A small victory for the Forces of Good: The American Library Association canceled the round table on Muslim outreach to which notorious Muslim-basher Robert Spencer had been inexplicably invited to speak.
On the "An Open Letter to ALA & the Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Roundtable" blog that was created in protest against this ill advised move, I commented as follows:
That’s good news.
In a perfect world, Spencer would have been summarily disinvited,
but this is probably the smartest choice under the circumstances, as
ALA was in a no-win situation politically. Had they kept him on the
panel, they would have brought disrepute on the event and organization.
Had they dumped him, that would’ve become a cause celebre among
Islamophobes and right-wingers. It will, anyway, of course, but this
will take some of the edge off the controversy. (And maybe they’ll be
able to get something accomplished at the conference.)
As I said in my last post (which I wrote before I got the glad
tidings), this won’t clip Spencer’s wings much. The world outside of
the more intellectually demanding halls of academia is still largely
Predictably, the Right-o-sphere is awash in complaints about censorship, not to mention truly moronic and demagogic claims that CAIR "forced" the ALA to cancel the events. (Because everyone knows how powerful Muslims are in post-9/11 America. When we're not being locked up on secret evidence, openly vilified and otherwise made into second class citizens, that is.)
Actually, the other 3 participants canceled in protest to Spencer's inclusion. I guess the ALA is supposed to hold a one-person panel on a topic that its sole panelist has dubious credibility and no evident qualifications to discuss. Makes perfect sense.
Censorship indeed. I call it common sense and professionalism.
Maybe, just maybe, the problem lies in Spencer and the ALA was horrified at the prospect of being associated with him. The evidence supports that conclusion a lot more than the conspiracy theories.
Update (2009-08-09): All the posts on Robert Spencer/Jihad Watch exchange are available on a single page here.