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August 27, 2011
What I Got Wrong On The Aga Khan Matter
Robert Spencer has a post insulting me, which, who cares?, but also rebutting more Daniel Stern's claims about the Geller/Spencer charges in the "Dhimmi Teachers" matter.
I still think they are wrong, for reasons I'll lay out, but first, I need to correct something I said.
Robert Spencer is wrong when he says that I, and David Stein before me, misunderstood what "the curriculum" was. No, not in the way he means. Geller and Spenser want to call the seminar material taught to teachers "the curriculum;" I always understood that that was not what Stein was talking about. Stein was talking about a curriculum, or lesson plan, by a teacher who'd attended that seminar, prepared for his students -- his point was "if this is the end product of what came out of that seminar, it sure wasn't dhimmi."
But I did refer to it incorrectly as "the curriculum" by the definite article -- "the curriculum," as David Stern initially had.
That "the" is important, because there is a big difference between "the curriculum" -- the official, board-approved curriculum being taught to all students -- and "a curriculum" -- the lesson plan of one teacher who attended the program.
If this were indeed "the curriculum," this would be the slam-dunk I thought it was. But it's not. It's just one of many different lesson plans, prepared by teachers who attended the seminars.
There were other teachers; they may have (and probably did) have much more Muslim-friendly Religion-of-Peace feelgoodery in their own curricula.
We know from Wiltse's curriculum that there was no interference with the lesson plans, however. Witse's lesson plan is fairly tough on Muslims, and decidedly pro-Israel. So we know there was no enforced Religion-of-Peace indoctrination.
However, Geller and Spencer are focusing on what the teachers themselves heard here.
Now, looking at the sort of thing the teachers were taught -- it's the typical PC nonjudgmental soft-on-Islam sort of stuff. One thing Geller doesn't like is that the abstracts don't blame Islam for the Crusades; but my God, what was she expecting?
Can she point to any school-issued history book that says the Crusades were the fault of Muslims?
Now, indeed, this is all sort of weak PC stuff. But it's PC stuff of the perfectly routine variety. Academics teaching a course about Islam think Islam isn't too shabby; film at 11.
It's not the henny-penny turn-it-to-11 stuff Geller seems to think it is, but it is PC crap of the sort you always hear about Islam from any institution (any institution, that is, except those that are avowedly anti-jihad).
Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.
You know, I trust, that Islam considers it part of, the successor to and culmination of, the Judeo-Christian tradition, right? And they believe that Jesus, for example, is a lesser prophet. Lesser to Mohammad, of course.
That's what they believe. By writing this, I have not become a dhimmi nor endorsed this idea. I have simply given you information about what other people believe.
Not to Ms. Geller. Here she is, quoting part of the abstract of the seminars about the history and philosophy of Islam, and then reacting.
Emphases here are in the original, for once:
[Quoting the abstract:] Prophet Muhammad has become the paradigm, or role model, who is worthy of being emulated. As God’s chosen prophet and messenger, he best embodied how to live a life in accordance with God’s will. In this sense, he and the prophets before him, including Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Jacob and Jesus, are perceived as exemplary muslims
Are you serious?
Do you see what she is doing? She is either misunderstanding the quote, or cynically distorting it to create her latest round of Outrage!
What is the quoted material doing? It is explaining Muslim beliefs, same as I did a couple of paragraphs before that.
What is Geller claiming the material is doing? She is claiming the material is presented to teach teachers of the actual religious truth of the statement. She is claiming it is in fact a "dawhah," or invitation to prayer, or invitation to submission to the religion.
Did I mention this was a seminar for teachers, prepared with Harvard and UT at Austin?
Does she really not get that they would naturally discuss what Muslims believe? Given that that was the whole point of the seminar?
She either is cynically distorting, or credulously imagining, that a simple statement of what Muslims believe is an actual attempt to convert teachers to that Muslim belief.
Whereas 99.9% of the population sees a dry, academic statement of a religion's creeds, Pamela Geller sees a dangerous "dahwah" intended to indoctrinate teachers into Mohamaddan thoughts so they can then transmit their newly-adopted religion to the schoolchildren of Texas.
Look, I can't explain reality. Either you get this or your don't. If I say "Christians believe that Jesus was the Son of God and died on the cross in a sacrifice by which all the sins of mankind were transferred to him," I am not attempting to convert you to Christianity.
I am simply stating a fact: This is what Christians believe.
I do not know what is a more damning conclusion:
1) That Geller does not understand this, and actually believes this is a "dahwah" presented in an effort to convert people to Savage Mohamaddanism.
2) That Geller understands this is in fact simply a statement of Muslim belief, but finds the mere recitation of that belief a "dahwah" so hateful as to not be fit for public mention, even in a seminar devoted to instructing teachers on Islamic history and beliefs
Go ahead; go over there; find the material. I read the stuff. Most of it is dry academic stuff. Other stuff is, as I conceded, "soft" PC twaddle which talks about how diverse and vibrant Muslim societies were and that sort of thing.
Like when you look up any country in the encyclopedia? Like Haiti? You're going to be told it's a diverse and vibrant culture.
By the way, you might want to give Geller a break and say, "Gee, Ace. I don't know. I see what you're saying, with that quote, but based on the way I read it, it doesn't expressly identify this merely as the belief of Muslims; it actually seems to flatly declare these things about Mohammad as being true. Maybe you shouldn't assume bad motives. Maybe it was just written ambiguously."
Oh, very good point. But it actually wasn't written ambiguously.
See, I haven't told you something --
Geller doctored the quote.
She doctored the quote to take out the prefatory part in the beginning that this is what Muslims believe, to make it sound like maybe, maybe this might be a dawhah.
Here is the actual quote as it appears on the site -- undoctored by Geller. The part of the quote Geller forgot to cite is in bold.
For millions of Muslims around the world, the Prophet Muhammad has become the paradigm, or role model, who is worthy of being emulated. As God’s chosen prophet and messenger, he best embodied how to live a life in accordance with God’s will. In this sense, he and the prophets before him, including Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Jacob and Jesus, are perceived as exemplary muslims,
Yes, that's right, the sentence began "For millions of Muslims around the world...," clearly indicating what followed was their belief. She instead cut that out, beginning with "Prophet Mohammad was the role model..."
If she had quote it accurately, it would have been obvious this was a simple, unobjectionable statement of fact about the centrality of Mohammad in the Muslim religion. And that wouldn't have seemed outrageous enough to readers, so Geller helpfully "modified" it for you. So you'd be nice and angry, and maybe more motivated to Stop Islamization in America, order your copy now.
Do check out her quotes. And do wonder why, if this is obviously such dhimmi dawhaw dirty-dealing, she has to strain so much and doctor quotes to convince you of that.
Now, we've seen one lesson plan from a guy who went through the seminar. He seems unconverted to Islam. He is, by self-description, a devout Christian, and an unapologetic Zionist. This man would be unlikely to come away from a pro-Muslim symposium and start talking up the splendid conquests of Mohammad.
But knowing teachers, I'm sure most of them taught their kids a PC version of Islam. Although I'm pretty sure there were exactly zero Muslim converts.
Having conceded that, I have to point out a couple of things:
1, I have to point out again that even if the teachers met with some Religion of Peace blatherers, there was no interference in their lesson plans. Wiltse says so, and his own lesson plan seems to prove that. It may not seem tough to Robert Spencer, but it seems tough to anyone not named Robert Spencer or Pamela Geller.
2, the sort of teachers who would be inclined to teach Religion of Peace nonsense... well, I'm sure they did teach Religion of Peace nonsense, but I have to question: Absent this seminar, were they likely to teach otherwise? I ask: What were these teachers planning to teach about Islam in the first place?
Assuming that Geller doesn't really believe that the purpose here was not, in fact, to convert the teachers to Islam, these seminars might have encouraged the soft-headed liberal position that the Religion of Peace Wants To Be Your Friend And Gets A Bad Rap.
And while I can acknowledge that, I'm having difficulty imaging that they would have acted any differently in absence of these seminars. Or what teachers teach in any other state.
Wiltse seems to have taught as he would have anyway, for example.
It seems to me that teachers were invited to hear a PC lesson on Islam. then permitted to teach whatever they liked, either incorporating or rejecting those thoughts.
On to the Grover Norquist charge. Geller, challenged on her assertion that Rick Perry was a dhimmi, then offered this new evidence to buttress her case:
Yes, all Perry did was give a speech in partnership with Grover Norquist, and promote it on his website. Norquist heads up Americans for Tax Reform, and Perry’s tax-cutting message is redolent of Norquist’s influence. But Norquist also has deep and extensive ties to Islamic supremacists and jihadists, as I showed in the first commentary. That raises legitimate questions about whether or not Perry knows about, or cares about, or even endorses, that activity by Norquist. I certainly would refuse to speak at the same event in partnership with Grover Norquist – let alone promote it on my website. Shouldn’t Rick Perry have, too?
Now, Norquist is widely known himself to be pro-Muslim; he believes they're a natural Republican constituency, and urges we make a move for them like Bush and Rove urge with Hispanics.
Geller seizes on my mention of going to his house as I'm bragging. No, I'm not bragging. You have, not unexpectedly, missed the point.
The point is that you are engaging in Guilt by Association. This guy knows this guy, and this guy spoke with this guy, so this guy's a dhimmi.
We are moving several steps from actual jihadis here. The chain goes: Rick Perry met with Grover Norquist for anti-tax agitation purposes; Grover Norquist has an institute for Muslim outreach; some guys at that institute have connections to, at least, people suspected of being jihadis, or at least, in one further attenuated step, knowing jihadis themselves.
I can buy the chain of shame all the way until the point that people who know Grover Norquist, but themselves are not guilty of anything, are now culpable, simply because they know him and have not, as Spencer and Geller seem to prefer, ostracized him, denounced him, and cast him out of their circles.
My point in mentioning the Wednesday Morning Meetings is-- are those people dhimmis, too? That's a Who's Who of Establishment DC. Yes, I know, RINOs; but jihadist-enabling dhimmis?
Am I a dhimmi? Well, I know I am, for Spencer dismisses the entire magazine Commentary as "dhimmi" and surely I'm as dhimmi as they.
My point was that Grover Norquist -- whether he should or should not be cast out of Republican circles -- remains a DC fixture, and an establishment figure.
Is Michele Bachmann a dhimmi too? Or Mitt Romney? Or Newt Gingrich?
“I talk with [Mitt] Romney directly,” Norquist said. He mentioned that Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) will be attending his Wednesday meeting this week and that Gingrich recently sent him an unsolicited statement strongly opposing backing down in the debt talks. For Norquist, any other position would be unacceptable.
How about Allen West, Paul Ryan, and Marco Rubio?
...Earlier this year, Norquist spoke at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference, along with Michele Bachmann, Allen West, Thad McCotter, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, Herman Cain, Paul Ryan, and Newt Gingrich.
Commenters tell me Geller is big on Sarah Palin. Well, okay then. I have to also ask: Is Sarah Palin a dhimmi too?
Yes, that is Sarah Palin shaking the hand of this dangerous Islamist-enabler. The article, dated June 15, 2011, says the picture itself was taken "last year," which means Sarah Palin was shaking the hand of this jihadi-symp during the same period when Rick Perry gave a speech with him.
Are we going to keep pretending that Grover Norquist is on a Terrorist Watch List and that anyone having any dealings with him is also suspect?
Or are we going to just say that Grover Norquist is a big DC Establishment players whom politicians routinely, and without considering the Jihad Implications, meet with?
Let's discuss the key man in this chain of guilt by association -- Aga Khan. This is the man that Perry is apparently friendly with (at least politician-friendly, which, honestly, I doubt means truly friendly) and with whom Perry did these alleged teachers' dhimmi-seminars.
Aga Khan has had the reputation of being a true Muslim Moderate, and an actual philanthropist.
Where would Rick Perry have gotten such an idea?
Well, if he had doubts about Aga Khan as late as May 2010, he would have found the worlds of noted Jihadism Expert Robert Spencer very reassuring indeed.
One first speaker, a man named Furnish, read aloud a previous statement by Spencer to the effect that there was no such thing as moderate Islam, full stop, and then disagreed:
Furnish: I find myself in the curious (and somewhat uncomfortable) position of disagreeing with my friend Robert Spencer, for whom I have the utmost respect and with whom I almost always totally agree.
That was reported May 27, 2010; the symposium itself would have, I assume, occurred no more than a week or two before.
Years after Rick Perry invited Aga Khan to put together a symposium on true moderate Muslims, Robert Spencer was still vouching for Aga Khan as precisely one of those true moderate Muslims. Only Aga Khan had been personally named as a moderate -- his sect and other sects had been mentioned, but only one man personally -- and Spencer agreed.
How did Jihadism Expert Robert Spencer make such a dangerous error? He now seems to think that Aga Khan is a stealthy jihadist; what has changed his opinion so quickly (and so recently -- he came to these fresh conclusions this past week)?
Well, Aga Khan, a very wealthy man, bought a bank in the past. Here is the unchallengeable evidence against Aga Khan, which now causes Robert Spencer to entirely reverse himself on Khan's moderation, and is in fact so powerful it prompts him to next accuse Rick Perry, who merely put together a Muslim outreach seminar for teachers with Khan.
The "new evidence" uncovered -- the evidence which as completely reversed Spencer in his deeply-considered expertise -- consists of Daniel Pearl's widow making an unproven allegation against the bank in, I think, 2002. For what it's worth -- I believe her. I tend to believe most allegations against Muslims, to be honest. I'm sort of bigoted now. Or, realistic. Whatever you want to call it.
But it wasn't proved. The case was dropped.
Now, two years after that accusation, Pakistan was looking to raise money to cover its debts; the bank is put up for sale, and Aga Khan buys it. A couple of years after that the bank enters into an agreement with the Federal Reserve to be monitored. At no point during any of this did anyone accuse Aga Khan of wrongdoing -- no US official, no foreign official. His cleanliness is vouched for by none other than Robert Spencer in 2010.
And now, with this purchase of a bank uncovered last week by Pam Geller, Spencer now decides that Aga Khan is dirty, and not only is he dirty, but damnit, Rick Perry should have known he was dirty and had he vetted him properly he would have discovered him to be dirty.
David Stern writes:
If it’s true that Habib Bank did not freeze the [suspicious] account, it happened years before the Khan Foundation bought into the bank. And the discussions between Perry and Khan that led to the development of the MHCP occurred in summer 2002, two years before the Khan Foundation bought into the bank! So what, exactly, was Perry supposed to find in 2002? What would his “vetting” have uncovered? If the answer is “nothing,” then how do you know Perry didn’t vet Khan?
If the bank was dirty after Khan took ownership of it, he probably should not have signed an agreement with the Federal Reserve (of the US) for the Feds to monitor the bank:
Here is the agreement that Habib Bank signed with the Federal Reserve. It’s quite exhaustive. The bank agreed to completely overhaul every aspect of its operations to be in full compliance with U.S. rules and regulations. It agreed to allow an independent firm (approved by the Fed) to thoroughly examine its new procedures. Furthermore, it agreed to allow the independent firm to examine all account and transaction activities from 2005 onward.
Based upon those findings -- let's say Rick Perry discovered this skullduggery, this dirty non-suspicious bank-buying behavior -- what does Spencer suggest he should have done?
Well, apparently he suggests he should have had no further dealings with Khan, upon receipt of this information.
The same as he and Geller now allege that Grover Norquist should have been cast out by Rick Perry. (And Bachmann, and Palin, and Romney, and West, and Ryan, and...)
Does this strike anyone else as extraordinarily weak evidence? This is very weak evidence to even put forward a suspicion publicly, nevermind insisting a series of public condemnations should follow.
And I stress: Not only do Spencer and Geller think this weak "evidence" is enough to damn Aga Khan, it's furthermore strong enough to damn anyone that is publicly friendly with Aga Khan.
That's how strong the case is in their book -- not only enough to hang the actual accused, by the accused's acquaintances, for associating with a known felon, or someone they should have known was a felon.
Spencer says Perry should have vetted him. Why? His good friend Furnish didn't when he praised Khan, and neither did Spencer when he gladly agreed with the praise.
Look, if this is the depth of the evidence that renowned Jihadi Hunters Geller and Spencer have been leveling against their accused, I think we need some new Jihadi Hunters.
This gets to the broader point I want to make.
For Geller and Spencer, how anti-jihad do you have to be to not be a dhimmi in their eyes? They seem to have denouncement fever.
And if their concept of "anti-jihadi" is so uncompromising as to mean we now have to cast out Allen West, Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and the rest of the 2012 presidential field, could it be that they, rather than those they accuse, are the ones in need of some perspective?
Watch what Spencer says about an error in the curriculum that I quoted. The error there is that the teacher, Wiltse, wrote that Islamic anti-semitism dates "at least" (that is, at least his far back) to the Nazis.
Now, I quoted that to indicate not the truth of the historical claim itself, but to note that this was not a soft-on-Islam lesson plan. I usually consider it to be pretty tough stuff when it's said "Part of your worldview was cadged from the Third Reich."
This is sort of an error, because Islamic anti-semitism dates from long before that; I say "sort of," because Wiltse says it dates from "at least" to the Nazi influence, meaning it could date from further back.
Well, it does. There doesn't seem to be much question about this.
But note the reason Spencer thinks this is an important correction which defeats the purpose I quoted it for -- that this was a tough-on-Islam lesson plan.
Ace clearly doesn't know the first, foggiest thing about Islam; after all, it's not the name of a porn mag or a brand of beer. If he did, he would recognize that the claim that "Islamic enmity toward Israel is complicated, but hatred of Jews and Israel can be traced at least to the success of Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda starting in 1933" is itself a whitewash. Islamic antisemitism didn't begin in 1933 or come from the Nazis; it's as old as Islam itself, going back to the Qur'an's designation of the Jews as the worst enemies of the Muslims (5:82) and Muhammad's exiles and massacres of the Jews of Arabia. See a full discussion of this question here.
As I said, Wiltse's statement is in error. Yes, Islamic anti-semitism dates back much further back than the Nazis.
It is wrong, yes. But it is not complimentary.
For most, it seems like a very tough line to say that Muslims took part of their tradition of anti-semtism from Adolf Hitler's Holocaust Machine.
For Robert Spencer, it's deliberate "whitewashing." For Robert Spencer, only a dhimmi would imply that Nazis influenced Muslim anti-semitism; the determined non-dhimmi must always be perfectly clear that Muslims could teach the Nazis a thing or two about Jew-hating.
I have to grant this seminar, put together by Harvard and UT at Austin, was PC feel-goodery of the usual sort. (But not, as Geller alleges, some shocking descent into dhimmitude.)
But honestly -- in Spencer's view, calling Islamists Nazi stooges is coddling them.
It's not that I disagree with Spencer or Geller that I don't like the PC foolishness.
It's more that I am wondering how long they have lived on our Earth, and if they are enjoying it so far.
What Spencer and Geller both do is to erect a Standard of the Righteous that no one but a couple of fringe bloggers could possibly meet -- well, no one in public life; and few with steady jobs outside of blogging -- and then start up with the Ritual Denunciations of those falling short.
I've got bad news for Spencer and Geller: If you're waiting for a candidate who even approaches your outer territorial waters as far as stridency against Islam (and Spencer declares there is no moderate Islam, so it's fair to just say "against Islam"), then get comfortable, pour a drink, and get ready for a nice long sit.
To get the blessing of Spencer and Geller, we must:
Convict men based on the flimsiest circumstantial evidence, which by the way popped up last week. By the way, the evidence doesn't really have to be that strong because, you know, Muslim. There is no such thing as Moderate Islam, Robert Spencer says. So it's not like you really have to cross your t's on this one.
Then convict men who know that initial man based on the mere fact of (political) association.
Ignore one's own previous vouching for the men in question with a dismissive well I wasn't "partnering" with him, dear boy, I was just vouching for him publicly at a symposium entirely about the existence or non-existence of Muslim moderates, my alleged specialty, so of course I had no reason to be cautious with my praise.
Claim that merely engaging in what other people would call "outreach" to Muslims, previously deemed peaceful and moderate, as well as typical PC nonsense which is annoying at hell but the state of life here in the US, shows a pro-shariah dhimmi mindset.
Claim that a lesson plan that says Muslim anti-semitism is not due to a "cycle of violence" or to "poverty" or "defensive reactions against Jewish aggression" but instead partly due to Nazi Holocaust propaganda is a "whitewash" that lets Muslims off too damn easy.
Now, if Spencer's original statement was right -- and it seems to have taken very little indeed to return him to that original view -- then a certain series of policy choices flow from that.
Is he a thoughtful enough man to appreciate that? I assume he is, for I assume that any man as boring and ill-humored as he is must be somewhat thoughtful as a consolation.
But if it is true that there is no Moderate Islam whatsoever -- as Spencer and Geller seem to believe in their hearts, though Spencer is given on occasion to vouching for the moderation of Aga Khan-- and it is furthermore true that Islam is unreformable and incapable of being pushed to a less belligerent posture, then the policy choices are quite ugly.
This would suggest that the only way to protect ourselves is some type of mass-casualty global war combined with a series of laws (which would be unconstitutional at the moment, until we amend the document or start ignoring it) to sharply limit the freedom of movement of Muslims within the United States.
I do not say this to say "My God, look at what their horrid thinking will lead to!" I am not doing the Charles Johnson "Fascist!" thing.
I have considered this myself: What if the darkest conception of Islam is accurate? What then? What then? If we face an unending war of terrorism, what steps, almost unthinkable now, would it take to stop that war of terrorism?
What if we suffered not one 9/11 but a string of six of them, weeks apart, with no end in sight?
Horrors breed horrors in kind. (And one should always ponder the incredible restraint of the Israelis, who frequently do feature multiple 9/11's (on a per capita basis) weeks apart, and yet do not do the things I'm pretty sure I would advocate.)
But certainly I don't wish for any of that to happen. I hope that the Islamist war on the west winds down. I hope that some truly moderate Muslims begin speaking out and taking the terrorist-minded ones down a peg.
Is that naive? Shutting my eyes to the reality of the situation? Encouraging jihadists? Falling for their tricks? Becoming a dhimmi?
But if Geller and Spenser have their way, we would declare, now, immediately, that even hearing information by scholars and representatives selected by a man Spenser himself vouched for as moderate and peaceful constitutes an unforgivable descent into dhimmitude.
This seems to select the option of permanent confrontation, because they seem to have ruled out any possibility of any way to avoid that.
Maybe there is no other possible outcome.
But shouldn't we at least be open to the possibility that something short of permanent total war of civilizations is possible?
I say again that I am not attempting to portray them as seething warmongers and "eliminationists," as the left likes to say.
This permanent, million-casualty war of civilizations scenario has occurred to me, and I haven't denounced myself for thinking about it.
It's a possibility one has to consider.
But I am saying that if there is a chance at avoiding such an outcome, well, we should probably do what we can to avoid it, shouldn't we?
If Rick Perry's minor bit of "let's be friends and try to understand each other" feel goodery and outreach is deemed by Geller and Spenser to be beyond the pale in terms of cowardly appeasement--
-- then what on earth policy would they suggest we pursue? If this minor attempt at bridge-building is an example of knuckling under Muslim aggressors (aggressors, mind you, vouched for by Spenser as being moderate and peaceful and progressive) and too much of a concession to the implacable, stealthy enemy within, then I'm afraid I need to be instructed as to what current policy options they suggest we pursue.
Because, until we actually are confronted, fully and finally, with some truly horrible choices, I'd sure prefer to do what we can to avoid those.
This is what I don't understand regarding Geller's and Spenser's current agitations: If this minor bridge-building is the action of a traitorous Quisling, then what is left but war of all on all?
I actually doubt, in the extreme, they would suggest such a thing. As unthinkable as that is to me, I'm sure it's unthinkable to them as well.
But I don't think either comprehends that when they begin claiming that even the smallest gestures at bridge-building with the Muslim community -- even if those gestures are doomed to produce no good results -- are "dhimmi," then I don't really see any policy choices except girding for war, external and internal.
I don't know if they think about this at all.
Maybe they just think about their next blog posts.
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Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
Movable Type 2.64