More on The Vice List Symposium
In the latest FrontPage Magazine symposium, "The Mullah's Vice List," Steve Schippert, Dr. Nancy Kobrin and Robert Spencer were set to discuss the Iranian regime's most recent attempt to reassert their authority, as defenders of the faith, over the Iranian people. Each of the participants, and Jamie Glazov, FrontPage's moderator for the symposium, appear to agree that the "vice list" is a bad thing for the Iranian people - women in particular bearing the brunt of its restrictions.
I'm absolutely certain that Steve was completely earnest when he noted Dr. Kobrin's lumping all Shi'a in with the terrorism-sponsoring, bigoted warmongers ruling Iran when she stated that the "potential for political violence arising out of the nuclear agenda of the Shia repeats the pattern of getting away with murder literally." Reading the symposium, I expected Dr. Kobrin to clarify her statement, as Steve had clearly expected. In a manner of speaking, she did. She stated that "I do believe that the Shia ummah needs to be held accountable for being passive aggressive and letting the mullacracy be the carrier of their unspoken rage." Which was later followed by statements that Muslim women are so "traumatized and terrified that many don't even know it." And that was followed by the suggestion that Steve was "scolding" them (as Spencer called it) as a "strategy to deflect away from one's self, feelings of inadequacy masking – believe it or not -- terrors."
Dr. Kobrin is right to oppose the many practices found in Muslim homes and societies that result in the abuse of women and children, and the general suppression of liberty and self-determination. But she is most definitely wrong to attribute those errors to all who share the same religious affiliation - in its many varieties and highly personalized implementations.
Spencer took issue with Steve's response because Spencer was discussing "traditional Islamic law," and Steve brought up "'traditional' Muslim families." This is followed by Glazov's disappointment that Steve, a practicing Catholic, didn't acknowledge Spencer's "outline of what Islamic law is and how it is followed by its practitioners."
Both Spencer and Glazov failed to recognize Steve's intent. In my reading and re-reading of the symposium it is clear that Steve wanted - as he has done here at ThreatsWatch - to maintain a level of discourse that avoided the potential for misrepresentation or misunderstanding by the many Muslims who are neither jihadiyun nor inclined to the authoritarian interpretation of the faith currently ruling Iran.
Neither Spencer nor Glazov are unintelligent, both are clearly passionate defenders of the principles which underpin our nation and society, and both are passionately engaged in efforts to confront what is likely to be the greatest threat we will face over the next few decades. Yet neither was willing to recognize that it is often more than the words chosen and their literal meaning that is heard or understood.
Spencer is most likely correct more often than not with respect to the letter of the law. However, Islam, like all religions, is more than its dogma and more than the letter of its scripture. Steve Schippert knows that which he is qualified to speak on and that which he isn't. Because of this he didn't speak on the specifics Spencer offered but rather on the larger spirit of Spencer's words in this case. And, he agreed that the jihadiya and the theological views of the Iranian regime's leaders were abhorrent and should be opposed directly.
For some it appears, that is not enough of an agreement.
My experience is that Steve's approach - and his understanding - is much more conducive to including Muslim's in the fight against the various evils born of particular interpretations of the letter of Islam's sacred text. Those who have used the letter of the law to bring about a false understanding of the concept of tawhid, and of the necessity of jihad, or of the manner in which a husband and wife relate, are given strength by the silence of other Muslims. This is certainly the case.
Yet, Spencer believes that by focusing his efforts on the legal underpinnings that are used to support the extremist views he will somehow enable the moderate Muslim to stand against them. Spencer's words aren't used in the local mosque or in the discussions at the international market as evidence of the extremists failings. Instead they are used to show how non-Muslims are opposed to Islam. When the Imam wants to note the failings of the jihadiyun - he is well armed with both the letter of the law, and the spirit of its teachings to do so.
Moderate Islam for many means an altered Islam. For some, an Islam without the Sunnah, for others an Islam without any legal or political role. And for others, an Islam re-worked to meet the needs of a more integrated world. For most Muslims - and for those who recognize that it is the departure from the norm that results in terrorism, oppression and authoritarian regimes under the banner of Islam - moderate Islam is what they live.