To Dean Obeidallah: If You’re Right, Then Debate, Don’t Run

Responding to civil debate with mockery and disdain makes you look bad, not your opponent.

By Michael Brown Published on May 18, 2017

In response to my article “The Liberals’ Misguided Love Affair With Islam,” radio host and columnist Dean Obeidallah tweeted, “Hey @DrMichaelLBrown U win award award [sic] for dumbest article of the day — be proud. #moron.”

This was not the first time Mr. Obeidallah attacked me, offering rhetoric without substance, so I responded: “Let’s have a public, civil debate about the issue. You’ve challenged me before, but never with substance. Let’s deal with facts. Shall we?”

Some of his followers chimed in with their own mockery, and I responded to each one, wanting to move beyond the invective. Can we interact about specifics? Can you tell me what is factually inaccurate about my article? With one exception, I was greeted with either silence or further insult.

I then tweeted Mr. Obeidallah again: “Sir, please be kind enough to point out any factual errors in my article. I assume you read it carefully, correct?”

He responded: “Ur a joke — I just give ur views sunlight to destroy the BS — now go run along to Pam Geller.”

Actually, I don’t need this gentleman to give my views “sunlight.” By God’s grace, I have lots of internet exposure, with my articles posted on numerous websites. My Facebook page has more than 530,000 likes, I have a daily, syndicated radio show, an active YouTube channel, and three TV shows, two of which air internationally. So, he has his fine platforms and I have mine.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obeidallah’s attitude is typical of the condescending, “progressive” left: “We will ridicule and mock you because you are unworthy of our time.”

I replied to his tweet more forcefully: “You provide the perfect example of someone who has no facts to support his views: You mock and ridicule, devoid of substance.”

I also posted (to Mr. Obeidallah and one of his Twitter followers): “I call on peace-loving Muslims to join me in standing against radical Islam. You respond with mockery and insult. This is tolerance? Sad.”

Mr. Obeidallah then responded to my call to debate: “The answer is I don’t debate punchlines.  Ur a joke.”

I answered: “The truth is you bring no substance, only insults, and your ideas would be instantly exposed in a civil, academic debate. Don’t run.”

He did not reply to me.

Was I surprised? Not in the least. I’ve seen the same thing happen time and again, and if anything, this approach suggests that the mocker is not ready to defend his viewpoint. Why not have your ideas challenged? Why not allow your viewpoints to be cross-examined? And if I am so wrong, why not expose me?

In the course of just three tweets, Mr. Obeidallah ridiculed my article as “the dumbest” of the day; used the hashtag #moron to describe me; then twice called me “a joke,” also accusing me of writing “BS.” And he did this without pointing out a single error in my article. Ah, the voice of tolerance!

Perhaps my esteemed critic can tell me if my Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University was a joke. Or if my three years of studying Classical Arabic was a joke. Or if my public debates at schools like Oxford University and Ohio State University, or outreach lectures at schools like the Hebrew University in Jerusalem or USC or Yale University, or scholarly papers delivered at schools like Harvard University were a joke.

Or am I “a joke” because I claim that radical Islam can trace its roots back to the Quran? Or that I believe that Robert Spencer should not have been shouted down when he tried to quote violent Islamic texts at the University of Buffalo?

The Needed Discussion

A colleague of mine in Australia pointed out that

The annual Freedom of Thought report published by the International Humanist and Ethical Union found that 13 nations punish apostasy with the death penalty.

The 13 countries are all Islamic: Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Says the report, “All of these countries, except Pakistan, allow for capital punishment against apostasy, while Pakistan imposes the death penalty for blasphemy — including a disbelief in God.”

Does Mr. Obeidallah deny that these countries are Islamic? Does he claim that what they are doing is in violation of the Quran and of Sharia Law?

He might say that their practices are abhorrent, that enlightened Muslims reject this, that as a Muslim himself he believes the Quran is being twisted. All that is fine and good, and that’s part of what we can discuss.

For the sake of truth, for the sake of those affected by radical Islam, for the sake of our nation, we should hash the issues out.

I am not one of those who believes a true Muslim is always a radical Muslim, and I often take flak from some on the right who believe that Islam is always murderous. That’s why I use the adjective “radical” before the word “Islam.” At the same time, I get flack on the left from those (like Mr. Obeidallah, apparently) who believe that radical Islam is not Islam at all.

That’s why I invite Dean Obeidallah to have a civil, moderated, public debate. We could debate the question, “Is Radical Islam True Islam?” Or, “Is the Left Giving Islam a Free Pass?” (Or, perhaps something else that is related. I’m open to possibilities. I would even come on his radio show, where he controls the mic, or he could come on mine.)

Whatever the format, for the sake of truth, for the sake of those affected by radical Islam, for the sake of our nation, we should hash the issues out.

And on a personal note, Mr. Obeidallah, when you respond with mockery and disdain, you make yourself look bad, not your opponent. Surely you can do better than that.

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  • Dawn Elizabeth Slike

    The core problem is that the platform of this radio host/columnist with whom you want to have a civil discussion and debate does not allow for it. His whole platform is built of the particle board of rabble-rousing and condescension, an unceilinged superiority complex, and the presupposition that anyone who does not agree with him is a fool. Name-calling is all he knows, and this is a typical tactic of an angry person with perhaps a lower IQ.

    • Hannah

      It’s the battle plan of an immature individual: become offended by a variance of opinion, lash out verbally, and don’t offer reasoning when questioned – just maintain an antagonistic behavior regardless of evidence presented. When you see this in someone, be they online or in real life, you know you’ve won the fight simply because they have nothing of substance to rally against. It’s rewarding but maddening enough that it’s often not viewed as a victory.

  • Pat Vogt

    Open debates always give two sides for those listening to contemplate & discern truth for themselves. So Dean, accept a challenge to deliver your stance!

  • You do the same thing with those who want to talk specifics about the errors within the Charismatic church. You never have time to look up specifics though or do research, so you just resort to calling people heresy hunters, critical and without love etc. It’s puzzling that you see it very clearly when the left are doing it to you, but you can’t see that you do this to anyone who disagrees with many of the unbiblical doctrines in the Charismatic. That last sentence is true for you as well. When you continue to deflect and bring up strawman arguments and refuse to have any real discussion about these very real and serious errors, it makes you look bad.

    On your radio show you even admit you won’t read the materials and articles that have presented the errors and yet in this article here today you wrote, ““Sir, please be kind enough to point out any factual errors in my article. I assume you read it carefully, correct?””

    You expect people to read your articles carefully and in full, yet won’t read another person’s article. Perhaps you should listen to your own words and actually live by them because everything you said in this article sounds good, but you are not living it.

    • Michael L Brown

      Dana, thanks for your comment, but I find it baffling. I address specifics day and night on radio and in writing, inviting folks who take issue with me (or my colleagues) to discuss their differences with me. I offer THEM airtime on MY show to present their viewpoints. Moreover, I have written whole books exposing errors and weakness in the Charismatic movement, of which I am a part. I have also addressed unethical heresy hunters. Perhaps you’re reading or listening selectively?

      At the same time, no, I cannot read and watch every link sent to me — there are countless thousands of people wanting me to do that very thing — but I do not comment on something I have not read or watched, nor do I mock people I differ with. In contrast, Mr. Obeidallah mocked my article but would not present a single factual error.

      So, in candor, it seems your comment quite off point, sounding more reactionary than relevant, and I take the time to write back here (which I normally do not do) to help, not to hurt. Let us pursue truth together. Let us not engage in rhetoric. Sound fair?

      • I am a Charismatic as well. I have yet to hear you have someone on as a guest who understands these teachings, lays them out accurately and then talk about the serious errors that have been introduced to the body of Christ. I have heard you do interviews with 7 mountain believers in order to defend their positions and promote their books and websites. Even the shows you have done on these things, it never accurately addresses the teachings. You build up a strawman and tear down that strawman instead. You did a show on the NAR and yet admit you don’t even know what it is and have never done any research and never even properly defined it, so yes you absolutely have commented on something you have not read nor took the time to research further. You always seem to have this strange laid back attitude when it comes to errors within the Charismatic church. It causes people to become suspicious.

        There are Charismatics who are standing against these errors now, so it will no longer be a Cessationist vs Charismatic debate. The Charismatic church needs to go back to the Word of God and re-examine what they believe compared to what is being taught by the popular ministers of today.

        • Michael L Brown

          Dana, thanks for your further comments.

          First, when I’ve discussed the 7 Mountain theology on the air, I have discussed it accurately in terms of its origins and its main proponents. Critics have attacked it inaccurately, and perhaps you’ve bought into the criticisms. If you differ, please call the show one day and present details. My research has brought me to different conclusions than your.

          Second, I get attacked as being a leader in the NAR, which I’m not. That’s what I’ve clearly responded to. Also, I have bizarre, totally untrue attacks attacks against the NAR, which I rebut. That being said, I have expressed my differences with aspects of the NAR for years.

          Third, have you read my books critiquing issues within the charismatic movement? Perhaps that’s a good place to start. Thanks!

  • John Sloan

    I find it interesting that, when reason has fled and mental vacuity is being promoted as rationale, ad hominem attacks are their only defense (and as an argument strategy is completely falsifiable). Where reason (philosophical, theological, scientific) raised us out of the ‘dark ages’ emotional irrationality is quickly threatening to make us again ‘ ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ (and we will be buying the saws and pails from the Chinese).
    What feels good now trumps what is good.
    Keep the bar high Michael.

  • Dean Bruckner

    He is not cutting a very fine or brave figure with the name Dean, that’s for sure!

  • Patmos

    You can usually break down the left pretty easily in any debate or discussion, at which point they resort to stuff like what Obeidallah tweeted here. I guess he simply had nothing this time, and went right to the sulking.

  • Howard

    Actually, I don’t need this gentleman to give my views “sunlight.” By God’s grace, I have lots of internet exposure, with my articles posted on numerous websites. My Facebook page has more than 530,000 likes, I have a daily, syndicated radio show, an active YouTube channel, and three TV shows, two of which air internationally.

    Whatever happened to the idea enshrined in phrases like “sticks and stones” and “water off a duck’s back”? So he did you neither harm nor good, and offered no real debate, but he offended your pride, and you thought everyone should know this? You would look better if you took no notice of him. By airing this ego-bruising non-debate, you look petty.

    • Az1seeit

      I do wonder often why Dr. Brown does this…as it is a common type of article for him. I mean, truly I wonder what he thinks to accomplish? Has any one of these articles resulted in anything?

  • Theresa Jane

    I believe your challenge is sincere, and I hope he takes you up on it. However, people on “the right” who post comments on this site constantly shut down those who have a different view with words such as “fake news”, “socialist”, “snowflake”, “libtard”, etc.

  • The Evangelical

    Dr. Brown, a single response to error is more than enough. You do not need to write an article and do an entire radio show on these kinds of attacks. If the attacks came from reputable, respected sources, then sure, but not twitter wars or responding to fringe websites. This just creates more fire than light, as you would say, and wastes your time. Pray for them, issue a single challenge for debate if you think it’s worth it, then leave it in their hands and move on.

  • PalaceGuard

    “Ur a joke.” Um, would that be Ur of the Chaldees, (as in birthplace of Abraham), or Ur of ISIS? It is rather difficult to respect an educated adult, who tweets like a schoolkid.

  • Wayne Cook

    The general tenor of this site is beginning to flag.

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