I was unfamiliar with Eric Allen Bell until recently when he published an article on Daily Kos whose main thesis claimed that Loonwatch.com was a terrorist supporting site, "Loonwatch.com and Radical Islam".
I have been a follower of Loonwatch since first learning about it over two years ago. To me it provides a necessary correction to the over abundance of hate and bigotry directed at Muslims on the web, and it does so in the most entertaining, engaging and analytical manner that I have witnessed. So imagine my surprise when I read an article claiming Loonwatch was a front for radical Islam!
After reading the article I realized it was nothing but smears, and that loonwatch was being targeted by the same gutter sniping conspiracies that they have been exposing.
Bell begins his article by saying that,
The newly coined term Islamophobia describes an irrational fear of Islam. But for LoonWatch.com any criticism of the Koran or of violent Jihad - even those criticisms that might have some legitimacy to them - even of radical Islam, are branded as Islamophobia and anyone who dares to raise questions about the nearly constant acts of Jihad going on increasingly around the world today is labeled a Loon.
What does Bell provide as way of evidence for the claim that Loonwatch opposes "any criticism of the Koran or of violent Jihad?" Does he provide quotes or statements from Loonwatch articles or writers? You know, facts?
The answer is a glaring and resounding, NO.
Instead, Eric relies on guesswork. According to him Loonwatch doesn't speak out against "Islamic Terrorism," that, to him, is enough to declare that it is "in fact a terrorist spin control network."
A pretty bold and probably libelous claim when measured next to the absence of facts Bell provides.
When one takes a look at the mission statement of Loonwatch, it becomes clear that their focus is on challenging bigotry against Muslims,
Loonwatch.com is a blogzine run by a motley group of hate-allergic bloggers to monitor and expose the webs plethora of anti-Muslim loons, wackos, and conspiracy theorists.
What's wrong with that? As many commenters pointed out to Bell there are "thousands" of sites tracking "terrorism" and "jihad." In fact there is a whole "Terrorism Industry" that is in existence feeding off of the fear of "Islamic Terrorism," to make sure that Americans have a new "green" menace to replace the old "red" menace. Prof. Charles Kurzman, who has actually done empirical evidence on this topic gives us some perspective on this exaggerated threat,
As it turns out, there just arent that many Muslims determined to kill us. Backed by a veritable army of fact, figures, and anecdotes, Kurzman makes a compelling case. He calculates, for example, that global Islamist terrorists have succeeded in recruiting fewer than 1 in 15,000 Muslims over the past 25 years, and fewer than 1 in 100,000 since 2001. And according to a top counterterrorism official, Al Qaeda originally planned to hit a West Coast target, too, on 9/11 but lacked the manpower to do so.
Bell seems to have a schizophrenic personality, on the one hand he defends religious liberty (such as in the case of Murfreesboro Mosque) but on the other hand he agrees with many of the irrational attacks leveled at Islam and Muslims:
1.) He conflates Radical Islam and Islamic Fundamentalism with Islam. In the comment section he made clear that he believes "Islam IS Islamic Fundamentalism."
3.) He believes Muslims who are peaceful are so not because of "Islam" but in spite of Islam, as he says "Lets not confuse Muslims with Islam." That is similar to the statement of Robert Spencer that "The only good Muslim is a bad Muslim."
4.) He cherry picks verses, quotes them out of context, and when it is pointed out that the same could be done with other scriptures he resorts to a popular argument amongst Islamophobes; stating that while it may be true that other scriptures hold violent passages they "are rarely carried out" in contrast to Islam. There is nothing further from the truth as the website, WhatIfTheyWere Muslim.com? details quite vividly. All the crimes that are considered uniquely "Islamic" are still committed by Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc.
Spencer, whom I don't see eye to eye with either entirely, presents himself in a rather rational, sober and scholarly fashion and I might add that neither he nor the other "Loons" have bombs strapped to them - only words.
Either Bell is very ignorant or he is disingenuous. Robert Spencer is not a rational person. Someone who joins a group wanting to annihilate Anatolia, who denies the genocide of Bosnians, who thinks "Obama may be a Muslim," is neither a scholar or a rational individual.
Also where is Eric Allen Bell's outrage when polling shows that Americans and Israelis are more likely to support the killing of innocent civilians than Muslims in every Islamic nation:
Percentage of people who said it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians:
Israeli Jews 52%
No religion/Atheists/Agnostics (U.S.A.) 43%
Spanish Muslims 31%
German Muslims 17%
French Muslims 16%
British Muslims 16%
Now, should we likewise, per the logic of Mr. Bell, be afraid of the scary Christian Americans, and make broad sweeping generalities about Christianity? Or Jewish Americans? Or Israeli Jews?
This is just a slither of what I found wrong with Eric Allen Bell's article. It was reliant on not only a highly dubious methodology of critique, sourced poorly, but also filled with Orientalist and prejudiced tropes that ironically were the same ones used by the anti-Mosque opponents Bell documented in Murfreesboro, TN.