Spengler’s tired polemics

I was reading Spenglers’s latest opinion piece and have to say I almost reached the same near death experience due to boredom I suffered when reading Ed Husain’s latest offering. Please, all you professional polemicists, try and engage your reader. Try and be funny. Take a polemicist like Christopher Hitchens; when sober enough to write he can be genuinely witty in his attacks and rants against religious believers and his enemies on the British left. Spengler, on the other hand, can at times read like a bad Victor Davis Hanson parody (at least one can learn something from reading a professor of military history). And this latest was a very tired piece, full of the usual stabs at Islam. Is the Asia Times columnist running out of ideas?

I have always found it odd that Christian conservatives posit Islam as the barbaric outsider, when in fact the real death cult is right at the heart of all forms of Christianity (and the many atrocities that have followed from that). Spengler, however, is always refreshingly honest on this point.

It would be quite easy to take undermine the ‘Judeo-Christian’ viewpoint Spengler promotes, or pick apart his odd claims about Christian universalism, or comment on his abuse of a brief note on procedural law as discussed by classical Muslim jurists. But I don’t actually see the value in ‘fisking’ pieces like Spengler’s. The thing with polemics is that they’re meant to simplify fuzzy boundaries, solidify muddy centres and patrol the borders of group identity. They are not designed to be informative or a way of learning something. Polemicists promote an orthodox position and rebut heresies. They tell us who is on our side and who is the enemy. Everyone engages in these polemics, Muslims no less than others.

Nonetheless, I think there is some value to this particular Spengler piece on whether Islam can be blamed for ‘barbaric’ acts. Islamphobes and Dhummies wail loudly that Muslims are required by their beliefs to destroy and supplant other cultures. Spengler, however, actually acknowledges that Islam has not replaced the cultures into which it arrived (he accuses Islam of allowing practices like honour killing or female genital mutilation room to continue breathing). This means he acknowledges, implicitly, that Muslims in the West can to integrate and participate fully in their societies.

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3 Responses to “Spengler’s tired polemics”


  1. 1 JDsg March 11, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt that way when I read (briefly) the Spengler article last night. What a goof.

  2. 2 Julaybib Ayoub March 12, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    I still have problems reading anti-Muslim polemic. Sometimes I can cope with it, but other times, I want to explode. Once upon a time, I thought the moral thing to do, given my own post-polemical traumatization, was to avoid writing ANY polemic. An impossible self-restraint! But at least I’m still mostly reading fuzzy academic stuff. One day, insha Allah…


  1. 1 Polemic versus AMS « Critically Unstable Muslim Trackback on March 12, 2008 at 10:53 pm

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