US Anti-Islam Polemicists Fall Out: Andrew Bostom Accuses Robert Spencer of Plagiarism

Robert Spencer has a typical diatribe at his Jihad Watch site, denouncing the idea that anti-Semitism was imported into Islam, rather than being an essential element of the religion. Fellow polemicist Andrew Bostom, however, has a blog post of his own, linking to Spencer’s article but describing him as “A Little King Plagiarist” of his own work.

So what’s gone wrong? Just a few months ago Spencer and Bostom were making nice together at David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend on a round table about Rifqa Bary; in 2008 Bostom was commending “My colleague and friend, the gifted and remarkably courageous independent scholar Robert Spencer”, and in September Bostom was defending Spencer in an exchange with the journalist Michael Kruse.

In February, a commentator to Bostom’s blog made an enigmatic reference to “Bostom, Diana West and Lawrence Auster” having something “in common, vis-à-vis Robert Spencer”, and that these persons “have become — for reasons we mere civilians of the anti-Islam movement may never know — personae non gratae”. That same commentator wrote on his own blog, The Hesperado:

Auster has not merely been ignored by Spencer for many months, he was publicly condemned by Spencer in the pages of Jihad Watch some time ago (I believe about two years ago) — thus breaking the Rule of the Gentlemen’s Agreement by which tensions and animosities within the anti-Islam movement are usually swept under the rug and not aired out in the sunshine of public discussion and debate. Apparently for the “Gentlemen” involved, it’s okay to publicly condemn a Charles Johnson or a Lawrence Auster (even though Auster is not guilty of the sins of Johnson), but one must hide behind closed doors when negotiating the differences — or perhaps serious ruptures — with other erstwhile colleagues, such as Bruce Bawer, Diana West, Andrew Bostom, and perhaps now also the Baron from the Gates of Vienna blog (which interestingly no longer appears on the Jihad Watch blogroll, and whose copious and valuable coverage of the Geert Wilders trial has been utterly ignored by Spencer).

(Hat tip: Bill Warner)

Franklin Graham Pentagon Disinvite Controversy

Billy Graham is has always been discrete about his prejudices: his dislike of American Jews only came to light years after he famously told Richard Nixon that they “don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country”, and when plotting an anti-Catholic attack on Kennedy in 1960 he kept very much in the shadows (a hapless Norman Vincent Peale ended up taking the flak for it). However, it would be unduly harsh to suggest that these ugly incidents somehow expose the “true” Graham – the man’s generous temperament and obvious sociability clearly transcend (or, if you’re not convinced of that, at least deflect attention from) these unhappy failings, which is one reason why he is held in general affection and regard.

His son Franklin, by contrast, lacks his father’s grace – instead, here is a man who can’t help but to wear his contempt on his sleeve. Islam, we are informed, is “a very wicked and evil religion”; recently he appeared to suggest that American Muslim men only refrain from beating their wives because US law restrains them from practising “true Islam” (although in the same breath he assured us that “I love the people of Islam”).

As is being widely reported, he has now been disinvited from a Pentagon prayer day because of his public statements on Islam. The AP reported last week:

Evangelist Franklin Graham’s invitation to speak at a Pentagon prayer service has been rescinded because his comments about Islam were inappropriate, the Army said Thursday.

…Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins said Graham’s remarks were “not appropriate.”

…The Military Religious Freedom Foundation had raised the objection to Graham’s appearance, citing his past remarks about Islam.

Collins said earlier this week that the invitation to attend the National Day of Prayer event at the Pentagon wasn’t from the military but from the Colorado-based National Day of Prayer Task Force, which works with the Pentagon chaplain’s office on the prayer event.

Critical responses have been predictable. Sarah Palin has sought to downplay Franklin’s remarks while suggesting that the disinvitation is anti-Christian prejudice:

His comments in 2001 were aimed at those who are so radical that they would kill innocent people and subjugate women in the name of religion.

 Are we really so hyper-politically correct that we can’t abide a Christian minister who expresses his views on matters of faith?

Others – such as Doug Giles (these days famous as the father of Hannah) – suggest that Franklin’s diatribes are simply “the truth” and that this is a “PC” attack on a “distinguished Christian minister and son of an American evangelical treasure”. CAIR was also opposed to Graham’s invite, so for Pam Geller this is more evidence of the Muslim conspiracy against America (classy as ever, for good measure she throws in the suggestion that CAIR is threatening “another Major Hasan Fort Hood jihad massacre”). One pundit regularly used by OneNewsNow sees the hand of Obama behind it all:

Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis (USA-Ret.) works at the Pentagon and shares the concerns of the others over the direction the Obama administration has taken in dealing with Islam. He points out that this is not the first time Muslims have complained about Franklin Graham appearing at a military prayer event.

“They complained when Franklin Graham was there [at the Pentagon] in 2003, too — but I really think what’s behind this is the change of administration,” he suggests.

“I don’t think this would have happened back during the Bush administration,” Maginnis explains. “It’s only because of President Obama’s, I suppose, desire to ingratiate himself to the Islamic world that we began to see references to Islam in our strategic documents removed.”

There have also been threats: a certain crank named Darren Naath has warned the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Mikey Weinstein that he will “bring you down and to ensure your organization is boycotted from any contacts with the U.S. Military”, and that he “will be making a request to appear before Congress hopefully on FoxNews to have you boycotted”; the comments section of the MRFF website has epistles such as “I have a son in special forces who would love just a few minutes with you…anyway to get in touch with personally?” (Weinstein’s activism has brought him threats and abuse previously, including a death curse from Gordon Klingenschmitt; Ed Brayton has chronicled many such communicationss).

The National Day of Prayer Task Force, meanwhile, has decided to withdraw from the event:

[John] Bornschein, executive director of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, explains that although the prayer event is sponsored by the Army chaplains, the organization would help by providing resources and speakers. But when the announcement came that Graham had been disinvited, the task force pulled out of the Pentagon event.

At Talk to Action, the MRFF’s Chris Rodda points out that the issue actually goes beyond Graham’s comments:

Even if Graham had never uttered a single disparaging word against the religion of Islam, his invitation would still have been in violation of several Department of Defense regulations. As explained in the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s (MRFF) letter to the Secretary of Defense demanding that Graham be disinvited, the affiliation of the Pentagon’s NDP event with Shirley Dobson’s National Day of Prayer Task Force was in violation of the regulations that strictly prohibit the U.S. military from such endorsements or preferential treatment of a private organization, or “non-federal entity,” regulations which apply across the board to both religious and non-religious organizations, as well as commercial entities.

…MRFF was already working on addressing another National Day of Prayer issue when we were contacted by the members of the Muslim worship community at the Pentagon requesting our help regarding Franklin Graham. This other issue is the scheduled participation of military personnel (i.e., military color guards and military bands) in other official NDPTF events across the country. This participation is not only in violation of the same military regulations cited above regarding non-federal entities, but DoD and individual service branch regulations on uniform wear.

And, of course, there’s also that pesky constitutional issue of the military’s endorsement of a particular religion by participating in NDPTF events. The NDPTF’s message is very clear — no non-Christians need apply.

Graham’s views on Islam have also created some controversy for his Samaritan’s Purse charity, as I blogged here.