SPLC: talk our kind of talk, or we will smear you as a bigot

by Grania Spingies

Ahnaf Kalam has posted an update to his petition at  Change.org [JAC: it now has almost 9,000 signatures]:

“Today, I was informed that the Southern Poverty Law Center has no intention of removing Maajid Nawaz from their list. ”

You can read the full statement here. This is the bit that makes my hair stand on end.

ministryoftruth

Apart from the frankly bizarre claim of “conspiracy theory” talk which makes me think that Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the SPLC, has never spent much time listening to Maajid Nawaz speak at all; the more chilling claim is that she (and presumably the SPLC) have already decided what the only acceptable talking points about Islam are. Any deviation from this will be punished.

She’s essentially engaging in rather dangerous and illiberal speech of her own. It is unbelievably chilling and threatening for her and her organisation to publicly denigrate and dismiss the work of Muslim (and ex-Muslim) men and women trying to reform aspects of their own religion.

I’ll leave you with a few clips of the sort of talk that appears to be “dangerous” and laden with “conspiracy theories”.

46 Comments

  1. Kevin
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    At least on this issue, Heidi Beirich sounds inflexible. It is hopeful that members within the SPLC will have a discussion about what they are sanctioning. If they are rational they will very likely reconsider their position. They are protecting no one by doing this, only censoring and condemning the selfsame brave individuals you would expect them to support.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    We see this all the time now that we get Trump on the boob tube 24 hours a day. There is nothing like being dead wrong and then doubling down. The SPLC and the director of the intelligence project…great name.

  3. Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    “Director of the Intelligence Project.” It sounds like the SPLC suffers from CIA envy.

  4. somer
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I have a bad feeling SPLC have gone into the Twilight Zone. Lets hope they can come out.

    • somer
      Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      And they think they are being cutting edge of social justice. This is the polarisation that has Trump at the other end. Or maybe Theresa May – who has just responded in Parliament to criticism for silence over the treatment of Olympic Gymnast Louis Smith. Louis Smith joked about Islam on Utube whilst very drunk – pretty silly and a bit distasteful yes, however predictably the Islamist response is extreme … death threats. He has also been made to do multiple public apologies whilst the Gymnastics association has suspended him for 2 months.
      What did Theresa May (daughter of a vicar) say about this?? Louis Smith needs a lesson because we have to protect “tolerance”. No “tolerance” for free speech though.

      • TJR
        Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        The treatment of Louis Smith is terrible.

        It seems that we still have blasphemy laws.

      • Posted November 2, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Another politician who does not know the difference between “tolerance” and “respect”.

        We are obligated to *tolerate* other people’s religions, not to *respect* them.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted November 2, 2016 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        And would all this be happening if he’d mocked Jesus praying to himself/God? We know the answer to that I think.

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 2, 2016 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

        “This is the polarisation that has Trump at the other end.”

        Or perhaps this is the horseshoe that has both ends of the political spectrum converging.

  5. darrelle
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Given the following from the SPLC’s About Heidi Beirich page, Heidi ought to be ashamed of herself. What she has said about this issue reveals a lack of scholarship, professionalism and intellectual integrity. She either hasn’t taken the time to do thorough research on Nawaz or something worse.

    “Heidi Beirich leads the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, “one of the most respected anti-terror organizations in the world,” according to the National Review. She is an expert on various forms of extremism, including the white supremacist, nativist and neo-Confederate movements as well as racism in academia. She oversees the SPLC’s authoritative, yearly count of the nation’s hate and hard-line, anti-government groups and is a frequent contributor to the SPLC’s investigative reports and speaker at conferences on extremism. Prior to joining the SPLC staff in 1999, Heidi earned a doctorate in political science from Purdue University. She is the co-editor and author of several chapters of Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction, published by the University of Texas Press in 2008.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted November 2, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      She probably does know about some forms of extremism, but it seems to be in the context of white supremicism in the US. It’s like saying you’re an historian and therefore know the history of the whole world.

      She has demonstrated herself woefully ignorant of Islam. In her comments she repeatedly conflates Islamic with Islamist. She clearly doesn’t know the difference. She takes Nawaz’s comments about Islamism and takes them to refer to all Muslims.

      • somer
        Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

        and she doesnt even credit Ayan hirsi ali at all … Its infuriating how regressive leftists always dump women in favour of their anti west stance and their ill defined version of justice. They refuse to accept that justice should be freedom from physical want, fair opportunities for those of good will and freedom from subordination and exploitation – and depends on context and the circumstances of society more than ideology. In the Arabian desert, in the past, a member of a non allied tribe or clan approaching your waterhole gets shot because in the desert the waterhole is the life of your kin. Tribe is not simply an ideology its kin relationships – with heavy emphasis on patriarchy. You have to be willing to fight rivals at every point for your relatives, you enforce absolute certainty of paternity on your women by total control and you unite around common culture crystalised in your religion. Extracting/negotiating favours for your kin is normal in politics – which is dominated by dictators who can pull the tribes into line and are legitimate as long as they are religious (just like it says in Reliance of the Traveller) and in the past they could relieve excess internal tension through jihadist war on infidels. The religion emphasises tribalism – not just ideological but kin and culture. Today – its those in the cities with more skills and less tribal contacts that are more moderate. The Sultanates and Caliphates were tribal states ruled by a single clan which used captured slaves and dhimmis as key parts of its administration to prevent other Muslim tribes from ruling – because the former could never have legitimacy to rule (altho there was a Mamluk dynasty, this was very much an exception)

        Its a radically different culture.

        The issue of SPLC behaviour is raised at the end of in interview by Sam Harris with Ayan Hirsi – but there is a lot of talk throughout about the regressive left stifling speech about Islam

        • somer
          Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

          didn’t mean to embed

        • rickflick
          Posted November 3, 2016 at 6:27 am | Permalink

          Good podcast. Ayan, in this setting, has a chance to clearly state her case. 1hr long.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted November 3, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

          I haven’t listened to Sam’s discussion with Ayaan yet – I’m hoping to later today – but one of the things I’ve always agreed with her most on is how when it’s women who are suffering, the Authoritarian Left just throws them under the bus. To them, it seems to me, it’s not as bad when it’s a woman that’s not being treated equally in non-Western societies.

  6. Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Nawaz is one of the few people talking sense on this subject.

    The SPLC has lost their minds.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I don’t know what “conspiracy theories” the SPLC is referring to, since it hasn’t identified any, either in its response to the Change.org petition or in its original “field guide” itself. The closest it comes in the latter is to accuse Nawaz of sending British security officials a list of “Muslim groups, politicians, a television channel and a Scotland Yard unit” that share “the ideology of terrorists.” The “ideology” referred to is Islamism, and the SPLC hasn’t alleged that Nawas is wrong about it, much less that his contention is the product of a paranoid conspiracy delusion.

    Speaking the “kind of talk [that] is not what we want people to discuss when discussing Muslims,” as the SPLC accuses Nawaz of doing, does not ipso facto make one an “anti-Muslim extremist,” which is what the SPLC has baselessly labeled him.

    • somer
      Posted November 2, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Also Maajid has never ever described Islamists as terrorists. And he carefully distinguishes Islamists from Muslims generally as those who want to impose their view of Islam on civil society. He merely says Islamism can influence young people with a negative mindset, and in some instances this intensifies into violence. He is at pains to say that the great majority of Islamists are non violent, but they can trap young people in a mindset that can go on to further extremes. Moreover his organisation encourages the government to focus more on steering people away from radicalism, via the right Muslim contact, and setting up environments where the issues can be freely argued (e.g. campus societies debating with Islamists) rather than monitoring people or suppressing expression. He is about holding up liberalism and free speech as a good social example and value.

      The SPLC plainly refuse to listen properly or read properly his position – which he has made copiously available. Maybe key members of the leadership are just basically opposed to free speech these days at least regarding some groups – and enforce a party line as defined by regressive left ideas.

    • Posted November 2, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      I’m an “anti-Muslim extremist”. But what I am is an anti “Muslim extremist”. Quote marks are important.

  8. geckzilla
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    [satire start]
    Maajid does his work all for the money and fame, just like those women who come forward with their rape claims.
    [end satire]

  9. Posted November 2, 2016 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    sub

    • rickflick
      Posted November 2, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      sub.sub

  10. Malgorzata
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    sub.

  11. anon
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    This response is not surprising. After all, SPLC is an ally of islamic extremists – it’s no surprise their rhetoric is very similar.

  12. GBJames
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    sub

  13. Posted November 2, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    This is disheartening. Maybe one should ask: cui bono?

  14. Marina
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    My question is where does this lady get most of her money from? how much from Quatar, Riad?

    • eric
      Posted November 3, 2016 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      I don’t think the implication (that she or the SPLC has been bought) is needed or warranted. My guess is Ms. Beirich’s overzealousness here is better explained by the adage ‘when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.’

      It also struck me as weird that they are discussing how they want people to talk about Muslims when Nawaz is a Muslim. Another sign of the denial/downplaying of moderate Islam, maybe?

  15. Kevin
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    After asking the SPLC to not label Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali as anti-muslim, I received this letter:

    Thank you for writing in about the SPLC’s report, “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.”
    We understand that not everyone in this report is equal in their rhetoric and positions on Islam. However, its purpose was to point out that many people who regularly appear on television news shows as Islamic experts routinely espouse a wide range of falsehoods that depict Muslims as intent on undermining American constitutional freedoms or prone to support terrorism.
    Promulgating misinformation – whether intentional or not – pollutes democratic discourse, makes it more difficult for citizens to cast informed votes, and limits the ability to participate meaningfully in public debate.
    When people use their public platform to make false claims, such as Muslims being responsible for “70% of the violence in the world today,” they give credence to fringe activists and politicians who are pushing extreme anti-Islam policies, such as banning all Muslims from immigrating to the United States. Remarks like these are not thoughtful criticisms of Islam — they are factually incorrect statements that some people will accept as fact and, as a result, have a distorted view of all Muslim people.
    We take your criticism seriously, and will take it under advisement when writing on this topic in the future.
    Sincerely,
    SPLC

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 2, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Well, then, will the SPLC be changing the name of its list to “Field Guide to People Who Sometimes Say Inaccurate Stuff About Islam”?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 2, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        The remit of the SPLC panel members who issued this field-guide manual was to call out so-called “hate speech.” They’re not mullahs charged with correcting misinterpretations of Islam.

    • Posted November 2, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Ok then SPLC, who are you accusing of saying that Muslims are responsible for “70% of the violence in the world today” and the other things?

      • Brit
        Posted November 6, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

        Call me an anti-muslim, racist, bigot if you must, but as a non-expert on the subject, “70% of the violence in the world today” doesn’t seem at all unreasonable, an underestimate more likely. For goodness sake! Islam has pretty much the whole world so terrified that most are in full appeasement mode.

        I call for everyone on this dangerous list to be supported. Not just Ali and Nawaz.

  16. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Well, color me surprised (but not really). Since this organization has already decided that theirs is the moral high ground, then it follows that any criticism of it is automatically immoral.

  17. Jeff
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I emailed SPLC about this issue – take note of their “defense.” The only specific justification I got for stonewalling Maajid was that “some” people have said that Muslims are responsible for 70% of the violence in the world.
    ——————————————-Description:

    Hi – I recently read about your refusal to remove Maajid Nawaz from your “list”, as well as the justification for doing so.

    I’m not sure which is more confused, but clearly you are confused on this matter. I’ve listened to Nawaz speak a few times, and in every case I have come away thinking his main points are: 1.) Fundamentalism based on literal interpretations of scripture is a problem, and 2.) Muslims need to undertake the project of interpreting scripture in secular-oriented ways that lead to acceptance of open societies without violence.

    Your statement that this narrative amounts to “conspiracy theories” and “Muslim bigotry” surely indicates how confused you are on this topic. It’s clear you are not thinking rationally, and I urge you to reconsider.

    Jeffrey Harding
    PhD and postdoc Fellow

    ——————————————-
    Dear Mr. Harding,

    Thank you for writing in about the SPLC’s report, “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.”

    We understand that not everyone in this report is equal in their rhetoric and positions on Islam. However, its purpose was to point out that many people who regularly appear on television news shows as Islamic experts routinely espouse a wide range of falsehoods that depict Muslims as intent on undermining American constitutional freedoms or prone to support terrorism.

    Promulgating misinformation – whether intentional or not – pollutes democratic discourse, makes it more difficult for citizens to cast informed votes, and limits the ability to participate meaningfully in public debate.

    When people use their public platform to make false claims, such as Muslims being responsible for “70% of the violence in the world today,” they give credence to fringe activists and politicians who are pushing extreme anti-Islam policies, such as banning all Muslims from immigrating to the United States. Remarks like these are not thoughtful criticisms of Islam — they are factually incorrect statements that some people will accept as fact and, as a result, have a distorted view of all Muslim people.

    We take your criticism seriously, and will take it under advisement when writing on this topic in the future.

    Sincerely,
    SPLC

    ——————————————–

    Dear SPLC,

    While I appreciate and share your general concerns, you’re still not thinking clearly on this issue.

    My concern – shared by many others – was why, specifically, Maajid Nawaz is being lumped into this group and remains on “the list”?

    Has Maajid made the claim that “70% of all the violence in the world is because of Muslims?” If so, please provide a reference.

    And surely you must know, that you’ve now done exactly what you claim to be against. You’ve pointed out an instance where someone (is is Maajid?) made an inflammatory and incorrect claim, perhaps in a reformists orientation – and used that as a part of your justification for stonewalling Maajid.

    I have supported SPLC in the past, but hopefully this type of self-contradiction and unreasonableness has not become the organization’s new norm.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted November 2, 2016 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      Ophelia Benson at Butterflies & Wheels has received exactly the same bit of disingenuous boilerplate, as pretty clearly, must have everyone who wrote directly to the SPLC. If they have not studied anything else, the people at SPLC have certainly studied the art of bureaucratic waffling as a way of refusing to admit a mistake and refusing to take into account what your critics actually say, and, with their closing remarks about taking criticism seriously and taking it ‘under advisement’, making it clear that they intend to do nothing whatsoever to rectify the situation they have created. What a craven & dishonest letter.

  18. Carl
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Sam Harris has a new conversation with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on his site. I haven’t listened yet so I don’t know if SPLC is touched on.

  19. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    It is a truism that once in a blue moon conspiracy theories turn out to be true. I won’t link to Alex Jones’ list of true conspiracy theories, but I will link to one by Business Insider.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/5-conspiracy-theories-that-turned-out-to-be-true-2015-6

  20. Jonathan Dore
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Some 12-year-olds were allowed to produce and publish a report without sufficient supervision, and now the SPLC has to deal with the consequences. None of the responses I’ve seen them make sound as if they were made by even a reasonably well-informed adult, let alone activists with specialized knowledge of their field.

  21. Ken Phelps
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    From the previous post on Giraffes: “This makes me suspect that behind the “splitting” of giraffes is a conservationist motivation, not an attempt to partition out nature in biologically and evolutionarily meaningful ways.”

    Good old human nature. Self-appointed “Higher Purpose Persons” in every walk of life have a tendency to define reality to meet their own ends.

  22. Posted November 3, 2016 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    For gluttons for this topic, I’ve done a *list* of articles recently on this topic:
    http://thebattleoftours.blogspot.hk/2016/11/supporting-maajid-nawaz-and-ayaan-hirsi.html

  23. somer
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    We need the Maajids and Ayaans now. The West is insanely accommodating of jihadis at times.
    Moazzam Begg is being consulted for a security exercise in Brussels Airport – Begg has strong form on support for jihadist outfits

    “To sum up, the truth is that Begg and Cage have one mission in life: to help jihadis and wreck the entirely legitimate and supremely urgent security operations of Western democracies.

    One would hope that aviation security professionals, of all people, would see this clearly and keep Mr Begg well beyond the political perimeter. Instead they appear to be flying blind.”

    http://hurryupharry.org/2016/11/02/flying-blind-in-belgium/

  24. Posted November 3, 2016 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    The effect of such a list can be dramatic over time. We’ve seen this before where suddenly the only sources who would want to report on something are on the Right. This is scary.

    Once only Right Wing sources want to be critical of Islam, and cite Nawaz and Hirsi Ali, their journey to being considered Right is completed, and it’s entirely manufactured. This is then a further reason, or perversly, confirmation that they were right (in both senses) all along.

    Not only is this pernicious effect already visible in other instances, in addition it is also feeding the Right with readers (where some can be porched), and subsequently with disappointed moderates who might flip over to “Alt Right” entirely.

    It also leads to censorship and chilling effects, which of course what these people want by staying vague (see Nawaz description in particular, sharing Jesus & Mo or such positions that being fully covered should be made against the law in some instances, such as visiting a bank).

    There’s now a strong tendency to yank up the tribal contrast. Where grey areas and varying degrees of bad (if you insist on that perspective) existed before, it’s normal now that everything is one big smear of only the extremest. It has become a binary. Either you are off the list or on some list.

    The atheist/secular “movement”, has its own hit list in the form of a Block Bot (on Twitter), with the main feature to keep a public blacklist of alleged harassers and misogynists etc. Like in this case, its purpose is hegemony of interpretation, and how people end up there is the same mix of real cases and ideology.

    Such lists almost work in reverse. The real bigots aren’t bothered by it and it’s widely known anyway: hence the sole purpose of having them on the list is to give it the appropriately negative flavour, the sticky substance if you will that is then artfully smeared on the real targets, those whose thoughts are to be policed, and who are on it unwittingly (and likewise in a representative fashion for everyone else, as again, real bigots don’t care, but those who identify with Nawaz or Hirsi Ali might). In other words, the list’s power lies in the guilty-by-association built into its design.

  25. J. Quinton
    Posted November 3, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Isn’t Maajid Nawaz still a Muslim? If Heidi Beirich is claiming that Nawaz says all Muslims are potential infiltrators, does Beirich think that Nawaz thinks of himself as an infiltrator?

    No, that can’t be right. No one is that dumb.

  26. Posted November 3, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps we need to turn this around: Either SPLC “talk[s] our kind of talk or we will smear [them].”

    I ran into a similar problem with a different civil rights foundation which promotes separation of church and state in a particular sector of American government. I protested the self-aggrandizing, media-seeking, sorry excuse for a token Muslim on that civil rights foundation’s board (of advisors, I think) and recommended someone much more like Nawaz. The response I received was this: No. Never. Tell anyone about this, and we will hit you hard with all kinds of lawsuits. CAIR likes us, and we like that Muslim you don’t, so screw you. Go away!

    Names are omitted to avoid getting sued. Whether the suit would hold up doesn’t matter. My finances and my health would not.

    It sounds like Trump. It wasn’t, but the similarity is very concerning.


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] those changes may explain a lot of  Trump’s support, even if they don’t admit it (here; also here and here). In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that the counties in Iowa and Wisconsin that […]

  2. […] period — and why white voters in those states overwhelmingly support Mr. Trump. (Here; also here and […]

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

%d bloggers like this: