Panel on Islam Cancelled at ALA

At the ALA Conference in Chicago, the Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) planned a panel discussion "Perspectives on Islam: Beyond the Stereotyping" on
Sunday: 7/12/2009 Their announcement read: "Islam is not new in America; over 40% of the Muslims in America are African-Americans. The change is within the Muslim immigration trend, that's grown 38 fold over the past three decades. Arriving from countries all over the world, Muslims are a diverse population speaking different languages and practicing different customs with a faith, often misunderstood, that binds them. This program offers a brief overview of the cultures and literatures of the Muslim populations and the ties that bind the faith with Judaism and Christianity. A General Meeting will precede the program."

The three speakers, Esmail Koushanpour, Dr. Marcia Hermansen and Dr. Alia Ammar withdrew from the panel, so the program was cancelled. What happened seems to be in dispute and the censorship charge goes back and forth. Here are several takes from different points of view on the situation at Chicago:

Speakers: Esmail Koushanpour, Emeritus professor, Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago
Dr. Marcia Hermansen, Director, Islamic World Studies Program, Loyola University Chicago
Alia Ammar, Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, Loyola University Chicago and member of the Islamic Foundation North.
Robert Spencer, International expert on Islam, radio and TV personality, columnist, best-selling author of 8 books and hundreds of articles on Islam, Director, Jihad Watch.

The three speakers, Esmail Koushanpour, Dr. Marcia Hermansen and Dr. Alia Ammar withdrew from the panel, so the program was cancelled. What happened seems to be in dispute and the censorship charge goes back and forth. Here are several takes from different points of view on the situation at Chicago:

Library Journal: ALA Conference 2009: Panelists Quit Session Featuring "Islam Basher"
American Library Association Conference 2009: Organization had asked for Robert Spencer to drop out from panel, says other speakers didn't know he would be joining them.
[July 11] The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today announced that all other panelists scheduled to speak at an American Library Association (ALA) annual conference session July 12 on stereotyping of Islam have withdrawn in protest over the participation of Robert Spencer, which CAIR calls "one of the nation’s leading Islam-bashers."
...[July 10] The Chicago Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) yesterday called on the American Library Association (ALA) to drop a speaker it described as an “Islamophobe” from a program at its annual conference in Chicago.
Raya Kuzyk & Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 7/11/2009 Read more about it at: http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6670156.html

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has their own article, "Chicago: Library Group Panelists Withdraw Over Role of Islam-Basher." Posted 7/11/2009 6:57:00 PM. (CHICAGO, IL, 7/11/09) - The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today announced that all other panelists scheduled to speak at an American Library Association (ALA) annual conference session on stereotyping of Islam have withdrawn in protest over the participation of Robert Spencer, one of the nation’s leading Islam-bashers.
The Council on Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), a coalition of more than 50 Muslim organizations, also joined CAIR-Chicago, the other ALA panelists and a number of librarians and academics in calling on ALA to drop Spencer from the July 12 panel titled “Perspectives on Islam: Beyond the Stereotyping.” Read more about it at: http://www.cair.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?ArticleID=25993&&name=n&&currPage=1&&Active=1

Robert Spencer replies with his article on July 11: "ALA, panelists cave to pressure from terror-linked group, panel with Spencer canceled" The American Library Association invited me to speak on a panel tomorrow, which led the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case, along with some complicit, bemused, and Leftist academics, to kick up a controversy -- previous posts about this here and here.
However, now the other three panelists, caving to pressure from this terror-linked group, have withdrawn from the panel, and the ALA has canceled the panel. The panel was stacked three against one against my point of view, but even three-to-one wasn't safe enough for CAIR or these evidently very insecure academics.
CAIR has in this won a great victory, one of many, and I am sure there will be many more, but ultimately time is running out on that unsavory organization anyway, because the truth is not on its side. CAIR has succeeded in intimidating these academics and the ALA into behaving as if my position were beyond the pale, unworthy of discussion by decent people. This way they make the ignorant and timid afraid to consider what I say, and they don't have to go to the trouble of refuting it.
And ultimately, there is nothing I can do about this tactic. It has been employed on a large scale for years by CAIR and others. But consider: my position is based on analysis of the texts and teachings of Islam, and how jihadists use those texts to make recruits among peaceful Muslims. Everything I say I back up with evidence, and have repeatedly stated my willingness to discuss and debate these issues -- with CAIR or with anyone else. Thus the best way to silence me would be to refute me -- censoring me will only inevitably make people curious as to whether or not they're being lied to (and they are). Yet no one will dare to even try to refute me.
Read more about it at: http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/026899.php

Are there more than three sides? Was this censorship at the ALA?

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Not really censorship but still wrong

I don't know if it was censorship, as it wasn't a government action but ALA definitely went against what it says it its core values are here. I read that someone from ALA (Can't find it so don't take it as 100% accurate) said they though having Spencer speak would offend Muslims and make them not go to libraries. That seems like a stretch, but lets assume it is true. Then why do they go ahead and pass resolutions that have nothing to do with libraries or intellectual freedom like onces supporting same sex marriages that offend many people (including many Muslims) who think it is wrong? Even though I am not against same-sex marriage, ALA needs to start focusing on its core purpose and stand up for what it says it believes in or membership will continue to decline.

of course it was censorship,

... but it was the good kind. :)

ALA set themselves up for this failure. What is the normal process when presenters cancel? I guess one panelist discussing graphic novels could still deliver some speech. But why invite people who you know in advance, will not get along? What was the circus-thinking behind this? I don't know anything about Robert Spencer, but by his own words, it seems like his tactic is to be confrontational.

this is what's going on with the Sotomayor nomination where conservatives claim that the liberal mindset is too fluid and that they change their opinions on a whim.. something they don't feel belongs on the bench of the highest Court... obviously someone at ALA (a liberal organization, so my Sotomayor comment is relevant) thought the panel guests were okay at one point, but then, not okay the next. it makes you wonder how these invitation decisions are made, if guests can be invited, then uninvited.

The podcast crew talked to Spencer

The ten minute long chat with Robert Spencer is the third of three interviews in LISTen #80: http://lisnews.org/listen_lisnews_org_podcast_episode_80
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