Locking Horns in Debate: The 'Vice List' Symposium
Over at FrontPage Magazine, I participated in a Symposium on The Iranian Mullahs’ “Vice List” with Robert Spencer and Dr. Nancy Kobrin. It got a little hot in the exchange and we at times seemed arguing apples and oranges.
At Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer complains that "for the umpteenth time someone assumes I am saying something that I am not saying."
Now, why is that? Could it be the crux of my entire argument and sole point throughout: Tone?
Look, there is no question that there must be reform from within Islam and the faith repossessed from the jihadiyun interpretations and narrative, among other things. But it must come from within.
And there are over 1 billion Muslims in the world. If the reasonable among the ummah are to feel encouraged and emboldened to take the initiative of any reform, feeling the pointy finger of Western non-believers - such as myself and Robert Spencer - on their chests is not going to inspire them to agree with us but rather to disagree and part us even further. And that lands us dangerously closer to what bin Laden, Ahmadinejad and the rest want to create: A true war between all Muslims and all non-Muslims.
At the end of the day, with respect to the argument that took place at FrontPage, Robert Spencer today makes my point for me with his own words. When he says "for the umpteenth time someone assumes I am saying something that I am not saying," if so often people are assuming something that he is indeed not saying, there is a distinct pattern of miscommunication.
Spencer himself acknowledges a trend. With all due respect to Mr. Spencer, are the "umpteen" consistently misinterpreting him because they are all dolts, or is it perhaps that Mr. Spencer is failing to articulate what he is indeed trying to say? Is his tone perhaps causing misperception?
In business, if the employees are all misunderstanding your direction, is the most effective corrective measure to berate the employees or to adjust the delivery? For at the end of the day, what matters is that the employees understand the directions or requests, not that the employer bends the employees to understand his language. Results matter.
Sadly, I expected the discussion on Iran's 'Vice List' to descend into an "everything that is wrong with Islam" discussion. It did that in short order.
Read the FrontPage Symposium for yourself and draw your own conclusions on whether I am an apologist for radical Islam or Mr. Spencer's tone pushes away otherwise reasonable Muslims from its outset.