Steven Emerson explores the recent episode in which the American Library Association caved to pressure from the Hamas-linked Council on American Islamic Relations and allowed one of its panels to be censored.
"Library Association Abandons Principle, Allows Censorship," by Steven Emerson for IPT News, July 21:
When an organization organizes an annual banned books week to celebrate "the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular," it is a little disturbing to see the same group cancel a panel discussion because one of the invited speakers is considered objectionable.
But that's how the American Library Association (ALA) handled pressure from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to silence an invited speaker for a panel discussion at its annual convention who has a perspective on Islam, jihad, and terrorism that CAIR doesn't like.
Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer, author of eight books on Islam and jihad, had been scheduled to appear July 12 on an ALA panel entitled "Perspectives on Islam: Beyond the Stereotyping." ALA canceled the panel after the other speakers decided to boycott the panel due to Spencer's participation. But rather than inviting others to replace them, or letting Spencer honor his commitment, the ALA capitulated and gave the critics what they wanted.
CAIR spearheaded the drive to silence Spencer. In a letter to the ALA, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said he agreed in principle with promoting a diversity of opinions and opposing censorship. Still, he wrote "I ask you to rescind the invitation to Mr. Spencer in order to maintain the integrity of the panel and the reputation of the ALA." Spencer, he argued, offered "grotesque viewpoints that lie well outside the bounds of reason and civilized debate."