Robert Spencer

Robert Spencer

Robert Bruce Spencer (born February 27, 1962) is an American author and blogger trying to raise public awareness of jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism. He has published twelve books, including two New York Times bestsellers. His latest book is Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry Into Islam's Obscure Origins [book @ Amazon]. He is a weekly columnist for FrontPage Magazine and has written over three hundred articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism. His articles have appeared in the New York Post, the Washington Times, the Dallas Morning News, the New Criterion, the Journal of International Security Affairs, the UK's Guardian, Canada's National PostTownhallMiddle East QuarterlyWorldNet DailyFirst ThingsInsight in the NewsNational Review Online, and many other newspapers and journals.

Spencer has led seminars on Islam and jihad for the United States Central Command, United States Army Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Army's Asymmetric Warfare Group, the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the U.S. intelligence community. He is the Associate Director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI).

In 2003, with sponsorship by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, he founded and has since directed Jihad Watch, a blog which contains, as Spencer describes it himself, "news of the international jihad, [and] commentary" which is dedicated to "bringing public attention to the role that jihad theology and ideology plays in the modern world, and to correcting popular misconceptions about the role of jihad and religion in modern-day conflicts." Spencer has also co-founded Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and the Freedom Defense Initiative with blogger Pamela Geller, with whom he also co-authored a book, The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America [book @ Amazon].

Spencer has Melkite Greek Catholic roots, a rite of the Catholic Church whose adherents are mostly concentrated in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. His grandparents were forced to emigrate from an area that is now part of Turkey because they were Christians.

Spencer received a B.A. in 1983 and an M.A. in 1986 in religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been studying Islamic theology, law, and history since 1980. He worked in think tanks for more than 20 years, and in 2002–2003 did a stint as an adjunct fellow with the Free Congress Foundation, an arm of the Heritage Foundation. Spencer named Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and also a Melkite Catholic, as a mentor of his writings: "[He] taught me a great deal, by word and by example—about how to deal both personally and professionally with the slanders and smears that are a daily aspect of this work." [source] Spencer's first book on Islam was published in 2002.


Spencer's views on Islam

Spencer does not believe that traditional Islam is "inherently terroristic" but argues that "traditional Islam contains violent and supremacist elements", and that "its various schools unanimously teach warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers." However, he rejects strongly the notion that all Muslims are necessarily violent people. He has stated that among moderate Muslims, "there are some who are genuinely trying to frame a theory and practice of Islam that will allow for peaceful coexistence with unbelievers as equals." [source: "What is a moderate Muslim?" by Spencer posted on Jihad Watch 01/14/2006], Spencer has also said he would welcome any Muslim who renounces jihad and dhimmitude to join in his "anti-jihadist efforts," but feels that anyone pursuing his called-for reforms will face a difficult task, because "the radicals actually do have a stronger theoretical, theological, and legal basis within Islam for what they believe than the moderates do" [source: interview with Spencer, posted on rightwingnews.com]. He has also argued that many so-called reformers are not interested in genuine reform, but instead are aiming to deflect scrutiny of Islam [source].

Spencer has expressed criticism of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and numerous other Muslim advocacy groups that he claims are closely tied to allegedly jihadist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood [source]. He has also criticized the employment of several Muslims who were convicted on charges relating to terrorism [source].

He has appeared with Ayn Rand Institute speakers on several occasions. In an interview with the Washington Post he was "...asked if he was being deliberately combative and provocative, Spencer chuckled. "Why not?" he asked. "It's fun" [source].

Qur'an critic and secularist author Ibn Warraq has said that Spencer "tells the truth that few in the U.S. or Europe wish to face" [source: part of an endorsement by Ibn Warraq on the back cover of a book by Spencer].

Michelle Malkin says that Spencer "tells truths about jihadists that no one else will tell" [source: part of an endorsement by Malkin on the back cover of a book by Spencer]. Conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager has called JihadWatch, "one of most honorable Web sites that I know of monitoring jihad in the world today" [source].


Criticism

Sadly enough, many people miss the nuances in Spencer's writings. They neglect his thorough research. Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called Spencer and Pamela Geller. Spencer co-wrote a book with Geller: The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America, Threshold Editions, 2010. American anti-Muslim writers because their writings "promote a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the pretext of fighting radical Islam. This belief system parallels the creation of an ideological—and far more deadly—form of anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries." He continued, "we must always be wary of those whose love for the Jewish people is born out of hatred of Muslims or Arabs" [sources: adl.org, The Washington Post].


Response to criticism

Spencer has responded to accusations of Islamophobia by declaring the term "Islamophobe" a label, "a tool used by Islamic apologists to silence criticism." He says that his work is "dedicated to identifying the causes of jihad terrorism, which of course lead straight back into the Islamic texts. I have therefore called for reform of those texts... I have dedicated Jihad Watch to defending equality of rights and freedom of conscience for all people. That's Islamophobic? Then is the fault in the phobe, or in the Islam?" [source: In 2008 Spencer posted comments on his own Wikipedia page on Jihad Watch].


Censorship

On December 20, 2006, the government of Pakistan announced a ban on Spencer's book, The Truth About Muhammad. Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto was likewise highly critical of Spencer's work. In his response to Bhutto's criticism, Spencer notes that the passage she cites was in fact written by Ibn Warraq.

In 2009, Spencer was asked to participate in an information session about Islam and Muslims designed for ethnic and multicultural librarians entitled "Perspectives on Islam: Beyond the Stereotyping," at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Library Association, which was sponsored by the ALA's Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT). After objections were raised by ALA members and the general public, the three other panelists withdrew in protest and the session was ultimately canceled [source].

In August 2010 The Washington Post cited Spencer and Pamela Geller as conservative bloggers who have been influential in challenging the construction of the Park51 project, which he calls the "Ground Zero mosque." Spencer and Geller's organization Stop Islamization of America launched their first public protest outside of the Park51 location on June 6, 2010.


Interviews, talks, and workshops

Spencer has discussed jihad, Islam, and terrorism at a workshop sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the German Foreign Ministry. He has also appeared on the BBC, ABC News, CNN, FoxNews's  O'Reilly Factor, the Sean Hannity Show, the Glenn Beck Show, Fox and Friends, many other Fox programs, PBS, MSNBC, CNBC, C-Span, France24 and Croatia National Televison (HTV), as well as on numerous radio programs including Bill O'Reilly's Radio FactorThe Mark Levin ShowThe Laura Ingraham Show, Bill Bennett's Morning in America, Michael Savage's Savage NationThe Sean Hannity ShowThe Alan Colmes ShowThe G. Gordon Liddy ShowThe Neal Boortz ShowThe Michael Medved ShowThe Michael Reagan ShowThe Rusty Humphries ShowThe Larry Elder ShowThe Barbara Simpson Show, Vatican Radio, and many others. He has been a featured speaker at Dartmouth College, Stanford University, New York University, Brown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, Washington University of St. Louis, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and many other colleges and universities.


JihadWatch001

Jihad Watch

Spencer's blog Jihad Watch is one of the most enlightening online sources for information on jihad and the antidemocratic tendencies within Islam. On this site Spencer has also posted his own biographical notes.


[Posted by ICWV editorial staff on January 13, 2013]

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