fellow traveler", "liberal", etc. if we want to avoid pointless arguments on tangential semantics.

otherwise the subtexts will have subtexts.

As per Carlos's comment, it's a little ridiculous seeing the presumptions of insincerity here. I suppose by this logic, von, Trickster, fabius, and democritus are my "token" left-of-center voices.

Well, you can ask them how they feel about that.

Stop looking at this as "Tacitus and Friends Take on Islam." Start looking at it as a multi-voice, multi-viewpoint, multi-participant forum on Islam.

Well, there you go again, Tac. "Fellow travellers". There's a nice neutral conciliatory phrase, nudge nudge wink wink. Say no more, LGF, say no more.

Do you even know you're doing it?

C.

Carlos is dubious. Noted. Moving on.

As per Carlos's comment, it's a little ridiculous seeing the presumptions of insincerity here.

I call 'em like I see 'em, Tac. And you're going to have to do a lot better than that, if you want to be considered sincere about this.

C.

"The only appropriate response is lock and load."

And you gripe about "fellow traveler."

Carlos is dubious. Noted. Moving on.

Can I butt in here?

I don't think Tacitus' view is particularly helpful in that most Muslims would probably reject most of what he writes because of a few sweeping generalizations he's fond of, but I do find him sincere.

The idea that only "sincere" voices contributing would make the site valuable begs for a definition of "sincere" because Tacitus clearly believes what he writes. Perhaps a good pre-new-blog exercise would be to express exactly what about Tacitus's (or any critic's) view strikes some folks as "insincere." What exactly does that mean?

The accusation of insincerity comes in the assumption that I merely want to construct a mirror-universe LGF to advance my own viewpoints with the addition of a few contrary-thinking "tokens" to provide a fig leaf so I and my own fellow travelers can claim we're inclusive, open-minded, etc. Carlos, et al., clearly feel that those last adjectives are immensely inapplicable.

There are two rebuttals to this:

  • Look at how I run my own site.
  • Von is co-sponsoring this! Von! Cripes, people.
  • Why the frell would I have suggested including Collounsbury if this was my intent?

    Thank you for your time and attention.

  • Three rebuttals.

    I'm criticizing you, Tac, *because* I've seen how you run your site. It's like a LaRouche pamphlet. Farragos of misinformation, thinly coded bigotry, tough talk from weak minds, et cetera. So, no, I don't trust your protests of good will here. After you get your own house in order, maybe. Maybe. But from where I sit -- and I'm about as far as a 'fellow traveller' as you can get -- you're only one step up in the food chain from LGF.

    C.

    clearly I've missed some epic battles between Carlos and Tacitus...any links for the uninitiated?

    Thanks for providing links to the posts you had in mind, Carlos. You mind supporting those accusations a tad better?

    One other suggestion for a Muslim poster: Riverbend. She's intelligent, articulate, an /extremely/ good and evocative writer, and is an Iraqi with very good insights on what's going on there.

    Whether she /would/ participate is another matter, since she's not happy with the Iraq War or the occupation. But neither is she sympathetic to the terrorists and insurgents that are killing people, and she loathes Muslim extremists.

    Leave a comment on this thread if you're interested in participating.

    I, known here as Anarch, do solemnly swear to lurk. And occasionally make pointless comments when time and intellect permit.

    w00t!

    In seriousness, I'd be happy to be along for the ride as a contributor, but a) my time is sparse and growing more limited by the day, and b) my specific knowledge of Islam, Islamicism, and Islamic countries is woefully limited, thus reducing my effectiveness in any such debate. von, Tac and the rest are right, though, that this would be an incredibly important resource and one which I think would make a tangible difference to the debate.

    edward - I think that as long as the ground rules could be agreed upon - so that what happened in the comments on LGF NEVER EVER happens - the act of inviting charles (within the framework of the rules yet to be provided) would have a wide effect on his readers.

    a few possible results:

    1) he decides to play ball, and follows through

    result: maybe we can un-do what fighting his personal battle for the last 3 years has done to him as a person.

    2) he decides to play ball, and fouls up

    result: no big deal - were just where we are now - but your site wont get exposed to the people you truely need to to be exposed to... his readers. I dont remember if it was meteor, or tacitus who suggested that it was of vital importance to try to moderate your extremests, well - the best way to moderate my extremests is to try to get the ones that will to participate in the discussion that you all are proposing - with the (pardon me.. ) our ground rules as opposed to Charle's ground rules.

    3) he doesnt play ball at all....

    well hahaha... that would be too bad wouldnt it. I am in agreement that some of what Charles has done has been more harmful than positive, especially in light of what we are fighting (sorry all those out there that arnt fighting it!)

    I cannot bring myself to ignore LGF simply because of the more appaling posts - there is too much important information on the site. It has simply gotten too out of hand and distasteful. It has become a parody (to some degree) of the same thing it is trying to fight against.

    Asking charles to participate is important. He has done allot. Asking him to participate in a different voice than he does on LGF, and to participate in the kind of conversations that more typically occur on Tacitus' site will give us a chance to contiune to hear his voice, with the option to not see it in the way he uses it on his own site.

    I really want to help him moderate. I think the ideas that initially forged the suggestion for this site make it that much more important.

    Von is co-sponsoring this! Von! Cripes, people.

    In meetings all day (and have no time) but, for what it's worth: I do indeed plan on co-sponsering this. We need to get a dialog going among people of good faith, intelligence and sincerety.

    ....I've seen how you run your site. It's like a LaRouche pamphlet.

    Uh....well, okay. Hm.

    ....I'm about as far as a 'fellow traveller' as you can get....

    Yeah, I'm seeing that.

    clearly I've missed some epic battles between Carlos and Tacitus.

    Well, no. I think he's posted at my site before, but I've never had an exchange I can recall with him. Eh. Shades of the long-gone Rick in Davis and Adam in MA: bitter, paranoid, vindictive. Over nothing.

    Okay, we can invite Charles Johnson. Chances of him participating are zero, but it's worth a shot. Good idea.

    So, no, I don't trust your protests of good will here. After you get your own house in order, maybe. Maybe.

    Carlos, God knows that Tacitus doesn't need me to defend him. Still, for what it's worth: I think you're completely off-the-wall in your criticisms of Tacitus's site. I have had significant disagreements with Tacitus, yet I would never characterize his site in the manner that you do. (I also tend to be a shade or two to the left of him on most issue.)

    There are several orders of magnitude between LGF and the run-of-the-mill right wing site, and several more orders of magnitude between the run-of-the-mill right wing site and Tacitus. Tacitus is one of the few blogs that remain committed to civil and open debate. And it has featured, on more than one occasion, beautifully-written and -reasoned pieces by Tacitus and his guest commentators.*

    Just my 2 cents.

    Now, back to my meetings. Really.

    von

    *'Course, sometimes Bird Dog (a guest poster) can't help himself and goes and writes a partisan screed. But it's a well-written and well-reasoned partisan screed.

    1. You are going to be hard-pressed to find people who agree on even the very basic definitions. (There are several people on Ikram's list, for example, who see terrorism in Israel as perfectly justified, while many other people mentioned don't. I am not stating that one view is better than the other. But would you cover it?)

    Mainly, your problem is the following: If you take a group of people who make it their goal to find out things about Islam, they will inevitably either go anti-Islamic or become apologists. This has nothing to do with Islam per se, it has to do with submersing yourself in topic X. After a while, everything begins to look like a nail.

    Tactitus, it sounds like you're moving toward Winds of Change.

    'Course, sometimes Bird Dog (a guest poster) can't help himself and goes and writes a partisan screed. But it's a well-written and well-reasoned partisan screed.

    I second that, and that's the reason I like reading Bird Dog's posts - I may not agree with them, but he demonstrates there are important and valid reasons he believes what he does. This applies to the proposed blog: knowing that people who disagree with you are reasoned and reasonable is one big step towards understanding.

    I really like what I'm hearing.

    How can I help?

    'Course, sometimes Bird Dog (a guest poster) can't help himself and goes and writes a partisan screed. But it's a well-written and well-reasoned partisan screed.

    Uh, yeah. The "John Kerry's French!" post was a masterpiece. So was the "Kim Jong Il wants Kerry to win!" one. He's done much better lately, but his average is still pretty low.

    I've accepted that Bird Dog's a permanent fixture at Tacitus, but that doesn't mean I have to think highly of the posts he makes.

    thanks Tacitus. It would be bad not to at least try (which is really all everyone on this board wants him to do -- try to think things through, try to discuss, etc etc...)

    Maybe he will suprise us? Hopefully he wont be too far gone to see the value in what is being proposed?

    Then again, maybe hes too bitter ;( Its ashame that he now bundles all criticism into one bracket - especially considering some of the other people in the world that criticise him.

    On the other hand - what we saw on LGF (between the supporters of this site, and Charles) is bound to happen on the site being proposed - unless the rules of discourse include such simple elements as: be polite, accept criticism or respond to it intelligently, and of course, if you cant do the above, say you cant, and just shut up;)

    No epic battles; sorry, Edward. I've always heard good things about Tacitus, but only by repute. Honesty, courtesy, et cetera. The reality, the level of _pandering_ there, came as an unpleasant shock.

    And I don't think he realizes it. I *hope* he doesn't realize it.

    Perhaps I came at a bad time, around March 11th. But a blogger with a reputation for reason and engagement has to maintain reason, engagement, et cetera in the bad times as well as the good. Otherwise, what's the point?

    C.

    Examples, examples, examples. Otherwise, what's the point?

    Dear von,

    I was reading along in your critique of Charles Johnson and LGF and I was surprised to see an article of mine linked both to the words "gets"
    and "prejudice for reason" in the passage "Little Green Footballs, however, fails in its claimed purpose. It consistently gets the facts
    wrong; it frequently substitutes prejudice for reason..."

    I wonder if you would be so kind as to let me know what you consider to be inaccurate or prejudiced in my article. I have studied Islam for 23 years and written 3 books about it. I don't share the view that it is a religion of peace, although obviously there are millions of peaceful Muslims. I do not believe that to hold this position is ipso facto bigotry or racism.

    In any case, I am prepared to document any and all assertions I have made in this article and any of my published writings.

    Full disclosure: Charles built my own site, www.jihadwatch.org.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Regards
    Robert Spencer
    Author of "Onward Muslim Soldiers" (Regnery) and "Islam Unveiled" (Encounter)

    Not that it disqualifies your opinions Robert, but out of curiosity, are you Muslim?

    If it doesn't, why do you ask?

    It doesn't disqualify, but it does illuminate.

    Someone who spends 23 years studying a religion they don't practice would have a more objective approach than someone who does practice...not necessarily more clear understanding, mind you, but at least their study would be presumed to be intellectual curiosity for its own sake, not a theological exploration for life application's sake.

    Thank you. That's perfectly reasonable. I am not a Muslim, and it is indeed intellectual curiosity that spurred me on. I first read the Qur'an in 1980, and found it utterly fascinating, although it did not move me to convert. I began to read Hadith, Tafsir, and fiqh, and the fascination grew.

    Pretty neat to have Robert Spencer here.

    Von's a good guy -- if he doesn't answer swiftly, it's because work is calling him away.

    Thank you, Tacitus. I am concerned about this not just out of being thin-skinned -- I get hundreds of ad hominem attacks all the time. But I have never been successfully challenged on the facts I have presented. For my article to be presented here apparently as an obvious example of inaccuracy and prejudice -- from people who profess to understand the gravity of Islamic terrorism -- is something I find puzzling in the extreme, and I hope it will be corrected.

    Best
    RS

    Thanks for the clarification Robert.

    I don't think it's easy to write on this subject. In fact I think it's remarkably difficult because as Angua noted above in this thread, it tends to make people either "anti-Islamic or...apologists."

    I personally believe it's possible to take a firm pro-reform stance, but not cross over into criticism that targets the nonviolent faithful unduly. Even assuming that they could do more to halt the violence, this criticism will not contribute to their willingness to criticize themselves or their leaders. As KenB noted above "I can call my father a nutcase, but you dern well better not."

    I get called anti-Islamic all the time. It is an empty charge. If I didn't love many aspects of Islam and Islamic culture, I wouldn't have studied it all these years. But all the beauty in the world doesn't eradicate jihad ideology from its core, and that's what I am about. The "anti-Muslim" and "bigot" charges are favorite tactics of American Muslim advocacy groups, because they know that nothing can be worse in America than to be called a racist, and many will stop listening to someone branded as one.

    Anyone who bothers to read my books, particularly "Onward Muslim Soldiers," and web postings will see me again and again call on moderate Muslims to take the initiative to reform Islam by definitively acknowledging -- and rejecting -- the jihad ideology that gives rise to fanaticism and terrorism. I invite any Muslim who does this to join our efforts.

    But deception is not reform, and many self-proclaimed moderates proclaim that Islam is peaceful without admitting that the elements of it that terrorists use even exist. I find this disingenuous -- at least.

    Anyway, as for "I can call my father a nutcase, but you dern well better not," I like that phrase. But what if nutcase father is threatening others physically, and son stands idly by? Then I think I must take it upon myself to call father a nutcase -- and I have done so.

    yrs
    R

    Here's an example:

    I have argued that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, initially connected only on an arguable conceptual level, are now inseparable parts of the same campaign. The inability to recognize this -- and the concurrent inability to grasp that defeat in one arena heartens and directly aids the enemy in the other -- is a surefire sign of one's politics overriding one's sense.

    What a beautiful example of engagement there. If Tac's opinion isn't recognized as the truth, then it must be because politics is overriding the other person's sense. Honesty! Courtesy! Fairmindedness!

    Lordy. You'd be laughed off of Usenet in ten minutes.

    And the sense is merely a LGF commonplace, tarted up in fine velvet. R*ds the same; people who disagree stupid &/or treasonous.

    What's the difference between you and them again? Oh yeah, the *style*.

    There's about a millimeter's difference between "existential foe" and "enemies of our blood". Do you really want the line to be that thin?

    C.

    Who agrees 100% with any blog? Might as well just add your own thoughts and not make any inter-blogger politics more important than the blogs.

    A supportable factual assertion -- which is not to say an inarguable factual assertion -- is "like a LaRouche pamphlet....[a farrago] of misinformation, thinly coded bigotry, [and/or] tough talk from weak minds"? Huh.

    You'd be laughed off of Usenet in ten minutes.

    Heh. Well, you do make me smile. Certainly I'm bombing at alt.carlos.paranoia.

    I can envision quite a site. A map of the world in which the Muslim world is mapped and key blogging representatives from as many different Muslim nations would be marked so as to give as many different local viewpoints. It would be great if there was access from the site to a translated Qur'an.

    Another interesting feature might be to get bloggers from Muslim communities in Europe and elsewhere and get their POV and let them air their grievances in reverse - prejudice, discrimination etc. which they feel from others in their community, (including perhaps the government)

    By making the site as balanced as possible, you would not just have a watered down LGF and you might find more Muslims globally who would love to share their views on such a site.

    I don't think such a "big picture" site exists and if it did, I would have added it to favorites long ago.

    Fostering change from within (on both sides) to reach greater understanding should be the goal of such a site. By turning it into a real global gathering would give it greater credibility and lend towards seeing things in perspectives not usually presented.

    SDAI-Tech1

    PS
    If one invited posts in multiple languages, one would really have quite a unique site and foster communication from those who do not speak English well enough to feel capable of debate or commenting. I don't know what the state of the art is in translation tools, but a site which literally was multi-lingual would truly give greater credibility and freedom. Some folks may be inclined to distrust anyone speaking just English.

    What on earth is an 'asserted factual position'? You posted a belief, not a fact, and you were being intellectually dishonest in presenting it as the only moral, intelligent point of view.

    And, you know, I think you know it.

    C.

    A supportable factual assertion -- which is not to say an inarguable factual assertion -- is "like a LaRouche pamphlet....[a farrago] of misinformation, thinly coded bigotry, [and/or] tough talk from weak minds"? Huh.

    Where's the factual assertion? And how do you get "not inarguable" from what you said? You pretty explicitly said that it wasn't arguable. (At least, not by anybody with sense.)

    Tacitus, I'm hoping the term fellow traveler is not intended pejoritively. If you don't like the names I provided (and I've got more), these fellow travelers need not be contacted.

    But if you do go thru the list, don't expect much of a response if goal is an LGF without the embittered and increasingly paranoid Charles Johnson. I would bet that most would be quite happy that CJ is discrediting his particular worldview -- its a worldview that ought to be discredited.

    And Tac, you are correct in saying that I think certain viewpoints are not worth engaging, like Ledeen's and CJ's (note that I am engaging you -- this comment is engagement). I don't just disagree with CJ's paranoia or dishonesty, I disagree with the mission of LGF itself (some sort of misguided Paul Revere; the Muslims are coming, the Muslims are coming .)

    I wouldn't participate in a LGF style blog about the US, where every day a new post about evil Americans (factual posts, cherrypicked) was posted. Or evil westerners. Or evil Jews. I wouldn't participate even to disagree, because my presence would give legitimacy to the other, loony, viewpoints expressed.

    (And participation does confer legitimacy. Frex, Doug Muir's presence on your blog has given me a renewed interest in your views.)

    Tacitus, you also said

    Stop looking at this as "Tacitus and Friends Take on Islam." Start looking at it as a multi-voice, multi-viewpoint, multi-participant forum on Islam.

    OK. That's fine. I'll take it as a blog-description. But what's lacking (to me) is a raison d'etre. Most blogs are light entertainment. Some are therapy. Some advocacy. And a few are partisan (e.g. dailykos). What niche will this blog fill? Why does the world need a multi-user forum on Islam?

    Why does the world need a multi-user forum on Islam?

    Let's see, some of the greatest conflicts in the world right now are due to a lack of understanding and communication between east and west - and that goes both ways.

    Is that a good enough reason?

    Robert:

    Thank you for responding. My criticism was leveled at Mr. Johnson's portrayal of your article, as well as the comments of his posters. I would not characterize your article in the same manner that Mr. Johnson or his commentators have, and thus did not (and will not) criticize your article in the same manner as I have criticized Little Green Footballs.

    That said, there are two links, and, accordingly, two issues:

    (1) With respect to the term "gets": The statement "A fundamental element of Islamic culture is an implacable belief in its own superiority" is inaccurate to the extent that presumes that this is some unique attribute of Islam, and thus explains the so-called "paranoid mentality" upon which you and Charles comment. Frankly, a belief in the superiority of one's religion is an attribute of every religion; indeed, there would be no religion without such a belief. Suggesting that it is unique to Islam, as you and Charles do, is inaccurate.

    Now, that said, I frankly did not intend to link that particular post at the word "get". Although I think that your article is inaccurate for the reason stated above (and others), I actually think the inaccuracies relatively minor. I'll eliminate the "get" link as soon as I'm through with this comment.

    Second, with respect to the linked phrase "prejudice for reason": This link was intended -- in part because of the inaccuracy set forth above. In my opinion, the view that Islam contains a unique belief in its own superiority (i.e., a belief not shared with other religions) abandons reason for prejudice.*

    But that's not all. LGF exacerbates the problem by focusing on the portion of your article that contains the most significant overgeneralizations regarding Islam. Earlier and later in your article, you indicate that your criticisms mostly** regard Orthodox Islam. This context is missing in LGF's retelling; instead, LGF (mis?)uses your criticism as a broad assault against all Muslims.

    Looking forward to your reply,

    von

    *I understand that others may have divergent views, and welcome the debate.

    **I would suggest, however, that your article's statement -- unhighlighted by Charles -- that "[f]or what bridges of genuine trust can be built with people who view the world from this perspective?" is problematic. Again, it's not clear if you're speaking of all Muslims, or merely a category thereof.

    What on earth is an 'asserted factual position'?

    Beats me. Who's using the phrase besides you?

    Anyway, if you're reduced to nitpicking this one point, I think we can declare your earlier bombastic attack dead.

    Where's the factual assertion?

    First sentence.

    You pretty explicitly said that it wasn't arguable. (At least, not by anybody with sense.)

    I don't think that common sensibility will lead one to argue with this assertion. But I don't preclude the possibility wholesale.

    Tacitus, I'm hoping the term fellow traveler is not intended pejoritively.

    Ikram: March 22, 2004 12:12 PM

    You've really got to move past this.

    I get called anti-Islamic all the time. It is an empty charge. If I didn't love many aspects of Islam and Islamic culture, I wouldn't have studied it all these years. But all the beauty in the world doesn't eradicate jihad ideology from its core, and that's what I am about.

    Robert, with this in mind, I apologize if I've offended you. My critique is based solely on your article and LGF's selected quote therefrom.

    "Where's the factual assertion?"

    First sentence.

    All I can say is that you and I have widely divergent opinions as to what constitutes a factual assertion.

    "You pretty explicitly said that it wasn't arguable. (At least, not by anybody with sense.)"

    I don't think that common sensibility will lead one to argue with this assertion. But I don't preclude the possibility wholesale.

    That's all well and good, but that sentiment is not to be found in what you wrote.

    Dear von:

    "My criticism was leveled at Mr. Johnson's portrayal of your article, as well as the comments of his posters."

    Obviously I can't speak for either Charles or the posters. But I didn't see that he made much of any comment on the article. So I suppose you mean the paragraphs of the article that he chose to post?

    "(1) With respect to the term "gets": The statement 'A fundamental element of Islamic culture is an implacable belief in its own superiority' is inaccurate to the extent that presumes that this is some unique attribute of Islam, and thus explains the so-called 'paranoid mentality' upon which you and Charles comment."

    May I ask where exactly you see in the sentence I wrote any statement that this is some unique attribute of Islam?

    "Suggesting that it is unique to Islam, as you and Charles do, is inaccurate."

    Please specify exactly where I did that. I was referring to the power this idea has in the Islamic world, which in no way depends on this idea being unique in Islam.

    "In my opinion, the view that Islam contains a unique belief in its own superiority (i.e., a belief not shared with other religions) abandons reason for prejudice.*"

    That may be true, and may be worth arguing. But the thing is, I never actually said it.

    "But that's not all. LGF exacerbates the problem by focusing on the portion of your article that contains the most significant overgeneralizations regarding Islam."

    Please specify any other "overgeneralizations," and I will document them or explain them as above.

    "Earlier and later in your article, you indicate that your criticisms mostly** regard Orthodox Islam. This context is missing in LGF's retelling; instead, LGF (mis?)uses your criticism as a broad assault against all Muslims."

    Actually, the very sentence with which you initially took issue refers to "Islamic culture." While I have written a great deal about orthodox Islam, this article has little to do with it, and much more to do with cultural attitudes.

    "**I would suggest, however, that your article's statement -- unhighlighted by Charles -- that '[f]or what bridges of genuine trust can be built with people who view the world from this perspective?' is problematic. Again, it's not clear if you're speaking of all Muslims, or merely a category thereof."

    Please see above in re "Islamic culture."

    Cordially,
    RS

    I'm not sure I can put qualifiers in all things for all occasions. There will always be the Carlos, the Ikram, et al., to take offense at something. If you want to argue that I phrased something poorly or too heatedly, I'm amenable to that. I'm not, though, claiming possession of absolute truth.

    I'm not sure I can put qualifiers in all things for all occasions. There will always be the Carlos, the Ikram, et al., to take offense at something.

    Sweet Jesus, Tac, no one's asking you to put qualifiers in all things for all occasions. Yes, some people will always find a way to be offended by something you say. (Although, frankly, you're all wrong if you think Carlos is one of those people. He's, um, tenacious when it comes to arguing with people he disagrees with, but he's ultimately fair-minded.) But re-read what you wrote: there aren't any qualifiers in it.

    If you want to argue that I phrased something poorly or too heatedly, I'm amenable to that. I'm not, though, claiming possession of absolute truth.

    Then don't write like you are.

    "Robert, with this in mind, I apologize if I've offended you. My critique is based solely on your article and LGF's selected quote therefrom."

    Many thanks.
    RS

    Robert:

    Thanks. I think it's fair to say that the following exchange reflects where our opinions of your article begin to diverge:

    Von: "In my opinion, the view that Islam contains a unique belief in its own superiority (i.e., a belief not shared with other religions) abandons reason for prejudice.*"

    RS: That may be true, and may be worth arguing. But the thing is, I never actually said it.

    But here's what you do say (quoted on LGF):

    A fundamental element of Islamic culture is an implacable belief in its own superiority. This idea is rooted in the Qur’an and Islam: the revelation to Muhammad, according to orthodox Muslim belief, is the final and perfect revelation from the one true God. It corrects and abrogates all previous revelations, including the Torah and Gospel that form the foundation of the culture of the non-Muslim West. The Jews and Christians who remain in the world after the time of Muhammad are renegades who have rejected this final revelation out of corruption and malice. At certain points in the Middle Ages, this Muslim self-understanding meshed quite well with the realities of the world: a unified Muslim empire encroached inexorably upon a Christendom riven by squabbles and overmatched in both military might and technology.

    It appears that you're now drawing a distinction between Islam and Islamic culture. This distinction, however, is not apparent from your article; to the contrary, you refer to Islam as a necessary component of your criticism ("This idea is rooted in the Qur’an and Islam").

    I view this point as kinda fundamental to my criticism of your criticism. Please advise me how I've misread you. (And I understand that you may have -- as well all do -- expressed yourself imperfectly. If that's the case, then let's move on to the next disagreement. I'm interested in debating issues, not (actual or perceived) failures of language.)

    Ping-Pong. Ping-Pong. Semantics 101

    Scene: a fast food restaurant counter. A little old woman wearing a shawl approaches the counter with two buns in her hands.

    Little old lady: "Where's the beef?"

    Two things, Von:

    1. You still have not brought forth any example of my saying, in your words, that Islam's belief in its own superiority is "a belief not shared with other religions."

    2. The key to the Islam/Islamic culture distinction and how it relates to my article is this: ideas may be rooted in the Qur'an and Islam and not be prominent or influential in Islamic culture. For example, the Qur'an teaches that Jesus is the Word of God and was born of a virgin, and several ahadith add that he was sinless and will return at the end of the world. None of these things are asserted for Muhammad. But in Islamic culture, for a variety of reasons, Muhammad has a much more exalted position than Jesus. These assertions about Jesus are rooted in the Qur'an and Islam, but are not influential in Islamic culture.

    The belief in Islamic superiority is, by contrast, both rooted in the Qur'an and Islam and also operative in Islamic culture. It is hardly, as you put it, a "broad assault on all Muslims" to point this out, and I think that your assertion that it is is based on certain assumptions about what I am saying -- such as that the Islamic idea of superiority is unique -- that are quite inaccurate, and based on nothing that I have actually written.

    You still have not brought forth any example of my saying, in your words, that Islam's belief in its own superiority is "a belief not shared with other religions."

    How else do you read your article? Your point is that a "fundamental aspect" of Islam's character is its belief in its own superiority. You then cite this belief (and little else) as explanation for the conspiracy theories that (admittedly) run rampant in the Arab world. (A world that contains significant non-Moslem communities, I note.)

    Would you state that a "fundamental aspect" of Christianities' character is its belief in its own superiority?

    Would you state that a "fundamental aspect" of Buddhism's character is its belief in its own superiority?

    Would you state that a "fundamental aspect" of Judiaism's character is its belief in its own superiority?

    Etc.

    Either you're focusing on a unique aspect of Islam (at least, as Islam is expressed today), or you've chosen an awful strange way to make whatever point you're attempting to make.

    von

    p.s. And, again, note that my primary criticism is of Charles' portrayal of your article, not the article itself. Still, I welcome the exchange -- things are better (usually) when there's an exchange.

    The belief in Islamic superiority is, by contrast, both rooted in the Qur'an and Islam and also operative in Islamic culture.

    Incidentally, I take your point in this (without necessarily agreeing with it). But you've essentially described "Islamic culture" as indistinquishable from "Islam-as-it's-practiced today."

    "How else do you read your article? Your point is that a 'fundamental aspect' of Islam's character is its belief in its own superiority. You then cite this belief (and little else) as explanation for the conspiracy theories that (admittedly) run rampant in the Arab world."

    Actually not. Read the article again. That is the lead sentence of the paragraph, but much of the point about the genesis of the conspiracy theories is the ideas that Christians and Jews are scheming liars. This is related to, but distinct from, the idea of Islam's superiority: it would be perfectly possible to believe in one's own superiority without thinking of others as scheming liars.

    "(A world that contains significant non-Moslem communities, I note.)"

    Do you really think I am unaware of this? My family is from the Muslim world. I have written extensively about the plight of non-Muslims in Islamic societies, as Islamic law denies them equality of rights and dignity. Before you assume that these statements emanate from prejudice or bigotry, I would ask you to study the laws of dhimmitude, which are encapsulated in brief at the upper-left hand corner of my website page http://jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/.

    "Would you state that a 'fundamental aspect' of Christianities' character is its belief in its own superiority?"

    Yes, but I would say further that this belief is no longer a significant aspect of post-Christian Western culture.

    "Would you state that a 'fundamental aspect' of Buddhism's character is its belief in its own superiority?"

    I'm sorry; I don't know very much about Buddhism. But it wouldn't surprise me if it were.

    "Would you state that a 'fundamental aspect' of Judiaism's character is its belief in its own superiority?"

    Yes, I believe so, but since Judaism is not a proselytizing religion, this belief expresses itself in far different ways from how it does in the Islamic world.

    "Either you're focusing on a unique aspect of Islam (at least, as Islam is expressed today), or you've chosen an awful strange way to make whatever point you're attempting to make."

    As I said above, read it again. Conspiracy mongering is not based on the superiority per se, but on the beliefs in Christian and Jewish craftiness and deception. As well as on many other things, of course. I never intended this article to be a definitive study of the conspiracy phenomenon, and never presented it as such. Daniel Pipes has written far better on this.

    "p.s. And, again, note that my primary criticism is of Charles' portrayal of your article, not the article itself. Still, I welcome the exchange -- things are better (usually) when there's an exchange."

    I generally get involved in these things against my better judgment. However, even though I think you are reading a great deal into my article that isn't there, and drawing inaccurate conclusions about my intentions as a result, I appreciate your not resorting to invective in this exchange -- as so many do.

    RS


    Posted by: von | March 22, 2004 06:54 PM

    The belief in Islamic superiority is, by contrast, both rooted in the Qur'an and Islam and also operative in Islamic culture.

    Incidentally, I take your point in this (without necessarily agreeing with it). But you've essentially described "Islamic culture" as indistinquishable from "Islam-as-it's-practiced today."

    Posted by: von | March 22, 2004 06:57 PM

    Apologies: After my signoff "RS" in the above message I inadvertently left portions of your earlier messages that I had pasted in. This computer stuff is still tough for me. My Royal portable is still downstairs, ready to go.

    100

    ....Carlos...[is] ultimately fair-minded.

    Optimism is good.

    Then don't write like you are.

    As per advised.

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