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RE: Jihad Watch: Schippert strikes back!

Robert Spencer responds with Schippert strikes back! at his site, Jihad Watch.

But as far as I am concerned, I articulated it several times during our exchange, linked above: Islamic law teaches certain things, and indeed all the schools are unanimous about certain issues. But when I say that, Mr. Schippert and others like him seem to haer me saying that all Muslims believe a certain way or act a certain way. They don't seem to be able to make the elementary distinction between belief and practice -- that is, between the teachings of the religion and the huge spectrum of belief, knowledge and fervor among the adherents of the religion.

It's a common problem: speak about Islamic supremacism, and people think you're saying that all Muslims are terrorists. But it really isn't a difficult distinction to make, much as it seems to elude Mr. Schippert. Taking his own words, I ask you to read the FrontPage Symposium for yourself and draw your own conclusions: am I saying that all Muslims believe or act in any particular way, or am I merely calling upon sincere Muslim reformers to acknowledge that there are elements of Islamic teaching and tradition that need reforming?

OK, let's try this again, shall we?

I have not responded - at FrontPage nor here - to what Mr. Spencer articulated or attempted to articulate in any type of line item objection. In fact, on many items we agree. Take for instance the practice of female genital mutilation.

The point I am capable of articulating is that those he says he is trying to reach - "calling upon sincere Muslim reformers" - never get far enough through his writings to see this, as he says he intends.

And that is because of his tone. How many Muslims have commented on his extensive writings at Jihad Watch and said, "You know what, sir, you have a point." I've never attempted to add them up myself, but the number is probably akin to the number of snowballs in the Mojave.

He called the symposium "the dialogue of the deaf" because he still insists that I just don't get what he was trying to say, yet in the same breath questioned his own writing and articulation skills.

So it stands to reason that if Robert Spencer is indeed "calling upon sincere Muslim reformers," he is failing quite miserably to achieve this vital mission as he states it.

He reaches quite a few non-Muslims, to be sure. At the end of the day, it just doesn't matter what non-Muslims Robert Spencer or Steve Schippert think about Islam. It matters what Muslims think about Islam.

Mr. Spencer is spending a fair amount of energy to convince me that I have misunderstood his points and misinterpreted things he did not intend. If indeed I - a practicing Catholic - have done so, what do you suppose a practicing Muslim might misinterpret or misunderstand in what you write, Mr. Spencer?

So while Mr. Spencer did "readily admit that I may be a very poor writer, and just haven't managed to articulate what I mean properly," if his intent is to "call upon sincere Muslim reformers," I would suggest that he, as an intelligent man, address his self-perception as a "very poor writer" and find a way to "manage to articulate" what he means.

For starters, he can stop pontificating to me about what I do or do not understand about what he said in the symposium. He should instead worry about what sincere Muslim reformers - his stated target audience - do or do not understand about what he has written.

And with that, I am done.