Nick Cohen and others defend Maajid Nawaz, excoriate the SPLC

A few days ago I discussed the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC’s) descent into blacklisting, reminiscent of the days of Joe McCarthy. The SPLC compiled a “Field Guide to anti-Muslim Extremists,” which included the names of  Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz, both Muslim reformers, the former now an atheist and the latter a believer. I won’t reprise the SPLC’s stupid accusations and trumped up “evidence” against these people, but I urged readers to sign a petition removing these two from the list. At the time I mentioned that petition had 1952 signers, but now there are 7979.

Of course the SPLC will ignore the petition, but perhaps they’ll become at least dimly aware that they should be careful about whom they demonize—or about making blacklists in general.  Several readers objected in general to such blacklists, and I can see the point of their objections. As my friend Malgorzata commented:

I’m sorry but I’m not going to sign this petition. The idea that an SPLC took upon itself the right to libel and smear people is abhorrent as it is. To defend just two people listed there because their opinions are similar to my own would be the same as endorsing their right to issue such lists. There are other people on that list; I do not have to agree with everything they say to think that placing them on such a list is a scandal. The existence of this “hit list” should be condemned.

If you object to such blacklists in general (I’m on the fence, for while I see nothing wrong with calling out real anti-Muslim bigots, I now agree that an official “list” with the imprimatur of the SPLC is over the line), I’d urge you to email the SPLC directly at this link.

In the meantime, pushback against the SPLC’s bonehead move has begun. Yahoo! News describes many who have objected, including Nawaz’s own eloquent response in The Daily Beast and tweets by Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, and Michael Nugent. Nawaz’s eloquent column agrees with Malgorzata; an excerpt:

If there was anything we liberals should have learnt from McCarthyism, it is that compiling lists of our political foes is a malevolent, nefarious, and incredibly dangerous thing to do. And this terrible tactic, of simplifying and reducing our political opponents to a rogue’s gallery of “bad guys,” is not solely the domain of the right. As the political horseshoe theory attributed to Jean-Pierre Faye highlights, if we travel far-left enough, we find the very same sneering, nasty and reckless bullying tactics used by the far-right. Denunciations of traitors, heresy and blasphemy are the last resort of diminutive, insecure power-craving fascists of all stripes. Compiling lists is their modus operandi.

 . . . . Nothing good ever comes from compiling lists. And so I say to the Southern Poverty Law Center: You were supposed to stand up for us, not intimidate us. Just imagine how ex-Muslim Islam-critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali must feel to be included in your list of “anti-Muslim” extremists. Her friend Theo Van Gogh was murdered on the streets of Amsterdam in 2004. And back then there was another list pinned to Theo’s corpse with a knife: it too named Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
And so the SPLC, like many regressive Leftists, have joined the gay-hating, women-oppressing, apostate-demonizing forces of Islamism. I don’t suppose that the SPLC has made a list of the many imams in the U.S. and U.K. who preach genuine hatred on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, Nick Cohen, the unsung hero of true, non-regressive Leftism, let the SPLC have it with both barrels in his Spectator column, aptly titled “The white left has issued its first fatwa.” (Now that’s an attention-grabber!)

Cohen notes that, for the first time, he’s actually urged someone to take advantage of the British libel laws, and even gave Nawaz the name of lawyers willing to help. I’d love to see the SPLC have to defend their allegations in court, though I suspect this won’t come to pass. But clearly the SPLC’s petition can be taken, as does Cohen, to be a death list.

[The SPLC’s Mark Potok] and his colleagues have issued the white left’s first fatwa: a blacklist that could be a deathlist.

As Nawaz said,

“It’s not as if there’s any shortage of Muslim extremists who want me dead. They exist in numbers so plenty that former jihadists have even taken to calling in to my live LBC radio show to confess to once having made plans to assassinate me. Europe has witnessed around 6,000 of our fellow Muslims leave to join ISIS. Here in Europe, amid jihadist assassinations and mass terror attacks planned with military precision, we truly are in the thick of it. Meanwhile, from the comforts of sweet Alabama comes this edict that liberal Muslims working to throw open a conversation around reforming Islam today are somehow to be deemed ‘anti-Muslim extremists.’”

Do these jerks not think about the consequences of their rote-learned, pseudo-leftist bombast? Have they not heard that, across the world, lists circulate of ‘apostates’ along with invitations to the faithful to kill them when they can?

Maybe they have but do not care, and it will take drastic action to shake them out of their spiteful stupor.  A court action could do it. If Nawaz sues, SPLC’s work in fighting the white far right will suffer grievously. But, as it is so eager to be on the wrong side in the fight against the religious far right, I think we could call it evens.

Amen.

For another take on these issues, Heather Hastie has posted her usual thorough analysis of the Nawaz/Cohen/SPLC fracas.

h/t: Grania

83 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    sub

  2. Ariel Karlinsky
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    For years I’ve seen how critics of a faith/ideology were labeled as “racists” and the like by groups like the SPLC or the Anti-Defamation League – which made me just disregard the opinion of these organizations.

    I think for example that “The SPLC classifies X as a hate group” which exists in several wikipedia articles is laughable.

    It’s not that NOW the SPLC has started to paint “People I disagree with” as the enemies, this has been going on for quite a while now – I do hope things like this make some of those who take the SPLC seriously to reevaluate their entire position on this, and not just “oh you shouldn’t have named Hirsi Ali there – but all those other guys sure are nazis!”

    • malgorzata
      Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      +!

    • J.Baldwin
      Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Couldn’t have said it better.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted November 1, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      They added presidential candidate Ben Carson to their hate list last year. They had to backtrack on that one and issue an apology.

      You’d think they would’ve learned from that at least.

    • Posted November 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      I’d always assumed there was something there to justify the SPLC listing a group as a hate group. As a result of this their opinions mean nothing to me.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Possibly Malgorzata is correct – the list making is the worst offense. The only problem with that is, the list makers will always exist as we know. Whether it was Nixon or the Nazis or someone else, they will do it. Under the banner of free speech in this country they get to do it.

    However, when they perform libel and other illegal acts, they can be taken to account. When they insert people on their lists that flat do not belong, we can and will protest. We can stand up and say the list maker is wrong and the lies concerning who is on the list are proof of it.

    • steve oberski
      Posted November 1, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      When I first read Malgorzata’s comment my initial reaction was to fire off a snappy response defending why such lists as generated by the SPLC were a good thing.

      But upon further reflection I realised that I had never actually had any good reason for supporting such lists and that the only reasons I could think of for my previous support were:

      1) I had never actually examined my reasons for such support.

      2) As Malgorzata pointed out, as long as you had always previously agreed with the contents of such lists then there was no reason to examine ones reasons for supporting them.

      So my thanks to Malgorzata for forcing me to reevaluate my position on this matter.

      • eric
        Posted November 2, 2016 at 7:45 am | Permalink

        A list by a credible source, using reasonable criteria serves to help the public make better informed decisions about what to buy, what charities to give their money to, etc. So I don’t really find list-making to be inherently bad. For sure, “my political enemies” is not a reasonable criteria. But something like “gives money to ISIS” or “spends 90% of received donations on salaries” or “contains peanut oils” would be.

        IMO what the SPLC has done here has just revealed to many of us that they aren’t a credible source because they have overbroad and subjective criteria. Sure, some of the public had already come to that conclusion, but many of us weren’t aware of it before this. And sure, many of the other groups on their list may be groups for which there are good, credible reasons not to support. However the SPLC has now greatly lowered its standing as any sort of authority on the subject of which groups do and do not deserve opposing.

        • GBJames
          Posted November 2, 2016 at 7:53 am | Permalink

          I agree completely except for this…

          “My political enemies” is a reasonable criteria for a list as long as it consists of your political enemies. When you start mixing the names of your favorite foods to the list then it becomes meaningless and confusing or, as in the case of the SPLC, misleading and destructive.

          • Malgorzata
            Posted November 2, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

            Isn’t it a question of criteria and goal? If you make a list of your political enemies, describe it as such and explain for every name on the list what the person’s opinins are, it differs quite substantially from the list of your political enemies which you label: “Racists and hatemongers, not to be given any platform”.

            • GBJames
              Posted November 2, 2016 at 8:34 am | Permalink

              Well, yes. It is a question of criteria and goals. Which is why simply railing against lists doesn’t make sense to me.

              I want to know about right wing militia organizations in my community. I want lists of neo-nazi and KKK organizations to be available. These folk are threats to me and my country. Why would I NOT want someone keeping track of them and making this information public?

              Throwing “not to be given any platform”, etc., into the mix confuses things and implies that the purpose of such lists is nefarious. I think that is unfair.

              The SPLC’s failure comes from shifting from an organization that tracks actually threatening organizations to one that suffers from confused, illiberal, regressive thinking. They’ve gotten their criteria and goals all muddied up. But the problem isn’t that they keep lists.

              • Malgorzata
                Posted November 2, 2016 at 8:49 am | Permalink

                Maybe there is something I didn’t understand in the “Field Guide”, but when they write about extremists inciting hatred,use words “attack dog” and many others and conclude:
                “Sadly, a shocking number of these extremists are seen regularly on television news programs and quoted in the pages of our leading newspapers. … These propagandists are far outside of the political mainstream, and their rhetoric has toxic consequences — from poisoning democratic debate to inspiring hate-based violence.”
                I understand it as a warning not to give platform to these people, especially as this comes from an organization which has credibility built a long time ago in a different cause by different people. The people who run it now just inherited the good name and – until they touched Hirsi Ali and Nawaz – used this good name for a very deplorable goals. I do not know the works of all people they placed on this list but I do know quite a few, and they are as little racists, hatemongers and extremists as Hirsi Ali and Nawaz.

              • GBJames
                Posted November 2, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

                The identification of Nawaz and Hirsi Ali as “anti-Muslim bigots” is evidence that SPLC has gone awry. They likely went awry before this and it went unnoticed because they have a history of being a strong civil rights organization working against the KKK and similar white supremacist groups.

                They have gone too far at times, as evidenced by the Nawaz kerfuffle. But That in no way diminishes the many good things they have done since they were founded in 1971.

                Again, the problem is not with making lists.

              • rickflick
                Posted November 2, 2016 at 9:09 am | Permalink

                I suppose we all make mental list, not written down and not publicized. It’s hard not to.

              • Diane G.
                Posted November 2, 2016 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

                I agree with you, GB.

                That said, I had a look at the short profiles of Hirsi Ali, Nawaz, and the other listees that SPLC provided. While some of the others are well known to be racist–Geller, for instance–some of those I hadn’t heard of have profiles that sound ambiguous to me, as if they, too, might not deserve the anti-Muslim extremist label.

                I guess the only answer is to keep up with the organizations you trust to make sure they don’t change politically like the SPLC has; or do one’s own due diligence before embracing any list.

              • Malgorzata
                Posted November 3, 2016 at 2:09 am | Permalink

                Of the people on this list whos works I’ve know well none can be called racist. I haven’r read much by Geller but I strongly suspect that she (and all the rest) are known as racist only because SPLC and their ilk had labeled them as such. As far as I know Gellert run (or maybe is running still?) an organization which helped young Muslim girls and women who were threatened by violence at home because of being “too Westernized”. How is that racist?

              • Diane G.
                Posted November 3, 2016 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

                I’d thought I’d gained that impression of her from what I’d read here during the Texas “Draw Muhammad” discussion and other references to her on WEIT, though re-reading WEIT posts that refer to her doesn’t seem to support that. Nor does her Wikipedia entry nor a NYT profile I found. Thus, I retract my remark about her; and the anti-Muslim “Field Guide” is looking worse than ever.

          • eric
            Posted November 2, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

            Yes, I should’ve said “are they my political enemy” is not a good selection criteria if your list is supposed to represent “groups that promulgate hate speech.”

            This whole incident weirdly reminds me of Hosni Murabak (supposedly) going after moderate muslim political groups so as to force Egyptian voters to choose between him and radical extremists. I wonder if at least some of the far-left’s animus towards reform-focused Muslims is fueled by a (subconscious) dislike of another politically left group they perceive as competing with them for the same public interest and dollars. ‘Gee,’ the devil on the SPLC shoulder says, ‘what if all those people supporting Quilliam suddenly shifted their donations to SPLC instead?’

    • eric
      Posted November 2, 2016 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      I don’t think this rises to libel. That requires malicious intent, and I think its pretty obvious that the SPLC believes that what they’re doing is a public information service, even if many other people don’t see it that way.

  4. geckzilla
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Useless as just removing those two is, I did just get an email alert that the petition starter updated the petition. In it, Heidi Beirich from the SPLC alleges that Nawaz speaks in conspiracy theories as if every Muslim is an infiltrator. Ok? Really?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted November 1, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      It sounds like Heidi Beirich might be doing the sort of quote mining that is often done to Sam Harris. There are many, for example, who believe Nawaz is still a terrorist and he has infiltrated the establishment and is biding his time. They call in on his radio show stating this, and he repeats their words back to them in amazement.

      • geckzilla
        Posted November 1, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, I’m more familiar with the quote mining done to Sam Harris. Shameless. Why bother making enemies out of people who aren’t? Why do we need more enemies in life?

        • somer
          Posted November 1, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

          I may be being facetious but it seems like regressive leftism is a form of fundamentalism. So “I believe in my faith and I have to punish the unbelievers!” 🎃

          • geckzilla
            Posted November 1, 2016 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

            It must partly be that, but it also has to do with the curse of being more centrally located on the political spectrum, relatively speaking, from the viewpoint of someone farther away. They see this person sometimes using words or concepts that the “other side” uses, and they suspect that this person must actually be on the other side and then they busily go about confirming this suspicion while ignoring the vast evidence against it. Maddening.

            • somer
              Posted November 2, 2016 at 12:39 am | Permalink

              Yes, I was being a bit trite and there would be several reasons such as you describe.

            • somer
              Posted November 2, 2016 at 4:32 am | Permalink

              +1

      • Posted November 1, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        I’m not positive, but I think Heidi Beirich has interpreted Nawaz’s use of the word “Islamist” as a synonym for “Muslim.” She argues that Nawaz is spreading conspiracy theories that Muslims have “infiltrated” organization X, Y, and Z. In reality, Nawaz has suggested that “Islamists” have done so, but the distinction is lost on her. Also, he once went to a strip club(!) so he must be an anti-Muslim extremist. How’s that for a non-sequitur? Ms. Beirich is very, very confused.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted November 1, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          I’ve noticed that before in what they say – confusing Islamic with Islamist. It’s quite annoying.

          Getting on an anti-Muslim extremist list for getting a lap dance at your stag do is ridiculous in the extreme (which I noted in my post, as well as Nawaz’s response).

        • steve
          Posted November 2, 2016 at 5:29 am | Permalink

          But of course almost all Islamists ARE Muslims; so even if misinterpreted, the statement would still be true.

          • Barney
            Posted November 2, 2016 at 6:28 am | Permalink

            It might be ‘true’ in a strict logical sense, but it would be highly misleading. Nawaz is not objecting to them because they’re Muslim; he’s objecting because they’re Islamists, and he explicitly uses ‘Islamist’. SPLC claiming he’s ‘anti-Muslim’ is like calling him ‘anti-human’ – the people he criticizes are all human, but he explicitly calls them out for Islamist views of wanting to use Islam to control all of society.

  5. rickflick
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    The SPLC gained a strong reputation in the past because they called out racists whites when the liberal community wanted to unite in opposing racism. And everyone hates Natzis. They have lately tried to capitalize politically on that reputation and approval to extend there “hatred of hate” in a way that reveals the weakness in the entire enterprise of listing and demonizing. “Neo-natzism is reprehensible, all agree – now that we have your attention lets see how we can grow the list. Don’t worry we won’t put you on it”.

  6. Barney
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Well worth reading Nick Cohen’s article in full – especially when he points out the head of the Muslim Contact Unit was the infamous Bob Lambert (see, for instance the link Cohen gives about him: he infiltrated an animal rights group, fathered a child with a member as part of his cover, and then left her).

    That Muslim Contact Unit that Lambert co-founded and was defending was in the news this year:

    Met police ignore Muslim officers’ ‘extremist views’ to avoid Islamophobia accusations, claims former sergeant

    Javaria Saeed, a practising Muslim, said she had complained to her bosses after hearing a fellow Muslim officer say FGM should not be criminalised because it was a “clean and honourable practice”.

    She said the same officer also said female Muslim victims of domestic violence should go to local Sharia courts rather than the police for help except in the “serious violent cases”.

    But when she raised her concerns with managers they refused to take action because they were afraid of appearing racist.

    Ms Saeed, who worked for Scotland Yard for 10 years, told The Sunday Times she had been demonised by some of her fellow Muslim officers for not wearing the veil and was told she was “better off at home looking after her husband”.

    The 35-year-old said she resigned in March from the force’s Muslim Contact Unit (MCU) after being fed up of the “political correctness” which allowed an “us and them” culture to develop among the 600 Muslim officers.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/islamophobia-uk-muslim-officers-extremist-views-ignored-met-police-a7237786.html

    So it looks like Nawaz’s concerns about the Unit, however he put them in 2010, were justified.

    • somer
      Posted November 1, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Also Shakeel Begg of the UK presents himself as a moderate community leader – he is a janus faced imam of Lewisham who took Lewisham police in completely –
      He recently lost a libel case that he brought against the BBC
      The man was skilled at presenting to non Muslims as an interfaith reconciliator and moderate – whilst being an extremist preacher to Muslims. His mosque remains affiliated with The Muslim council of Britain
      http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/10/stand-imam-bizarre-defence-shakeel-begg/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

      Meanwhile according to the Times on Sunday
      “A prominent sharia court has been accused of “sabotaging” criminal proceedings to protect alleged perpetrators of domestic violence against women.

      The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (Mat) in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, is one of the most influential of about 80 Islamic “councils” in Britain.

      It rules on disputes within Muslim communities and says on its website that it can make submissions to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to “reconsider” criminal charges against men accused of assaulting their partners.

      The tribunal says that it tries to provide “reconciliation” services after men have been charged with domestic violence.”

      http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/top-sharia-court-is-protecting-wife-beater-suspects-f8wphw7vg

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    “Meanwhile, from the comforts of sweet Alabama …”

    Nick Cohen is a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan? Maybe he should take that up with Neil Young.🙂

  8. coolname
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Great post, which reminded me of a sad example of list-making in the so-called “rational” wiki: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/RationalWiki:Webshites

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 2, 2016 at 1:33 am | Permalink

      From just a rapid skimming, that actually looked pretty handy to me. What are your objections?

      • J. Quinton
        Posted November 2, 2016 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        I think he’s complaining that rational wiki (with “rational” in quotes) is another front for regressive leftism.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted November 2, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

          I haven’t roamed around there for quite some time now, but when I first came across RationalWiki a few years ago, it seemed like a pretty useful site.

          In any event, whatever the inherent dangers of lists may otherwise be, I should think that a list of bogus websites might prove helpful, given that the internet is littered with so many sites containing absolute bullshit while masquerading as authoritative on some topic.

        • Diane G.
          Posted November 2, 2016 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

          Ah, thank you. And sorry to hear that.

          Also, I agree with Ken about this instance.

  9. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Those are some clear and powerful take-downs from Nawaz and N. Cohen, and I loved every bit of it. But referring to the SPLC as “diminutive, insecure power-craving fascists”, and their practices as “rote-learned, pseudo-leftist bombast” will never persuade them to change their ways, if getting them to change is what is desired. I still agreed with everything said, however.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    From the Nick Cohen piece:

    “In the liberal orientalist world view the only ‘authentic’ Muslim is a barbarian.

    . . .

    In short, a section of the Western left has adopted the ideology of the Salafists, Khomeinists and Islamists.”

    In a further irony, this is the self-same view of the “near east” propounded by the rightwing, by conservative scholars such as Bernard Lewis — the view Edward Said sought to deconstruct in his famous tract “Orientalism.”

    • somer
      Posted November 1, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      except quite a lot of what Said complained of was not valid. For example that painting in the wikileaks link was actually placed in Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman Empire and seat of the Caliphate, in the nineteenth century for the pleasure of the ruler.
      http://ibnwarraq.com/linda-nochlin-and-the-imaginary-orient-by-ibn-warraq/
      Not to mention the endless grievance about the Crusades when Muslim rule was supposedly benign. Any perusal of work of Bat Ye’or will correct this impression – which has become a post modern classic.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 1, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Oh, Said’s defense of some Eastern practices could go awry. But his critique of the West’s views on “Orientals” was right on the money.

        • Posted November 1, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

          Said is an Occidentalist. He makes sweeping generalisations about Western civilisation.

          He’s not even a halfway decent writer.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted November 1, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

            There are certainly things in Said’s book Orientalism that I take exception to. But you’d have to have a tin ear not to recognize that he was a fine and nuanced writer.

            Not that I need anyone to second my opinion on such matters, but I note in in passing that none other than that distinguished literary critic Christopher Hitchens shared this view. (I don’t have my copy of Hitch-22 in front of me at the moment, having lent it to a neighbor, but as I recall, one of the chapters of that book bore the name of Hitch’s dear friend “Edward Said.”

            • Zado
              Posted November 1, 2016 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

              I’m also separated from my copy of Hitch-22 at the moment. But if I recall correctly, Hitchens made a point in it to criticize Said’s apologia for Palestinian extremists, as well as for as his take on 9/11.

              I agree with Speaker to Animals’s statement above: Said is an Occidentalist. I wonder if anyone’s ever asked him if Israel has a right to exist, and what his answer was?

            • Zado
              Posted November 1, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

              I’d like to qualify my above statement with one from your link:

              “I knew and admired him for more than a quarter-century and I hope I will not be misunderstood if I say that his moral energy wasn’t always matched by equivalent political judgment. Indeed, it should be no criticism of anyone to say that politics isn’t their best milieu, especially if the political life has been forced upon them.”

              In other words, as brilliant as Said may have been at identifying problems, there were flaws in his prescription of solutions.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

                Look, my purpose in citing Said’s critique of traditional Western views of the “near east” was to point out the irony that the regressive left, the reactionary right, and the mullahs themselves all share certain underlying assumption about Muslims. I’ve stated here a couple of times now that I take issue with some of Said’s ideas.

                Also, it would be obtuse to claim that someone is a lousy writer just because you disagree with some of that person’s ideas. Doubly so if the claim is made without actually having read much of what that person has written. Giving people labels, and rejecting everything they have to say out of hand merely because they espouse some heterodox views, is precisely what we criticize regressive leftists for doing.

        • somer
          Posted November 1, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

          The West may once have been blatantly colonialist and referred to Muslims patronisingly as Mohammedans until say end of 1950s. But until 19th C it was the other way around – the Muslims were doing the colonising. Too many London and English universities churn out resentment of the west and a one sided story of Muslim victimhood. The BBC online entries for Islamic Slavery and Islamic Alhambra (Portugal and Spain) sound like Disneyland and are a joke. For 2 Centuries to end of the eighteenth century Moors took up to 2 million West Europeans as slaves from the coastline of W Europe. Throughout Islamic history Seagal estimates as many slaves were taken as the Atlantic slave trade. 60% of Islamic slavery was of females – mainly as domestic servants who were also made to provide sexual services to males (typically from the age 9 and Sharia states that a woman shouldn’t normally have a male slave and certainly can’t have sex with a male slave). Beyond the original conquests of Abrahamics and Zoroastrians, those not considered useful as slaves were frequently simply killed. Left wing slave historian Seagal writes that he thinks religious muslims would not have had sex with their female slaves. Really?? the Hideya actually states that a man may divorce a wife any time (except during her menstruation) and may have sex with his wife by force “if he please” and that the purpose of the wife is to serve him but not vice versa, and because a woman’s marriage is a form of servitude she can not be simultaneously a slave and married – so a slave must be freed (technically) before the master can marry her. The Reliance of the Traveller says that a woman is cursed by the angels until her husband is pleased with her. Sahih hadith (Bukhari, Muslim) say she goes to paradise if her hubby is pleased with her when she dies (and presumably to hell if he’s not).

          The apparent secularism and moderation of Muslim countries 40 or so years ago was a diversion of the norm they are returning to now – a diversion that was unjustly imposed for a while. First the the West had imposed semi western forms of law (not that Im saying that’s right but it was a fact many Muslim countries have some Napoleonic or British style law and used to have more of it). There was pressure to adapt to western norms (e.g. Iran’s Reza Shah Pavlavi – actually a nasty man but he aped the west for a while and was kept in power by the west. Also a couple of Afghanistan’s western educated kings encouraged a degree of westernisation when it looked beneficial to turn to the west, then they were forced to secularise some more by the Soviet regime which killed about 2 million people). The Ottomans tried to modernise a bit so their army would not be so vulnerable to western forces, then after defeat in WW1 the turks ditched their Caliphate altogether and became more or less secular (at least for a while). At the periphery of Islamic cultures where there has long been a syncretic mix of Islam and local beliefs – these are becoming more orthodox due to printed word, education and the mobility of hard line sheiks in the modern world – an inevitable process with globalisation.

          • Zado
            Posted November 1, 2016 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

            Well-summarized history.

            Post-colonial theory has left many Western intellectuals blind to pre-colonial reality, especially concerning the Ottoman Empire/Caliphate.

  11. tubby
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    The alarming way the SPLC specifically cited Theo van Gogh’s murder in a neutral way on a enemy list seems to imply that this is in fact something of a fatwa. Be a shame if something happened to you while associating with people on our list of enemies. Stay classy, SPLC.

    • somer
      Posted November 1, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      I remember reading plenty of comments on the ABC (never the broadcaster itself of course) indicating that Theo deserved his murder for making such a racist wacist film about Islam. Too many people want to be on one firm side of a simplistic line and they don’t care how many people drown in the process.

  12. TJR
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    “I’ve got a little list”

    https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Mikado/Act_I/Part_Va

  13. Rob
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    “Hate-group” is one of those terms that has invaded our vocabulary and is used far too freely, IMO. I take it with a grain of salt whenever I hear a group referred with that term. Too often, just because a group expresses an opinion, even an odious one, they are called a hate-group. It’s a nice tidy label that allows the hearer to lazily accept the judgment without examining the reasoning behind the ideas.

  14. Posted November 1, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    On the lighter side, when I read Michael Nugent, Ted registered; thought, wow, that’s amazing! But it quickly soaked in as highly improbable, so re-read as Michael.

  15. Tom
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    It may be that there is much room for argument here. The SPLC (to my knowledge) has not shown solid evidence that its claim is justified, therefore it seems little more than a smear to show how “even handed” it is: though unfortunately, not how honest.

  16. Christopher Bonds
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Some years ago I contributed to the SPLC because they helped to expose and bring lawsuits against neo-Nazi and similar groups. I haven’t supported their work for quite a while, and this news is another reason why I won’t. Failure to think for oneself and follow sheeplike the party line is not limited to the right wing, as your many posts dealing with free speech on campus have shown. I do not want conservative pundits and think tanks telling me what to think, and I don’t want the SPLC telling me either. I don’t even want Bill Moyers or Prof. CC telling me what to think! (I would hope Bill and Prof. CC would agree with that, too.)

  17. Posted November 1, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    If, FSM forbid, Ali or Nawaz are murdered, there will be no shortage of regressives who will use their presence on the list to justify their murder.

    They will be the same people who refused to condemn the Charlie Hebdo massacre because reasons.

  18. Rich Sanderson
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I still await a response on this story from a blogger at FreeThoughtBlogs or The Orbit. It is very noticeable how quiet they are. Perhaps it is because they often cite the SPLC, and now realise their credibility has been tarnished.

    Meanwhile, many at Patheos have covered it. Ophelia Benson has covered it as well. The SJWs and regressives…..zilch, nada.

    Anyway, I have e-mailed the SPLC to ask them whether they regard tearing a page of a Koran a “hate crime”. Could be up to 2 weeks until we find out whether they regard PZ Myers guilty of a “hate crime”.

    • somer
      Posted November 1, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Hard line regressives are like religious fundamentalists they are True Believers – plus their social standing in their peer group or particular work group even might be tarnished by second thoughts

    • Posted November 1, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      I suspect The Orbit are waiting for the FTB to come out in support of SPLC before denouncing FTB for not not going far enough, then adding a few names of their own – possibly Ophelia Benson.

    • Posted November 1, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      To her credit, I saw a tweet from Heina Dadabhoy with the hashtag #SPLCaddmetoo

      I don’t follow that crew too closely, but I think she does or did write for one of those sites.

  19. Richard Hughes
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the SPLC should find themselves on a list of regressive institutions?

  20. Seb
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    “…Nick Cohen, the unsung hero of true, non-regressive Leftism…”

    So true!

  21. Posted November 1, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Someone or some group which investigates bigots and the reprensible is going to get false positives from time to time. What matters is that they can be corrected. I must say I don’t know how SPLC works, so I don’t have any idea how plausible that is.

  22. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    When I was in high school in the early 1970s, my father received a mailing from the Democratic party saying “These 4 Republican politicians [names long forgotten] have put our Democrats on a blacklist…”

    I said, “But isn’t this a blacklist? A blacklist of people doing blacklisting?..”

    Dad thought I was quite perspicacious.

  23. Craw
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    As one of the objectors I commend you for this re-think. It is indeed over the line and it is particularly so when at least one other of the persons on the list, Geller, has been the target of an assassination attempt.

  24. Filippo
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    sub

  25. Posted November 1, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    The freedom to make lists is inherent in free speech. The answer is not to complain about lists but to push back against organizations that use lists to defame.

    • Historian
      Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree. The first amendment guarantees free speech. Public figures are defamed all the time, whether in lists or individually. It is a price our society pays for freedom. The remedy for defamatory speech is corrective speech. Censorship is not the answer. Unless you’re in favor of establishing “speech boards” then all this talk about lists is a waste of breadth. Perhaps other countries have such boards or commissions, but they are alien to one of the few unequivocal virtues of the American system. This talk of “hit lists” is over the top. Do you not think that the enemies of the people in question already know all about them? Criticize the SPLC all you wish. But, to tell them not to print lists is absurd. It is done all the time by all types of groups.

      Finally, the analogy to McCarthyism doesn’t hold up. Joseph McCarthy was a United States Senator from Wisconsin. He was chairman of a senatorial committee and used his power as chairman to make reckless accusations against innocent people. In other words, he used the power of the United States government to ruin lives. The SPLC is a private organization and has done what many other private organizations have done. If you don’t like what the SPLC has done then you should compose a list (oops, there’s that nasty word again), a very long list, of other private organizations that have also defamed people.

  26. jay
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    I remember reading a satirical news story where the SPLC had to include themselves in their hate group.

  27. Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Malgorzata made an excellent comment that I hadn’t thought of when signing the petition. I agree with him/her and I’m so glad I read that!

    I considered my signature to be a defense of Ali and Nawaz without realizing the implications of the list as a whole.

    • GBJames
      Posted November 2, 2016 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      While I take Malgorzata’s point, I think it is a case of making the perfect the enemy of the good.

      I see nothing wrong with tracking violence-prone extremist organizations. Such lists inform us all of the extent to which a particular kind of threat exists in our society.

      I do have a problem with conflating violence-prone extremists with people who are working to reduce violence-prone extremism.

  28. Malgorzata
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    There is a huge difference between “disapproving” and “censoring”. I wrote that a list compiled by self-appointed judges should meet with disapproval and condemnation, not that it should be forbidden. Free speech is too precious to tamper with. But when there is a general disapproval for some words or actions people refrain from saying the words or executing the actions. SPLC met only with approval of decent people when they wrote their “hit lists”. It was even reverently quoted in Wikipedia and meant a stain on the reputation on people named by them. If SPLC from the beginning met with ridicule and condemnation for their hit lists they would refrain from writing them.

    • eric
      Posted November 2, 2016 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      Well yes, we all have biases, and it is often only when something acts against those biases that we become aware of them.

      So yeah we libs should’ve been doing a better job of questioning the SPLC lists, their assumptions, research and criteria even when they were making lists we agreed with. But many of us didn’t. Mea culpa and time to learn from that. But we should also not throw the baby out with the bath water – which is to say that watch dog groups revealing when some public figure acts in reprehensible ways or has ties to the KKK or whatever are still good things to have. This particular watchdog group has lost a lot of its credibility due to some recent poor choices. But there is a kernel of their mission which is still important.

  29. Posted November 2, 2016 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I am with Goldwater on the “extremism” smear–it depends on what you are extremist about. An extreme is just a position on a scale. I am, proudly, an extremist on the First Amendment, the non-existence of god, and other issues. Ali and Nawaz seem to be extremist about the right things, such as genital mutilation, fatwas, restrictions on the rights of women, and other abominations inspired by fundamentalist Islam.

  30. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Several readers objected in general to such blacklists, and I can see the point of their objections.

    Those who so object to such lists may want to consider that the SPLC’s main substantive allegation against Nawaz is that he (Nawaz) provided a list of Islamist extremists to British security officials. I’m not sure how our objectors go about squaring the circle of asserting that such lists are malevolent per se yet justify what Nawaz did.

    Now, I’m not making a goose/gander argument here. I don’t think Nawaz’s list was inappropriate, and I remain steadfast in maintaining that it was flat wrong for the SPLC to include Nawaz and Hirsi Ali on its list. I think such lists can, under appropriate circumstances, serve a useful function. Given our nation’s troubled history with “blacklists,” of course, caution and forethought are called for in their use.

  31. Posted November 3, 2016 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I hate the use of “field guide” for this purpose.

    I’d like to ask who ought to be on this list, if such a list should exist at all.


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