An Interview with Robert Spencer
RUBIN: In what ways do academics respond to your works?
SPENCER: People of a particular political and academic perspective that is opposed to mine dominate the study of Islam and related issues in academia today. People who hold to my views generally can’t get jobs in colleges and universities today. That said, however, I am confident of my ground and ready to defend my views in any forum. While politically correct and compromised academics such as Carl Ernst, John Esposito, Juan Cole, Omid Safi, and Caner K. Dagli heap scorn upon my work, they do not and cannot show where it is incorrect, and have declined my invitations to debate. I have no doubt that if any of them ever accepted the invitation we would see immediately the real reason why they were reluctant to debate in the first place.
RUBIN: How do you analyze the concept of “Islamophobia”?
SPENCER: “Islamophobia” is a word coined by the Muslim Brotherhood designed to intimidate people into fearing to oppose the jihad and Islamic supremacism and to shift attention away from acts of violence by Muslims and onto Muslims as victims. Victim status is highly coveted, extremely lucrative, and politically advantageous these days.
RUBIN: How have the policies of Western governments actually pushed Muslim immigrants and their children into the arms of the radicals?
I don’t believe this to be true. Muslim immigrants and their children do not hold to a sect or version of Islam that is significantly different from that which is preached elsewhere in the world. If they are informed and devoted to their religion, they generally view the actions of Western governments from the same perspective as do Muslims elsewhere. This perspective manifests itself in lists of grievances and expressions of anger, but Western governments are foolish in the extreme when they think they can redress these grievances and then all will be well; in fact, this grievance-mongering is intended to lay the groundwork for defensive jihad, which in Islamic law is incumbent upon all Muslims to undertake when a Muslim land is under attack. If one grievance is redressed, another one will take its place, because the point is not the grievances at all, but the jihad.
RUBIN: Have you detected some improvement in how Islamic religion and political movements are interpreted in the West during the last five years?
SPENCER: No. In fact, just the opposite. The fog of disinformation and misinformation is thicker than ever. Fantasy-based policymaking rules in Washington with more force than ever, and the stealth jihad is not only advancing unopposed, but is being actively abetted by the Obama administration. Those who tell the truth about the threat are increasingly stigmatized, demonized, and marginalized.
RUBIN: How do you deal with those who read your work somewhat carelessly and end up thinking that all of Islam is innately and completely radical or evil?
SPENCER: My work is routinely caricatured and misrepresented by those who would like to diminish its influence. I frequently see written that I claim that all Muslims are terrorists, or that all Muslims everywhere want to impose Sharia and subjugate Westerners. Such claims are ridiculous, and I challenge anyone to substantiate them with a quote from me. I have pointed out in my work that Islam itself contains teachings that jihadis use to justify violence and supremacism, and maintain that that must be faced honestly by all parties concerned. I likewise challenge anyone to disprove those contentions.
RUBIN: You’ve discussed what you think Muslims should do to reform, moderate, and be effective in winning a more favorable image in the West. Could you discuss these recommendations?
SPENCER: Sure. If Muslims really want to reform, moderate, and win a more favorable image in the West, here are some steps they can take to do so:
1. Focus their indignation on those Muslims who commit violent acts in the name of Islam, not on non-Muslims reporting on those acts.
2. Renounce definitively, sincerely, honestly, and in deeds, not just in comforting words, not just "terrorism" but any intention to replace the U.S. Constitution (or the constitutions of any non-Muslim state) with Sharia, even by peaceful means. In line with this, clarify what is meant by their condemnations of the killing of innocent people by stating unequivocally that American and Israeli civilians are innocent people, teaching accordingly in mosques and Islamic schools, and behaving in accord with these new teachings.
3. Teach, again sincerely and honestly, in transparent and verifiable ways in mosques and Islamic schools, the imperative of Muslims coexisting peacefully as equals with non-Muslims on an indefinite basis, and act accordingly.
4. Begin comprehensive programs in mosques all over the world to teach sincerely against the ideas of violent jihad and Islamic supremacism.
5. Actively and honestly work with Western law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend jihadists within Western Muslim communities.
RUBIN: What policies do you believe the United States should follow toward the Muslim Brotherhood and other revolutionary Islamist movements in the Middle East?
SPENCER: The best policy is resolute and determined opposition to their taking power. That is not to say invasions or quixotic attempts at “nation-building.” At the very least, we should not be encouraging them or giving them money, which is tantamount to giving them the rope they will use to hang us.