by Sheila Musaji
Robert Spencer describes himself as an impartial scholar of Islam, and maintains that he is not an Islamophobe, and that in fact the term Islamophobia is either irrelevant or an attempt to silence critics. He is only one of a number of individuals whose statements about Muslims and Islam can only be called alarming. Although, he is not alone, he is perhaps the most prolific Islamophobe.
Clearly we have free speech in the U.S., and free speech must be defended. The line between hate speech and free speech is difficult to draw, but I believe that we need to at least attempt to recognize when speech crosses that line as important, and to respond to that speech appropriately. My hope as an American Muslim is that we are able to learn to have respectful speech that does not close off the possibility of dialogue and alienate the very Muslims who could act as a bridge between cultures.
The villification of Muslims, Arabs, and Islam has become relentless. Repeating the same things over and over again has been shown to create credibility. False logic seems plausible, and even outright lies repeated often enough begin to sound like the truth. Sadly, these stereotypes have replaced knowledge with ignorance and misperception, and ignorance fuels hatred of what we don’t know much about. Muslims are consistently portrayed as “the other”, not part of us, and imposible to understand, and so not worthy of tolerance. Just the mention of Islam creates a feeling of fear on the part of many non-Muslims because of what they have heard so often and causes them to believe that this fear is reasonable.
“The leap from deviant Muslims perpetrating atrocities to a religion being impugned for the sins of its supposed adherents is breath-taking in its audacity. This distinction has become critical ever since the ‘’showdown with Saddam” transmuted into the ‘’war on terror.” With the daily mind-numbing imagery of maniacal Muslim ‘’insurgents” savaging troops and civilians alike, a transformation rapidly took place: The problem was just not Muslim terrorists but an ‘’evil” Islam itself. This is a theme broadcast with malevolent glee by talk shows on a daily basis thereby intensifying suspicion, fear, contempt, and hatred of Islam. Demonizing Islam makes it the enemy in the ‘’war on terror.” … Ironically, it is us Muslims who have the greatest vested interest in eradicating terrorism. We need to do this to salvage our religion and our self-respect. As long as we are marginalized by the West and taunted by the extremists, we are made to feel as if we were part of the problem rather than of the solution, and our commitment becomes ambivalent. If the so-called war on terrorism has any chance of being won, there needs to be an immediate redefinition of the enemy.” Foe isn’t Islam, it’s Binladenism, Abdul Cader Asmal
And, the repetition of such statements results in seeing Muslims in a false light.
The most commonly repeated claims about Muslims are that “everyone knows” that most or all terrorists are Muslims, and there are no Christian and no Jewish terrorists (or terrorists of any other religious stripe), and that Muslims are inherently violent. Everyone also knows that Muslims are not equivalent to real Americans, that they are the enemy within, and a fifth column, that good Muslims can’t be good Americans, that they are not a part of our American heritage, that they are all militant, that Islam makes Muslims “backward”, that Muslims have made no contribution to the West, that Islam is “of the devil”, a Crescent menace, and an “evil encroaching on the United States”, and not a religion. Everyone knows that this is a Christian nation, which everyone knows the Muslims are trying to take over, starting with getting an Eid stamp which is the first step towards shariah law, and by purposefully having more children than others to increase their numbers. Everyone knows that Muslims have no respect for the Constitution. Everyone knows that Muslims are given a pass by the elite media. It’s “us versus them”. They don’t speak out against extremism or terrorism, and even those Muslims who do speak up or seem moderate are simply lying or practicing taqiyyah. The problem is that what “everyone knows” is wrong. These self-righteous and incorrect statements are usually followed by a demand that the Muslim community do something about whatever is the false flag of the day or face the inevitable consequences.
In addition to these “everyone knows” statements of demonization and misrepresentation, there is also a whole industry of simply connecting with Islam or Muslims with any negative idea, event, or societal trend (even when there is no sane connection to make). These I think of as “Through the Looking Glass” claims. For example, lots of “news” items never happened, or are simply not true.
Arabs didn’t celebrate 9/11 at a Dunkin Donuts in New Jersey. Budweiser did not pull all its product from the shelves of a convenience store where there was celebration of the terrorist attacks – this never happened. The Muslim statement of faith (Shahada) is not an expression of hate. An American Missionary in Africa didn’t face possible murder charges and hanging because of a traffic accident. There is no verse of the Qur’an on “The Wrath of the Eagle”. The supposed bomb threat made by an Arizona student that led to an evacuation of the school was a hoax by non-Muslim students. The story that Iran was considering forcing Jews to wear a yellow star appeared in several publications and it was totally false. The slaying of the New Jersey Coptic family was falsely charged to Muslims. The story about the British banks banning piggy banks so as not to offend Muslims never happened. Muslims are not more likely to support terrorism and violence than Christians or Jews. Muslims did not destroy the Library of Alexandria. Nurses in Britain were not “ordered to drop everything and turn Muslims’ beds toward Mecca five times daily”. There is no Muslim sword through the 41-cents mark on the U.S. Eid stamp. Sirhan Sirhan is a Christian, not a Muslim. The Virginia Tech massacre had no connection with Islam. A bus driver in Britain didn’t tell passengers to get off the bus so he could pray. Rachel Ray’s Paisley scarf is not a symbol of “murderous Palestinian Jihad” (and neither is a Keffiyah). A Muslim student in Florida did not refuse to stand for the pledge of allegiance. There were no Muslims acting suspiciously on Air Tran flight 297. Wearing a tee-shirt with Arabic writing on it does not make a person dangerous. A Madrassah is simply a school. The zebibah (prayer bruise) on some Muslims foreheads is not a sign of a “commitment to jihad”. Jihad is not terrorism. Ashura is not a “Muslim blood festival”. Muslims are not forbidden to have non-Muslims as friends. The Nuclear Security Summit logo is an atom on a circular path, not an Islamic symbol, the U.S. Missile Defense Logo is not evidence of Obama’s ‘Submission To Shariah’, and neither is the Flight 93 memorial. Barack Obama is not a Muslim, but so what if he was? (Note: click on the links to see responses to particular claims or incidents
The fact that these “news stories” and articles are simply wrong doesn’t change the fact that they are “out there” and that they will be read and believed by many of the same folks who believe the supermarket tabloids. They will be forwarded or passed on, and commented on, and the stories will grow and more and more people will accept them as “facts”. I would hope that not only Muslims would be concerned with the dangers in this sort of stereotyping and dehumanizing of any segment of our population. Here is a link to a collection of English translations of Nazi Propaganda: 1933-1945. Exactly how is this different?
Robert Spencer’s views on Islam are a part of this demonization industry, and lead to seeing Muslims as suspect and Islam as the source of every negative action. If Muslims are so different from other human beings that there can never be any motive for any action they undertake other than Islam (no Muslim criminals, no political, economic, social, or cultural motives for actions), if you can’t tell a moderate from an extremist, and even the moderates are dangerous, then that really does seem to limit the options to either criminalizing Islam, or carrying out a “final solution” against the Muslims. This is the only direction that Robert Spencer’s arguments lead.
In order to see where this sort of inflammatory rhetoric comes from and might lead see: Terrorism and violence carried out by non-Muslims (the majority) – Jewish extremist statements and views – Religious extremism/ religious right – Incidents of Islamophobia by year – Prejudiced, racist, or violent incidents at mosques (by state and/or country) – Responses to particular incidents, events or claims A to L and M to Z (This includes: Responses to Claims Made ABOUT Islam and Muslims in General – Responses to Claims Made ABOUT Qur’an Verses, Arabic Terms, Prophet Muhammad – Responses to False Claims ABOUT Muslim Individuals & Organizations & Incidents Involving Muslims – Responses to Actual Extremist Statements & Incidents of Extremism or violence BY Muslims – Responses to Claims Made BY Specific Individuals and Organizations About Muslims.
The Runnymede Trust in Britain identified eight components that define Islamophobia:
1) Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
2) Islam is seen as separate and ‘other’. It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.
3) Islam is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist.
4) Islam is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism and engaged in a ‘clash of civilisations’.
5) Islam is seen as a political ideology and is used for political or military advantage.
6) Criticisms made of the West by Islam are rejected out of hand.
7) Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.
Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural or normal.
I personally believe that Robert Spencer is an Islamophobe, and that all of these eight components of Islamophobia are prevalent in his writings. Consider his own statements and make up your own mind.
IN HIS OWN WORDS:
Robert Spencer said that Islam itself is an incomplete, misleading, and often downright false revelation which, in many ways, directly contradicts what God has revealed through the prophets of the Old Testament and through his Son Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh… For several reasons… Islam constitutes a threat to the world at large.
Spencer regarding Keith Ellison taking an oath on the Qur’an “I hope there will be some who have the courage to point out that no American official should be taking an oath on the Qur’an, since—as we have been pointing out here for over three years now—there are so many elements of traditional and mainstream Islam that are at variance with our system of government, our Constitution, and our entire way of life. But since that is blandly denied and unexamined by the mainstream media and government officials, it is much more likely that Qur’anic oath-taking will be allowed without any discussion at all.”
He wrote regarding the Arab Israeli Knesset member who had sold secrets to Hisballah that “I have maintained from the beginning of this site and before that that there is no reliable way to distinguish a “moderate” Muslim who rejects the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism from a “radical” Muslim who holds such ideas, even if he isn’t acting upon them at the moment. And the cluelessness and multiculturalism of Western officialdom, which make officials shy away from even asking pointed questions, only compound this problem.” Then when the news came out that the Knesset member involved was Christian and not Muslim, a “correction” was posted: “I have been reminded that Bishara is a Christian, which makes him instead of a false moderate, an example of what Hugh calls an “islamochristian,” or a dhimmi Christian who has imbibed the values of his Muslim overlords. I apologize for the error.” Amazing logic here. If a Muslim did it, he’s guilty. And, even those Muslims who are not guilty right now are just temporarily not acting on their negative impulses. If a Christian did it, he was corrupted by the Muslims.
He said regarding the Hutaree militia arrests “For years now we have heard, in the indelible formulation of Rosie O’Donnell, that “radical Christianity is just as dangerous as radical Islam,” and yet proponents of this exercise in wishful thinking and ignorance have had precious little evidence to adduce in support of it. But now it is certain that for years to come this Hutaree group will be thrown in the face of anyone who takes note of jihad activity in the United States and around the world, as if this group in itself balances and equals the innumerable Islamic groups that are waging armed jihad all around the world today. … The Islamic jihad is global, well-financed (courtesy our friend and ally Saudi Arabia) and relentless. One self-proclaimed Christian group should not divert us from the ongoing need to defend ourselves against that jihad. But for many, it will.” This refusal to acknowledge the reality that terrorism, extremism, and violence are a problem that is not confined to Muslims. In fact, the majority of such acts are carried out by non-Muslims.
He said at CPAC “It’s absurd” to think that “Islam is a religion of peace that’s been hijacked by … extremists”
Spencer said “The misbegotten term “Islamo-fascism” is wholly redundant: Islam itself is a kind of fascism that achieves its full and proper form only when it assumes the powers of the state.”
Spencer said “The term “Islamo-Fascists” no more blames the religion of Islam than the term “Italian Fascism” blames Italy for fascism. It merely refers to those Muslims—who obviously really exist—who invoke Islam to justify violence and supremacism, whether they are invoking Islamic doctrines correctly or not.”
Spencer said about Muslim population in Europe “And those who are talking about it are smeared and vilified as racists and bigots. When a nuclear-powered Islamic Republic of France threatens the U.S., however, some Americans may come to regret the ease with which they swallowed and even propagated defamation and lies about anti-jihad European politicians such as Geert Wilders.”
He totally missed the point of the unconstitutionality of Franklin Graham speaking at the Pentagon and called the decision to exclude Graham “the Army’s dhimmitude”
He wrote “Ever since I began doing this work publicly my point has been simple and consistent: that the jihad terrorists are working from mainstream traditions and numerous Qur’anic exhortations, and that by means of these traditions and teachings they are able to gain recruits among Muslims worldwide, and hold the sympathy of others whom they do not recruit. This explains why there has been no widespread, sustained, or sincere Muslim outcry against the jihad terrorist enterprise in general. The mainstream media, both liberal and conservative, does not want to face these facts.” His scholarship somehow doesn’t include the fatwas, statements by Muslim organizations, statements by Muslim individuals – or these quotes that clearly denounce extremism and terrorism. He also clearly has never heard about the Muslim voices promoting Islamic non-violent solutions to political and social problems.
Spencer promoted the fraudulent Iranian yellow badge story and even after it was proven untrue, he couldn’t bring himself to issue an unqualified disclaimer: “Untrue, or too hot for public consumption at this time? That remains to be seen. While Nazi analogies dominate analyses of this, as I pointed out yesterday it is actually a revival of traditional elements of Islamic law for dhimmis. That makes it entirely reasonable that an aggressive Islamic state like Iran would reinstitute such laws; but now that international attention has focused upon them for contemplating doing so, it is likely not that they will abandon the project, but simply implement it when the world media has turned to other matters.” He has a particularly hostile view of all things Iranian, as he also promoted the fraudulent August 22, 2006 “Doomsday” story.
Spencer wrote “I have written on numerous occasions that there is no distinction in the American Muslim community between peaceful Muslims and jihadists. While Americans prefer to imagine that the vast majority of American Muslims are civic-minded patriots who accept wholeheartedly the parameters of American pluralism, this proposition has actually never been proven.”, and as Islamophobia Watch has pointed out, this is the same man who has said “Islam is not a monolith, and never have I said or written anything that characterizes all Muslims as terrorist or given to violence.” There seems to be a disconnect in his logic.
During the incident with Debbie Almontaser and the Khalil Gibran Academy in NYC, he posted an article from the NY Post with his own heading reading “Does an Islamic supremacist have a right to head a New York City public school?” This description does not appear in the referenced article, so it can only be assumed that this is his take on the question.
When Muslim Charities and individuals responded to the Haiti earthquake with humanitarian relief, Spencer posted an article with the title “Jihad groups set up camp in Haiti”, and another article saying that Muslim aid was conspicuous by its absence
RESPONSES TO SPENCER
– attacking Mark Levine’s ‘hudna’ article  (Mark Levine)
– about the Roxbury Mosque controversy
– on Muslim feminism  (Khaleel Mohammed), [4a] (Tariq Nelson)
– statement about Arab Israeli spy  (Sheila Musaji)
– claim that terrorists are acting on Islamic teachings 
– statement about rape as Jihad  (Yusuf Smith)
– statement on meaning of jihad as holy war  (Yusuf Smith), Islamic war doctrine [7a] (Robert D. Crane)
– claim that Qur’an is anti-Semitic  (Khaleel Muhammad)
– Obsession With Islam  (Khaleel Muhammad)
– Spencer, the NDU scholars, the securocrat and his books  (Yusuf Smith)
– Smearcasting report on Spencer ,
– American Library Assoc. incident , [12a] (Ahmed Rehab)
– altercation with Svend White  (Svend White),
– on Rifka Barry case  (Loonwatch),
– on CAIR airbrushing woman’s photo  (Sheila Musaji),
– dodges debate with Loonwatch ,
– book Politically correct guide to Islam & the Crusades, [17a] (Loonwatch), [17b] (Loren Rosen)
– book The Truth About Muhammad [17c], [17d], and [17e] (Robert D. Crane), [19d] (Karen Armstrong)
– book Religion of Peace? — Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t [17f] (John Derbyshire)
– book Complete Infidels Guide to the Qur’an [17g] (John R Bowen)
– book Islam Unveiled [17h] (Danny Doueri)
– attack on Khaleel Muhammad  (Khaleel Muhammad)
– and EDL neo-Nazi’s  (CAIR), [19a] (Richard Bartholemew)
– attack on Louay Safi  (Louay Safi)
– accused of Islamophobia  (Carl Ernst), [21a] (FAIR)
– article mistranslating Ahmedinejad  (Loonwatch)
– on testimony of a rape victim  (Loonwatch)
– Spencer’s position on Kosovo  and his relationship with Serge Trifkovich [24a] (Kjeda Gjermani)
– views on the Qur’an and violence  (Louay Safi), 25a] (Aaron Hess)
– on confusing Buddhist Sri Lanka as a country “where the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence prevails”  (Richard Bartholemew)
– on Obama as a Muslim , on Obama using full name at his inauguration [27a] (Richard Bartholemew)
– on the cancellation of the LA Premiere of Geert Wilders Documentary  (Richard Bartholemew)
– involvement in the film Islam: What the West Needs to Know  (Zahir Janmohamed)
– on CPAC panel “Jihad: The Political Third Rail”  (Eli Clifton), [30a] (Christine Schwen), CPAC and the Freedom Defense Initiative [30b] (Kelly Vlahos)
– involvement with SIOA  (Eli Clifton)
– on his support of the conspiracy theory that Iran would nuke Israel on August 22, 2006  (Andrew Sullivan)
– his endorsement of the book The Islamic Anti-Christ by Joel Richardson – a book claiming that the Bible predicts that the anti-Christ will be a Muslim  (Richard Bartholemew)
– on Virginia neo-Nazi license plate incident  (Sheila Musaji), [34a] (Loonwatch)
– comments on Hutaree militia group  (Sheila Musaji)
– comments on Pres. Obama’s Middle East peace initiative  (Hussein Ibish)
– misrepresentation of Qur’an 5:60  (Hussein Ibish), misrepresentation of Qur’an by cherry picking verses to prove a point [37a] (Louay Safi)
– statements about “taqiyya”  (Hussein Ibish), [38a] (Sheila Musaji)
– his claim that Tariq Ramadan is a “stealth jihadist”  (Sheila Musaji)
– claim that Muslims don’t object strongly to extremists like Anjem Chaudary  (Shahed Amanullah)
– views on what constitutes a “moderate” Muslim , [46a] (Sheila Musaji)
– on use of terms like “Islamofascist/Islamo-Fascist”  (Chip Berlet), [42a] (Sheila Musaji)
– on his views about Islam and Muslims generally  (Cathy Young), [43a] (Adem Carroll), [43b] (Tariq Nelson)
– on his op ed in Emory University paper  (Ali Eteraz)
– attack on Prof. M. Cherif Bassiouni 
– promoting the false Muslim bus driver stopping bus to pray story  (Sheila Musaji)
– on his concept that radical Muslims are the “real” Muslims  (Dinesh D’Souza)
– on his smearing of Rashad Hussein  (Media Matters)
– on his posting a video on his site of a Hindu girl calling for wiping Pakistan off the map  (Chasing Evil)
– reprinting Danish cartoons on his site  (Sheila Musaji)
– claims about ISNA and the Muslim Brotherhood  (Louay Safi)
– claims about Islam forbidding music  (Ali Eteraz)
– claim that the root of terrorism is Islam  (Mustafa Aykol)
– his views on “dhimmitude” and jizya  (Loonwatch), [54a] (Robert D. Crane)
– on Ayesha’s (Aisha) age at marriage  (Tarek Fatah)
– his comments on CAIR and GOP claims about Muslim interns on Capital Hill [56 (Sheila Musaji), [56a] (Loonwatch)
– his calling the Archbishop of Canterbury, the “Archdhimmi” of Canterbury  (Sheila Musaji)
– on Keith Ellison and oath on Qur’an [58 (Sheila Musaji)
– his alarmism over Muslim demographics  (Sheila Musaji) [59a] (Loonwatch)
– participation in David Horowitz’ Islamo-Fascism awareness week  (Sheila Musaji)
– his views on honor killings  (Omer Subhani)
– on making Islamophobia mainstream  (Steve Rendall and Isabel Macdonald)
– on Cologne Conference and neo-fascists [url=http://www.kejda.net/2008/11/07/jihadwatchwatch-robert-spencers-amorous-flirt-with-european-fascism/] (Kjeda Gjermani)
– claims about suicide terrorism and Islam  (Loonwatch)
– connecting witchhunts and Islam  (Loonwatch)
– claim that radical Christianity is not as dangerous as radical Ilam , [66a] (Sheila Musaji)
– on his willingness to debate Muslims  (Omer Subhani)  (Loonwatch)
– his views on the Pace of Umar  (Loonwatch)
– his comments on Fiqh Councils fatwa on body scanners  (Loonwatch)
– his views on Muslims and Haiti humanitarian efforts  (Sheila Musaji), [70a] (Loonwatch)
– his blog post titled titled Uighur Muslims in China Stabbing Opponents with Tainted Needles  (Loonwatch)
– On the website url’s “f**kallah.com” & “f**kislam.com” which redirected people to Spencer’s Jihad Watch site , [72a], [72b] (Loonwatch)
– on his falling out with Charles Johnson of LGF  (Loonwatch)
– his views on the Fort Hood massacre , [74a] (Loonwatch), [74b] (Mehdi Hasan)
– on his support for Bat Ye’or  (Loonwatch)
– confusing views on reliability/unreliability of hadith and sirah/seerah  (Robert D. Crane)
– views on “Satanic verses”  (Robert D. Crane)
– views on Muslim attitude towards Christians and Jews as friends (wali)  (Robert D. Crane)
– views on apostasy and Islam  (Robert D. Crane)
– views on Obama’s Cairo speech to Muslim world  (Chris Good)
– offensive comments by readers of his site 
– his views on Spanish Fatwa against bin Laden [82
– KFC controversy as creeping Sharia  (Edmund Standing & Yusuf Smith)
– his views on Bible verses on rifle scopes used by soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq  (Sheila Musaji)
– his views on Islam and violence against women  (Robert D. Crane)
– Spencer and the politics of fear 
– his views on the South Park incident and the Revolution Muslim lunatics  (Sheila Musaji)
– his views on slavery and Islam  (Sheila Musaji)