A diocese in Massachusetts disinvites Robert Spencer
Add this to the increasing marginalization of radical anti-Muslim views: A Catholic diocese in Massachusetts today rescinded its invitation to Robert Spencer, a prominent anti-Muslim writer and activist, to speak about Islam at an upcoming conference.
“Although the intention of the conference organizers was to have a presenter on Islam from a Catholic’s perspective, we are asking Robert Spencer to not come to the Worcester Catholic Men’s Conference, given that his presence is being seen as harmful to Catholic–Islamic relations both locally and nationally,” diocesan spokesman Raymond Delisle said in a statement to the Boston Globe.
Spencer had been invited to speak at the March conference, organized by the church in Worcester, sparking outrage from local Muslim groups. After an outcry, the diocese rescinded the invitation.
Spencer, whom the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism has called “the godfather of the anti-Muslim movement in this country,” has made a career out of writing books and giving lectures on the dangers of Islam. He, along with close collaborator Pam Geller, helped lead the opposition to the Park51 Islamic community center in Manhattan and has been behind dozens of other controversies. More darkly, Norwegian anti-Muslim mass shooter Anders Breivik cited Spencer’s writings 50 times, though Spencer has called the shooter “insane” and refuted any association.
The response from Spencer and Geller was predictable: Blame the media. Writing at FrontPage, Spencer claimed that he was “informed” that the Boston Globe’s reporter, Lisa Wangsness, “instigated the entire controversy” and that she “asked [Muslim groups] to call the diocese and demand the cancellation.” Spencer published his entire, lengthy email exchange with Wangsness, including her phone number and email address, along with a correspondence with Wangsness’ editor. They declined to comment in an email to Salon.
Geller picked up the same line of attack, writing, today, “I am surprised that Lisa Wangsness didn’t shout allahu akbar at her attack and victory over the free exchange of ideas.”
This is typical for a group of people who want the First Amendment to work only in their favor. They cry foul any time anyone writes something critical of their work, condemning the supposed infringement on their freedom of speech, yet they turn around and try to bully critical voices in far more aggressive ways than any action directed at them.
Any journalists or public advocates who cross them are bound to have their emails published and a string of ad hominem attacks thrown their way in a manner than can only be intended to intimidate. This effectively silences many critics, who may feel it’s not worth incurring the hate to write about Geller or Spencer. Of this reporter, for instance, Geller once said it was “only a matter of time before he is getting measured for a suicide vest.” She called a Jewish group in Chicago that spoke out against her anti-Muslim bus and subway ads “Judenrat,” as in Jews who collaborated with Nazis.
That’s fine and they have the right to call anyone whatever they want, just as the diocese is free to rescind its invitation to Spencer and the Muslim groups are free to criticize it and the Globe is free to write about it, but you can’t have it both ways. It seems Spencer and Geller are not interested in “the free exchange of ideas,” as Geller said, but rather licence to express themselves with impunity and without criticism.
More Related Stories
- Is the Environmental Defense Fund ruining environmentalism?
- Top 5 investigative videos of the week: "Winning" Afghanistan
- Jester clowns Westboro Baptist Church
- GOP: Party of crybabies
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11