After Pamela Geller completely dismantled a Washington Post fact check written by Glenn Kessler that awarded Republican presidential contender Ben Carson the full boat of 4 Pinocchios, Breitbart News reached out to Kessler for comment and a few reasonable questions.
Kessler declared Carson a liar for saying, “Taqiyya is a component of Sharia that allows, and even encourages you to lie to achieve your goals.” Geller points out that Kessler’s cherry-picked “experts” are not only suspect but biased. Why did Kessler choose them? Why didn’t Kessler talk to Islamic scholars who disagree? Why did Kessler ignore other parts of the Koran that legitimize deceit?
Here’s the query we sent Kessler. His response is below:
It appears as though this fact check was started with a conclusion in mind — to undermine Carson’s claim. The conclusion is based on only what certain, cherry-picked sources told you, sources who are all divisive and on one side of the divide.
Are you aware of the public and readily demonstrable dishonesty of Abou El Fadl, Safi, Feldman, and Ibish? — Details here.
On what basis did you decide to consult only spokesmen who would disagree with Carson, without bothering to ask anyone who agreed with him for comment?
What is your own comment on the Muslim clerics who have made statements quite similar to that of Carson? See here.
Your fact check also either ignored or glossed over other parts of the Koran, as mentioned in Geller’s piece…
And there is much more. The Quran at one point praises “a believing man from the family of Pharaoh who concealed his faith” (40:28). It says that anyone who renounces Islam after being a believer will face “wrath from Allah,” unless he is “forced” to express disbelief “while his heart is secure in faith” (16:106). Muhammad said that “war is deceit” (Bukhari 52.269) and allowed for lying “in battle” (Muslim 32.6303).
Respectfully, you also appear to be hiding behind hyper-literalism — that “persecution” and “battle” only mean life and death.
Kessler chose not to answer the questions but did respond:
I consulted with a range of scholars on Islam with worldwide reputations. This is the first time that I recall that sources from UCLA, Duke and Harvard are considered not legitimate. Last time I checked, these are all universities in the top ranks of academia.
By way of example, here is a copy of an email I received from a graduate student in Islam philosophy regarding the article.
“I want to send this note just to thank you for your remarkably succinct yet broad-ranging article on the question of taqiyyah. As a graduate student in Islamic Studies (I work in Islamic philosophy and mysticism, so law is peripheral to my concerns), I find questions like this difficult to deal with, largely because of the polemical perspective from within which they are framed. It is a very interesting, very real, instantiation of the liar’s paradox, where the interlocutor begins with the assumption of the possibility that I am lying, and then asks the question about taqiyyah as lying, and then whatever I say cannot be believed. Your quick survey of a broad range of thinkers in Islamic Studies (each is usually stigmatized intra-Islamically among American Muslims: El Fadl ‘the Mu’tazilah’ academic, Safi ‘the Shi’ah’ academic, and then the Sunni-normative figures to round it all out) is exemplary of how journalism about Islam and America should be, though too few are following in your example thus far it would seem. I thank you again.”
Obviously, Kessler’s world of experts is disturbingly provincial.
If a left-wing academic says it, it must be true is not fact checking.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC