With the world on fire from Islamic jihad, the proclamations from Barack Obama, John Kerry, David Cameron and so many others that the Islamic State’s atrocities have nothing to do with Islam, “a religion of peace,” are looking increasingly ridiculous. The academics who further this view with their fantasy pictures of Islam are likewise running scared, despite the fact that they have made this the dominant mainstream view in America’s universities. They’re covering up their abject inability to defend this point of view with a haughty refusal to do so, and an insistence that those who challenge them are not worthy of their attention.
This is a peculiar stance for academics in particular to take, as they are supposed to be professionally dedicated to the discussion and debate of ideas. It illuminates the unhappy fact that our nation’s universities are increasingly not places where genuine intellectual inquiry takes place, but centers of leftist indoctrination, not interested in pursuing truth or examining ideas, but only in turning out cadres of thoroughly propagandized worker ants who will ever after unthinkingly toe the party line.
My own experience with academics in the fields related to study of Islam and the Middle East is that they contemptuously refuse to engage in any discussion or debate with me, generally claiming that I am either too stupid or too evil, or both, to engage. This is despite the fact that my books generally sell far better than theirs (as I write this I have three of the top ten books in Amazon.com’s Islam category, and all three are at least eight years old) and thus, by proving that I am indeed as intellectually and morally bankrupt as they claim, they could go a long way toward ending what they regard as my baneful “Islamophobic” influence over the American public.
But none of them dare to try. Here are five academics who have loudly crowed that they could best me in debate or that my work is easily refuted – only to clam up and run when I give them an opportunity to prove it.
5. Mia M. Bloom, University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
I had never heard of Mia M. Bloom until last Wednesday. It turns out that she is a professor of security studies at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and the author of Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror; Living Together After Ethnic Killing; and Bombshell: Women and Terror. I don’t know her work, but from her careful avoidance here of identifying as predominantly Islamic the cultures in which “women will be killed by a family member for bringing shame to the family,” it is likely that she is just another academic of the type that American universities today hire by the pound: intent on downplaying and denying the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat and abjectly incapable of defending her views in a free and open debate.
Anyway, on Wednesday, a reader of my website, Jihad Watch, had an email exchange with Professor Bloom. In the course of it, she wrote: “I am certain in any debate your MrSpencer would be left without anything to say if he were ever in a room with someone educated in this field instead of pandering to a public that thinks just cause it’s published it must be true.”
After the reader sent this to me, I wrote back offering to debate, whereupon Professor Bloom responded:
I’m afraid that Mr [Jihad Watch reader] may have led you to believe that I would waste my time on such an endeavor..,which I would not
I am currently writing my fourth book based on field research in Pakistan and other countries.
Btw That’s what real academics do; they don’t spend their time sitting at the computer distorting texts they could neither read in the original nor are they trained to understand.
Enjoy duping the masses.
Unfortunately for Professor Bloom’s contemptuous arrogance, in her exchange with the reader she not only cited Wikipedia as if it were a credible source, but also made a basic error about the Qur’an, telling him that the triple Islamic choice of conversion, subjugation or death was not actually offered to the “People of the Book” (Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians), but only to pagans, when the Qur’an specifically says this choice should be offered to the People of the Book (9:29). Her lack of basic knowledge of what is ostensibly her field may explain the venomous rudeness of her response to me, when we have never met or previously corresponded: it can fill one with anxiety to spend one’s days flacking for falsehood and fantasy with only marginal competence.
4. Joseph Lumbard, Brandeis University.
Last April, at the height of the controversy over Brandeis University’s rescinding of an honorary degree they had planned to give to freedom fighter Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I received some tweets out of the blue from Joseph Lumbard, a convert to Islam who is professor and chair of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis. Lumbard excoriated me for what he falsely claimed was a factual error I had made in a Jihad Watch post about Brandeis’ rescinding of an honorary degree for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and in the course of the exchange wrote: “facts confuse u” and “My apologies for citing facts. I know how that confuses you.”
After this had gone on for awhile, I challenged him to a debate. He readily accepted, saying: “anytime any place. I will dominate you!” We had a subsequent email exchange in which he wrote: “I propose that we hold a public debate regarding the accuracy of your book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), with regard to the topics of Shariah, jihad, ‘dhimmitude’, and taqiyyah.” He included a debate format that had one of us arguing in the affirmative and one of us in the negative.
I’m happy to defend my positions, but while his debate format provided for an affirmative and a negative statement, he didn’t propose any statement on which an affirmative or negative position could be taken. An amorphous discussion about my book in general would have given him too many opportunities simply to change the subject and thereby avoid being pinned down about uncomfortable facts — I’ve been in too many radio debates and exchanges with Islamic apologists not to guard against that by having a clearly defined topic.
Accordingly I wrote back to Lumbard proposing some specific debate topics that could actually be argued in the affirmative and the negative, but he seemed to have no clear grasp of how a debate topic should actually be formulated, and after a few more exchanges he went silent, with me decidedly un-“dominated.”
3. Omid Safi, Duke University.
Last July, Omid Safi was named director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center (DISC). Back in 2004, when Safi was a professor at Colgate University in upstate New York, he taught a course called “Islam and modernity,” in which he assigned students a three-page report on one figure of their choosing from a Safi-provided list of “Islamophobes, Neo-cons, Western triumphalists.”
As I was on the list (along with figures ranging from Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington to Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and including at least one Muslim, Stephen Suleyman Schwartz), I contacted Safi and offered to come to Colgate at my own expense to discuss my work and the concept of “Islamophobia” with him and his class. Safi contemptuously refused, saying that I first had to “publish a book by a credible university press (which you have not), and then we’ll talk.” Ironically, at that point Safi’s only published book had come from Shambhala Press, a New Age house that hardly qualifies as a “credible university press.”
So unnerved was Safi by my challenge that he later falsely claimed that I threatened to kill him and his family, and of course refused to retract when I asked him repeatedly to do so. Likewise when I asked the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (his employer by that time) to take disciplinary action against him for his libel, they did nothing as well.
And Safi, by virtue of his faithful regurgitation of politically correct falsehoods about Islam, continues to rise up the academic food chain, blissfully unchallenged. No one in a crowd of haut-couture nudists dares point out that the emperor is likewise unclothed.
1-2. John Esposito, Georgetown University, and Daniel Martin Varisco, Hofstra University.
The Saudi-funded Esposito, the most notorious academic apologist for Islam (and friend of terror-linked individuals and groups) and Varisco held a seminar on “Islamophobia” at Georgetown late last February, in which I played the role of bête noire.
I wasn’t there, of course: Esposito and Varisco spoke about refusing to debate me because they didn’t want to give me a platform. Of course, they gave me a platform already by examining me as a subject in their “Islamophobia” presentation. But as is typical of academics today, they wanted to remain in entire control of that forum, without any dissenting views entertained, only telling the students what they wanted them to know about me and other supposed “Islamophobes.”
Investigative journalist Andrew Harrod was there, however, and his report provided an in-depth look at the “Islamophobia” mythmakers’ abject fear of the truth and of intellectual challenges, and the corner into which they have painted themselves. “Audience questions…focused on Spencer,” Harrod reported. “Varisco discussed his refusal to debate Spencer as ‘someone who just hates Islam,’ yet claimed that in any hypothetical encounter he ‘would beat the whatever out of him.’” Bringing the cognitive dissonance to the fore, Esposito “sneered” that I “wrote ‘best-selling books’ while discussing worries about Spencer’s popularity. Noting the influence of popular culture, Esposito complained that ‘Islamophobic websites score very, very high.’”
This was high comedy. There is a very simple remedy for my popularity: Esposito or Varisco or both could have taken me on in debate, and beaten “the whatever” out of me as Varisco boasted he could do, and thereby strike a huge blow for their claim that their views of Islam and jihad are accurate and mine are not. They could go a long way toward ending the popularity of Jihad Watch and substantiating their dismissals of my work by doing this. Kecia Ali, associate professor of religion at Boston University, in her new book The Lives of Muhammad calls me “grand pooh-bah of the legion of American Islamophobes” – any of these academics could get quite a feather in their cap by toppling the grand pooh-bah himself.
They won’t. They can’t. Falsehood can never defeat truth in open competition.
This isn’t personal. Even though this article is based on my experiences, it isn’t about me. These academics’ fear of subjecting their claims to open debate is not restricted to me: these five and their colleagues won’t debate anyone who doesn’t parrot their line. Such is the condition, and the imminent demise, of American academia in this nervous and muddled age.