The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

77° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

Newsletter

    Robert Spencer’s Radical Agenda

    Last Thursday, the President of Stony Brook University’s The Patriot, Alex Chamessian, introduced the paper’s invited guest speaker, Robert Spencer, a man whose views many may not agree with but should still be respected for what they are.

    Spencer approached the podium, thanking Chamessian for the introduction and added that his lecture was on Jihad (an Arabic word meaning “for struggle”) was not a compilation of his views, but rather “truth,” that could not be disputed. This was the first sign of one-sidedness in Spencer’s lecture, which by the end of his rant, began to sound like full-fledged bigotry.

    Spencer, an author of several books on Islam and a contributing writer for FrontPage magazine, conducted an hour-long speech about how Islam’s fundamentals and the teachings of its prophet Muhammad, preach destruction of Western values, ideals, and culture. Needless to say, the lecture quickly began to sound like a post-9/11 President Bush speech, with the added adornment of hijacked quotes from the Qu’ran and Hadith (the sayings and teachings of Muhammad).

    Spencer, who was very quick to quote the Qu’ran in substantiating his biased arguments, is not a scholar in the field; he has not received any formal education in Islamic studies, nor is he fluent in Arabic. He does, however, have a Master’s degree in Christianity. These two traits may seem menial to anyone who is self-taught in any subject or ability, but they have an immense impact on an individual’s understanding of people and a faith.

    Firstly, Arabic is widely known to be a nuanced language that is often lost in translation. Secondly, one who seeks to self-educate in a field bears the responsibility of selecting literature that is well balanced. Considering the virulent words of Spencer about Islam, it is evident that he was learning about Islam with an agenda. But most importantly, on the subject of hijacking quotes from religious doctrine, such can be done with any religious book.

    The wrongdoings and atrocities committed by everyone in all of Western civilization for the past 2,000 years could be attributed to the sayings and teachings of Christ and the Bible, if the attempt was made. However, it is understood that the failures and crimes of people in Western society were a reflection of their own failure to adhere to the teachings of Christ, rather than a reflection of Christ and Christianity itself. In the same way, many Muslims around the world have committed wrongdoings, both in and not in the name of God, but they too should not be a reflection of Islam and Muhammad.

    Spencer’s website, jihadwatch.org, features an article called “Saudi Calls for Interfaith in Context,” in which King Abdullah’s efforts to engage in interfaith dialogue, which even right-wing Israeli politician Ehud Barrak responded to optimistically, were criticized. The criticism isn’t what is surprising about the article, though, it is the repeated “typo” Saudi Sheik, Adbul Rahman Barrak’s name as “Barack.” In fact, there is even a link to an article on arabnews.com that correctly spells his name. This cheap, subliminal ploy to associate Obama with Arab culture is a testament to Spencer’s extremist agenda.

    Spencer is a caricature of himself and the ignorant people who read things the way they want, rather than challenging themselves to develop a thorough understanding of the subject. His efforts to protect America from Islam’s alleged goal to destroy the West — while its followers take a break from being honest, charitable citizens of their society who are good to their neighbors — are nothing but transparent. Spencer takes advantage of mainstream America’s ignorance about Islam and Islamic history, and spreads politically incorrect propaganda instead. I don’t know what is more appalling, that a university newspaper would compromise its respect and credibility to invite such a bigot, or that his audience would ever take him seriously. The real service to America would be to condemn such hatred towards Islam.

    Spencer and I do agree on one thing, we live in a wonderful country that gives faux-scholars like him a forum to speak in and express his hateful ideas, but we also live in a country in which we have infinite knowledge and differing views at our disposal. When we encounter hateful people as Spencer who prey on our impressionability we should challenge them, not by engaging their bias, but rather by becoming knowledgeable individuals.

    Leave a Comment
    Donate to The Statesman

    Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The Statesman

    Comments (0)

    All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *