Omid Safi is a professor at the University of North Carolina. He is also a liar who has defamed me, in a manner that is strongly reminiscent of the vicious libels that jihadists and their allies in the West routinely retail against those who oppose the jihad and Islamic supremacism. In a Facebook message that the recipient forwarded to me, Safi wrote: "I have not looked at Spencer's latest piece of trash, but I have to caution you against taking what he says seriously. He is a hateful man, who has personally threatened me and my family with death. These are not people who are interested in serious scholarly debate."
You can find background and Safi's full message here.
On April 26, I wrote this to UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp, cc'ing Safi's department head Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, Safi's wali and fellow UNC professor Carl Ernst, and Safi himself:
Professor Omid Safi has falsely claimed that I threatened to kill him and his family.
I do not know how far and wide he has spread this claim, or what damage he has thereby done to my reputation.
I request that you reprimand Professor Safi immediately, and dismiss him from his faculty position at the University of North Carolina.
As a UNC alumnus I am ashamed for the university, and hope that you will not allow this trafficker in libel and defamation to continue to spread his lies from his position there.
Tuesday I finally received an answer:
Dear Mr. Spencer:
Chancellor Thorp asked me to respond to your April 26 email message. I have reviewed the materials you provided and obtained from Dr. Safi the November 2008 facebook exchange that you reference.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill respects the rights of individuals to express their views. The University also recognizes that intelligent individuals can and do disagree.
As a graduate of Carolina as well an invited speaker on our campus, you have been welcome here to express your ideas and views. As a member of our faculty, Dr. Safi also has the right to express his ideas and views. Our hope is that, to the extent that you and Dr. Safi disagree -- whether as individuals or as professional speakers or writers -- you do so in an informed and civil manner, in keeping with the University's traditions.
Very truly yours,
Leslie Chambers Strohm
Vice Chancellor and General Counsel
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
I responded in this way, from a taxicab:
Thank you for your reply, but it is beside the point. I didn't write to you because Safi disagrees with me. I wrote to you because Safi claimed that I threatened him with death. I did not do so. That is a seriously defamatory charge. Safi should face disciplinary action from the university, as I am sure that such vicious defamation violates the university's code of conduct. I look forward to your response.
PS: I am assuming that the Facebook message Safi supplied to you contained his claim that I threatened him and his family with death, matching the text I published on my website. If this is not the case, please let me know and I will send you the text of the email as Safi actually sent it. If it is so, do I understand that Chancellor Thorp would endorse Safi's defamatory claim as merely being a matter of "disagreement"?
Leslie Strohm replied:
Dear Mr. Spencer, The University has expressed its hope that you and Professor Safi can work through any issues between you in an informed and civil manner. There are no inferences to draw from that beyond what is expressly stated. Very truly yours, Leslie Strohm
To that I sent this:
Dear Leslie Strohm:
Thank you for your note. I am asking you a simple question.
Here it is again:
Did the Facebook message that Omid Safi forwarded to you contain the assertion that I had threatened him and his family with death?
That is not a disagreement between Safi and me. That is a lie. It is defamation. It shows that he is a man of extremely low character, and that he should thus not hold a position at your university.
If the Facebook message that Safi forwarded to you did not contain this assertion, then he has altered it before sending it to you. The original text I sent to Chancellor Thorp and the others cc'd here before.
Please answer the question. Thanks very much for your time and consideration.
I'll let you know if I hear again from Leslie Strohm.