A fairly good and reasonably accurate summary — great by the lights of most journalism today — of my talk at Texas A&M last Thursday. “Jihad Watch director discusses the ‘religion of peace’ argument,” by Meagan O’Toole-Pitts for The Battalion, the Texas A&M student newspaper, November 14 (thanks to Justin):
American liberty is in danger, said Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch and author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam.”
“The freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the principle of the equality of rights of all people before the law are under attack today by Islamic supremacists,” Spencer said. “Free people, Muslim and non-Muslim, must stand together against that attack.”
Spencer was invited by the Texas Aggie Conservatives to speak Thursday in a lecture and question and answer session called “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?”
“The question before us tonight is ‘Is Islam a religion of peace?’ which is obviously not just an abstract theological or religious question but a question of pressing political moment, and everyone has an opinion on it,” Spencer said. “I don’t, actually. I think that the best way to answer the question is to go to the sources themselves and not to rely on what various spokesmen will tell you, but go straight to Quran, the Islamic holy book, and to the teachings and example of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, and see what they say.”
Reading from the Quran, Spencer discussed parts that evoked tolerance and parts that demand followers to “slay the pagan.”
“How is one going to understand balance between, like Chapter 109 which enjoins tolerance and a chapter like nine, verse 29, which enjoins warfare and subjugation?” Spencer said. “Once again, I would say we need to go to Islamic authorities to answer that question.”
Spencer did not offer an answer to the question “Is Islam a religion of peace?” said Meigan Goff, TAC event planning officer and freshman general studies major.
“He made a clear point that you can’t decide whether Islam is peaceful or not. There’s different definitions of peace for everyone and so you can’t just ask that question,” Goff said. “There’s many things that go into that question – it all depends on where you come from, what your beliefs are; it’s your viewpoint, really. It’s not a right or wrong answer.”
TAC is conducting activities throughout November to raise awareness of Fundamentalist Islam and Shariah Law.
“[We hope that] students will better understand the threats we face from fundamentalist Islam and be able to combat it through the ballot box or their future careers,” said TAC President Justin Pulliam. “These religious arguments are not brought to light in either academia or the media, so Spencer revealed truths that are not well-known in the Western world because of political correctness. Once we understand Islam, we can help reform the violent aspects to ensure peace and protect human rights.”
The initiative started with passing out fliers on campus, titled “Islam: Oppression of Women” and “Fundamental Islam: Deceiving the Infidel.”
“The quotations [in the TAC fliers] were accurate,” Spencer said. “Let the [Muslim Student Association] show the quotes to be inaccurate, and then they might have a case against these messages. Otherwise, they do not. They are just covering up inconvenient truths.”
TAC invited the Muslim Student Association to participate in a debate with Spencer, but the offer was declined.
“They will not debate me or get a speaker to debate me because they know that I’m right and that what I’m saying about Islamic supremacism and jihad is true, and don’t want that fact to become obvious,” Spencer said.
Though controversy has surrounded the TAC’s initiative and many students disagree with Spencer’s message, Spencer is not to blame for Islam’s bad publicity, Goff said.
“A lot of people pointed fingers at him, but he made it clear that he’s not the reason, or people like him that speak out against Islam, for the way Islam is looked at. It’s not him. It’s the terrorists that do the bad things; they are the reason for the bad outlook on Islam.”