Robert Spencer is a bestselling author of anti-Muslim books and articles that supposedly shine a light on the Islamic threat to Western civilization. He has even given lectures on this subject “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.”
Therefore, he should be able to do the research to back up his assertions. But as I show below, he makes claims that can be easily dispelled with a cursory internet search.
In his latest post on his blog Jihad Watch, “Is your local library as free as this library in Tehran?” he compares the alleged lack of free speech in the United States – due to “political correctness” – to the Islamic Republic:
“While the hopelessly compromised American Library Association cravenly capitulates to the foes of free speech, at least one library in Tehran is more hospitable to free thought and a genuine exchange of ideas.
Last Monday evening I spoke at the University of California Irvine, at an event organized by an Iranian ex-Muslim who read my book Islam Unveiled after finding it in a library in Tehran. A printout of some of the listings from that library is above; you can see my books Islam Unveiled and Onward Muslim Soldiers, along with other Islamorealistic books.
When I asked my host how my books could have possibly gotten there, he told me that there were millions of Islamoskeptics and secret apostates in Iran, and they could have gotten the books into the library system there. He also told me that he and other apostates felt quite isolated and threatened in Iran (understandably so) and drew hope from Jihad Watch and other freedom sites, seeing from them that they were not alone.
So while the American Library Association marches on in politically correct lockstep, not daring to entertain any genuine dissent even as they celebrate ‘Banned Books Week,’ the truth is more welcome — quietly, cautiously, but unmistakably — in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
The “truth” is relative – what Spencer offers in his work is an opinion and a disturbing one at that; an analysis of his work found parallels between his anti-Muslimism and the antisemitism of the infamous Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher. Even more disturbing is his association with European neofascists as part of the so-called “counter-jihad” movement.
But if what he claims about the ALA is true, then American libraries wouldn’t have any of his books, right? After all, a group that “cravenly capitulates” to the right-wing bogeyman – known as “political correctness,” or what normal people call tolerance and respect for others – would make sure libraries are Spencer-free. That’s what he’s implying by comparing the ALA with a library in the heart of Islamo-fascist Iran.
So I did a Google search to find out.
I began with a search of libraries close to home, where I found that the Farmington and Bloomfield Township branches have some of his books in stock. The public libraries in Metro Detroit’s Islamic hubs Dearborn and Hamtramck also have some of his books.
Branching out, I searched the databases in the liberal hotbeds of San Francisco and New York, both of which have his books on their shelves. Searches of other major metropolitan libraries like Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles produced the same results.
And last but not least, I searched the UC Irvine’s library database – the university where he delivered his lecture – and lo and behold, there it was: Spencer’s books available to be checked out.
In other words, he’s wrong about the state of free speech in America; an error that’s a recurring pattern throughout his work. Either he didn’t bother to do the work – which took me all of five minutes to do – or – more likely – he knew his books are available in American libraries, but omitted it knowing that his readers won’t bother to do the research, either.