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1 Doofus  Feb 22, 2015 5:20:30am
One of the oft-mentioned criticisms of The Atlantic piece is that it echoed the inaccurate belief that since ISIS’s theology draws upon Islamic texts to justify its horrendous practices, it is an inevitable product of Islam. Haykel didn’t say whether or not he thought Wood’s article says as much
2 CuriousLurker  Feb 22, 2015 11:14:22am

re: #1 Doofus

I know what’s in the article since I’m the one who posted it. What’s your point?

3 Prof. Backpfeifengesicht, PhD  Feb 23, 2015 12:07:48pm

I have finally had time to actually read both the original article in question and responses to it. I’m baffled as to what caused the brouhaha. The article is informative, well researched and balanced. If there is any hint of Islamophobia there, I haven’t detected it (and since I knew that it had caused a controversy, I looked closely).

The responses often openly misrepresent what Wood says. A perfect example of this is Zakaria:

And yet Haykel feels that it is what the 0.0019 percent of Muslims do that defines the religion. Who is being political, I wonder?

Of course nowhere does Haykel or Wood so much as hint that ISIS defines Islam as a whole. They say that it is also a form of Islam - and that is an undeniable fact. Neither does Wood claim that ISIS is an inevitable product of Islam. Indeed, his mention of the Salafite quietists belies such a claim.

IOW, much ado about nothing.

4 Prof. Backpfeifengesicht, PhD  Feb 23, 2015 12:29:29pm

This thread has been archived, so I’m continuing here, quoting CL.

Epistemologically? Are Spencer’s writings as epistemologically valid as those of serious scholars of Islam?

Spencer is not a Muslim, so his writings are irrelevant to the issue at hand.

That’s kind of my point—I find it difficult if not impossible to believe the target audience for this article was intellectuals who will sit around methodically applying epistemic principles to what they’ve read before deciding on the veracity, legitimacy or objectivity of of it’s assertions & conclusions. It’s clickbait—the topic of Islam & terrorism is pretty much guaranteed to get lots of clicks, especially when it plays to people’s confirmation bias & worst fears. At present, the article has 7,512 comments and has been #1 on The Altlantic’s “Most Popular” list for several days now. *ka-ching* Success!

I’m not about get into the heads of Wood, Haykel or The Atlantic editors. That would be ad hominem anyway. What I can judge with my limited capacity are words, and there is nothing wrong with what Haykel said in that quote, just as there was nothing wrong with Obama’s “you didn’t build that”. If yahoos in the comments choose to misuse what is a pretty clear statement, that’s bad, but they would do it with any statement, or would make up one if they didn’t find something readily available to distort. The same concerns the right-wing hatebloggers, etc. I don’t really accept any argument of the “bad guys are quoting him, so he must be a bad guy” kind anyway. Example: antisemites love quoting Chomsky, but that doesn’t make Chomsky an antisemite. His scholarship may (?) be poor when it comes to the I-P conflict, but it should be judged on its own merits, without hinting that it is aimed at an antisemitic market.

5 CuriousLurker  Feb 25, 2015 1:19:42pm

re: #3 Prof. Backpfeifengesicht, PhD

re: #4 Prof. Backpfeifengesicht, PhD

Sorry for being so slow to respond, but Monday my modem died so I fell behind on my meat world work and just got caught up.

I didn’t read Zakaria’s piece as I don’t trust him after he got caught plagiarizing. In any event, I didn’t quote him so I don’t see what he has to do with the discussion at hand.

As for Spencer, I (obviously) know he’s not a Muslim, my point was that he claims to be a scholar. If, as you stated, anyone within a group can claim to legitimacy and only insiders of that group have a “standard” by which they judge, then I’ll just repeat the question from the earlier discussion:

Epistemologically? Are Spencer’s writings as epistemologically valid as those of serious scholars of Islam? Just like ISIS, he cherry picks items from Islamic texts to fit his agenda. Does that mean his writing is also a “legitimate” representation of Islamic belief? Ditto Geller et al.

We’re never going to agree on the subject of Wood’s article, and let me remind you that I wasn’t complaining about the entire thing (only the assertion of “legitimacy”), nor have I at any point claimed that Daesh members aren’t Muslim. But people’s fear & distrust of Muslims isn’t based on critical thinking—if people took the time to reason things out, then Islamophobia wouldn’t exist (okay, it probably still would since the GOP is selling it hard, but it would be on a much smaller scale). All the article did was throw fuel on the fire.

You’re entitled to your opinion on the matter, but so am I. If you think my logic is faulty, maybe you’re right, but try standing in my shoes for a while. Bigotry & fear are being drummed up by populist demagogues by appealing to people’s emotions, not their rationality. If you’ve ever been a member of a minority that politicians within your government were demonizing, in addition to there being an entire “industry” dedicated solely to churning out misinformation and outright disinformation about you, then you know what I mean. If not, then you can’t even begin to understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that crap 24 x 7 x 365.

Wood’s article wasn’t scholarly. He doesn’t claim to be a scholar, just a reporter. If he’s going to write a story that quotes an actual scholar, then he should provide all of the context instead of cherry-picking bits that will appeal to people’s prejudices and/or confirm their worst fears.


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