A few days ago I asked Robert Spencer how he could use certain Arabic sources to tell us about how awful the Prophet Muhammad was, when those very same sources tell us he performed miracles. Did he believe all of it, and if not, what was his standard for judging? Then he claimed that everything he’s ever said is true, which I found hilariously hyperbolic, and what ensued was a rather long and unplanned Twitter exchange. It was suggested to me that perhaps I should put it up so that people could read it. You can see it at here, though a couple of tweets appear slightly out of order for some reason. Still, it’s mostly very clear what is going on.
Spencer is a master illusionist who no one should take seriously as a scholar. He’s more of an infomercial spokesman: he knows just enough to sell you something. This is the routine with him and others like him:
1) He makes outrageous claims that seem to be based on evidence, which most of his audience has no ability to check or corroborate.
2) When someone who knows more than he does challenges him on those claims and evidence, he says that is not what he said.
3) When it is pointed out to him that this is exactly what he said, he says you have misunderstood him, and really he was using that language in a very, very particular way. (The magic here is that this is always changing)
4) When you point out to him that he is still making demonstrably false claims, he suddenly waxes rhetorical and makes ad hominem attacks, and claims you are part of a “side” or group that is out to do something nefarious.
Attack, Dodge, Pivot, Whine.