There is a great and growing divide. On the one side, we have Muslims increasingly victimizing and persecuting Christians, including bishops, in Egypt, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, and elsewhere. On the other side, we have bishops like Robert McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts and now Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, both of whom canceled me from speaking because I speak honestly about that persecution and what causes it.
Ironically, Soto canceled me just as the National Catholic Register was calling me "perhaps the foremost Catholic expert on Islam in our country." This also illustrates the divide. To some people I am a racist, Islamophobic villain; to others, an honest exponent of the truth about Islam and jihad. To some Catholics I am unacceptable to speak on these issues; to others I am the foremost expert on them in the country.
I do not know how this divide can or will be bridged; I do know that one side is trying to bridge it not through discussion and debate, but through defamation and demonization, so that my point of view is not taken up and examined, discussed and accepted or rejected, but simply marginalized. And Bishop Soto, apparently uncritically and without examination, took the bait. He caved in to a highly defamatory smear campaign led by the stalker Nathan Lean, a man who works for a Board member of a front group for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Soto did this without giving me the courtesy of a chance to address the accusations against me. Nor did he acknowledge the petition signed by 1,500 people, asking that he allow me to speak. (Many, many thanks to all who signed and who wrote to him.) Nor did he seem to notice that I wasn't even slated to speak about the topic -- Islamic jihad -- that has the enablers of jihad so desperate to silence me.
Jaime Soto is kowtowing to the heckler's veto and doing the bidding of those who want to silence people who speak out against the persecution of his fellow Christians. This would scandalize me more than it does were it not for the fact that so many bishops in our own age and throughout history have participated in or winked at monstrous evils. It is clear that a bishop's mitre in the Roman Catholic Church (and other Churches) doesn't confer wisdom, discernment, or -- as is clear in the case of both McManus and Soto -- even basic Christian courtesy. But bishops were complicit in the sex scandals that have wracked the Church in America for decades now; bishops were complicit in the monetary scandals in the Vatican in the 1980s; saints from Athanasius to John Fisher and before and after both were persecuted by bishops -- the moral cowardice of Jaime Soto and Robert McManus is a small thing in the annals of bishops behaving badly.
That said, Kolbe Academy is made of stronger stuff. The conference will go on as planned, albeit in a new venue where the bishop cannot quash it. Meanwhile, the smear campaign goes on. I published in the Napa Valley Register today yet another response to a piece praising Soto and calling on Kolbe to cancel me altogether. They're getting desperate, as is evidenced by the shrill tone and outright lies in the piece to which I was replying, "Kolbe Academy, Robert Spencer and religious liberty," by Lawrence Swaim.
How odd that they'd be desperate when the cowardice and myopia of so many in authority are enabling them to rack up victories everywhere. But there is one weapon I have that they fear above all, and that they know that all their power and influence, and all their pumping-out of their Big Lies cannot counter: the truth. And that is why their desperation is only going to increase.
Here is my piece in today's Register:
Why so desperate to silence me?
by Robert Spencer
It is remarkable to see the furious anxiety in certain circles that my upcoming speaking engagement at Kolbe Academy’s home school conference has engendered, and their willingness to spread outright lies in order to prevent my speaking.
In the July 7 Napa Register, Lawrence Swaim (“Kolbe Academy, Robert Spencer and religious liberty”), of the ironically named Interfaith Freedom Foundation, characterizes Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), an initiative of the organization that I lead with Pamela Geller, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), as a “shrill and increasingly violent hate group.”
In reality, not only is AFDI/SIOA not “increasingly violent,” it is not violent at all. We have never advocated or condoned violence. No member of our group has ever been convicted, charged, arrested or even accused of committing any act of violence.
We have made our agenda clear in numerous public statements, calling for legal and political action to protect the freedom of speech and equality of rights of all before the law.
It’s bitterly ironic that at a time when millions of freedom-loving Egyptians and Turks are taking to the streets to protest against the Islamization of their governments and societies, that Swaim would tar an organization with the same goal in this country as “anti-Muslim.”
Millions of Muslims prefer not to live under the strictures of Islamic law, which mandates death for those who leave Islam, institutionalizes inequality for women and non-Muslims, and criminalizes criticism of Islam. We stand with those Muslims and for equality of rights. Does Lawrence Swaim, and his “Interfaith Freedom Foundation”?
Swaim’s claim that our group is “increasingly violent” is, in short, an outrageous libel, as is his claim that I pose “a clear and present threat to religious liberty.”
In reality, Islamic law mandates second-class status for non-Muslims, as has been made abundantly clear in recent years by the increasingly precarious position of Hindus in Bangladesh, Bahais in Iran, and Christians in Nigeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia and elsewhere in the Islamic world, as the provisions of that law have been reasserted (often violently).
In contrast to all that, we stand for the First Amendment protection of religious liberty for all people — including Muslims who accept U.S. law and are not working to implement the Muslim Brotherhood’s stated goal (according to a captured internal document) for the U.S. of “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house.”
Lawrence Swaim, by contrast, is no fan of the First Amendment at all, as is clear by his applause for the bishop of Sacramento for caving in to a disingenuous smear campaign, ignoring nearly 1,500 signers of a petition asking that I be allowed to speak, and canceling my appearance.
Kolbe Academy Home School is the one to be applauded, for showing that the freedom of speech extends even to those with views that the politically correct left may dislike, and now Swaim wants them to cancel my appearance as well.
Noteworthy, however, is that while Swaim claims that my “hateful rhetoric makes a mockery of the values that most Americans cherish,” he doesn’t adduce even a single example of this supposedly “hateful” rhetoric. He can’t produce a single “hateful” quote from me, even though I’ve published 12 books, hundreds of articles, and over 40,000 blog posts at JihadWatch.org.
There are also dozens of talks I’ve given and television appearances I’ve made over the years available on YouTube. All that material, and Swaim can’t produce a single example of my “hate speech.” Why? Because there isn’t any actual hate in what I write.
Swaim claims that at a recent conference in Tennessee “Geller and Spencer’s SIOA followers cheered at the mention of a mosque that was burned down.” We were actually at this conference, and saw no such cheering. Nor do we call for or condone the burning of mosques, which is what Swaim is implying. In reality, we have consistently condemned any targeting of innocent people and any vigilante action.
Nor, for that matter, were the people at that conference our “followers”; they were citizens from that area who were concerned about efforts to criminalize honest discussion of jihad terrorism — an effort that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has long been pursuing, and to which the FBI has shown itself to be increasingly open.
Swaim quotes Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League claiming that we promote “a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the pretext of fighting terrorism.” Actually, if anyone is pushing a conspiratorial agenda, it is groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and its allied groups in the U.S. such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
It was not Pamela Geller and I, but Brotherhood operative Mohammed Akram, who declared that the Brotherhood organizations’ U.S. goal was “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within,” as quoted above.
Swaim likens our efforts to the anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust — another wild smear charge. Nowhere have we ever advocated that any innocent person be harmed in any way. Nowhere have we advocated anything like the anti-Semitic laws that National Socialist Germany adopted in the run-up to the Holocaust. The Jews in pre-World War II Germany were innocent victims of slanderous attacks.
There was no analogy to the 9/11 attacks, the Fort Hood jihad massacre or the Boston Marathon jihad murders among them. To claim that we cannot fight peacefully and lawfully against the ideology that led to those attacks because other people were falsely accused and persecuted decades ago is not just monstrously foolish and wrong-headed; it is also giving aid and comfort to those who perpetrated those attacks.
“By blaming all Muslims rather than the minority who are terrorists, hate-mongers like Spencer would deprive us of our best partners.” But Swaim does not, and cannot, adduce a single quotation from me in which I blame all Muslims for the minority who are terrorists.
In fact, since October 2003, I have had this notice at my website Jihad Watch: “Any Muslim who renounces violent jihad and dhimmitude is welcome to join in our anti-jihadist efforts.”
“Religious liberty is for all people,” says Lawrence Swaim, as he smears and defames me, tries to deprive me of the freedom of speech, and, with libelous false charges, paints a giant target on my back. The crowning irony is that in the midst of all his vitriol, he lectures us about compassion.
One wonders why he is so furiously anxious to make sure I don’t speak — even about a topic that has nothing to do with his charges against me. Why are he and his cohorts desperate to discredit and silence anyone who dares to enunciate truths he finds inconvenient? Why not meet me in open debate and refute me on level ground?
But that, of course, would expose his falsehoods to the light. Smearing me and running is easier.