I spoke Thursday evening to an overflow crowd in Calgary, Alberta (and last night to another in Grand Prairie). The talks were videoed and should be on YouTube soon, but in the meantime, here is a typical mainstream media report on my talk in Calgary. Typical, that is, in being viciously biased and unfair — but because it is so typical, it is worth examining a bit. This is supposed to be an article about my speaking in Calgary, but it contains not a word about what I actually said in Calgary. Instead, it is mostly about what a terrible fellow I am. Comments interspersed below.
First, note the headline: “U.S. anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer draws hundreds in Calgary as critics condemn ‘dangerous speaker.'” The mainstream media typically defames all foes of jihad terror as “anti-Muslim,” and the charge is as false as it is revealing. The usage indicates that the mainstream media considers opposition to jihad terror and Sharia oppression of women, gays, non-Muslims, etc. to be “anti-Muslim.” That in turn implies that the mainstream media is well aware that these things are Islamic. Yet in the same breath, the mainstream media claims that none of these things are genuinely Islamic, and that the overwhelming majority of Muslims oppose them. If that is so, then why is opposition to them “anti-Muslim”?
“U.S. anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer draws hundreds in Calgary as critics condemn ‘dangerous speaker,'” by David Bell, CBC News, April 28, 2016:
A controversial American author and blogger who slams Islam drew more than 200 people to a Calgary speech Thursday evening along with a cross-section of critics who say he incites hate towards Muslims.
Actually, it was well over 300. Note also that although I spoke for nearly an hour and took questions for another, not a single example is quoted of my supposedly inciting “hate towards Muslims.”
Robert Spencer is the author of several books on Islam including some best sellers, but his words prompted a ban from the United Kingdom in 2013 and some in local faith communities condemn Spencer’s sweeping statements on Islam.
The CBC report doesn’t include the actual words of mine that got me banned from the UK. This, along with the likewise unquoted “sweeping statements on Islam” from me, leaves the impression that I say actually hateful and outrageous things. All right. Here are the actual words that got me banned from the UK: the UK Home Office letter to me said that I was banned for saying this: “[Islam] is a religion and is a belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers for the purpose for establishing a societal model that is absolutely incompatible with Western society because media and general government unwillingness to face the sources of Islamic terrorism these things remain largely unknown.” This is a garbled version of what I actually said, which is that Islam in its traditional formulations and core texts mandates warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers. This is not actually a controversial point to anyone who has studied Islam. It was tantamount to banning me for saying that the sky is blue and the grass is green.
“We’re not trying to prohibit him from speaking,” said Rabbi Shaul Osadchey of the Beth Tzedec Congregation in Calgary.
Bridge for sale!
“Our concern is that this kind of speech then puts in people’s minds different perceptions about the community and I don’t … I know that the Jewish community does not support his point of view in the main. There are obviously some people that find him to be credible, but by and large he’s been discredited by human rights and civil rights organizations throughout North American, prominently the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Centre in the States.”
Note that Osadchey also doesn’t actually quote anything I’ve said that he finds objectionable. And the ADL and SPLC are hardly “human rights and civil rights organizations.” They’re essentially propaganda organs for the Left, tarring anyone who dissents from their political agendas as “hatemongers.”
Significantly, although the SPLC lists hundreds of groups as “hate groups,” it includes not a single Islamic jihad group on this list. Its “hate group” designation against the Family Research Council led one of its followers to storm the FRC offices with a gun, determined to murder the chief of the FRC. This shows that these kinds of charges shouldn’t be thrown around frivolously, as tools to demonize and marginalize those whose politics the SPLC dislikes. But that is exactly what they do. Its hard-Left leanings are well known and well documented. This Weekly Standard article sums up much of what is wrong with the SPLC.
The ADL traffics in the same reckless defamation. They have libeled the preeminent lawyer and orthodox Jew David Yerushalmi as an “extremist,” an “anti-Muslim bigot” and a “white supremacist.” The ADL has even condemned Israel for fighting anti-Semitism. According to Charles Jacobs of Americans for Peace and Tolerance: “The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – biggest Jewish ‘defense’ organization — admits in private that the biggest danger to Jews since WWII comes from Muslim Jew-hatred, but because it fears offending its liberal donors and being charged with ‘Islamophobia,’ the organization remains essentially silent on the issue. In a study of ADL press releases from 1995 to 2011– a good if not perfect indicator of ADL priorities – we found that only 3 percent of ADL’s press releases focus on Islamic extremism and Arab anti-Semitism.” (For the full study, see www.charlesjacobs.org.)
The group sponsoring Thursday’s event is the Jewish Defence League of Calgary. Members of the Jewish Defence League were branded extremists engaged in planning “terrorist plots” in 2001 by the FBI.
This is some reckless defamation from the CBC, as it implies that ” extremists engaged in planning ‘terrorist plots'” brought me to Calgary. In reality the JDL is dedicated to the defense of Israel and Jews. That is all.
Imam Syed Soharwardy — president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and a prominent critic of terrorist acts — says Spencer is a dangerous speaker.
“Robert Spencer incites hate. So, that’s the problem,” Soharwardy said.
“When he comes to this country and incites hatred in the minds and the hearts of people and he creates misunderstandings, that definitely is a very dangerous person.”
Like Osadchey, Soharwardy cites no quotations from me that establish his claim that I am a “dangerous speaker.” Nor can he. Soharwardy himself, meanwhile, is a foe of the freedom of speech: he brought the notorious human rights complaint against Ezra Levant for publishing the Muhammad cartoons. So it’s no surprise that he would slander me and not bother to substantiate his lies.
A multi-faith coalition representing Christians, Jews and Muslims issued a joint statement in advance of Spencer’s event calling on Calgarians to reject his message and instead “pursue the path of religious literacy and to support efforts to build bridges of respect and understanding.”
I hope that many heed their call to “pursue the path of religious literacy” and learn all about Islam. Then they will see that what I am saying is true.
For his part, Spencer deflects criticism by saying others want to silence him.
“It’s a well-worn tactic of groups that for some reason are arrayed against opponents of jihad terror, that they charge them with racism, with bigotry, with hatred and so on for telling truths that they don’t want known.”
But to Rabbi Shaul Osadchey, Spencer’s words are designed to divide, not unite.
“We’re expending a lot of energy and effort to create harmony and build good interfaith relationships between Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities and somebody comes in with a speech that is offensive, that misconstrues and stereotypes any one of us,” Osadchey said.
“It just undermines our efforts here in the community.”
Here again, nary a word about what exactly in my speech was so offensive. I don’t even think Osadchey was there to hear what I actually said. But Joel Shapiro was, and he sent this email to the CBC:
I completely disagree with this article — ironically, the very focus of Spencer’s discussion. I was there and I can tell you that there was a lengthy discussion on how the Muslim community is diverse: from peaceful to Jihadi, from fundamentalist to moderate, from reactionary to progressive, and so on. He never once said — or even implied — that all Muslims are bad or violent or racist. Not once. That critique of Spencer is both dishonest and fear mongering. He is criticizing oppressive, discriminatory, racist, and violent elements within Islam and within Islamic communities. And he worked hard to provide evidence for his critique, i.e., he was not saying these things to be insulting but to the contrary, to analyze the issues on the basis of facts and evidence. Criticizing racism is not racist — nor does it imply that all Muslims are racist. That is ridiculous. Have we stopped criticizing white supremacists because not all whites are supremacist? No, that’s stupid. Have we stopped criticizing rape because not all men are rapists? No, that is stupid. Sorry.
Finally, the claim that we are looking to bring communities together and Spencer’s critique drives us apart — this claim is wildly irresponsible and misguided. Spencer is criticizing the Muslims who have declared war on the West and the Jews. Those Muslims do not want community building. The whole point of community building is to bring together Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others, to protect ourselves against the Muslims who have declared war on the West and the Jews. That’s the whole point. To say that we should not criticize Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and the like because it might hurt the feelings of Canadian Muslims, or because it might ruin Christians-Muslims relations in Canada is absurd — it is false and dangerous. Are we not hoping that the vast majority of Canadian Muslims (Muslims in the West, and frankly, around the world) are peaceful, want peace, reject racism, etc.? Are we not hoping that the vast majority of Muslims stand with us against the terrorists, against the Muslims who have declared war on the West and the Jews? And are we not at all curious about where those views come from, i.e., why the Muslims who have declared war on the West and the Jews are at war with us, and where their ideology comes from; how they justify their views, the reasons & motivations behind their declaration of war–what they say about what they want?
If we understand it, we have a better chance of fighting against it, defending ourselves from it, and perhaps even winning them over to our preferred dream of peaceful community building and community relations. If you oppose war, and want peace, then you are on Spencer’s side. However, if you feel that any and all criticism of Islamic racism and terrorism is bad, and/or if you support Muslim racism and terrorism, then Spencer won’t be so interesting for you. If you want to know where terrorism comes from, and prefer peace to war, then Spencer will be very helpful for understanding what is happening — and doing so in a non-racist way.