Thursday, 29 April 2010
Bostom: Pompous Ass
Andrew Bostom's two currently published works of scholarship, The Legacy of Jihad and the The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, are brilliant, meticulously researched additions to the vast library of Islamo-critical literature. I do not exaggerate when I say that they are two of the most precious resources on the subject that I own.
On the other hand, Bostom himself has always seemed to me to be a pompous ass, and he has demonstrated this recently in blog posts accusing another stalwart champion of freedom, Robert Spencer, of plagiarising his work.
The controversy follows on from Spencer's post here discussing the flawed argumentation of a professor that the "roots" of Islamic antisemitism come from Hitler. Spencer's article does, admittedly, lean heavily on the arguments and sources used in Bostom's work, but that does NOT make plagiarism. Bostom, in his self-righteous arrogance, seems to be ignoring the fact that the entire purpose of his book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism is to serve as a reference work for other writers, as well as the fact that other notable writers have also "plagiarised" his work. For example, Ibn Warraq's book Defending the West contains a whole section on Islamic antisemitism, the entirety of which is based upon argumentation and sources derived from Bostom. Warraq even quotes some of Bostom's unique primary sources, without attributing them to Bostom himself. Why does Bostom not accuse him of plagiarism? Perhaps Bostom learned all this from Warraq, but this is unlikely given that none of the material about antisemitism was reference in Warraq's previous book, Why I am Not a Muslim, and in in case, this would then make Bostom the plagiarist. Elsewhere, the books of both Bostom and Bat Ye'or contain identical sections on the myth of the "Andalusian Golden Age" which use the exact same wording and facts. One of them must have plagiarised the other, and yet neither have made any kind of complaint up to now.
Bostom's definition of plagiarism is simply unreasonable and illogical. If using the same sources or making the same arguments as someone else equals plagiarism, then Bostom himself is a plagiarist, since his work is full of approving quotations of other scholars' arguments, without offering his own "take" on those arguments. Moreover, Bostom is being inconsistent and hypocritical. On numerous occasions, he has taken debate opponents to task for failing to make references to certain sources and information that are referenced in his own books. For example, during a debate on the roots of jihad and antisemitism with Matthias Kuntzel, Bostom maintained that Kuntzel "ignores copious doctrinal and historical evidence...summarized in the discussion that follows."Over the course of two rounds of debate, Bostom accused Kuntzel (correctly, I must add) around fifteen times of "ignoring" important information. And yet, what if Kuntzel had made reference to the information and sources cited by Bostom? Would Bostom have accused him of plagiarism? To do so would be absolutely absurd, and Bostom undoubtedly knew that then, so why he has chosen now to launch vicious , outright nasty attacks on Spencer for merely telling the truth is unfathomable.
This is not going well. First, Charles Johnson decided to betray all his friends and allies in an unconscionable display of mental retardation. Now Bostom has done the same, for reasons unknown to the rational mind. If those who oppose jihad and Islamic infidel-hatred can't learn to unify despite disagreements, what is to become of the free world?