Last week, I sparked a little feud after I questioned the motives and judgment of Rep. Adam Hasner, the House majority leader, for making public appearances with anti-Islam agitator Geert Wilders, a member of Dutch Parliament. At week's end, I posted this letter to Hasner, seeking clarification on where his philosophies on dealing with radical Islam intersect with Wilders.' Deport the whole lot of 'em? Or merely bar the new Muslim immigrants from entering the country? (We're still waiting to hear back from him.)
In the meantime, I'd like to share a recent note. Tom Trento is director of the Florida Security Council in Lake Worth, an overnight sensation on Youtube, and one of the organizers of the "Free Speech Summit" in Boca, where Hasner and Wilders appeared together. We sent Trento a few links to related blog posts, where a debate had already started about whether I was an anti-Semite, a hater of free speech, or merely an idiot. (For the record, there's evidence exonerating me against all but the third charge.) Trento responded to that message and agreed to let us publish his note, unedited except for an explanatory link, some background info marked in bold, and a single footnote. Trento writes:
Sorry, I don't get too involved in the BLOG world. I know its great stuff, but there is only so much time to be a "crazy-right-wing-religious-fighter of radical muslims," if you know what I mean?
I don't know Tom Francis and I certainly do not remember getting an email from him. Sorry again, but I get hundreds of emails a day. If Tom F. can send me whatever he is referring to, I will try and answer it.**
Though I'm not that good in the blog world, I'm extremely good in the Debate world...you know, like facing off in the (intellectual) ring and going toe-to-toe, in a public forum with anyone that has the guts to stand in there with me.
So if you boys at New Times want to have some fun, and inform a few people, here is what I suggest.
How about a New Times-sponsored "Great Debate" between (executive director of Florida's Council on American - Islamic Relations) Mr. Altaf Ali and yours truly on the topic of Free Speech, Geert Wilders, Islam, Christianly, terrorism, whatever he will agree to, in order to get him in the ring with me?
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If Mr Ali is only interested in making guest appearances at places that he can't find, well... that's fine.
But if he wants to discuss and debate what many serious people believe to be the number one problem facing Western Civilization, that is, the supremest ideology of classic Islam and its desire to implement sharia law in the United States, through jihad if necessary -- I am ready, willing and able to meet that challenge.
Me thinks he will pass on my offer. Me hopes I is wrong.
Then there are you New Times "word-smithing gun-slingers."
Ever have the urge to leave the safety of your compliant keyboard and risk the "smell of the crowd and the roar of the greasepaint"?
In your case, I'll let you have four against one of me -- think about it? Any two people you want with you two guys, against me, on any of the Islamist issues in question.
So, right about now, you are wondering, "Who the hell is this arrogant Trento guy?"
The short answer is that I am a person who knows what he believes, knows why he believes what he does and knows how to dismantle and destroy opposing arguments, all in a manner that educates the audience.
Here is the drill:
1. Go find a crash-test dummy, oops... I mean an opponent for me. (if the ladies at CAIR take a pass, look for some Imams, Ayatollahs or Islamist jurists, whatever).
2. Set up a formal meeting to discuss topics and formatting
3. Select a public venue
4. Promote the event
5. Educate the folks! You want a story...now go make one.
Florida Security Council
** In the comments thread of this post, I was accused of demonstrating bias by not explaining the reasons that the Free Speech Summit had changed from its original location at the Marriott in Delray Beach to an undisclosed location in Boca Raton. The day before, I had emailed the only contact person listed on the summit's website, a "Dr. Michaels," asking why organizers changed the venue. I received a reply to that message from Trento, but it contained no answers to my questions. Rather, it was an announcement of a Wilders - Hasner press conference for the following day.
As for this offer of a New Times-promoted debate? Tempting though it is to smell the crowd and hear the greasepaint roar, there's the issue of marketability. Frankly, Mr. Trento, in an era of Indian casinos, Nintendo Wii and free internet porn, our debate is not likely to draw a crowd. At least not beyond the few dozen conspiracy theorists in your club, and the few dozen CAIR members that Ali might bring with him, and the dozen-or-so supportive friends who might show up to be my cheering section (only to discover, "If being Francis' friend means going to events such as these, maybe it's not worth the trouble"). And none of these partisan observers is likely to be converted.