For the past two decades, Robert Spencer has been explaining through bestselling books, articles and speeches that jihadist groups such as al-Qaida and ISIS cite the texts of the Quran and the Hadiths as their authority for carrying out acts of violence and the objective of establishing Islamic supremacy worldwide.
It’s an assertion supported by overwhelming evidence, yet Spencer has always been willing to engage with any challengers.
Apparently, however, that’s too much for officials and students at one of America’s most prestigious academic institutions, Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
An invitation to speak on campus next Tuesday by the local chapter of the College Republicans is causing an uproar, with official condemnation from the student body association and the graduate council, a petition to rescind funding for the visit, and numerous condemning opinion pieces by officials and students.
The Associated Students of Stanford University took up the issue when students complained they don’t want any of the funds they pay to support campus student groups to go to Spencer, whom they accuse of “hate speech.”
“By inviting someone like Spencer and calling it free speech, they’re basically saying that hate speech is OK, and it doesn’t really matter how the marginalized students feel,” student Fatima Ledha told the local NBC affiliate, KNTV.
Spencer, pointing out that KNTV ran of photo of white supremacist Richard Spencer with its story instead of one of the photos he had provided them, told the station he wasn’t surprise by the reaction.
“Universities all over the country are no longer institutions of higher learning, but just indoctrination centers for the hard-left and ferociously intolerant of dissenting views,” he said.
Across San Francisco Bay at the University of California at Berkeley, violent demonstrations erupted in February after College Republicans invited libertarian activist Milo Yiannopoulos to speak. The university, the Los Angeles Times reported in September, said it had incurred at least $1.4 million in security costs since February, with $200,000 spent on the Yiannopoulos event, $600,000 for an appearance by Ann Coulter that ultimately was canceled, and an estimated $600,000 for a talk in September by Ben Shapiro.
In August, the Internet payment company PayPal banned Spencer’s Jihad Watch website from using its service after a far-left news service accused him of “extreme hostility toward Muslims.” In May, as WND reported, Spencer said he was poisoned by a leftist in Iceland who recognized him at a restaurant after he had given a speech in the island nation’s capital.
Spencer, along with directing Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is author of the New York Times bestsellers “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)” and “The Truth About Muhammad.” His latest, “Confessions of an Islamophobe,” is scheduled for release at the end of this month.
‘Plenty of evidence’
Explaining in a piece for the independent campus publication Stanford Review why they invited Spencer, the College Republicans noted that in addition to authoring 16 books, including two New York Times bestsellers, he has led training seminars for the FBI, the U.S. Army and the Justice Department’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council.
“Time and time again, Mr. Spencer has made his theological arguments thoughtfully, backing them up with plenty of evidence from Islamic texts, history, and the actions of modern-day radical Islamic terrorists,” they wrote.
The College Republicans said Stanford students have “never been made to consider the role that certain passages in Islamic texts play in providing the ideological underpinning and inspiration for radical Islamic terrorism.”
“This perspective is routinely dismissed as Islamophobic and thus deemed illegitimate,” they write.
“How can a perspective be unworthy of at least due consideration, if it is a sentiment held by a majority of the American public? Moreover, why should we dismiss an opinion outright, if that opinion is held by many of the highest government officials making national security decisions on behalf of our country?”
But Susie Brubaker-Cole, vice provost for student affairs, and Jane Shaw, dean for religious life, charged in the Stanford leadership’s Notes from the Quad that Spencer “has a track record of actions and speech that motivate hatred towards Muslims, contradicting our university’s values of inclusion and respect for all peoples and faiths.”
“We acknowledge the emotional impact of Mr. Spencer’s visit on university community members, and we are actively developing supports for the Muslim community before and after his visit,” they wrote.
Spencer, on his Jihad Watch blog, commented that the “entire premise of this article, that Muslims are ‘disparaged’ and become the targets of hatred because of examination of the motivating ideology of jihad terrorism, is more genuinely and deeply insulting to Muslims than anything I have ever said or written.”
Noting that in his work he examines “how jihad terrorists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and make recruits among peaceful Muslims,” Spencer said Brubaker-Cole and Shaw are “assuming that all Muslims, and particular Muslims in the Stanford community, are in favor of jihad terrorism — for otherwise there is no way they would feel hated or disparaged because of my work.”
Spencer asked further if the university officials could give even one example to support their claim he has “a track record of actions and speech that motivate hatred towards Muslims.”
‘I was afraid’
A Stanford student from Pakistan, Minha Khan, wrote in the Stanford Review that when she left her home country, her grandparents warned her to “be careful at Stanford.”
“I laughed it off and told them that things had changed — being Muslim on campus was not such a big deal anymore. I told them there was no need to be afraid. I wasn’t going to live in fear,” Khan wrote.
“But when the first thing I saw while walking downstairs to get breakfast was the flyer for Robert Spencer’s talk ‘Jihad and Radical Islam,’ I was afraid. I didn’t know what this meant for me, a Pakistani Muslim girl who covers her head.”
Siena Fay, a columnist for the Stanford Daily, tried to explain why Spencer shouldn’t be allowed to speak on campus:
He believes Islam is “the only religion in the world that has a developed doctrine, theology and legal system that mandates violence against unbelievers and mandates that Muslims must wage war in order to establish the hegemony of the Islamic social order all over the world,” as he stated in an interview on C-SPAN in 2006.
Funny, I don’t recall Malala Yousafzai [a schoolgirl from Pakistan who has become a champion for girls’ education] advocating for violence and world domination. Must have missed that headline.
Spencer commented: “In reality, Malala may or may not be following all the doctrines of Islam, but the question of whether Islam has a doctrine, theology and legal system that mandates violence against unbelievers can only be answered by looking at Islamic doctrine, theology, and law, not at Malala.”