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Robert Spencer Rejected by Academics: Still Supports Geert Wilders

Islamophobes Inc., Robert Spencer and Geert Wilders

Islamophobes Inc., Robert Spencer and Geert Wilders

Recently the American Library Association & the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Roundtable was to hold a discussion around the topic of Perspectives on Islam: Beyond the Stereotyping. For all intents and purposes the forthcoming discussion seemed very promising. It would confront and discuss the important issue of stereotypical portrayals of Islam and all that is associated with it such as myths and smears.

The program ran into trouble when without the knowledge of the other panelists, and seemingly without any sort of vetting, the ALA invited a well known anti-Islam and anti-Muslim blogger and writer — Robert Spencer. To say the least this made more than a few people scratch their heads. How could a reputable organization invite a well known Islamophobe who traffics in perpetuating stereotypes to speak at an event that is supposed to go beyond stereotypes?

To understand just how strange this was just imagine if the ALA had invited David Duke as a speaker on matters of race, say on a panel discussing the topic Perspectives on Race: Beyond Stereotyping. Does anyone believe he would be invited?

This was the very reason that a group of librarians, scholars and individuals sent a letter to the ALA protesting the inclusion of Robert Spencer on the panel. In it they detail their reasons and their apprehension at the severe lapse of judgment and error on the part of the ALA,

Even the most cursory overview of Mr. Spencer’s oeuvre makes it clear that in fact he has no place on a panel whose aim is to dispel stereotypes about Islam. Indeed, we, as librarians, scholars, and individuals are deeply concerned by ALA & EMIERT’s choice of Mr. Spencer for such a panel: Mr. Spencer espouses a view of Islam as a system of belief which is essentially violent, undemocratic, totalitarian, exclusive and at war with all non-Muslims. Mr. Spencer in fact goes as far as to equate Islam with fascism. According to him,

The misbegotten term “Islamo-fascism” is wholly redundant: Islam itself is a kind of fascism that achieves its full and proper form only when it assumes the powers of the state.” (www.jihadwatch.com/islam101)

Hence a question arises as to the justification for inviting a speaker who cannot see anything positive about Islamic beliefs, cultures, societies, histories, etc. to talk to an audience in order to dispel negative views of Islam. We are indeed saddened and puzzled by ALA’s choice for their panel, especially in that this appears to be a rare opportunity to educate people about Islam against the backdrop of an overwhelming atmosphere of ignorance, and negative stereotyping.

The open letter to the ALA resulted in the other three panelists withdrawing their participation in protest against the inclusion of Robert Spencer who they only learned was going to be a part of the panel a few days ago. This resulted eventually in the ALA canceling the event.

This cancellation served as a continuing repudiation of Spencer by scholars and his growing inability to cross over into the mainstream. Increasingly, Spencer’s voice is limited to the echo chamber that is the cottage industry of Islam-bashing which contains such “luminaries” as Debbie Schlussel, Brigitte Gabriel, and Andrew Bostom (!).

In response to being outed by the academics and librarians Spencer wrote a usual shrill diatribe in which he attacked his former friend Charles Johnson, CAIR and accused the ALA of “caving-in” to pressure. Yet by responding it seems Spencer has just dug himself further in a hole that leaves him wide open to further accusations, of at the very least, brazenly supporting loony anti-Muslimism and Islamophobia.

This is all the more revealing in light of a recent comment on Loonwatch from an obvious Spencer fan by the name of John Jackson on a post about Debbie Schlussel. In it Jackson agrees with another commenter Sami and says, “You do a great disservice to Robert Spencer by lumping him in with Debbie Schlussel as ‘Islamophobes’. Schlussel goes off the deep end frequently. I have never seen Spencer do the same.”

It may be true (though I don’t think so) that Spencer doesn’t go off the deep end “frequently” but he does go off the deep end — a lot. Also he takes issue with Spencer being lumped in with the likes of Schlussel, but why not? The only difference between Debbie Schlussel and Robert Spencer is that Debbie doesn’t hide her hate and vitriol against Muslims or Islam nor does she attempt to couch it in an air of objectivity. Furthermore, it wasn’t Loonwatch that first lumped Spencer in with Schlussel but the excellent report produced by FAIR titled Smearcasters.

In Spencer’s response to ALA’s cancellation he lashed out against Smearcasters and to the chagrin of John Jackson he didn’t qualify his attack by saying that some of the profiled such as Debbie Schlussel go off the “deep end frequently” or that Debbie was a “retard” as Sami wrote,  instead he defended them saying, “In reality, the “Smearcasters” report was a political hit piece on an array of the opponents of CAIR and its allied groups.”

For Spencer those profiled by Smearcasters were the victims of a “hit piece” on mere “opponents of CAIR and its allied groups.” Yes, nothing to do with their hate and bigotry Spencer! This is nothing less than an indirect endorsement of all those in the report, and so it is not us lumping in Spencer with what Spencer supporter Sami called “retards” but Spencer himself.

In the same response Spencer further goes after CAIR and defends his alliance with Geert Wilders, the controversial and fascist European politician stating,

CAIR’s Honest Ibe Hooper doesn’t have to resort to such circumlocutions. I didn’t actually have anything to do with that conference in Florida, but Hoop could just say straight out that I support Wilders. And so should anyone who holds dear the Western values that are threatened by Islamic supremacists — notably, as I said above, the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, the equality of rights of all people before the law.

There it is straight from his pen and that’s why Spencer keeps digging himself a hole. His support for Geert Wilders is his downfall because any objective and thorough understanding of Geert Wilders, what he has said and what he represents will prove the lie to the claim made by Spencer that he cares about Democratic freedoms and Rights because if he did he wouldn’t support Wilders and company.

Wilders is on record stating that religious freedom, a cornerstone of the foundation of modern democracies everywhere should not apply to Muslims,

Islam is not a religion… the Quran is a book that calls for hatred, that calls for violence, for murder, for terrorism, for war, and submission…We should also stop pretending that Islam is a religion…the right to religious freedom should not apply to Islam.

This is not the only place that Wilders has made this statement he has repeated it to roaring applause at Synagogues and conferences.

It is unbelievable that Spencer would now attempt to posit himself as an objective academic researching and writing on Islam when he unabashedly “supports” odious and reprehensible individuals such as Geert Wilders. Who can take Spencer’s grandiose claim seriously that he is fighting for the freedom of speech, freedom of conscious, indeed for Western civilization itself against “Islamic supremacism” when he supports and calls on us to support one who would infringe on the right of individuals to freely practice their faith.

What can you expect though from one who joined a group that aimed for a reconquista of modern day Turkey, forcibly replacing its Muslim population with a Christian one?

Also Read Svend’s take: Joke of the Day: Robert Spencer as Bridge-Builder

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  • Robert Spencer is not respectful of Islam in any way, shape or form. Nor can he really claim to be a “scholar” in any sense of the word. As far as I’ve seen, his books are popular even sensationalistic rather than academic. I cannot find a single article or contribution he has made a PEER-REVIEWED academic journal. And furthermore, his Masters is in Christian history or some such, not Islam. I have an MA in Anthropology; does that mean I can write about psychology or history? I’m about as qualified as him, for crying out loud.

    The thing that baffles me is that Robert Spencer would even be invited to such an event in the first place. Brushing aside the fact that he doesn’t really have any credentials, even a quite reading of his work reveals that its… well bigoted tabloid trash. It would be one thing if he at least put a pretense of being un-biased or academic towards it. I could see them inviting the likes of Bernard Lewis, who IS critical of Islam, but at least scholarly.

    What bothers me is the fact that a glorified blogger like Robert Spencer would get that sort of recognition. Why? What political connections does he have? I think that’s a quite reasonable question to ask.

  • Dizz

    On the contrary, every news item, no matter how gruesome, is presented in a cynical and mocking tone.

    Note how Spencer writes “Misunderstanders of Islam kill 15…” and “Christians, no Muslims do …..”..

    A mental patient who killed a person was branded a “jihadist” with links to every terrorist organisation under the Sun, simply because he was a Muslim.

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  • Carl Stoll

    I concede that Robert Spencer is an Islamophobe. However, he is a rather curious specimen of Islamophobe: his treatment of Islam, although critical, is extremely polite. He does not drive home his points triumphantly or gloat at his opponents’ alleged self-contradictions. I would even go so far as to say that Spencer is almost obsequious toward Islam, at the same time as he criticizes it.

    Regardless of whether you agree with Spencer or not, I think it is definitely a good thing when political and ideological debate is conducted in a respectful tone. Such a tone enables debate on real substantive issues instead of just promoting stereotypes.

  • Fatima

    This is a 64 pdf document that debunks Robert Spencer’s lies, all by world renknowned scholars of Islam, some are not even Muslim. It was compiled over 12 months.

    —————–
    Details about this report below by those who compiled it

    Hatewatch Hall of Shame
    Exposing, exploring, educating, and eliminating hatred and extremism in all its forms.

    Spencer’s Spin
    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    UPDATE 7/4/07 INDEPENDANCE DAY – INDEPENDANCE FROM HATE SPEECH – For those who so foolishly believe that no one is paying attention to the growing number of exposes’ on hate speech and how it supports the enemy, consider that Spencer’s Jihad Watch site has, in very recent days, been blocked or banned by: City of Chicago, Chicago Police, Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, Site Coach (an Internet filtering program), GE, JP Morgan Chase, Defense Finance and Accounting Services, U.S. Government, MSNBC, AFSCME, Marriott Corp., and American Airlines. More to come!

    Just like Goebbels worked for evil, so does Spencer. An investigation lasting almost 12 months, spanning four continents, conducting extensive interviews with Spencer (by email), reviewing his writings, analyzing his arguments in condemnation of Islam, deconstructing his logical fallacies, historically classic propaganda techniques, twisting and perverting Holy Texts, denial of reality and facts, and massively duplicitous claims, all lead to a damning conclusion. While at first Spencer could be seen as either misinformed or perhaps completely ignorant on the subject of Islam, this self-proclaimed ?scholar of Islam? is neither misinformed, ignorant nor a scholar ? he is following his own agenda in promoting hate speech and deception.

    Some critics claim that Spencer does not want the war on terror to end, because then he would have to return to the ?unemployed nobody? status .

    All of this, and more, is explored in the full report, available in PDF format. The file is locked from changes or copy/paste operations. The report is copyrighted; permission is given to quote from the report with proper attribution. You can find the file at: http://www.hddweb.com/95376/Robert_Spencer_Article_PDF_Archived.pdf

    This 63 page report explores Spencer?s motives, his lies, his hypocrisy, his background, his critics, his response to Muslim leaders who condemn terrorism, and is supported by links and references to verification of the multitude of facts presented.

    Finally, I could not have completed this without the help of a team of dedicated experts in law enforcement, Middle Eastern and European history, religious history, hate speech and psychology; so I extend my deep appreciation to those who spent a great amount of time and effort on this report. But the greatest thanks must be reserved for Robert Spencer himself, whose own words, more than anything else, revealed his hypocrisy and prevarications, and condemned him more than anyone else could possibly have done.

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  • Quranist

    Kgj, well said. It makes it hard to constructively criticize Islamic orthodoxy when the debate is being hijacked leaving many liberals and progressives unable to be part of it because they have to prevent a rightwing attack agenda that only recognizes that orthdodoxy(Sunni/Shia) because its easy to attack.

    However we must be able to start differentiating between the Quran and the Islamic sects. These sects do not interpret the Quran by using the Quranic context but rely on oral traditions they claim is prophetic. However real Western academics do not consider the oral traditions(hadiths) as true representation of the Muhammedan era but see it as a later development.

    I have spoken about the difference between the teachings of the Quran and the Sunni/Shia sects here:

    WHAT IS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISLAM AND TODAY’S PRACTICES?

    In comparing the teachings of Islam as derived from the Book of God to the practices taught and enforced by the popular Sunni and Shia faiths (1.2 Bn followers), we find that the list is quite extensive, with some of the highlights as follows:

    http://iran.whyweprotest.net/off-topic/1565-collapse-sunni-shia-koranist-rise.html

    The Quranist way is the future!

    Quran is peace!

  • kgj

    While I don’t think Spencer and his associates stand a chance of implementing what I fear are their stealth policies, their shrill and unfortunately universally accepted identification with “the counter-jihadist movement” is severely detrimental to the efforts of respectable intellectuals standing up to Islamofascism. Front groups for radical Islamist interests — along with their Western apologists — conveniently employ such critics of compromised backgrounds as straw men against any legitimate scrutiny of their own activities. I believe everyone acquainted with Robert Spencer’s work should consider the causes he is involved with and the company he keeps before lending him support;

  • Wasim Kerali

    Quranist,

    It is quite strange for you to affirm an individual such as Spencer. Academically, Spencer twists and deforms Islamic concepts and texts much like the Quranites do.

    It would be more against you if we used the beliefs of Quranites. Spencer routinely takes ayahs from the Quran and lumps them together literally. He always goes back to the verse of the sword and says this was the last one revealed. Quranites are deprived of anything that would offer context to the text and have a hodge podge hermenutics that is inconsistent, based on the whim of the reader.

  • Quranist

    As a Quranist I will say that Spencer doe speak some truths about sectarian Islam(Sunni/Shia). But his problem is the same problem many have is that the only authority to speak for Islam should be the Quran. Spencer rlies on Sunni concepts of abrogation and bot him and Sunnis keep going back and forth. Its only a time before the Quranist will take over. The Islam of the Quran is different from Sunni Islam. Sunni Islam emerged to fulfill the needs of the Abbasid empire just like the Church emerged to fulfill the needs of the Roman empire. Western academics are prepared to seperate Jesus and the Gospel from the Roman empire but because Sunnis bases its teachings to supposed oral traditions traced back to Muhammad itself this distinction is somewhat harder with Islam. Its interesting that some Jewish intellectuals support Spemcer sice Judaism and its Talmud(oral traditions) are similar to Islam in more ways than not. But unlike Judaism, the Sunnis have no problem revealing the nature of these oral traditions. These traditions came to ABROGATE the Quran as Jesus accused the Pharisees of making their oral traditions(later compiled in the Talmud) above the Torah. Read Mark 7 1-29. The Quran also attacked some excesses of the Jewish oral traditions but confirmed the Torah and Gospel.

    The Arabs simply copied the Jews it seems and produced an oral tradition and abandoned the Quran.

  • jonahwasright

    Robert Spencer’s problem is that he is a radical hatemonger who thinks he is an academic. It’s like the ugly duckling that thought it was a pretty duck, except he is never going to become a swan – just an ugly duck without the ling. what part of unobjective, biased, and sensational do his groupies not understand when they bask and simmer in his ocean of hate? I mean the guy may as well wear a sheet to work. Just the titles of his books and the image of his book covers are enough to send any serious professor reeling in the opposite direction.

  • Garibaldi

    WDSF,

    Thanks. The links are provided.

  • WDSF

    Amazing piece! Could you also source the quote from Geet Wilders?

  • I remember a few years back I stumbled upon Spencer’s site and I was appalled at his ignorance. I made an off-the-top-of-my-head comment on one of his articles, deconstructing his assumptions, and I was expecting he might reply – even if rejecting my stance – but it was all radio silence.

    I had made the mistake of assuming he was someone who was open to fair debate and dialogue.

    Now I realize the guy really is just a bag of hot air. His contribution to global warming is noted.

  • Steven Balmer

    Yes, just from reading this man’s work, I don’t get the impression of a serious academic.

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