Last week we received the following critique via email (edited for length) from a reader who questioned IW's mission and language choices:
Why refer to these Islam-procurers as "lawful"? To the average reader, the word "lawful" means: "law-abiding," and in our culture, to be "law-abiding" is to be admirable and therefore to be emulated. Your inclusion of the word "lawful" when describing these dissembling Islamist jingoists muddies your message.
So we feel we must challenge you for portraying these demagogic, American-hating swine, this particular set of potential murderers, as folks to be venerated, admired and worth emulating. [...]Do we know what we're talking about? Absolutely! We work in advertising, image production, etc.
1. We focus on Lawful Islamism, not Islamic terrorism.
The word "lawful" intends to describe the tactics utilized by specific Islamists, not compliment the character of all. IW's focus is on individuals and groups who have adopted the method of trying to work within the law to gradually advance an Islamic supremacist agenda. Smart Islamists know that murder and terror do not effectively promote the cause.
2. We engage in strategy, not advocacy.
See this 2012 statement from Dr. Daniel Pipes articulating the Middle East Forum's niche:
But morality and justice are not the only important debate; another one, more specialized, concerns strategy – not who is right or wrong, but how to win. This latter discussion focuses on an assessment of forces and offers ideas how to achieve one's goals. The strategist takes the goals for granted (i.e., a secure Israel) and focuses on achieving them.
Advocacy and strategy each have their role. The advocate speaks of right and wrong, the strategist deals with success and failure. Passion marks the former, ice runs in the latter's veins.
IW is not trying to persuade others to embrace our perspective. We are providing information and analysis to those who agree with us and want to pursue the practical steps to roll back Islamist influence.
3. In the long run, it's sound scholarship with original research that persuades better than the modern advertising ethos of emotion-manipulating propaganda.
There are many websites already dedicated to hurling ad hominem invective at Islamists. IW more aims at molding the mind rather than squeezing the heart.
4. Brevity is a virtue.
IW blog posts will aim to be 300-500 words, and articles 700-800, each focused on making one key point derived from fresh facts.
Those who agree with this approach and would like to contribute content or research to Islamist Watch (either on a volunteer or freelance basis) are invited to contact me at Swindle@MeForum.Org with queries or submissions.
Image Illustration via Wikimedia Commons: By Tim Evanson