Archive for Reza Aslan

Exclusive Loonwatch Interview with Reza Aslan

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2011 by loonwatch

Recently we sat down with Muslim scholar and best selling author Reza Aslan for an in-depth interview on a wide range of issues. This is the first in what will hopefully be a longstanding series of interviews that are planned with high profile scholars and movers and shakers in pop culture.

We covered Reza’s days as a break dancer, conversion to Christianity and return to Islam, his thoughts on Islamophobia, Robert Spencer, the Arab Spring, reformation of Islam and the current saber-rattling with Iran.

It was a fascinating and hilarious interview and I think you will find we covered new ground, such as the breaking news that Reza is willing to finally reciprocate Robert Spencer’s man crush!

Loonwatch (LW): I heard you used to break dance?

Reza Aslan (RA): Yes, (laughter) I used to be a break dancer. My name used to be El Penguin, because I was so bow legged.

LW: Did you ever graduate to doing head spins and flares?

RA: I could do a really poor head spin but it was definitely not my forte with my footwork. I was in a (laugh) break dance troupe called Etron, which was Norte spelled backwards because we were on the north side of Fresno.

LW: Do you still break once in a while?

RA: Hell no. If I tried to break dance today I would definitely break something. Oh, I could still pop-block with the best of them but break dancing, no.

LW: We heard in the course of one of your interviews that you converted to Evangelical Christianity at one point in your life?

RA: Yes, when I was 15 years old…

LW: Were you practicing taqiyyah?

RA: Yes. (laughter) My entire life is just one big practice of taqiyyah. Like everything I do as a human being.

Actually, it was part of this group called Young Life, pretty famous nation-wide group. They go into High Schools and Junior High Schools and they evangelize. I went to this summer camp where you hear the Gospel message, and yeah when I was 15 years old, a sophomore, and so it was before my sophomore year of HS. Yeah, I found Jesus, he was awesome.

LW: How was that, what was that experience like when you were an Evangelical?

RA: It’s magical! The thing about Evangelical Christianity and why I think it is so appealing, particularly to young people is that I mean it is just such a brilliant and profoundly moving story. There is a reason why it is called the greatest story ever told, right? That God had this physical son, like His little baby boy you know that came down to earth and because you yourself are such an awful human being, because of all the terrible things you do, God decided to have His son tortured and murdered in order to save you from yourself and that if you don’t accept that story, not only are you spitting in God’s face but oh yeah you are also going to burn in hell for all eternity.

It’s an amazing story, that’s why it is so appealing. Now the important thing to understand is that is what it precisely is, a story. I am not by any means discounting it or criticizing it. All religion is story, all mythology is story but that is a particularly good one, and it’s a story, I think particularly for young people looking for easy answers to complicated questions can flock to, and the last 2000 years are testimony to that.

LW: That is quite profound. I was wondering, going from that to becoming an Islamic scholar and someone who regularly speaks on Islam, how did you return to Islam? Was it a going back to your roots?

RA: Well, after High School, like most people who are introduced to Evangelical Christianity when they’re kids then go to college you realize, “oh wow, a lot of the stuff that I was told by my youth leaders and my pastors was kind of nonsense actually” and so you begin to question those issues, question those ideas.

I went to a Catholic College, a Jesuit Catholic College and began studying the Bible and particularly the New Testament from a scholarly perspective and the more I kept studying the more I realized almost everything I was told about the Bible and about the New Testament and frankly about the Gospel story was false. More importantly the truth behind the Gospel story, the truth behind who Jesus was and what Jesus really said was far more interesting, far more profound and frankly far more appealing than the false notions of it that I was fed as a kid. So throughout my early years in college I decided to get a degree in Biblical Studies. I became fluent in Greek and became a young scholar about the origins of Christianity and the historical Jesus and then when I graduated I was heading off to Harvard to get a Masters degree in that topic when one of my undergraduate professors, one of my mentors, Katherine Bell sat me down and basically said, “Why aren’t you studying Islam?” and I said “what do you mean?”

She basically said something at the time that really changed my life, which was by the time I get my PhD in Bibilical Studies no one is going to care about Biblical Studies anymore, everyone is going to want to have scholars and experts on Islam. You know, this was in 1995 when she said this, she obviously was quite prescient in what she was talking about. She gave me a couple of books and obviously my family was nominally Muslim, well not really, culturally Muslim, just as most Christians are culturally Christian and I had grown up surrounded by Muslim culture, so I was somewhat familiar with it, but of course like most people of a particular religion I really knew nothing about the religion that I “called my own.”

I spent the summer before I went off to Harvard just reading some books about Islam, reading the Quran really for the first time as an adult and the more I started reading about it, the history, the theology, the Quranic studies, the more I was just kind of excited about it. I always talk about how I had an emotional conversion to Christianity but a rational conversion to Islam. Reading about the way Islam talks about the divine and the relationship between human beings and God and conceptions of the universe and ideas of the transcendent, these made a hell of a lot more sense to me cosmologically speaking than some old man in the sky impregnated a virgin and His son came out and died for us.

It’s just that the symbols of Islam suddenly broke through and made sense to me in a way that traditional Protestant Christianity never really did, and then when I entered Harvard the first day of class I had to get all new classes and change my advisers and tell everyone, “by the way I am not here to do what I told everyone I was going to do, instead I am going to study Islam.”

LW: Wow, fascinating, you don’t hear today, discussion about Islam and rationality often…

RA: There is no more rational religion than Islam. Islam is founded upon reason and rationality, very much like Judaism. You have to understand that Islam and Judaism are legalistic religions, Christianity is a creedal religion. Christianity is all about belief, right? In fact, if you are a Catholic that creedal formulation is a complex formula, “I believe in God the Father maker of heaven and earth, I believe in Jesus His only begotten son, I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the Holy Apostolic Church, etc. etc.”

In Judaism and Islam there is no creedal statement as such. In Islam the creedal statement is as simplistic as it possibly can get. “There is no god but God, Muhammad is God’s messenger,” that’s the sum in total of creed when it comes to Islam, as a result both Islam and Judaism developed as highly legalistic religions. In legalistic religions the people who usually control the interpretation are scholars. In a creedal religion the people who control interpretation are preachers, priests and pastors, you see what I mean?

In other words, and by no means am I saying priests aren’t intelligent, of course they are, and often times they go through enormous amounts of religious training, but their job is to shepherd a flock, not to deal with the very high rational concepts of legal theory that is born from a religion founded on orthopraxy, correct practice instead of orthodoxy, correct belief.

It’s just another wide spread misperception in the United States about Islam, that Islam is a religion that cannot reconcile reason and faith.

The only real global religion which has dealt with that problem really is Christianity. I mean if you are talking about Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine and all the way to Paul Tillick and Reinhold Niebuhr, these are the great Christian theologians that for thousands of years have been struggling to reconcile faith and reason. That hasn’t really been that strong of an argument in Judaism and Islam, the argument has been about the different “rational answers” that are possible to the various questions, theological questions that Islam and Judaism bring up, but the question is not should reason even play a role.

LW: It seemed the Pope didn’t help that case with the Regensburg Address. What was he after with that? When Pope Benedict made that speech, he used Islam as a counter example to Christian rationality.

RA: Yeah, that’s the thing. Of course the Pope was advancing an old Papal argument against Islam that goes back to the Crusades, but again what the Pope is talking about is it took Christianity 1600-1700 years to reconcile  reason and faith and so therefore Islam needs to do the same, without recognizing that during those 1700 years in which reason and faith were divorced in Christianity, they were married very well in both Islam and Judaism.

LW: This might be a good time to segway to the Anti-Muslim Catholic polemicist Robert Spencer, one of the premiere Islamophobes today. He is funded by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which in turn is funded by right-wing foundations, you’ve probably read about this in the Fear Inc. report already. We’ve been tracking him and what he says about you…

RA: Oh yeah he is in love with me.

LW: (laugh)He calls you all sorts of names, calling you a “metrosexual,” “boy Reza Aslan,” “Bright Young Muslim Thing,” “little boy Reza,” “pathetic little Islamic Supremacist Reza,” “pseudo-Moderate,” etc. What is behind all this name calling, he seems to have a crush on you?

RA: I do think he has a crush on me. As a lot of people know, this guy is someone who poses as some sort of pseudo-scholar because he has a one year Masters degree from a school in North Carolina and because of that a lot of people let him get away with the asinine things that he says. I think I was probably the first person to utterly embarrass and shame him on national television and since that time he has taken all the internal feelings of inadequacies that I am sure he has, poured it all out on me and I am perfectly happy with that. The fact of the matter is that if Robert Spencer thinks you are wrong then you got to be right.

I am pleased as punch, every word that Robert Spencer writes about me puts a gigantic smile on my face. You know he used to actually email me his columns as though I actually care, you know, to read the drivel that he writes. We reply to him just making fun of him.

In fact, I’m going to say right now, and you can publish this, I’m kind of in love with Robert Spencer.

(laughs)

There’s something about that giant beer gut and the furry face, there’s this kind of walrus quality to him, that, I don’t know how to say this, that just turns me on, and I think I am pretty sure, that he feels the same about me.

LW: He definitely has a man crush on you.

RA: He definitely has a man crush on me and I guess what I am trying to say is that for the first time I am ready to publicly admit those feelings are reciprocated.

LW: (laughs)This is breaking news.

RA: And I know Robert Spencer reads Loonwatch and I just want him to know: “Robert, I think we may have something here. Robert I think there is a possibility for the two of us to have a future together, this could really be a beautiful love story.” And, if he is willing to finally admit to his true feelings for me, I am in the position now where I can reciprocate those feelings.

LW: Amazing, maybe he will finally admit what he has been feeling all this time.

RA: I think he is ready to admit it. But only if his mom lets him…and by his mom I mean Pamela Geller…

(laughs)

LW: Who in this relationship, between him and Geller, who holds more sway?

RA: Are you kidding me! I’m surprised that in pictures of the two of them that she is not holding a leash.

(laughs)

LW: He is enthralled by her, always defending her loony comments, such as her advocating the nuking of Tehran, Mekka and Medina.

RA: Of course Pamela Geller is known  most for her rationality.

(laughs)

It’s not a surprise to hear those comments. No look…

LW: How does she get away with it?

RA: What do you mean!? This is how the world works, the more insane you are the more attention you get, exhibit A: Herman Cain…this is how it works, but in all honesty I do just want to say I make fun of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer because they are clowns and you are supposed to laugh at clowns.

This idea that these are people who deserve engagement (laughs)…Spencer’s fans email me all the time and say “you’re afraid to debate Robert Spencer.” No, I don’t debate Robert Spencer for the same reason I don’t debate a four year old child because this is not about a conversation. You cannot have a rational conversation with a clown and the fact of the matter is that the reason Robert Spencer is constantly begging people like myself to debate him is because he knows that appearing on the same platform legitimizes his view.

You are not going to have a debate about the African American experience in the United States with the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (laughs), that person does not belong in that debate. To have him there by definition legitimates his position.

So Spencer, Geller, Emerson, these guys belong in the gutter where they are. That’s where they are, that’s where they belong. They get a lot of attention because Fox News keeps inviting them and good for them. Fox News has become the go to Islamophobic network for these kinds of guys, and that’s great, and they are going to keep preaching to the same choir that watches Fox. Good for them but the notion that these guys somehow belong in the mainstream, that they belong  on a dais debating socio-religious matters with an actual scholar is absurd.

LW: As you know we have been trying to debate Spencer, and as you say he tries to get you guys so he can legitimate his views. However, he has been avoiding our entreaties to debate, why do you think that is.

RA: I’ll tell you why because you’ll make fun of him. You know, I call this the Colbert Principle. People always ask me how do I respond to these anti-Muslim clowns like Geller and Spencer and my answer is I don’t respond to them, I make fun of them. It’s the Colbert Principle, if you respond to the inanities that come out of Robert Spencer’s mouth by definition you are saying that it’s worth a response and it’s not, what it is, is worth making fun of, and in this case I would really like to thank Geller and Spencer for being so easy to make fun of. It’s really effortless.

Robert Spencer and Julius Streicher

LW:   Recently we posted a piece comparing quotes Spencer has made about Islam and Muslims to those by a precursor to the Nazi era, Julius Streicher’s quotes about Jews and Judaism. It’s interesting because if you just change “Jew” to “Muslim” or “Judaism” to “Islam” they are identical. Yet Spencer in one of his posting calls you the modern day “Fritz Kuhn,”  the leader of the American Nazi party. Would you consider this unintended projection on his part?

RA: One thing we shouldn’t forget about these guys is that they have been accused by organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish organizations of being anti-Semitic. It’s not only that they hate Muslims, they like to pretend that they are supporters of Israel, etc. but the statements they have made about Jewish politicians, look at what they have said about Elena Kagan.

Alicia Rosenberg, the Atlantic writer who just wrote a piece on All American Muslim was called a dhimmi Jew by Pamela Geller, I mean these guys are anti-Semites. Again that’s not me, that’s the Southern Poverty Law Center calling them anti-Semites, that’s the anti-Defamation League calling them anti-Semites. I think their words speak for themselves.

LW: I don’t want to spend too much time on Spencer but one thing I did want to bring up is Spencer’s frequent attempts to link you to the “Mullahs” of Iran. He casts aspersions on really what seems to be a great organization that you are a board member of named, NIAC, National Iranian American Council.

RA: It’s a council actually that is trying to keep Iran and the United States from engaging in a global war, so of course they are obviously agents of the Iranian Republic. You know, come on, don’t we all know this.

Yes, I am also ready to admit that my parents brought me here at 7 years old as a sleeper agent and I am going to be activated any moment now, my code word is Cello Kabob, if I hear Cello Kabob then I am immediately activated and then my training as an agent for the Islamic Republic kicks in, so be careful.

LW: (laughs) He links to this group called the Pro-democracy Movement of Iran, I don’t know if you have ever heard of this group, PDMI, we went to their website and it’s a ridiculous website. It has articles on there supporting the Mujahideen-e Khalq.

RA: Exactly, which is all you need to  know. These “pro democracy sites” are run by neo-conservatives, by people with a very clear agenda, the same agenda that they had for Iraq, so the very fact that they support a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of a number of American citizens as well as Iranian citizens, Iranian non-combatants. An organization that has repeatedly been cited for torturing its own members, for brainwashing its own members, for taking children and turning them into armed militants, but the idea that these pro-democracy movements in the United States are supporting the MEK is really the only thing you need to know about these organizations.

LW: All of this exposes a deep hypocrisy when they are badgering Muslim organizations on the flimsiest of guilt by association smears. Regularly calling Muslim Advocates, CAIR, ISNA “Hamas-linked,” this is their favorite trope.

RA: But again this is what I’ve been trying to say, this is just an indication of why these groups do not deserve a response because when they say NIAC is a Hezbollah supporting group, you can’t respond to idiocy, you can’t respond to those kinds of moronic statements, because again that sort of bigotry does not reside in the mind, that bigotry resides somewhere more visceral. It’s much more, it’s something that exists in the gut, in the chest and that kind of feeling can not be deflected by logic, by reason. It’s immune to reason.

LW: Staying on the topic of Iran, there has been a lot of discussion about Iran in the media. Of course not too long ago we had the case of the alleged car dealer mastermind terrorist. One day it was news and the next day it wasn’t, you said about it, “It’s sloppy. It’s uncharacteristic,” … “It really does not serve Iran’s interest in any legitimate way.”

Do you think all this activity regarding Iran is just a preliminary way to pave the way for war with Iran, much in the same way as was done with Iraq?

RA: No. We are not going to war with Iran. Nobody is going to war with Iran, neither the United States or Israel. I can tell you for a fact that Israel is not going to war with Iran because Israel keeps talking about it. If anybody who has studied Israeli politics at all can tell you anything is if Israel talks about bombing Iran then that means it has no intentions of doing it. When the Israelis want you dead you just die, OK.

No one sends an invitation first, no one issues a press release and this is exactly what is going on and I love it, it’s like the media is a monkey that sees something shiny in the corner. There was this great piece that I circulated not too long ago in which it was just a collection of headlines from major newspapers and magazines: the Atlantic, Harpers, New York Times, Los Angeles Times.

A collection of headlines describing imminent war, the imminent bombing of Iranian nuclear sites by Israel and or the United States, the collection was from the last fifteen years, so again, all we have to remember is the cover of Atlantic last month, Jeffrey Goldberg’s article that Israel is six months from bombing Iran. This is every few months, people start to raise this specter that Israel is going to bomb Iran. Israel, America these aren’t stupid countries. They know better than you and I the repercussions of such a conflict. I can show you half a dozen quotes from Ehud Barak himself, the defense minister of Israel stating in no uncertain terms the idiocy of such a campaign. So the idea that he has all of a sudden changed his mind and is planning to bomb Iran is ridiculous, I think this is just what Israel does every few months to ratchet up the pressure on the United States to be more aggressive and robust in trying to counter Iran’s nuclear program.

LW: Well  that really puts it in perspective. So you think it is only saber rattling and positioning within the region.

RA: That’s all it is and that’s all it’s ever been for the last 20 years.

LW: Interesting. OK, to pick your theological brain for a second, Joel Rosenberg wrote this article for Fox News about why Iran’s leaders believe the end of days has come, and this is a regular idea thrown out there by Islamophobes; that we have to fear a dangerous off shoot of Shia’ Eschatology. Is there any truth to this idea?

RA: No. It’s as true as George Bush thinking that Jesus made him president so to bring about the Messiah’s return, people were saying that as well. It doesn’t mean that George Bush didn’t believe that Jesus made him president, it’s not that George Bush didn’t believe the Messiah would return some day, but the notion that, that belief predicated his foreign policy is nuts and the same thing with Iran.

Mahdi

It’s just part of this fear-mongering that has been going on for a very long time and again predicated on this idea that Iran is this irrational actor, that if they manage to get a nuclear weapon, the first thing they would do is commit suicide with it. Of course, don’t you know it! That’s all they want, so that all 75 million Iranians could be nuked off the face of the earth as soon as possible.

Again, the stupidity of that statement speaks for itself. Iran is an oppressive, autocratic, blood-thirsty government that tortures and murders its own citizens, that supports terror organizations around the world because it feels as though it benefits from doing so, but it is not stupid. What your readers should understand more than anything else about the Iranian government is that they care more about their own survival than they care about anything else. So again, these kinds of statements are not the kind made by foreign policy experts, these are not statements by experts in the region, these are statements by the amateurs who read an article one day about the fact that the Shia believe in a Messiah and then continued to regurgitate the same nonsense over and over again and in any case it doesn’t matter because these people have no effect whatsoever on what our government does.

It’s not as though the state department is sitting around wondering what Frank Gaffney thinks about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

LW: One of the topics that you hit upon in your work in No God but God and in speeches and lectures is that Islam is in a reformation period. Seeing the events in the Arab Spring, and the changes sweeping the region how do you see that idea of reform playing a part in these protests, if any?

RA: The reformation of Islam is not something that is new or unique, it has been going on for over one hundred years, and again you have to remember reformation is an actual, technical term. It doesn’t mean reform, what it means is the inevitable conflict that arises in all religious institutions over who has the right to define faith, is it the individuals, or is it the institution itself.

That conflict is ever present, it exists in all religious traditions, but in times of societal stress, in times of social ruptures that conflict jumps to the surface as it did with Temple Judaism in first century Palestine that ultimately resulted in the destruction of the Temple and the construction of Rabbinic Judaism. As it did in the fifteenth and sixteenth century in Europe, in which the conflicts over the Pope’s authority to define Christianity ultimately fractured Christianity into competing sects and schisms based on sola scriptura; that individuals should define what scripture means for themselves, not have the Pope tell them what it means, and it’s been going on in Islam since really the end of the 19th century as a result of the colonial experience in the Middle East and the rapid rise of literacy and education.

So this idea that the Islamic reformation being something new or unique is really borne out of a misunderstanding of what that even means, and so the relationship to what is happening with the so called Arab Spring and the phenomenon that I am talking about and writing about is very clear.

These are kids, these are young people who because of their education, because of their literacy, because of their access to new ideas, new sources of information are no longer interested in the answers given to them about religion and society, whether its by religious institutions, the clerics, the Mullahs or even political organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood or the National Islamic Front.

Nor are they interested in their governmental institutions at all. What you saw on the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria is not an Islamic Awakening by any means, these people are not calling for Islam, on the contrary the traditional Islamic authorities have been totally left behind by these protests, they didn’t have anything to do in starting them, they didn’t have anything do in perpetuating them and they have nothing to do with defining them so this generation of young people is the inevitable result of a century long process whereby individuals in the Muslim world have begun to decide for themselves without the mediation of any institutional authority, whether religious or governmental, what it means to be Muslim in the modern world, what the answers to Islam are as a result of the rapid changes that are taking place in their society.  I’ve been saying it’s going to happen for over a decade and so those people who were saying the Arab Spring came as a surprise or it wasn’t going to happen weren’t paying attention.

LW: You wrote in Tablet and Pen “The United States has displaced the old colonial powers to become, for better or worse, a dominant and unavoidable presence in the lives of the people of the Middle East. The consequences of American involvement in the region will be felt for many years to come.” How do you think America and our government in particular has reacted to this, do they know what they are doing over there?

RA: No, of course not. The American public? Of course not. I think the American public recognizes that we have had a fairly destructive presence and influence in the Middle East and in the pursuit of our national security and economic interests we’ve made a lot of enemies in that region. So i think most young people know that now, it’s kind of part of the national narrative, whether those young people know how embroiled we still are in the region, and how we still are making disastrous choices not just for the peace and stability of the Middle East, but when it comes to our own safety and security I think for the most part young people are more interested in Snookie’s panties than they are in what is going on in Yemen or Syria.

(laughs)

LW: You debated one of the New Atheists, Sam Harris. Is Sam Harris a smart guy? What were your thoughts about him?

RA: There is no doubt Sam Harris is a smart guy, he has a PhD in neuro-science. You can be a smart guy and be ignorant about particular topics and issues. The problem with Sam Harris is that he tends to write about the things he is ignorant about, (laughs) I think Sam Harris should stick to writing about neuro-science, I think his last book was great. When Sam Harris writes about neuro-science, in other words his expertise, I think it’s great, I love reading his work. When he talks about religion, a topic he knows nothing about, that he’s never studied as an academic discipline, that he’s done no field research in whatsoever, and in which he frankly is unqualified to opine about, that’s the problem. I don’t write about nero-Science because I’m not a neuro-scientist.

LW: On a random note you compared Osama Bin Laden to Freddie Mercury, (laughs) can you expand on that?

RA: Yes, I did, the point I was making was that what made Bin Laden attractive to young people was his personal charisma not his intellectualism or writings on Islam. Again Bin Laden was an engineer. He cannot talk intelligently about Islamic Law, or Philosophy and for the most part he doesn’t do that, what he has, and everyone knows this, even his biggest enemies know this about him, he had this intense magnetic appeal, this charisma that drew people to him.

People like Peter Bergen and Fawaz Gerges, who have met Bin Laden, who have spoken to his followers, who have spoken to people who were on their way to commit suicide on his behalf but were caught, what they find is the same thing, that Sheikh Bin Laden is this mystical being. People talk about dreams in which Sheikh Bin Laden comes to them and tells them to pick up a gun and join the fight, it’s that intense mystical quality that has transformed Bin Laden even after his death into a pop culture phenomenon like Freddie Mercury or the other person I compared him to was Che Guevara. Like Freddi Mercury or Che Guevara who have entered the pop culture zeitgeist in a way that goes beyond their particular talents or their particular ideas.

LW: There is a quote In your book No God but God, you wrote that in 2005…

RA: That’s when it was published…

LW: I found this quote in which you write:
“Simply put, Islam in the United States has become otherized. It has become a receptacle into which can be tossed all the angst and apprehension people feel about the faltering economy, about the new and unfamiliar political order, about the shifting cultural, racial, and religious landscapes that have fundamentally altered the world. Across Europe and North America, whatever is fearful, whatever is foreign, whatever is alien and unsafe is being tagged with the label ‘Islam.’”


RA: That is from the new introduction from the updated version that just was released in 2011…

LW: This is of course still the case today. Are you encouraged that Muslims are breaking through this concept of being “otherized” or their religion being “otherized”?

RA: This is not the first time in America’s history that a religious minority has been otherized and told they are the internal enemy, that they are not American. Every single word that is being said about Muslims today by these radical anti-Muslim zealots was said by anti-Semites in the 1920′s and 30′s about Judaism, by anti-Catholic activists in the 19th century by the Know Nothings and preachers like Lyman Beecher. This is not a new thing, this is what we do in this country, we so often define ourselves, what it means to be American which is of course a malleable and slippery identity by defining ourselves in opposition to somebody else whether: Catholics, Jews, Japanese or Germans and now it is just Muslims.

There should be no question in anyones mind, anyone who has bothered to study  for even a few minutes should know that in a generation from now we are going to look on the anti-Muslim zealots of today, these clowns like Pamlea Geller, Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffney and Steven Emerson with the same exact shame, disdain, mockery and derision that we look back at the anti-Jewish and anti-Catholicism of our past. That’s guaranteed. These guys have always been there, they have always been around, they have always been on the fringes and on the margins and you know in a generation from now when Muslims become as much a part of the American religious fabric, as much as Jews and Catholics have become, I am sure these guys will show up again and start picking on some other religious or cultural minority. This is an issue that they have themselves. They have a psychic problem, bigotry is a psychic problem and it’s part of the human condition, and you know lets not kid ourselves, it’s always going to be around, it’s just that it’s target is going to change.

LW: I think this is good place to wrap up, we have a lot to unpack here. Thank you for your time!

RA: Awesome. Thank you, it’s been my pleasure.

Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott Not Sharing Stage with Islamophobe Pamela Geller

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by loonwatch

“If you are an Islamophobe, and even Tea Party Politicians don’t want to hang out with you, you are in trouble.”

We live in the age of organized Islamophobia. Anti-Muslims coalesced after 9/11 and created, in effect, an industry that sought to influence public officials, government bodies and the masses across the United States and Europe. While the forces involved may come from different backgrounds in terms of ideology, faith and political persuasion they are united in their efforts to demonize Islam and Muslims.

Anti-Muslim Islamophobes have created a structure of Islamophobia that cuts across many levels. They hope that in people’s minds Islam will become the new Nazism and Communism combined or worse, because at least the former two enemies of humanity were “Western” and had some “rationality,” whereas Islam is the incomprehensible beast from the East.

Reza Aslan explains it well:

Simply put, Islam in the United States has become otherized. It has become a receptacle into which can be tossed all the angst and apprehension people feel about the faltering economy, about the new and unfamiliar political order, about the shifting cultural, racial, and religious landscapes that have fundamentally altered the world. Across Europe and North America, whatever is fearful, whatever is foreign, whatever is alien and unsafe is being tagged with the label ‘Islam.’ (No god but God)

Islamophobes work assiduously to push their agenda. They have boosted the profiles of (fake)ex-Muslims, (fake)scholars, and created a network of think tanks, foundations, “terror experts,” bloggers that have produced hate groups such as ACT! for America and SIOA amongst others.

Their activism is strong and they won’t stop anytime soon because that is what they get paid to do!

For some time American Muslims must have felt alone in fighting the scourge of bigotry and hatred that was aimed at them, however efforts such as ours here show that decent people from all walks of life can come together to fight the menace of fear-mongering and prejudice.

It is through the efforts of loonwatchers that we have agitated the SPLC and even the ADL to take firm stands against the Islamophobia movement. Loonwatchers were also instrumental in first booting Geller from the Hyatt Place in Sugarland, Texas and then evicting her crew from the Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee where they planned a “Sharia Conference” that was really more of a love-in for the vanguard of Islamophobia.

Now, according to several reports, another victory, both Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott, Republicans from Florida say they will not participate in a Tea Party Convention where they would have shared the stage with Pamela Geller and another Islamophobe:

Rubio and Scott are listed as “confirmed speakers” at the convention, but representatives of their respective offices told CAIR-FL that the event is not on the senator’s nor the governor’s official schedule.

Before we published our article asking loonwatchers to contact both Rubio and Scott the two were still confirmed speakers at the Tea Party Convention. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Rubio and Scott may end up showing up for the convention, they are after all Republicans, but if this stands it is another strong rebuke to Geller, Spencer and the rest of the anti-Muslim Islamophobia movement.

Daniel Tutt writes that Islamophobes have noted that there is push back against them, and they are none too happy about it, this is why it is an opportune moment to point out that we have to continue to hound the Islamophobes. An elected official should never share the same podium as a Pamela Geller, the FBI should never allow its employees to be instructed or lectured by a Robert Spencer, universities should never invite a Nonie Darwish to their campus to deliver speeches on “Islam,” or “Sharia.”

We shouldn’t rest on our laurels! Loonwatchers should capitalize on the momentum and actively campaign, using fliers, letters, phone calls, organizing protests and rallies where ever and when ever Islamophobes attempt to gain legitimacy. We will do our part by exposing them for the frauds they are and giving you the ammunition to shed light on their hatred.

Anti-Muslims and Politicians Find Common Cause with Iranian Terrorist Organization

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics, Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2011 by loonwatch

The surreal world of anti-Muslim Islamophobia knows no bounds. Islamophobes and the political class that panders to them have been caught with their pants down–figuratively for once. Since 9/11, these traffickers in hate have profited from the development of an industry of “terror expert professionals,” consisting of so-called: “ex-terrorists,” “ex-Muslims,” “scholars,” “think tank gurus,” pontificating on the incompatibility of Islam and Democracy, the danger of a growing Muslim populace in the West, the need to be suspicious of Muslims, Muslims’ susceptibility to terrorism, etc.

This narrative belies reality, Muslims who commit terrorism are an extreme minority, in fact what is most glaring in the face of this propaganda is what Charles Kurzman terms, The Missing Martyrs (book review to come soon). For all the hackneyed anti-Muslim diatribe and hypotheses of an omnipresent and ever dangerous “Islamic terrorism,” what is remarkable is the absence of “would-be martyrs,” let alone a threat level that is blown out of all proportion. The Arab Spring has, more than anything else, dealt a stinging, if not lethal blow to the harbingers of doom.

What is most irksome is that the real radicals, the ones who draw us into endless war, increase hostilities amongst communities, and hob nob with anti-freedom organizations are the same individuals projecting their worldview onto Muslims.

Where else (with the exception of perhaps a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel) could we witness a House Homeland Security Sub-committee Hearing being chaired by a Congressman who once was the most outspoken advocate of a terrorist organization. Rep. Peter King’s involvement with the IRA while they were targeting and murdering civilians is well known, and the hypocrisy and double standard of him chairing hearings on “American Muslim radicalization” is painfully evident.

This however is not the only, or even the most glaring example we can turn to of Congressmen or former high ranking government officials supporting or advocating on behalf of a terrorist organization.

Congressmen (including Democrats) and former government officials have met with the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization that was designated a terrorist group in 1997 when the list was first compiled, and is STILL ON THE LIST–for now.

MEK has a very aggressive and organized lobby effort in Washington D.C. According to one House staffer, the MEK is “the most mobilized grassroots advocacy effort in the country — AIPAC included.” Their mission is to be delisted as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), push the USA to foment war with Iran, i.e. “regime change,” and have themselves installed into power. Sound familiar?

They attempt to pass themselves off as the sole legitimate opposition to the Iranian regime, going so far as to claim that they are the Green Movement or the government in exile. Now there is a quiet push to have them delisted from the FTO list:

Members of Congress led by Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) have introduced a resolutioncalling on the Secretary of State and the President to throw the support of the United States behind an exiled Iranian terrorist group seeking to overthrow the Iranian regime and install themselves in power. Calling the exiled organization “Iran’s main opposition,” Filner is urging the State Department to end the blacklisting of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) — a group listed by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The resolution currently has 83 cosponsors and is gaining significant ground.

Such a move would have disastrous repercussions for the USA, and would inevitably lead to blowback considering what the MEK is about:

[F]or the record, here are the facts about the MEK (you can find this and more at www.mekterror.com):

  • The State Department reports the MEK is a terrorist group that has murdered innocent Americans and maintains “the will and capacity” to commit terrorist attacks within the U.S. and beyond. [1]
  • The MEK claims to have renounced terrorism in 2001, but a 2004 FBI report states “the MEK is currently actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.” [2]
  • RAND and Human Rights Watch have reported that the MEK is a cult that abuses its own members. [3] [4]
  • MEK has no popular support in Iran and has been denounced by the Green Movement, Iran’s peaceful democratic opposition movement.[5]

Iran’s Opposition Green Movement Rejects the MEK

  • The leaders of the Green Movement, Iran’s true popular opposition movement, have denounced the MEK and warned that the Iranian government seeks to discredit Iran’s opposition by associating it with the MEK:
  • “The Iranian Government is trying to connect those who truly love their country (the Greens) with the MEK to revive this hypocritical dead organization.” – Mehdi Karroubi, Green Movement leader. [6]
  • “The MEK can’t be part of the Green Movement. This bankrupt political group is now making some laughable claims, but the Green Movement and the MEK have a wall between them and all of us, including myself, Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Khatami, and Mr. Karroubi.” – Zahra Rahnavard, Women’s rights activist and wife of Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi[7]

Iraqi National Congress Redux?

  • The MEK claims it is “the main opposition in Iran,” yet similar to Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress that helped bring the United States into war with Iraq, the MEK is an exiled organization that has no popular support within Iran[8]
  • RAND reports that the MEK are “skilled manipulators of public opinion.” The MEK has a global support network with active lobbying and propaganda efforts in major Western capitals. [9]
  • Members of Congress have been deceived and misinformed into supporting this terrorist  organization:
  • In 2002, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen led efforts for the U.S. to support the group, prompting then-Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House International Affairs Committee, Henry Hyde and Tom Lantos, to send a Dear Colleague warning against supporting the MEK.  They cautioned that many Members had been “embarrassed when confronted with accurate information about the MEK.” [10]
  • In the current Congress, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) have each introduced resolutions calling for MEK to be removed from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

A Capacity and Will to Commit Terrorist Acts in the U.S. & Beyond

  • The Bush administration determined in 2007 that “MEK leadership and members across the world maintain the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond.” [11]
  • The Canadian and Australian governments have also designated the MEK as a terrorist organization. The Canadian government just reaffirmed its designation in December.[12] [13]
  • An EU court removed the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations, but only due to procedural reasons.  According to a spokesperson for the Council of the European Union, the EU court “did not enter into the question of defining or not the PMOI [MEK] as a terrorist organization.” [14]

Saddam Hussein’s Terrorist Militia

  • The MEK received all of its military assistance and most of its financial support from Saddam Hussein, including funds illegally siphoned from the UN Oil-for-Food Program, until 2003. [15]
  • The MEK helped execute Saddam’s bloody crackdown on Iraqi Shia and Kurds. Maryam Rajavi, the MEK’s permanent leader, instructed her followers to “take the Kurds under your tanks.” [16]

A Cult That Abuses Its Own Members

  • Human Rights Watch reports that MEK commits extensive human rights abuses against its own members at Camp Ashraf, including “torture that in two cases led to death.”[17]
  • RAND report commissioned by DOD found that the MEK is a cult that utilizes practices such as mandatory divorce, celibacy, authoritarian control, forced labor, sleep deprivation, physical abuse, confiscation of assets, emotional isolation, and the imprisonment of dissident members. [18]
  • RAND concluded that up to 70% of the MEK members at their Camp Ashraf headquarters were likely recruited through deception and are kept there against their will. [19]
  • The FBI reports that the MEK’s “NLA [National Liberation Army] fighters are separated from their children who are sent to Europe and brought up by the MEK’s Support Network. […] These children are then returned to the NLA to be used as fighters upon coming of age.  Interviews also revealed that some of these children were told that their parents would be harmed if the children did not cooperate with the MEK. ”[20]

A History of Anti-Americanism

  • One of the founding ideologies of the MEK is anti-Americanism—the MEK is responsible for murdering American businessmen, military personnel, and even a senior American diplomat[21]
  • The MEK strongly supported the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, vigorously opposed their eventual release, and chastised the government for not executing the hostages[22]

The MEK was Not “Added” to the FTO List as a Goodwill Gesture to Iran

Delisting MEK: Disastrous Repercussions

The MEK is opposed by the Iranian people due to its history of terrorist attacks against civilians in Iran and its close alliance with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.

  1. The greatest beneficiaries of delisting MEK would be Ahmadinejad and Iranian hardliners who seek to link the U.S. and the Green Movement to MEK.
  2. U.S. support for MEK would be used as a propaganda tool by hardliners to delegitimize and destroy Iran’s true democracy movement.
  3. American credibility among the Iranian people would be ruined if the U.S. supported this group.

This should all gives us pause. Do the elected and former government officials who support delisting the MEK know the troubling anti-American, terrorist history of the MEK? If they do, then how in good conscious can they actively push to delist them?

The scenario that keeps coming to mind is cover for war or a possible Israeli attack against Iran. A possibility that seems ever more likely as MJ Rosenburg wrote recently:

A longtime CIA officer who spent 21 years in the Middle East is predicting that Israel will bomb Iran in the fall, dragging the United States into another major war and endangering US military and civilian personnel (and other interests) throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Earlier this week, Robert Baer appeared on the provocative KPFK Los Angeles show Background Briefing, hosted by Ian Masters. It was there that he predicted that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is likely to ignite a war with Iran in the very near future.

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Robert Spencer’s link to the MEK. Spencer frequently spews insults at Reza Aslan for being a board member of the NIAC. In his “expert” opinion true Iranian Freedom organizations oppose the NIAC, and view them as tools of the Mullahs.

A contemptuous claim if it wasn’t so laughable, considering that the NIAC has frequently spoken out against the Iranian regime and has thrown its weight completely behind the Green Movement.

Spencer comes to this conclusion based on the opinion of his friends in a group called the PDMI or Pro-Democracy Movement of Iran. No one really knows how many people are in the PDMI, all they have is a blogspot website which Spencer links. The website is quite strange, it has an image of former Iranian dictator Reza Shah, and also articles supporting the MEK. Is it another MEK front group? One recent article from July 15 is titled “Iran, Mujahedin-e Khalq, and the US State Department,” by Hamid Yazdanpanah, who writes:

[W]hat has consistently been a go-to practice in appeasing Tehran? The harassment and terrorist listing of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK)…the terrorist designation of the MEK arose purely out of appeasement of the Iranian regime…The terrorist designation of the MEK has not only failed to appease the Iranian regime, it has resulted in severe harm and restriction for an organization devoted to the liberation of the Iranian people. The State Department has a moral and legal obligation to undo this grave error and delist the MEK.

It looks as if on top of all the conspiracies, hatred, and anti-Freedom ideas that Spencer pushes he is also linked to the terrorist MEK. Human Events, another website Spencer writes for contains articles supporting the MEK, such as this one by James Zumwalt. Can we now begin every piece on Spencer with, “The MEK linked Robert Spencer…”?

Sadly, this chimera world in which the Islamophobes and their allies turn everything upside down or sweep it under the rug hoping no one will find the truth is real. We are confronted with an organized mechanism of propaganda seeking to profit from endless war, occupation, hatred, hypocrisy and double standards. We are in an age in which the Supreme Court has upheld a “criminal prohibition on advocacy performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization,” and yet our Congressmen, and their lobbyist friends can get away with doing exactly that when it suits their purposes!

*Update: There are more Islamophobes involved in the cynical nexus of bringing legitimacy to the MEK. One such longtime advocate has been neo-Conservative Daniel Pipes, who rather seems like a mild Islamophobe these days. For his support of the MEK see, Daniel Pipes: My Writings on the Mujahedeen-e Khalq. (hat tip: NassirH)

Spencer’s Radicalized Mosque Claim Gets Debunked

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2011 by loonwatch
Reza Aslan debunks Robert Spencer’s claim

Robert Spencer is still trying to peddle the myth that 80% of American mosques are radicalized. In a heated post on JihadWatch on March 19, Spencer said the following in reply to Reza Aslan’s claim that all of the studies Spencer cited to support the claim that 80% of American mosques are radicalized have been debunked:

In any case, Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani’s 1998 study was not based on his personal opinion, as Aslan claims. Kabbani actually visited 114 mosques in this country before giving testimony before a State Department Open Forum in January 1999 that 80% of American mosques taught the “extremist ideology.” Has Reza Aslan investigated 114 mosques in the U.S.? Then there was the Center for Religious Freedom’s 2005 study, and the Mapping Sharia Project’s 2008 study. Each independently showed that upwards of 80% of mosques in America were preaching hatred of Jews and Christians and the necessity ultimately to impose Islamic rule.

Let’s break this down one by one. Kabbani said in 1999 that extremists “took over more than 80% of the mosques that have been established in the US.” How did he come up with this number? He didn’t say in his testimony. After the testimony Kabbani began to feel heat from many who were curious as to how he arrived at this “figure” and that is when he finally decided to offer up some “evidence” for his claim.

An under-fire Kabbani explained in 1999 exactly what he meant when he told the State Department that 80 percent of American mosques had been taken over by extremists. His point, he said, was that a “few extremists” were taking over leadership posts,despite a “majority of moderate Muslims,” thus “influencing 80 percent of the mosques.”

Today, he sticks even closer to his guns and adds embellishing data: Kabbani visited 114 mosques in the United States. “Ninety of them were mostly exposed, and I say exposed, to extreme or radical ideology,” he said.

Kabbani bases his exposure conclusion on speeches, board members and materials published. One telltale sign of an extremist mosque, said Kabbani, was an unhealthy focus on the Palestinian struggle.

Alright – let’s be real here. This is not a “study” as Spencer claims. It’s an insult to actual studies out there to call what Kabbani did a “study,” it doesn’t even reach the basic standard of research, documentation or analysis. He conducted a subjective investigation of American mosques, plain and simple. Mosques he went to and where he found or heard things he didn’t agree with were labeled “extremist.” Just because there was a “focus on the Palestinian struggle” at a mosque doesn’t mean it’s “extremist.” What type of absurd methodology is that? It’s remarkable that Spencer would try to pass this off as a “study.” I know, it’s hard to prove that Muslims in America are bloodthirsty jihadists, but even Spencer should be ashamed of himself for trying to pass off Kabbani’s flawed investigation as a “study” to bolster his claim that 80% of mosques are run by extremists.

The next study that Spencer claims proves that 80% of American mosques are radicalized is from theCenter for Religious Freedom. What is the methodology and scope of this study?

In undertaking this study, we did not attempt a general survey of American mosques.  In order to document Saudi influence, the material for this report was gathered from a selection of more than a dozen mosques and Islamic centers in American cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Washington, and New York. In most cases, these sources are the most prominent and well-established mosques in their areas. They have libraries and publication racks for mosque-goers. Some have full-or part-time schools and, as the 9/11 Commission Report observed, such “Saudi-funded Wahhabi schools are often the only Islamic schools.”

From their own words, the Center for Religious Freedom says that it “did not attempt a general survey of American mosques.” The study itself was designed “to document Saudi influence.” They went to fifteen mosques to complete this “study.” Fifteen mosques! According to the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, there are at least 1,600 mosques and Islamic centers in the United States. This, too, is not much of a study.

Further eroding Spencer’s point, this study does not even claim that 80% or even a high percentage of American mosques are radicalized in any way. Let me repeat that – the study makes NO claim that 80% or some other percent of American mosques are radicalized. It simply does not say what Spencer claims it says. Spencer is making it up. He is lying. But LoonWatchers shouldn’t be surprised by that.

Spencer’s deception and lack of intellectual integrity in this instance is blatant, he not only cites the Center’s “study” as proof of the 80%-percent-of-mosques-are-extremists-conspiracy-theory, but he also fails to mention that the only semblance of what he claims in the study is a regurgitation of Kabbani’s (false and discredited) assertion,

Sheikh Kabbani, perhaps the U.S.’s leading moderate Muslim leader, says that a substantial percentage of American mosques have Wahhabi-funded Imams

Isn’t this interesting? What sort of credible “study” perfunctorily sites the non-evidentiary based assertions of a lone individual without questioning his methodology? The language in the above sentence is also cause for alarm, anytime a claim such as “the U.S.’s leading moderate Muslim leader” is made we should view it not only with caution but skepticism. This sort of heavily biased and subjective language is employed now by Right-Wingers and Republicans to describe “Zuhdi Jasser” the Islamophobes favorite Muslim.

Spencer’s last piece of evidence to back up his bogus claim comes from the Mapping Sharia Project led by the loony racist anti-Muslim lawyer David Yerushalmi, David Gaubatz and conspiracy theoristFrank Gaffney. The only thing I could find on this “study” was a Jihad Watch link reporting the findings of the Mapping Sharia Project. The Jihad Watch article reports that “An undercover survey of more than 100 mosques and Islamic schools in America has exposed widespread radicalism, including the alarming finding that 3 in 4 Islamic centers are hotbeds of anti-Western extremism…”

Spencer relying on “undercover survey’s” by radical Islamophobes with pseudo-racist beliefs? Just par for the course.

Firstly, there is no web page allowing us access to examine the methodology employed by this study. When I went to the link to the Mapping Sharia Project, I was taken to the web site for David Yerushalmi’s organization, SANE (Society for American National Existence). To gain access, I had to become a member. I did not want to join this loony web site’s membership list, as I am spammed enough as it is. So Spencer’s third study does not even exist, at least out in the public. Even the link he places for the Mapping Sharia Project just takes you to another JihadWatch web page reporting the findings of the study. Guess we’ll just have to take Yerushalmi, Gaubatz, Gaffney and Spencer’s word for it that 80%… err, three out of four American mosques are radicalized.

Actually, we won’t. Spencer tried his best it seems to pass off these “studies” as evidence to support Rep. Peter King’s claim that 80% of American mosques are radicalized. None of these “studies” does that.

Kabbani’s “study” is based simply on his own opinions of the mosques and their leadership, not any objective metric gauging radicalism. If he did not agree with the viewpoints of the mosque, then he deemed them radical. That’s not a study. Spencer, someone who went to graduate school, should know better than that.

The Center for Religious Freedom study says itself that it “did not attempt a general survey of American mosques.” So how does Spencer cite this study as evidence that 80% of American mosques are radicalized? Because he’s not interested in the truth – he just needs something to cite to so he can bamboozle those who won’t actually check his sources. Sorry, Robert, but we did. And this so-called “study” does not even say what you claim it does.

The final piece of evidence Spencer clings to is the Mapping Sharia Project’s “study,” which apparently does not exist in the public domain. But considering its authors – David Yerushalmi, David Gaubatz and Frank Gaffney – I would venture to say that this “study” will not only not be very academic but thoroughly bigoted and prejudiced. Just consider some of the proposals Yerushalmi and his friends at (in)SANE have come up with:

WHEREAS Islam requires all Muslims to actively and passively support the replacement of America’s constitutional republic with a political system based upon Shari’a.

Whereas, adherence to Islam as a Muslim is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the US Government through the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the US Constitution and the imposition of Shari’a on the American People.

HEREFORE, IT IS RESOLVED THAT: It shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Shari’a.

The Congress of the United States of America shall declare the US at war with the Muslim Nation.

If these “studies” and individuals are the evidence that Spencer claims back up the myth that 80% of American mosques are radicalized, then Spencer has no evidence. For a great source on the history of this myth, see Media Matters’ Zombie Lie: Right Still Clinging To Decade-Old Fabrication About Radicalized Mosques.

Spencer Supports Old Persian Dictator: Reza Shah

Posted in Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2010 by loonwatch

From Spencerwatch

Robert Spencer who has been ceaselessly attacking Reza Aslan for calling him out for being a bigot and an Islamophobe, (a fact which is a consensus amongst sane people) wrote an article not too long ago in which he claimed that Reza Aslan was somehow an apologist for the Iranian regime because a “genuine pro-democracy movement of free Iranians is on to NIAC.”

NIAC is an organization in which Reza Aslan is a board member it supports the growth of a Democratic Iran and the Green Movement. It is an understatement that whenever Spencer claims something is “genuine” it turns out to be a lie.

The so called “genuine movement of free Iranians” that Spencer is referencing is something calledPDMI, and as we reported then it is an anti-Islam site run by a single anonymous individual who admires Reza Shah, the dictator who was overthrown by the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

If you don’t remember who Reza Shah is then this interview might give you some sort of inkling:

I am guessing this won’t go over so nice with your patrons the Chernick’s Robert.

We can now add to the crack-pot dictators, fascists and neo-Nazis that Spencer supports: Geert Wilders (Right-wing Dutch neo-Fascist), EDL (English Defense League),SIOE (Stop the Islamization of Europe), BPE (Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa), Ewald Stadler (Far right Austrian politician), BZO, Sergei Trefkovic (Serbian Nationalist, genocide denier), and Reza Shah.

 

Cyberpath Robert Spencer has a Weird Fetish For Reza Aslan

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2010 by loonwatch
Robert Spencer before the tummy tuck 

Cyberpath Robert Spencer can’t get over Reza Aslan.

Aslan irks Spencer, bothers him to no end, Spencer views him as his arch-nemesis. In dozens of posts over the past few months, Spencer has at times nervously, at other times excitedly and feverishly used all the JihadWatch talking points and obfuscation at his disposal to attack or hurl personal insults and wild inuendo at Aslan. The dozens of posts have been long winded thousand worded epic Spencerian bile.

The reality behind this Spencer obsession is that Aslan is an outspoken critic of the anti-Muslim Islamophobia machine in which Spencer is a leader, and at the same time is also an advocate for Islamic reform and greater freedom in Muslim nations.

Aslan represents all that Spencer isn’t and therefore is a personality that confounds him, no longer is it easy for him to sling the allegation of Islamic supremacist, or Stealth Jihadist at someone who has an air of respectability and visibility in the mainstream such as Reza Aslan commands.

Spencer’s most recent outpouring of invective against Aslan was due to a few words Aslan said about Islamophobia,

RA: And the crazy thing about it is that we’re seeing that same sort of playbook, that made European Islamophobia so successful and mainstream on the continent, now being adopted by these groups like Stop Islamization of America and Jihad Watch, which are also very successful about creating a mainstream sense of anti-Muslim sentiment.

In the margins of this country there will always be racists and bigots; it’s just that they were always on the fringes; now, hence we have people like Pam Geller and Robert Spencer appearing as regular guests on mainstream television….

For this Spencer calls Aslan the “new” Fritz Kuhn, who was the leader of the American Nazi party back in the 30′s. Insane hyperbole and ad hominem attack? You bettcha!

Among other inane assertions, in a feat of hubris not uncommon for Spencer he not only compared Aslan to an American Nazi leader he also compared Islam to Nazism and levied the assertion that he is on par with those who criticize “Nazism.”

Imagine if Kuhn had given a similar address denouncing critics of Hitler and Nazism as “bigots” and “Germanophobes,” and claiming that anti-Nazi sentiment in the United States was a recrudescence of the ugly nativism that had victimized Catholics in America in the nineteenth century, and was leading up to a wholesale persecution and possibly even a genocide of innocent German-Americans.

Spencer’s off kilter analogy falls on its face when we realize that in fact Spencer is engaging in projection, as he himself has been an ally of Fascists and neo-Nazi groups such as: Geert Wilders(Right-wing Dutch neo-Fascist), EDL (English Defense League),SIOE (Stop the Islamization of Europe), BPE (Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa), Ewald Stadler (Far right Austrian politician), BZO, Sergei Trefkovic (Serbian Nationalist, genocide denier), etc.

Spencer’s argument as to why Aslan is the “new Fritz Kuhn” gets even weaker from that point. In trying to make his obscene case he says that Aslan is the new Fritz Kuhn because he is,

1. A “board member” of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) which Spencer says is, “a group that genuine Iranian pro-democracy forces regard as an apologetic vehicle for the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

First of all the NIAC is considered one of the best Iranian pro-Democracy organizations out there. In truth, the link that Spencer provides goes to an organization that not only doesn’t support democracy but displays an image of the Shah Reza Pahlavi on its site, not really a scion of democracy.

NIAC, Terrorist Apologist or pro-Democracy advocates?

2. He claims Aslan is uncritical of Ahmadinejad and his anti-Semitism.

Another false claim. If calling someone a “fraudulently elected Megalomaniac” is uncritical as Aslan did in one article then Spencer doesn’t know the meaning of “uncritical.” As it happens Aslan condemned Ahmadinejad’s denial of the holocaust calling it “absurd.”

3. Aslan calls for the US Government to negotiate with Ahmadinejad and Hamas.

What is controversial here? Others have called for the US to negotiate with Ahmadinejad and Hamas as well. Is Spencer implying that because Aslan has called for the US to negotiate with the two he somehow supports them? If so can he show us any proof? Of course he cannot and so he resorts to innuendo.

4. Has “praised” Hizballah by observing that it is “the most dynamic political and social organization in Lebanon.”

Aslan didn’t “praise” Hizballah as Spencer would have it, implying that Aslan somehow endorses them. He merely observed an obvious point that even Hizballah’s greatest detractors have, that it is the most highly organized and dynamic party in Lebanon.

At the end of the day Spencer is only chasing vague phantoms and attempting to spin terrorists or terrorist supporters out of thin air to suit his morbid agenda of framing “the only good Muslim as a bad Muslim.” The real Fritz Kuhn’s of the world are Spencer and his ilk, individuals who wish to eliminate Islam from the West.

 

Reza Aslan Discusses Mooslims on the Colbert Report

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on November 10, 2010 by loonwatch

Colbert interviews Reza Aslan on his newest work. Does he give a possible headnod to Loonwatch by saying “Mooslims”?

Colbert: “Is there a difference between Moslem and Muslim?”

Aslan: “There’s a difference between Moslem and Mooslim.”