Horowitz and Spencer’s Islamophobia

Over at National Review Online (of all places) there’s an excellent article by Matt Duss, co-author of the Center for American Progress’s report Fear Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America. It is written in reply to David Horowitz and Robert Spencer’s recent piece denouncing what they claim is an “ugly campaign” to depict them as Islamophobes.

Duss does a good job of demolishing Horowitz and Spencer’s attempts at self-justification. For example:

The authors first take issue with our use of the term “Islamophobia”, claiming “the purpose of the suffix – phobia – is to identify any concern about troubling Islamic institutions and actions as irrational, or worse as a dangerous bigotry that should itself be feared”. This is false. As my co-authors and I note in our report, we don’t use the term “Islamophobia” lightly. We define it as an exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political, and civic life.

We think that any fair-minded reader of Horowitz and Spencer’s work, which our report extensively documents, would conclude that it qualifies.

Duss continues:

It is enormously revealing that Horowitz and Spencer do not address the actual argument made in “Fear, Inc.”, which is that they, along with a small cadre of self-appointed experts and activists, promote the idea that religiously inspired terrorism represents true Islam. (“Traditional Islam itself is not moderate or peaceful,” wrote Spencer in 2006. “It is the only major world religion with a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers.”) They also promote the idea that Sharia law is incompatible with a modern society (“There is no form of Sharia that does not contain … [the] death penalty for apostasy,” wrote Spencer, obviously ignorant of the manner in which Islam is practiced by millions of Sharia-adherent Muslims in the United States).

The unmistakable implication of these claims is that all observant Muslims should be viewed with suspicion simply by virtue of being observant Muslims. That’s obviously Islamophobic.

Duss concludes his article by recommending the stand taken by National Review‘s founder William F. Buckley Jnr. against the anti-communist witch-hunter Robert Welch of the John Birch Society back in the 1950s. Duss expresses his regret that Buckley’s publication today should provide a platform for “Welch’s heirs”, Horowitz and Spencer.

Update:  NRO has failed to take Matt Duss’s advice. They have immediately followed up Duss’s article with an angry response from Robert Spencer, who concludes his piece with the following rant:

Duss’s Center for American Progress, the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and other leftist and Islamic-supremacist groups are conducting an ongoing campaign to discredit and marginalize everyone who dares to stand up against the jihad and Islamic supremacism. They are bent on destroying every last individual who does not adopt a warmly positive stance toward the spread of Sharia in the West and all other manifestations of the advancing jihad. The stakes are very high. If we don’t resist this Islamic supremacist thuggery, Duss and his Islamic-supremacist allies will succeed in stamping out all discussion of the truth about Islam and jihad, thereby rendering us mute and defenseless before its advance. That’s why we have to resist now, at every step, and continue to expose this propagandistic “Islamophobia” campaign.

And a separate response by David Horowitz features a furious denunciation of the Anti-Defamation League:

Duss cites a scurrilous ADL attack on Spencer – equally innocent of facts – as though Abe Foxman, who runs the ADL as his personal fiefdom, were not a notorious panderer to left-wing causes. The fact is that the American Left has joined in what I have elsewhere referred to as an “unholy alliance”, making itself a valuable ally of the Muslim Brotherhood and its agents like Hamas, both in America and the Middle East.

Abe Foxman – ally of Hamas. Now there’s an accusation you don’t see every day. As for Spencer, he insists that the ADL should be included among the organisations he describes as “jihadist apologists”. These people really have lost their minds, haven’t they?

See also Media Matters, 19 October 2011