Citizenship Confusion: Robert Spencer, JihadWatch.com, and Political Nihilism

Every Monday in Citizenship Confusion, Alan Noble discusses how we confuse our heavenly citizenship with citizenship to the state, culture, and the world.

A Spirit of Nihilism rules over our civic discourse in America. It says that all political action is an exercise of Power, and Power is always abusive. This Spirit allows us to justify lying and manipulation when it comes from our own political party, since lies are simply a part of the political game. It justifies generalizations and uncharitable speech, since the “other side” does it all the time. Unfortunately, many Christians have adopted this nihilism, leading to the perpetuation of lies, hatred, and abuse.

One example of Christian political nihilism is our willingness to uncritically accept political narratives that fit our presuppositions: If all sides are biased, then we have no obligation to test our sources to discover the “truth,” because the “truth” doesn’t exist.

Take Robert Spencer and his site, Jihad Watch. Spencer is one of the leaders of the “Creeping Shari’ah” movement that decries the secret Islamic invasion in America and archives all the atrocities of Islam. Jihad Watch is highly regarded among many Christians I know, even fairly respected and influential Christians. But, a quick check on the facts of some of Spencer’s articles shows that he is willing to manipulate and lie (or is, at least, grossly irresponsible with his claims) to promote his agenda.

On Christmas, an estranged father visited his family in Dallas, Texas, dressed as Santa Claus. He killed his family before committing suicide. The media reported the murder-suicide, but according to Spencer, they censored the most important part of the story:

“Islamic honor killing in Texas: ‘Santa’ who murdered family on Christmas morning was Muslim who didn’t like his daughter dating a non-Muslim”

This claim was picked up by AtlasShrugs, TheBlaze, International Business Times (which questions Spencer’s claim), The Pearcey Report (Christian), and American Vision (Christian).

A quick perusal of the comments on Spencer’s post shows that it promoted a hateful and violent view of Muslims and the belief that the “lame stream media” has been hiding the dark truth about the evils of Islam:

“I blame the lame stream media and our ignorant politicians for America just letting herself be invaded by these SAVAGES. I can’t believe I’m living to see this happen. WHEN WILL WE CLOSE THE BORDERS TO MUSLIM IMMIGRATION???????”

“These Muslims cannot be called human beings!!”

His post reached a lot of people and had a very real and dangerous effect on how some of them viewed Muslims, but if you do a little research you can see fairly quickly that the “honor killing” narrative has little-to-no basis in reality.

In fact, this murder-suicide fits perfectly with the standard murder-suicide scenario: divorced, unemployed, father with serious financial troubles kills his family before shooting himself. Additionally, CBS reported that the husband was jealous of his wife’s success and the police have stated that there is no evidence that this was an honor killing.

Spencer goes well beyond speculation by calling this an “Islamic honor killing” and accusing the media of a PC coverup. The article is deceptive (or at least grossly irresponsible) and dangerous.

I chose this article because I stumbled upon it yesterday, but I have seen the same kind of deception in other posts from Spencer. My point is that he is a very influential figure in some Christian circles yet he quite blatantly lies. Some would excuse his articles as “exaggerations” and point out that the real threat is Islam, not the brave voices who speak out against it.

My admonition for the Church is to deny the political nihilism of our culture by being a discerning reader, hungry for the Truth, even when it challenges our preconceptions. Let’s not make excuses for lies or irresponsible speculation or promote deception.

 

Update 01/04/12

Just to be clear, I acknowledge the fact that this could turn out to be an honor killing, but the only evidence that it might have been is the statement from the daughter’s friend that the father wouldn’t let his daughter date outside her race and religion. Given the fact that the police have already stated that there is no evidence that this was an honor killing, and given the scant evidence otherwise, it is irresponsible to begin speculating that it was an honor killing, and it was deceptive of Spencer to title his article “Islamic honor killing” as if it were an established fact. That is Spencer’s deception, which I have asked him to rectify.

Update 2

In the interest of charity, I have modified my language slightly. Instead of insisting that Spencer is a liar, I now include the possibility that he is not lying but merely irresponsibly jumping to conclusions. This does not alter my argument in any meaningful way.

About Alan Noble

(Co-Founder/Editor/Columnist) is a part-time lecturer at Baylor University. He received his PhD in Contemporary American Literature from Baylor, writing on manifestations of transcendence in 20th Century American Lit. He and his family attend Redeemer Waco, a PCA church. Alan's passion is studying how believers can be a faithful presence in culture to the glory of God and the edification of others. In addition to editing, Alan writes his column, Citizenship Confusion for CaPC.

---Follow Alan on Twitter @TheAlanNoble and on Facebook.

---For questions, comments, or interest in speaking engagements please email me at noble.noneuclidean [at] gmail [dot] com.

  • DanS.

    al-wala’ wa’l-bara’ says it all.

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    Ting tang, walla walla bing bang.

  • Shideh

    Shame on those who start rumors without knowing all the facts. At the time that close friends and family of these innocent people are still in shock and try to cope with action of one self-centered man who was not even slightly religious, connecting this tragedy to honor killing and trying to make name for themselves in the media, is really offensive.
    Instead maybe one should dig a little deeper in the killers personal life and see him as he was. For those who were not close to these two families, all it takes it to take a look at the pictures and then judge,!!….

  • Adam Marshall

    Where’d Mr. Spencer’s reply go?

  • Alan Noble

    Hey replied to the other post, not this one. I think.


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