AS291: What In the World Is The SPLC Thinking?

On October 25th, the SPLC released this report identifying 15 individuals who they view as anti-Muslim extremists. Some inclusions make total sense, but 2 stood out: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz. Do their claims about Maajid and Ayaan survive scrutiny? Find out.

Here are some links I reference:

Great Atlantic article

Guardian article on Quilliam list

Quilliam’s response

NYT article written by Nawaz


8 thoughts on “AS291: What In the World Is The SPLC Thinking?”

  1. I disagree that Ayaan should “maybe” be on the list. I’m going to address the statement that seemed to be the one that pushed you over the top. The 2007 statements about being at war with Islam. First of all I’m fairly certain she no longer quite feels that way, and has said so in her books, and in interviews, but for sake of argument lets assume she stands by it. Saying we’re at war with Islam is not an anti-muslim statement. It’s an anti-ideology statement. Ayaan is a defender of Muslim women, gays, apostates, FGM victims, her war is against the ideology (Islam) that muslims are victimized by the most, and she’s made this point numerous times. For the SPLC to claim she is an anti-muslim extremist is insane.

    1. I largely agree with Mike here. Foundationally, the SPLC is concerned with hateful rhetoric targeting individual practitioners of Islam, not rhetoric aimed squarely at the ideas of Muslims. Unfortunately, they seem to conflate the two when it’s convenient to do so. Ayaan is clearly opposed to the ideology and institutions of Islam broadly, with a particular emphasis on the violent Islamist elements, and so it is fair to label her anti-Islam. If that was the conceit of the SPLC list then they are correct, but it doesn’t purport to be. It is instead a list of anti-Muslim advocates.

      When Ayaan calls for any means necessary to combat Islam, to me she seems to be raising a war of ideas. Her professional life and the stated aims of her organization attest to this. However when it comes to violence, the use of military action, I think she means it as one of several solutions to deal with Islamists (ie violent radicals) and not as a solution to Islam broadly. In no way is she suggesting a wholesale war with 2 billion people.

      In the context of the 2007 piece, I believe that distinction was not carefully qualified. In other words, she failed to elucidate her position adequately. As a result it seems as though she is advocating military intervention in an effort to dismantle Islam. I think any rational observer would agree that the option is on the table as a means of dealing with a particular subset of Islam. She simply failed that day to distinguish between the means and the aims.

      Of course I can’t read her mind so I cannot be sure that my assessment is one of a mistake. I am simply drawing an inference here based primarily on two lines of evidence: firstly, her numerous public statements and books do succeed in carefully qualifying the distinction I outlined above, and secondly, given the first, I find it hard to believe that she would contradict her longstanding position in this one article, advocating violence against 2 billion people no less. Are there people who advocate such an absurd position? There may very well be, but I’ve never seen anything from Ayaan to suggest she is one of them.

  2. So, it’s disturbing for Maajid to have a list of Islamist groups that they hand to the government of the UK but not disturbing for SPLC to have one they hand to the FBI?

    OK…. fun times.

    Also, you’re mistaken if you think we can have a moderate Islam. If it is EVER possible, it will be HUNDREDS of years past our deaths and it will never be in a country with a majority of Muslims. Period. EVER. You were right in stating that the Quaran is significantly more violent than the bible AND Mohammed is nothing like Jesus.

    Jesus was a hippie. Mohammed was a psychopathic war chief.

    I keep hearing people talk about reforming Islam and it’s the most fanciful nonsense. Can I get a unicorn with that order of wishful thinking?

    It’s not going to happen. Any place with a majority Muslim population will inevitably turn into hell on earth. Either through outright violence or a suppression of most – if not all – minority/women rights.

    As for Ayaan: she is right that Islam is a neo-fascist death cult. Just because it’s populated by brown people doesn’t change the fact that, by any definition, it’s fascist and a death cult.

    What is the difference between a cult and a religion?
    1. The amount of believers
    2. In a cult they worship their charismatic leader like a god. In a religion that leader is already dead.

    Christianity is a blood sacrifice cult. Islam is a death cult.

    Having said that: this is supposedly an anti-Muslim EXTREMIST list.

    Is it extreme to be against the ideology of the KKK even if the majority of them have not committed a crime? If yes (and the answer is yes) then how in god’s name is it extremism to be against an ideology as objectively toxic and despicable as Islam?

    I welcome anyone who wants to explain to me how a death cult created by a vicious war chief child molester is a beautiful – feminist (yeah they’re saying that now) – religion of peace. I need a good laugh.

    Extremist Muslims strap bombs to themselves and blow up innocent civilians in the name of their toxic religion.

    Extremist Christians bomb abortion clinics, kill abortion doctors, and attempt to legislate bigotry against LGBT people in the name of their toxic religion.

    What has Ayaan done that is even REMOTELY congruent with that? She said in an interview that we’re at war with Islam?

    We are. We have been. We are at war with the ideology of islam. An ideology that literally translates to “submit” and demands it’s members conquer the world in it’s name. There is over 100 different places in the Quaran where it calls for violence and it has a history of violence (leading up to today) and an ideology of hate that puts the KKK to shame.

    If I had written all of this about the KKK it wouldn’t have been seen as extreme in any way. It’s important to call out bad ideologies, even forcefully.

    Say it about Islam? Now it’s hate speech.

    That’s nonsense.

    1. “So, it’s disturbing for Maajid to have a list of Islamist groups that they hand to the government of the UK but not disturbing for SPLC to have one they hand to the FBI?”

      Not to mention the fact that what each did is orders of magnitude different in terms of execution. It would be one thing if I contacted the FBI, and said “I think my neighbor is a Islamic extremist”, another if I were to publish a flyer, and pass it out all over town telling people I think my neighbor is an Islamic extremist. The former (equivalent of what Maajid did) might result in an investigation of my neighbor, the latter could result in my neighbor being killed.

      1. Not to mention that Maajid and – especially – Ayaan have targets on their back.

        Ayaan’s partner was murdered for making a pro-women’s rights video and a death threat was pinned to his chest that targeted Ayaan.

        They don’t see how this is going to embolden those who wish to see her dead (of which there are many)?

        Neither of them could hope to walk into several Muslim countries and walk out unscathed. Again: ESPECIALLY Ayaan.

        If you want to have a conversation about reforming Islam (something I find farcical but respect those who are trying) you don’t give credence to people who are against your #1 advocate (Maajid) to discredit/censor/attack him by putting him on a list of extremists.

        Why do I laugh at the prospect of reforming Islam?

        1. There is no real appetite for it IN the Muslim world and any reform HAS to come from within.

        2. The people who should be advocating for it’s reform (SPLC) are busy discrediting the reformers we have. Maajid is the best we’re going to get and he isn’t even part of the Muslim world (he’s been ostracized from it). We’re not even at the stage where people from within the Muslim world can speak up without fear of reprisal and we’re already trying to silence our top allies.

        SPLC: if you don’t want to go down Trump’s route of banning Muslims then you need to look at reform. We can’t hope to reform the religion if you keep knee-capping our reformers. FFS.

  3. Interesting episode. I agree with your analysis on the podcast, especially the way they constantly poisoned the well, but I don’t think that the truth or accuracy of the SPLC document should be the issue here.

    The bottom line is that the SPLC is known to us to be a generally reputable organisation and they published a document we don’t agree with that accused defenders of commonly held humanistic positions as being anti-muslim extremists. I would not personally change any views I hold on Muslim culture/customs (like drawing Muhammed or wearing religious clothing in driver’s licence photos) because it is held to be an anti-muslim extreme position by a reputable human rights organisation. I think you just need to accept that the atheistic/humanist position against some traditional Muslim practices is becoming viewed by mainstream culture and progressive culture (a.k.a. social justice warriors) is viewed as overly antagonistic, anti-muslim, hateful etc..

    Just because the document is packed with poisoning the well fallacies doesn’t mean we can discount or ignore the document and the reputation that SPLC holds.

    I think that because you have a mostly atheistic (or at least educated Christian) audience, the SPLC paper seems especially egregious. To a regular Christian who views religious beliefs and practices as sacred and worth protecting, attacking conservative or traditional Muslim culture could easily be interpreted as callous and hurtful.

    I would ask the SPLC (if they haven’t made this clear already) how much material in this document was gained through Muslim community consultation and if the material was internally validated to their usual standard of evidence. It’s a way of giving the SPLC a ‘way out’ where they can say that the Muslim community felt Maajid was worthy of being on that list and the SPLC doesn’t necessarily view every inclusion on the list as being completely justifiable.

  4. I realize I’m a little late to the game, but I just finished listening to this podcast and had a few thoughts regarding the question to the SPLC & Nawaz, I have two major issues.

    1) Their critique seemed to be focused on his language (e.g. “infiltration” of higher education institutions) without respect to the veracity of the claims. It seems to me that whether or not Nawaz’s claims are inflammatory/extremist rest substantively in whether or not they are accurate.

    For example, the claim that Barack Obama a Kenyan-born Muslim who founded ISIS is inflammatory. Additionally, it patently false, not supported by the evidence. Given this, it would be irresponsible for the media to give platform to a person for the purpose of espousing such views.

    By contrast, the claim that Donald Trump a sexist narcissist with little respect for democratic institutions is similarly inflammatory. However, by contrast, it is thoroughly supported by evidence. The media would be failing to do its job if it silenced persons wishing to spread awareness about these facts.

    My concern is that, as the regressive left is want to do, that they take one of two positions: Either they believe that claims such as Nawaz’s cannot possibly be true and thus such claims are inherently extremist and unfair or they believe that the accusatory, “inflammatory” tone/language of such claims renders the veracity irrelevant.

    My question to SPLC: When considering the claims such as those made by Nawaz, does whether or not the claim is true have any bearing in your judgment of whether or not it is “extremist”? If yes, please clarify that you investigated his claims before arriving at your conclusion. If not, please clarify your position as it relates to the use of tone/language vis a vis veracity.

    2) Their comments suggest that they do not differentiate between critiques of the Islamic religion, critiques of Islamism (the desire to have Islam serve as the foundation of the political system), and critiques of Muslims (adherents to Islam). Most specifically, they do not seem to understand Nawaz’s statements regarding Islamists pertain specifically to people who openly disregard liberal values and encourage political unrest, as opposed to the broader Muslim population. This is especially frustrating given that Nawaz’s primary effort is in educating the public about the importance of this distinction.

    My question to SPLC: It is our observation that you may be overlooking important nuance in various comments you cite in your claim that Nawaz is an anti-Muslim extremist. Specifically, this pertains the differentiation between Islamist Muslims, those who seek to change western political institutions in ways that contravene the type of liberal values SPLC has long defended, and the broader population of Muslims.

    It is the position of individuals like Nawaz that such distinctions are necessary such that we can combat those who seek to cause violence and/or undermine western liberal values without unfairly impugning the good intentions of the many, many Muslims who seek peaceful coexistence within the context of western, liberal societies.

    Do you believe such a distinction is important and, if so, how do you square such a belief square with your position that Nawaz is “anti-Muslim” when he very clearly is “anti-Islamist” and supportive of moderate Islam and Muslims?

Leave a Reply