Here is the Boston Globe’s story today, with my comments interspersed. You can see my exchanges with Globe reporter Lisa Wangsness, who (I’m told) exhorted people to call the diocese to get my talk canceled, here.
Please contact the diocese of Worcester and let them know, politely and courteously, that you disapprove of their capitulation to Islamic supremacists and refusal to give me an opportunity to answer their charges or get a fair hearing.
Spokesman for the diocese Raymond Delisle: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bishop Robert McManus: email@example.com
Diocese of Worcester: 508-791-7171
“Catholic event cancels talk by Islam critic,” by Lisa Wangsness for the Boston Globe, January 31:
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester rescinded an invitation Wednesday to Robert Spencer, a Catholic whose work depicts Islam as an inherently violent religion, to speak at its annual Catholic Men’s Conference in March.
My work depicts Islam the way Islam is depicted in the Qur’an and Sunnah, and by Muslim leaders around the world. I just report on what they say. If they say Islam is inherently violent, and they do, in hundreds of ways, every day, in all parts of the globe, then I report on that. This is a very common Islamic supremacist tactic to try to deflect attention away from the numerous calls to hatred of and violence against Infidels by Muslim clerics: to claim that non-Muslim foes of jihad and Islamic supremacism are “linking Islam to terrorism” in some unacceptable and illegitimate way when they report on how Muslim clerics link Islam to terrorism. And here we have a Boston Globe reporter using their tactic.
The invitation was withdrawn after Muslims in Massachusetts expressed concerns to the diocese about the appearance of Spencer, scheduled to be a featured speaker at the DCU Center on March 16.
They “expressed concerns,” all right. They “expressed concerns” in a highly defamatory screed that you can read here. No one in the diocese of Worcester made any attempt to verify its charges. They just fell in line without question, like good dhimmis.
Note also that I have been told that Lisa Wangsness herself, the Boston Globe reporter, exhorted people to call the diocese of Worcester and ask that my talk be canceled. She denies this, but I don’t know why my sources would invent such a story if it weren’t true. It’s extraordinarily irresponsible behavior from a “journalist,” of course, but journalistic integrity is pretty much a thing of the past these days, and virtually all mainstream media journalists are propagandists for causes rather than objective reporters, so I am not all that surprised.
Spencer is director of the blog Jihad Watch and a leader of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America, both of which are seen as anti-Muslim groups by some organizations that monitor extremism.
I expect that Lisa Wangsness did not mention by name the “organizations that monitor extremism” because even Boston Globe readers would recognize that the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for American Progress are hard-Left propaganda groups that smear conservatives for cash, rather than engage in genuine and impartial analysis.
His books include “Stealth Jihad: How ÂRadical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs,” “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant ÂReligion,” and “Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics.” On his blog, he has argued that jihad is a central tenet of the faith.
No honest Muslim would deny that jihad is a central tenet of the faith. Many in the West argue that it is solely a spiritual struggle to improve oneself, as we see in Hamas-linked CAIR’s cynical and deceptive #MyJihad campaign. However, all too many of their coreligionists around the world daily confirm that they regard jihad as involving warfare against Infidels. Classic Islamic theology holds that both meanings are correct — thus to declare that it is a spiritual struggle alone is inaccurate and deceptive, as is claiming that it is not a central tenet of Islam.
After the Globe sought comment on his scheduled appearance from the diocese and from Muslim organizations Wednesday, the Islamic Council of New England sent an e-mail urging Catholic leaders to cancel ÂSpencer’s appearance. The diocese agreed to do so shortly Âafter receiving the e-mail.
“Although the intention of the conference organizers was to have a presenter on Islam from a Catholic’s perspective, we are asking Robert Spencer to not come to the Worcester Catholic Men’s Conference, given that his presence is being seen as harmful to Catholic–Islamic relations both locally and nationally,” Raymond ÂDelisle, a spokesman for the Âdiocese, said in a statement Âissued to the Globe.
Raymond Delisle never asked me not to come. He never communicated with me at all. He never sought my response to the Islamic Council’s libelous letter. In any case, I am thinking going to the Worcester Catholic Men’s Conference anyway. I am told that many of the organizers and attendees wanted to hear my presentation, so maybe I will give it in a hallway, or on the sidewalk outside.
The conference is a religious and social gathering for Catholic men, as well as their male friends and relatives, that typically includes talks from prominent Catholic men, a Mass said by the bishop, and the opportunity to attend confession.
Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal, cochairman of communications for the Islamic Council of New England, called the cancellation of Spencer’s speech “very reassuring” and said it was consistent with longstanding good relations between the Muslim and Catholic communities in Massachusetts.
“Somebody may have been blindsided by Robert Spencer, not knowing exactly what kind of hatemonger he was,” he said.
Blindsided by me? I was the only one blindsided here — as I said last night, tried, convicted and executed without any chance to tell my side of the story or clear my name. Neither Lisa Wangsness nor Raymond Delisle had the wit to ask Abdul Asmal who among critics of jihad and Islamic supremacism he does not regard as a “hatemonger” — this kind of defamation is also a tactic, one that is used against everyone who dares speak out against Sharia-justified warfare against and persecution of non-Muslims, oppression of women, etc.
Spencer, in an e-mail late Wednesday afternoon, said the diocese had not notified him of the cancellation.
“If it does turn out to be true,” he said in another e-mail, “it is new evidence of the cowardice of Roman Catholic officials in confronting the reality of Muslim persecution of Christians and their inability to grasp the importance [of] basing genuine dialogue between religions on truth, however Âunpleasant, rather than on wishful thinking and comforting fictions.”
In an earlier e-mail, he Âdefended his work.
“There is nothing hateful or bigoted about what I say,” he said. “My work is in defense of the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law.”
In September, the American Freedom Defense Initiative posted ads in the New York subway system that referred to ÂIslamists who opposed the state of Israel as “savages.” The group is now running a second series of ads featuring photographs of the burning World Trade Center alongside a quotation attributed to the Koran: “Soon we shall cast terror into the hearts of unbelievers.”
Sheesh. The Qur’an is online in multiple places, and the ad gives the chapter and verse number: 3:151. Wangsness could have looked it up. Instead, she implies that I made it up. That’s “journalism” for you. In any case, those who destroyed the World Trade Center were, by their own account, motivated by verses of the Qur’an like that one. So what exactly is the problem with the ad? And this fact is denied and obfuscated everywhere today, while Islamic supremacists advance the same Sharia agenda of the 9/11 hijackers by different means — hence the need for the ad in the first place.
In any case, at least Wangsness had the integrity to note that our other ad referred to “ÂIslamists who opposed the state of Israel” as “savages” — many of her “journalist” colleagues made the false claim that the ad referred to all Muslims as “savages.” As she stated it, who could have any problem with our assertion? The “ÂIslamists who opposed the state of Israel” passed out candies to celebrate the brutal murders of the Fogel family, including small children. That’s not savage?
Spencer was a leading opponent of the Park51 project to build a mosque and Islamic Âcultural center in lower ÂManhattan, which he has referred to on his blog as the Â”Islamist supremacist mega-mosque at Ground Zero.”
Never once did I refer to it by this phrase. Not once. I did refer to it as an “Islamic supremacist mega-mosque at Ground Zero,” which is close to what Wangsness said, but not the same thing. Again, that’s “journalism” for you. Anyway, the phrase was apt. The people behind the mosque had ties to Palestinian jihadis and the Muslim Brotherhood — hence “Islamic supremacist.” It was slated to be a 16-story structure that aped the architecture of the destroyed World Trade Center towers — hence “mega-mosque.” And it was to be built on the site of a building that was extensively damaged in the 9/11 attacks — hence “at Ground Zero.”
He has also raised alarms about multiculturalism and what he believes to be the threat of Sharia, Islamic religious law, undermining American courts and civil rights across the world.
It isn’t just what I believe: Sharia has already been used as a determining factor in court cases in 23 states. And if Wangsness doesn’t believe that Sharia undermines civil rights across the world, let her go to Riyadh or Tehran and venture outside with her head uncovered. Let her go to Khartoum or Islamabad and publicly criticize Muhammad. Let her go to Cairo or Karachi and ask the local Christians how they’re faring.
Oren Segal, codirector of the Anti-Defamation League’s ÂCenter on Extremism, called Spencer “the godfather of the anti-Muslim movement in this country.”
The Godfather. I love it. The offer I make is truth, but unfortunately they can and do refuse it.
Anyway, the “anti-Muslim” part is just a smear. My work is dedicated to the defense of the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law. To characterize it as “anti-Muslim” is to imply that I want to deprive Muslims of due process or have them victimized by vigilantes, or worse. It is another tactic to try to turn people of good will away not just from my work, but from that of anyone resisting the jihad; the “anti-Muslim” label is designed to intimidate people into thinking that there’s something wrong with opposing jihadists and Islamic supremacists.
Segal said there are legitimate concerns about people motivated by radical interpretations of Islam, which he said his organization has spoken out about forcefully. But Spencer, he said, is part of “a cottage Âindustry . . . that under the guise of fighting radical Islam is actually demonizing an entire religion.”
Spencer, in another e-mail, said that the Anti-Defamation League “has unwisely ventured into leftist advocacy politics, spending more time combating friends of Israel on the right rather than enemies of Israel on the left. Its record in this is nothing short of shameful.”
Spencer says on his blog, ÂJihad Watch, where he posts many times a day, that he does not believe all Muslims espouse violence or that Islam is a monolithic faith.
But he calls Âviolent jihad a “central element of Islamic theology,” citing a Koranic verse that says, in part, “Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them [captive] and Âbesiege them and prepare for them each ambush.”
Omid Safi, an Islamic studies scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that there are indeed references like that to holy war in the ÂKoran and that some ÂMuslims in different periods of history have used them to justify their actions.
That does not mean, he said, that most modern ÂMuslims accept them literally.
“If we go flipping through each other’s scriptures to persuade ourselves that other people’s scriptures contain violent elements, then that’s a losing game for all of us,” Safi said. “The question is: How do we make sense of them, and which ones do we call upon to live our lives today?”
In the Gospel of Matthew, he notes, Jesus says, “I come not to bring peace, but the sword.”
Yeah, that’s why we see armed Christian groups making war against non-Christians worldwide, and quoting this verse. Of course, we don’t see any such thing, and yet we do see armed jihadis all around the world making war against non-Muslims and justifying their actions by reference to the Qur’an. The difference is stark, and shows up the dishonesty of Safi’s remarks.
Omid Safi is no stranger to dishonesty. He’s an extremely dishonest pseudo-academic of extraordinarily low character. He has falsely claimed that I threatened to kill him and his family. He has a long-standing hatred of me based on my daring to challenge his dismissal of me with the manipulative Muslim Brotherhood neologism of “Islamophobe” and my outrageous offer to come to the class where he was discussing my work and engage in discussion and debate with him and his students.
Threatening to kill someone is a felony offense. Yet Omid Safi has never brought charges against me. Why? Because he is lying. I never threatened him or anyone. He is merely engaging in defamation. I complained to officials at the University of North Carolina about his highly unethical behavior, but got no action, of course, because his opinions are politically correct and mine aren’t. So now we have an academic liar being cited as a source by a highly biased advocacy “journalist.”
Also, this is more evidence of Wangsness’s relentless bias. I want to know how she dug Safi up. Why did a Boston Globe reporter writing about a Massachusetts conference go to an academic in North Carolina to get comment on me? Why not someone from Harvard or Boston University or Tufts or any number of local universities? Was it because someone tipped her off that Safi would reliably provide negative comment on Spencer? Who did the tipping off?
Safi also said that Spencer has no formal training in Islamic studies or Arabic.
The Arabic charge is just a dodge. Does Safi really expect us to believe that “slay the idolaters” becomes “give the idolaters a hug” when rendered in Arabic?
Asked about his credentials, Spencer replied that his critics” real problem is not his training.
“What I say about Islam is not unusual or eccentric,” he said. “Numerous scholars who have the credentials that those you have spoken with require, and many ex-Muslims, have made the same observations about Islamic doctrine that I have.”
Amjad Bahnassi, a member and occasional spokesman for the Worcester Islamic Center, said the Muslim community in the city generally has an excellent relationship with the ÂCatholic Church.
Bahnassi said he counts a number of priests as friends and regularly speaks at ÂCatholic churches about Islam. Next month he is scheduled to speak at Anna Maria College and Assumption College.
“I would have liked for them if they wanted to know about Islam’s view of Christianity to ask a Muslim,” he said of the Âorganizers of the Catholic Men’s Conference.
Yes, they are sure to get an honest answer from the likes of the people who wrote the letter quoted here.