A couple of weeks ago, Robert Spencer and I were invited to screen and discuss our groundbreaking documentary on the Ground Zero mosque at Ohio University. Joining us was our cinematographer, David Miles, who is an alumni of Ohio University. Prior to our arrival, the college newspaper ran a "review" of the film that called it "bigoted" and "inaccurate." The review was written by a clueless lemming who had not even seen the film. Got that? A review of the film without a viewing of the film.
Further, students were warned off the event in the smear piece, and strongly advised not to attend the screening of the Ground Zero Mosque: Second Wave of the 911 Attacks.
Therefore, the event was not well attended. The audience was made up of propagandists of the leftist and Islamic stripe. Robert and I were not told in advance that we would be part of a "panel" that included a keffiyeh-clad Muslim propagandist, and that his dhimmi leftist American wife would be the "moderator." So of course she had him get up to speak immediately after the screening, and he got up and launched into a lengthy and mostly unintelligible tirade about "hate" while his wife looked on approvingly. So of course I got up to respond, as did Robert. Then the questions started and were unanimously hostile, with most of the Muslim questioners trying to filibuster and shout down our answers. David Miles put together some of the outrageous moments from the question and answer period in the videos above.
We are deeply disappointed in Ohio University’s The Post for running the op-ed “NYC mosque film inaccurate, bigoted,” by Brandon Kendhammer, in which Kendhammer retails libelous generalizations about us and about our work, without offering a single example of the inaccuracy and bigotry he purports to find in our film (which he could not have seen before he wrote his piece).
It was particularly disappointing that in a university setting, which should be a center of open thought and free discourse, Mr. Kendhammer urged Ohio University students and faculty not to attend our event. Is he so insecure of his own position that he is afraid of opposing points of view? Is he fearful that people might be exposed to convincing arguments that he cannot answer, and so he has to resort to the suppression of his ideological opponents in a desperate attempt to mask his intellectual bankruptcy?
We commend those who braved Mr. Kendhammer’s opprobrium and attended anyway; unlike him, we are ready and willing to engage in open discussion and debate. Nor will we join him in engaging in spurious ad hominem attacks, such as when he presumes to know our motives in accusing us of “systematic efforts to misinform the American public.” One wonders how Mr. Kendhammer, who doesn’t know either of us personally, can claim to know that we are engaged in any such effort; in any case, his charge in itself discredits any pretension he might have to academic objectivity and interest in honest discourse.
Similarly, he says that we “traffic in (and profit from) hateful and often factually incorrect or deeply misleading characterizations of Muslims and Muslim societies.” It seems that Mr. Kendhammer suffers from the very malady of which he accuses us. Yet here again, he offers no example of these allegedly incorrect or misleading characterizations; apparently, for Mr. Kendhammer, the broad and unsupported charge is enough to achieve his objective of discouraging Ohio University students to attend our event. While this may be effective as a tactic of psychological manipulation, it again exposes the fact that Mr. Kendhammer is unarmed in the battle of ideas, and so has to resort to the intellectual equivalent of thuggery. Obviously, Mr. Kendhammer has little respect for his audience, since he clearly believes that it is unnecessary that they be armed with actual facts in this battle of ideas.
With a fine Orwellian touch, Kendhammer claims that we wish to undo America’s legacy of religious freedom – without explaining how opposing forces that would establish a law that institutionalizes discrimination against women and extinguishes the freedom of speech and the freedom of conscience amounts to opposing religious freedom, while fronting for this repressive ideology presumably amounts to supporting that freedom. In reality, we oppose the Islamic supremacist political agenda that supports elements of Sharia that are at variance with Constitutional freedoms; nothing in such a position involves any infringement on religious freedom.
Mr. Kendhammer also displays an embarrassing lack of a grasp of the facts on the ground in the Middle East when he claims that the recent uprisings manifest a desire for democracy and Western-style freedoms. In reality, the Muslim Brotherhood has been quickly positioning itself to take power in Egypt, and al-Qaeda is leading the anti-Gaddafi resistance in Libya; unfortunately, it appears that he brings to his Middle East analysis the same ideological blinkers and wishful thinking that he brought to his examination of our work. It is interesting that Mr. Kendhammer doesn’t mention the newly introduced modesty police in Egypt, and other signs of the advance of Sharia in Egyptian society.
It is, ultimately, ironic in the extreme that in the name of “tolerance,” Mr. Kendhammer would advocate for the intolerant position of smearing opposing points of view, and trying to prevent Ohio University students from being exposed to a perspective that, quite obviously, opposes the ideological lockstep in which they are ordinarily forced to march. What was Mr. Kendhammer afraid of? That somebody might agree with us? It was interesting that so many of the attendees disparaged us based on the smears and libel that Mr. Kendhammer retailed, and proudly admitted that they would not consider our ideas even without having seen a frame of our film, or read a page of any of our books or websites.
It is telling that not one student who did attend the film would break with Mr. Kendhammer’s stifling intellectual conformity and express any sentiment other than those he expressed in The Post. They simply regurgitated the requisite anti-Israel, pro-jihad propaganda that seems to be an entry requirement into most universities these days. There was no diversity of opinion, no exchange of ideas, no genuine grappling with ideas.
Where is the great debate? The campus is supposed to be the setting for the great exchange of ideas. Instead, at Ohio University last night we witnessed an intellectual fascism. Anyone in the audience who might have wanted to express support for our rational and humane position would never have dared to do so in such a stifling atmosphere.
Therefore we hope, in conclusion, that the Ohio University community will repudiate Mr. Kendhammer’s intolerance, bias, libel and shallow propagandizing, and reaffirm in no uncertain terms its commitment to the truth, no matter how inconvenient that truth may be.