Censorship at the ALA Convention

Ethel C. Fenig
Perhaps it is time for all the librarians to get their heads out of their books to digest, and then practice, some of the solid information therein. 

Many librarians are now at the American Library Association (ALA) convention where a panel informing librarians on aspects of ethnic diversity has been canceled because a speaker's views were. . .too diverse for the other panelists!  According to this / report in the Washington Times , three of the four speakers scheduled to speak as part of a panel, "Perspectives on Islam: Beyond Stereotyping" canceled because they disapproved of the fourth speaker, Robert Spencer. 

Spencer, who oversees the websites JihadWatch.com and DhimmiWatch.com, which expose some unpleasant realities about Islam and its followers, has also written eight books about Islam, including The Truth About Muhammed: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion which was on the  New York Times best seller list for many weeks in 2006.  

Perhaps some of the  drop out panelists' libraries even have his books among their collections--unless the huffy panelists haven't also hounded their schools' libraries to discard them.  

In academic doublespeak, one of the drop out panelists managed to praise freedom of speech and diversity while refusing to support it personally.   

In a statement announcing her withdrawal last week, Marcia Hermansen, a professor of Islamic studies at Loyola University Chicago, wrote that she had not been informed of the participation of Mr. Spencer until very recently. "While I heartily endorse the principles of free expression and diversity of viewpoints that are part of the ALA mission, the way in which this information session about Islam and Muslims ... was modified and politicized at the last moment raises serious concerns about the integrity of the session," she said.

Meanwhile

Mr. Spencer said he would welcome the chance to debate Mr. Rehab (executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations--CAIR) or any of the panelists who had withdrawn. "If what I am saying is so wrong, why will they not debate me in an open forum?" he asked.

Good question.

But Mr. Rehab called such a discussion pointless. "He starts from the point of view that Islam is evil. I don't see the need to debate that."

Mr. Spencer challenged that interpretation of his views in an e-mail to The Times.

"Terrorists use the texts and teachings of Islam to make recruits among peaceful Muslims, and to justify their war against the United States and the West. I explore how they do it," he said.

And that just might be too much for the ALA.  After all this is the same organization which campaigned against the Patriot Act  allowing the FBI, after jumping through a few hoops, to trace who searched for terrorist instructions on library computers. And at an earlier convention, they hosted a Hugo Chavez apologist and refused  to help their beleaguered counterparts in Cuba from Fidel Castro but opposed US sanctions against Cuba.


Perhaps it is time for all the librarians to get their heads out of their books to digest, and then practice, some of the solid information therein. 

Many librarians are now at the American Library Association (ALA) convention where a panel informing librarians on aspects of ethnic diversity has been canceled because a speaker's views were. . .too diverse for the other panelists!  According to this / report in the Washington Times , three of the four speakers scheduled to speak as part of a panel, "Perspectives on Islam: Beyond Stereotyping" canceled because they disapproved of the fourth speaker, Robert Spencer. 

Spencer, who oversees the websites JihadWatch.com and DhimmiWatch.com, which expose some unpleasant realities about Islam and its followers, has also written eight books about Islam, including The Truth About Muhammed: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion which was on the  New York Times best seller list for many weeks in 2006.  

Perhaps some of the  drop out panelists' libraries even have his books among their collections--unless the huffy panelists haven't also hounded their schools' libraries to discard them.  

In academic doublespeak, one of the drop out panelists managed to praise freedom of speech and diversity while refusing to support it personally.   

In a statement announcing her withdrawal last week, Marcia Hermansen, a professor of Islamic studies at Loyola University Chicago, wrote that she had not been informed of the participation of Mr. Spencer until very recently. "While I heartily endorse the principles of free expression and diversity of viewpoints that are part of the ALA mission, the way in which this information session about Islam and Muslims ... was modified and politicized at the last moment raises serious concerns about the integrity of the session," she said.

Meanwhile

Mr. Spencer said he would welcome the chance to debate Mr. Rehab (executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations--CAIR) or any of the panelists who had withdrawn. "If what I am saying is so wrong, why will they not debate me in an open forum?" he asked.

Good question.

But Mr. Rehab called such a discussion pointless. "He starts from the point of view that Islam is evil. I don't see the need to debate that."

Mr. Spencer challenged that interpretation of his views in an e-mail to The Times.

"Terrorists use the texts and teachings of Islam to make recruits among peaceful Muslims, and to justify their war against the United States and the West. I explore how they do it," he said.

And that just might be too much for the ALA.  After all this is the same organization which campaigned against the Patriot Act  allowing the FBI, after jumping through a few hoops, to trace who searched for terrorist instructions on library computers. And at an earlier convention, they hosted a Hugo Chavez apologist and refused  to help their beleaguered counterparts in Cuba from Fidel Castro but opposed US sanctions against Cuba.