Suave Rabble-Rouser Hits Land of Nuts and Fruits: Goon squads do their bounden duty: Dim hack finally gets the joke

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New at Reason: My play-by-play account of Daniel Pipes' command performance at Berkeley last week.

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  1. I’ve always found Pipes’ work worthwhile and, lately, quite prescient.

  2. I agree 100 percent with Pipes’ description of militant Islam. I also believe Joe is right that he was trying to get a rise out of the audience. There were certainly more productive ways he could have made the point.

  3. Is it just me, or does Jay Jay the Jet Plane kinda look like Clinton?

    I’m a hopeless nineties nostalgiac, so keeping this in mind will make it easier for me to sit through Jay Jay’s high-flyin’ antics in the future. I thank you.

  4. Joe, Thoreau, Tim,

    Good points, all. Even though I disagree with most of what Pipes says, I had a moment of empathy with him due to frustration with the knee-jerk morons who are unfortunately on my side on many issues (which always pisses me off more than knee-jerk morons who aren’t). But you’re right, he could have made his point more constuctively. I have to breathe deeply sometimes.

  5. I read several eyewitness accounts of this speech, which claim that some of the pro-palestinian faction stood up and gave Nazi salutes. None of the news stories reported this. Did this happen?

  6. Is it fair to paint Pipes as a demagogue?

  7. I’ve spoken in public a number of times on subjects that were potentially offensive to both right and left. The only groups that ever attempted to shout me down (more than once) were on the left. Is this a coincidence?

  8. The only groups that ever attempted to shout me down (more than once) were on the left. Is this a coincidence?

    It was more likely due to your subject matter. Anyone who’s ever been to one of those creationism vs. science “debates” that biologists occasionally get suckered into participating in could tell you plenty of stories of scientists being shouted down by right-wing Christians.

  9. “Two women in hijabs are still in the room, seated and seemingly quiet and attentive; but by now the audience is through with nice distinctions and wants to see some of the old stuff. Four cops move in, and both women are cleansed.”

    So two muslim women were just sitting there and the Hillel folks had them purged from the building! What am I missing? This sounds horrible…

  10. “…stories of scientists being shouted down by right-wing Christians.”

    Reminds me of that scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey” where the monkey-humans go nuts under the obelisk.

  11. So two muslim women were just sitting there and the Hillel folks had them purged from the building! What am I missing? This sounds horrible…

    Note that I used the weasel word “seemingly.” As far as I and the group sitting around me (a mixture of supporters and non-vocal detractors) could see, they weren’t doing anything but waiting for Pipes to come back out for the Q&A. It is, however, possible that they had done something earlier that merited dismissal, and they were seated in the general hecklers’ section of the audience. Also, Hillel didn’t seem to be involved in this ousting: The cops acted on their own. They were, however, the last two women in Islamic headgear in the room, so if I had been in the cops’ shoes, I’d have let them stay just to avoid the appearance of bigotry.

    But then, I ain’t no cop.

  12. I believe Pipes was engaging in a form of symbolic free speech. Probably this is the only free speech available on campus to a cotroversial and un-PC speaker– the atmosphere is still to tense for conservatives to present views in the kind of relaxed and flexible format that would make live presentations profitable for the audience.

    That is too bad…and I don’t see how it was Pipe’s fault.

  13. Is it fair to paint Pipes as a demagogue?

    It’s fair to say he engages in demagoguery (who among us hasn’t?), but I wouldn’t dismiss him so easily. Where I think he goes wrong is in positing that there is a vast bloc of apologists and supporters of radical Islamism arrayed against him, and to lump people from a wide spectrum into that bloc. If you’ve ever read his comments on Olivier Roy or Gilles Kepel, for example, you’ll see him painting with a ridiculously wide brush: They say Islamism has been a political and economic failure; he interprets that to mean they’re saying we have nothing to fear from Islamism. It doesn’t merely misstate their premises, but is bad for national security, because anybody who takes “Know Your Foe” seriously should pay some attention to both Roy and Kepel. In my opinion, anyway…

    Anyway, as a Frenchman who beats the stuffing out of anti-Semites with his bare knuckles, you don’t need my advice on what names to call people.

  14. I’ve witnessed groups on both the left and the right attempting to shout down speakers. Sometimes, their anti-science sentiments will even have them converge at the same event.

    I suppose that I view these in somewhat different lights, however. When it comes from the right, it is usually from groups that have no qualms about saying that others that disagree with them shouldn’t be allowed to speak. When it comes from the left, it is followed almost in the next breath about cries for “free speech” and about how anyone who wishes to stop them from shouting down a speaker is “censoring” them. I’ve even heard air horns referred to as free speech.

  15. I read several eyewitness accounts of this speech, which claim that some of the pro-palestinian faction stood up and gave Nazi salutes. None of the news stories reported this. Did this happen?

    I didn’t see it if they did. Although I tried to keep track of every belch and fart in the audience, it’s possible somebody was siegheiling and I missed it. What’s the difference between a written eyewitness account and a news story, anyway?

  16. Pipes sounds like a troll. He needed to repeat the “Militant Islam is…” sentence? Ask yourself why.

  17. Tim,

    All you need at that event are a few guillotines. šŸ™‚

  18. Is it just me, or does Jay Jay the Jet Plane kinda look like Clinton?

  19. Joe,

    apparently Mr. Pipes is just as opinonated and stubborn as you. Does this mean we should call you a troll too?

  20. KJ, as opinionated and stubborn as I am, I try to contribute ideas to the debate. What does listing a buch of insults for militant Islam, and then repeating them when you see that they’re getting the opposition riled up, contribute to the understanding of the issue?

    Read the article; Pipes was trolling.

  21. Get it straight KJ, joe’s not troll, he’s screwball.

  22. Thank you, Todd šŸ™‚

  23. Is it really insulting to call a spade a spade?

  24. Conservatives have often exploited racism, sexism, and other bigotries to consolidate their own power. The Bush tax cut benefitted his wealthy donors far more than poor people. The Republican Congress is cutting services to poor people while expending pork in Republican districts.

    Absolutely true, KJ. Trolling, no?

  25. Joe,

    I think Pipe’s opinions are simplistic and often prejudiced (“ALL civilized people supported the war in Iraq” is pathetic nonsense), but his descriptions of militant Islam wasn’t an insult. It was an accurate description. I think the people who jeer at these accurate descriptions do need to have it repeated slowly as they’re either in loyalist denial or just stupid.

  26. I saw Pipes speak ay U Penn last March. The crowd wasn’t particulary large and was, with the exception of a woman who tried to shout him down during the Q & A, perfectly civil. It was a decent speech, nothing particulary mind blowing but decent overall. I wouldn’t be so quick to write off his scholarly work however. Granted he seems preoccupied with churning out op-eds for the NY Sun but he’ll occassionaly pop up in The National Interest and the Mide East Quarterly.

  27. Repeating something slowly to people who jeered at it at normal speed doesn’t change minds or contribute to the debate, it just goads those on the other side into jeering more.

    Saying provocative things in an attempt to attract jeers, without engaging others’ ideas or even defending your own. If you get this answer on Jeopary, say “What is trolling?”

  28. Les-

    His description of militant Islam (NOT a synonym for Islam, although some might say so) was indeed 100% accurate.

    But a troll need not be inaccurate to be a troll. A troll can tell the 100% honest-to-Allah truth and still be a troll if he does it with the intent of getting people angry and degrading the debate. (Yes, sometimes a little anger and energy can enliven a debate, but he clearly wanted to be shouted down and booed.)

    Some of what I read in the article reminds me of a David Horowitz event that I attended 3 years ago on campus. He had just run ads in campus newspapers saying that slavery reparations are a bad idea. Talk about stating the obvious. Anyway, he decided to deliberately state the obvious in a way calculated to tick off certain irrational fringe groups on college campuses. Then he gave a speaking tour. College Republican groups paid him handsome speaking fees for it (usually with support from the Young America Foundation or similar groups). At the event they had security prominently displayed, and delayed his talk for “security reasons.” All questions were written down on notecards and filtered. Too bad for him that most of his detractors skipped the event to attend a “counter-event” where speakers who disagreed with him had their say.

    The best part: After engineering an event designed to get the fringes to show their true colors and cause havoc at campuses across the country, he wrote a book on a manufactured conspiracy to silence him. It was all a ploy. He knew that if he did things just right he could get people angry with him, he could lure out the loonies, he could look like a victim, he could get speaking fees, and then he could write a book about it.

    Nice to see that the book didn’t make a splash. There is some justice in the world.

    P.S. Prior to Horowitz I had never noticed any national attention to the reparations issue. Yes, I know, people here can undoubtedly point to isolated instances and wackos talking about it. But he really helped the issue take off. If we ever do have to pay reparations, he deserves a cut, since he helped put it on the map. Ironic, no?

  29. Tim,

    So he engages in “demagoguery,” but is not a demagogue?

    And yes, I am not an well-tempered fellow all the time. šŸ™‚

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