A peace group I am a part of on campus was approached by other people and asked if we could help coordinate a response to Pipes' visit. This was a touchy subject, since we of course thought that Pipes' views are dangerous yet most of us share the general academic viewpoint that its a good thing to let people express their opinions no matter how repulsive those opinions may be. What we ultimately decided was that we would hold a protest, but one that exposed the danger of Pipes' view rather than suggesting that Pipes shouldn't be allowed to speak. We had a "teach-in" with about 40 people outside Pipes' event, holding signs that said "no hate" and passing out literature that provided background on Pipes and the right-wing groups sponsoring the event.
The most interesting thing about Pipes, for present purposes, is that despite his craziness he at least seemed vaguely conscious of the fact that saying that all Muslims are violent extremists would make him pretty obviously a bigot. Pipes got around that issue by saying that not all Muslims were bad, but all "Islamists" were bad, and were so by definition. And "Islamist" was a vague term that Pipes used to describe both violent terrorists and any Muslims who had different political beliefs than he does (for example, any Muslim who thinks that Palestine should have its own state would automatically be an "Islamist" on Pipes' definition). This way, Pipes could claim both that Islamists (as in the terrorists) want to destroy Western civilization and that Islamists (as in people who disagree with him) are scattered throughout U.S. society and academia in particular. Thus, of course, they are Big Big Scary Threat to Society. The formal term for this kind of argument is equivocation. And the CLA took full advantage of this equivocation, constantly trying to scare everyone about Islam while reminding everyone that they weren't saying that all Muslims are violent.
Well, I guess we can now throw all that out the window, because last week the CLA invited a speaker to campus, Robert Spencer, who was pretty explicit about saying that, yes in fact, all Muslims are really violent. Among the claims cited in the Student Life article about the event:
Spencer argues that when followed, Islam promotes discrimination that poses a threat to the equality and freedoms Americans enjoy.
Spencer argues that the Quran and holy texts can only be followed in an evangelical manner.
According to Spencer's lecture, Islam poses a threat because of the violence promoted in the Quran itself.
I don't think there's any way to read these claims as saying anything other than if someone is a practicing Muslim, then they are necessarily a threat to Americans. Thus, Spencer proudly embraces the bigotry that Pipes tried so hard to hide. And what did the CLA have to say about this, considering how important it was for them previously to point out that they weren't Islamophobic when Pipes was visiting? The CLA organizer, "said he felt that the group supported Spencer's message."
In my opinion, these kinds of speakers are dangerous to society. They intend to make people distrustful of all Muslims. They classify certain political beliefs as being equivalent to supporting terrorism. I don't think it's any secret that Americans' blind willingness to lump all predominantly Muslim countries together contributed to the ease with which Bush was able to push us towards war on Iraq. What's more, Pipes and Spencer share the belief that the most dangerous Muslims are not the ones holding machine guns (since they are too obvious), but rather "secret Jihadists" who have infiltrated society and are lurking among us. Thus, they want us to be distrustful of even the most honorable and upstanding people in our communities, if those people happen to be Muslim.
Should this kind of speech be allowed on campus? In general, I tend to err on the side of free speech, and just assume that most people (especially on a college campus) will recognize how ridiculous the claims are. On the other hand, there is a point at which you cross the line into calling for violence. Claiming that all Muslims are inherently violent and intent on destroying Western civilization has to be pretty close to that line, if not already over.
So given that the campus allowed the right-wing crazies to have their talk, how did right-wingers react? With complete scorn and unfettered hatred of Islam, academia and the students of WashU, of course. Check out these comments for the online articles:
Speaking about a WashU student quoted in the article Muslim:
Speaking about a WashU student quoted in the article Muslim:
"TA [name omitted by me]" is a perfect example of a lying Muslim who will do anything to cover of the true teachings of his religion.On Islam:
If a Mohammedan female walked down the street in shorts and a halter top in an Islamic country she would be immediately gang-raped and probably killed
Again, The Crusades were not acts of unprovoked aggression by Europe against the Islamic world, BUT A DELAYED RESPONSE TO CENTURIES OF MUSLIM AGGRESSION...Go, Crusaders. Fight back against the Muslim Aggressor. Defend yourselves - as you have EVERY RIGHT TO DO. Stop the Islamization of the West - the death knell of the Free West.
Islam deserves to be feared and hated, as it's primary goal is to subjugate and murder all non-Moslems until the world is "all for allah" - i.e. worships allah (a non-existent pagan moon deity) alone.To the students who wrote an article saying that people should "listen and ask questions" (http://www.studlife.com/forum/in-response-to-inflammatory-speech-listen-and-question-1.1623565 ):
Islam deserves to be feared and hated just as we fear and hate Fascism and Nazism.
This "informative article" was obviously written by a moslem operative engaging in taqquiya, "warning" everyone about the so-called opinions of the learned Daniel Pipes and Robert Spencer.And to the school that provided the crazies a venue to speak:
This a splendid example of crackpot journalism. So many gullible American kuffar to lie to and so little time.
Once-prestigious Washington University, named after the Father of our Country, has turned into Slaves-to-Barbarian-Islam U, due to the lies of political correctness and multiculturalism, esp. concerning the Islamic Barbarians. And after 9/11 - For shame, you Slaves. Thank you for writing this article and helping me to decide to not send my children to your school.These comments, to me, provide the best evidence that people like Spencer are doing far more to stoke the fires of hatred then to promote healthy discourse.
I guess this is the type of "journalism" that Washington University produces! How sad. How scary for the future of journalism!