The Stanford student press has for the past week been filled with numerous baseless and hysterical attacks on my work and on my character as a human being. In hit piece after hit piece in the Stanford Daily and the Stanford Review, it has been claimed that I promote “hate” and “disinformation,” and “give license” to the “oppression” of Jews, and that Muslims at Stanford are endangered by my work. It has been charged that I have incited a mass murderer and approve of restricting the right to vote. My work has been characterized, without any specific examples, of being not only inaccurate, but also inflammatory, offensive, hateful, and dishonest.
I responded to as many of those hit pieces as time permitted, and now at least nine professors are taking that as yet another Spencer atrocity. Apparently their view is that those at Stanford may defame me freely and repeatedly, but I am not allowed to answer.
These people are professors? Is this Stalinist Russia or Mao’s Cultural Revolution, in which the accused person is to be browbeaten with false charges and given no opportunity to defend himself? Have these Stanford profs written up a “confession” to “counterrevolutionary activities” that I am to sign before my execution?
It is astonishing that professors in a major university would be so reflexively opposed to the freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas, and find the rough-and-tumble of polemical discourse to be an outrageous affront. But given today’s academic environment nationwide, it is not surprising in the least. Much more below.
“Letter from faculty and others regarding Robert Spencer,” Stanford Daily, November 14, 2017:
To President Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Drell:
Stanford University identifies “certain types of free speech [that] are not permitted under University policy — for example, threats of harm that constitute a hate crime, instances of unlawful harassment or speech that disrupts classes or other university functions.” As four brave Stanford graduate students have pointed out in their recent letter in The Daily, Robert Spencer has chosen to engage in exactly those types of speech in advance of the event planned at Stanford.
My response to their letter is here. The statute is a bit broadly written. Who decides what is a “hate crime” and what isn’t? If it is these totalitarian Leftist professors, then my response is a “hate crime,” when in reality it is a reasoned response to unreasoned and hysterical propaganda. As for “unlawful harassment,” it is not, as yet, unlawful, as far as I know, for people who aren’t Leftist academics to respond to false accusations and personal attacks. And as for disrupting “classes or other university functions,” exactly which functions or classes have I disrupted?
(The four students who wrote this letter are now receiving threatening emails for speaking out about these threats of harm.)
If true, reprehensible. But highly unlikely, and notice that no examples or quotes or proof is given. In any case, if they have received threats, that has nothing to do with me: I never called on anyone to threaten them or harm them, and if anyone does, the perpetrator should be prosecuted. The professors are implying here that I incited violence against these students by responding to their attack. Yet I called for and approve of no violence.
Carrying the professors’ logic out to its conclusion, one could never say anything at all that was critical of anyone else’s thought, for it might incite violence against the criticized person. I myself have received hundreds of death threats. Would the profs thus say that I should not be criticized, because my critics might be incited to violence?
This is not just a hypothetical question. If my critics had their way, I would have been dead in Garland, Texas in 2015, when jihadis attacked our free speech event, or in Iceland last spring, when I was poisoned by a Leftist. Should I, then, be above criticism? These professors would scoff at that idea, as would I. But where do they draw the line? If they’re using threats (although I suspect the threats are fictional in this case) to say that someone should not be criticized, where do they draw the line? Or do they really mean that only people with whom they agree should never be criticized?
Currently, Spencer’s Jihad Watch website is harassing students, staff and faculty and exposing them to further harm at the hands of “alt-right” trolls.
This is just libel. “Alt-right” has become the Left’s smear word of choice for those who are racist, anti-Semitic, and neo-fascist. I am none of those things. Nor has anyone ever committed an act of violence after attending one of my speeches. This is just more baseless and hysterical propaganda.
In addition to the student cited in the letter above, Spencer is using Jihad Watch to target Minha Khan, a Muslim student whose essay in the Stanford Review details the impact of this event on her as follows: “I was afraid. I didn’t know what this meant for me, a Pakistani Muslim girl who covers her head.”
“Target.” Right. Here is my response to Minha Khan’s attack. Where is the call for violence? Where is the targeting? I responded to her smears and to her claims that she was afraid because I am set to speak, a claim that I believe to be ridiculous, as well as giving the defamatory impression that I call for or approve of violence against innocent people. In abetting this suggestion, these professors are actually targeting me.
On its new “Free Speech” website, Stanford proclaims that “the University stands in full support of its Muslim students, faculty and staff, who are integral to the Stanford community.” Yet Muslim students (and faculty and staff) are reporting the threat created by Spencer’s speech. Who gets to speak for the Muslim community on our campus? Is it Robert Spencer? Is it the Stanford administration? Or is it people like Minha Khan — people who are living with what Islamophobia does at Stanford — and who are clear what this means, as she states: “I do want everyone to know that this event has reminded me that no matter how hard I try, I can never fully belong to the Stanford community.”
What does “Islamophobia” do at Stanford? In reality, the specter of “Islamophobia” makes people at Stanford think that opposing jihad terror and Sharia oppression is wrong and somehow endangers Muslim students at the university.
This intimidation is not just an individual experience — the Markaz began its most recent newsletter by noting the substantial negative impact of Spencer’s event on the entire Muslim-affiliated community on our campus: “In light of an invitation of a self-proclaimed Islamophobe to campus, many of us are feeling overwhelmed.” The Muslim Law Students Association letter in The Stanford Daily identifies several examples of Spencer “spread[ing] of inflammatory and conspiratorial views of Islam” and “target[ing] Muslims.”
Like the President and the Provost, we “worry about the experiences of vulnerable or silenced populations within our community — those who seek an environment where their identities are welcomed, not challenged by hate or ignorance.” But we see the terms of that “worry” differently. We see this “worry” as entailing a concrete responsibility. Unless we act, we are complicit in perpetuating systems of harm. As we witness Robert Spencer and his Islamophobic incitements to violence target colleagues and students, we believe that we cannot merely be worried. We actually have to enact the values that we claim to uphold.
“Robert Spencer and his Islamophobic incitements to violence.” More libel. Criticism, my dear professors, is not incitement to violence. Responding to attacks is not incitement to violence. As professors, you above all should know that. You want to see what actual incitement to violence looks like? Here: Riverside, California imam Ammar Shahin said in a sermon last summer: “The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Jews hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and the trees say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah…’” Shahin never gets around to finishing the story. Here is the whole hadith, which has the trees saying: “Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him” (Sahih Muslim 6985). Does Ammar Shahin mean that Muslims should kill Jews now? He says: “Oh Allah, make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this.”
That’s incitement to violence. Responding to smears? Not incitement to violence.
For us, this means taking seriously the lived experience of the people most impacted by racism, bigotry, hate speech and xenophobia. It also means taking seriously the real threat posed by Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch as he continues to harass our students and colleagues. We would like to point out that Jihad Watch has publicized and mocked an announcement intended for the Stanford community about an anti-Islamophobic event “uplifting communities attacked by Robert Spencer’s Islamophobia.”
Yes, because it was eminently deserving of mockery.
On Friday, Meyer Green was tagged with anti-Muslim hate speech.
Given the large number of “anti-Muslim hate crimes” that turn out to have been faked by Muslims, I regard this claim with extreme skepticism, and expect that the perpetrator, were he or she ever found, is not a member of the College Republicans or a supporter of my work.
On Jihad Watch, Spencer writes, “I’ve just learned that while Stanford has barred non-students from the event, there is room for a small number of invited guests who are not students. If you’re in the area and would like to come, email me at email@example.com.” Who will be drawn to campus by Spencer’s publicizing of this event? Who will find his rhetoric compelling enough to take action, knowing that Stanford has lent its credence to Spencer’s ideas?
Yeah, Hitler and Mussolini are on their way to campus now. They’re bringing Goebbels and Göring. In reality, the guests are personal friends of mine who are entirely harmless, as everyone will see tonight, unless this irresponsible farrago from the profs gets them banned, or me canceled.
And who is likely to be most impacted by Stanford’s decision to prioritize the “free speech” of Robert Spencer — which rests on toxic histories of White supremacy — over the safety of our community?
Okay. Now we see just how moronic these professors really are. Richard Spencer is the white supremacist. Not me. Islam is not a race, jihad terror is not a race, Sharia oppression of women, gays, non-Muslims, etc. is not a race. I expect they have their Spencers mixed up.
We are not talking about a scholarly debate over affordable health care; we fully support the principle of academic freedom that allows us to disagree about issues.
No, you don’t. You only support academic freedom when everyone who is speaking freely agrees with you.
We are talking about the fact that Stanford is welcoming, funding and amplifying someone whose basic premise is not debatable, because it is fundamentally dehumanizing.
More libel. What, exactly, do these professors think my basic premise is? In reality, all of my work is focused upon defending the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law. How dehumanizing!
Whenever the claim is made that an identity group is inherently less worthy of full personhood — whether that claim is made about people who are Muslim, Rohingya, Jewish, Black, trans or gender non-conforming, Bosnian, queer, immigrants, Mexican, etc. — it is always unacceptable.
I challenge these profs to substantiate their charge that I have ever said that anyone is “inherently less worthy of full personhood.” They won’t, of course, because they can’t, and because facts clearly don’t matter to them.
Dr. Donna Hunter, Program in Writing and Rhetoric
Dr. Gabrielle Moyer, Program in Writing and Rhetoric
Dr. Selby Wynn Schwartz, Program in Writing and Rhetoric
Dr. Ruth Starkman, Program in Writing and Rhetoric
Dr. Maxe Crandall, Program in Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Fatima Ladha, Class of 2017
Robert Crews, Professor, Department of History
Chloé MacKinnon, Comparative Literature
Dr. Ann Watters, Program in Writing and Rhetoric
Dr. Doree Allen, Oral Communication Program
and other concerned faculty, staff and students who felt too vulnerable or too intimidated, or weren’t able to sign this letter in time for publication.
“Too vulnerable or too intimidated.” Poor lambs! I hope they have their blankies and teddies ready to hand!