Bostom and Spencer: a parting of the ways

(Note, April 28: there’s been no further mention on the Web of Bostom’s plagiarism accusation against his former friend Spencer. Nor has Bostom provided any facts supporting the charge.)

Some weeks ago I heard that there had been a split between the prominent Islam critics and long time friends and allies Andrew Bostom and Robert Spencer. I didn’t know what it was about, and the people who told me didn’t know either. More recently I heard, again without specifics, that Bostom had in some sense been expelled from the troika of Spencer, Bostom, and Pamela Geller, which had now become the “doika” (is that a word?) of Spencer and Geller, and that Bostom was unhappy about this, given his long time close association with and fierce personal loyalty to Spencer.

I should add that I have experienced at first hand the effects of Bostom’s fierce personal loyalty to Spencer. In July 2008, in response to my criticisms of Spencer for his lack of any serious stand on Muslim immigration, Bostom wrote e-mails to me in which he said I was “unhinged” and in “psychopathic denial,” and he added: “I’ll do my best to expose you as the charlatan you are.”

To which I replied:

“You’re welcome to your serf-like relationship with Spencer, the ally of Charles Johnson.”

To which he replied:

“And you’re welcome to your psychopathic nightmare existence. Why don’t you get a job as ballboy for The Harlem Globetrotters??”

The exchange was, needless to say, the last contact between Bostom and me.

The troika in happier days

Yet now Bostom, whose loyalty to and protectiveness of Spencer was so intense that he spoke to me in the above manner on Spencer’s behalf, is himself openly attacking and making serious accusations against Spencer. At his blog, Bostom calls Spencer:

a Little King Plagiarist, running behind, desperately … to plagiarize me.

That’s as big a switch as you can imagine, from being Spencer’s pal and hit man to publicly calling Spencer a plagiarist. Bostom gives no specifics, but links to a recent, long article by Spencer about Islamic anti-Semitism and its roots in the Islamic sacred writings, then links to his own writings on the subject, especially his massive collection, The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism.

If you’re going to accuse a person of plagiarism, which is a serious charge, you need to back it up with facts, by demonstrating the specific similarities between your words/ideas and those of the person you accuse of plagiarizing you. Bostom does not do this. He does not quote Spencer’s passages alongside his own passages and demonstrate their similarity. He simply calls Spencer a plagiarist, then points to a Spencer article and to the Amazon page for his own book The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism and some of his articles. He has thus accused Spencer of plagiarism but not offered any evidence supporting the accusation. That is an extremely intemperate and irresponsible thing to do, similar to Bostom’s abusive e-mails to me, and creates a reasonable suspicion that Bostom is acting under the pressure of extreme emotion, most likely stemming from Spencer’s recent termination of their relationship. Therefore Bostom should immediately do one of two things: either lay out the facts that justify the charge of plagiarism, or withdraw the charge.

I found out the news about Bostom’s attack on Spencer from the blog of Richard Bartholomew, who picked it up from the site of Bill Warner—not, however, the Bill Warner of the Society for the Study of Political Islam. No, Bill Warner, private eye, of Sarasota, Florida. Warner has several links to the past Spencer-Bostom relationship and its current break-down. But he doesn’t provide any insight or information, just links. Why is a private detective so interested in a quarrel between two Islam critics? The answer seems to be that Warner is himself involved in hunting down pro-terrorist websites and organizations.

Bartholomew also links to the blogger Hesperado’s article some months ago suggesting that there had been a rupture between Spencer on one side and his former friends Diana West and Andrew Bostom on the other. Hesperado includes me in the list of persons recently closed out by Spencer, but of course that is incorrect, as I have never been a friend of Spencer’s and there had been an intermittent war between Spencer and me for several years (quiet for the last two years), consisting on one side, of my consistent exposure of his failure to have a serious position on what to do about Islam, and his false claims that he had such a position, and, on the other side, of his repeatedly calling me a liar, egomaniac, and troublemaker and getting his allies and friends to join in the attack, in effect expelling me from the ranks of “respectable” Islam critics. The fact that Spencer with Geller recently formed an activist organization to oppose Islamization which in its 23 planks is dead silent about Muslim immigration is decisive evidence that I was right all along.

- end of initial entry -

Mark Jaws writes:

When a troika loses a member, it becomes a dvoika. In Russian, the numbers go odeen, dva, tree, cheteerie, pyat, und so weiter.

Dean E. writes:

Dear Mr. Auster,

Sad news. Consider, perhaps, offering your services as mediator? Just a thought.

Daniel S. writes:

I’m not quite sure what to make of this probable “parting of ways” between Robert Spencer and Andrew Bostom. I suspect we will see a rather nasty back-and-forth between the two men for the next few weeks, especially since Spencer seems to take criticism so very personally and writes lengthy responses to even his most obscure of critics. I don’t think a very nasty public dispute is in the best interest of the anti-jihad cause, but if these incident is what it appears to be then that is exactly what is likely to happen.

As far as the two men are concerned, Dr. Bostom seemed to more sober of the two. Robert Spencer, who’s books on Islam should be required reading to anyone interested in understanding the religion, is too beholden to right-liberalism and is thus unable or unwilling to suggest a response to Islam that would jeopardize his right-liberalism. This is why Spencer has hesitated to state that Muslim immigration to the West must be stopped and reversed and after finally stating this position he has failed to be persistent in restating this position. Bostom, as I recall, has had no problem stating this position. Such abstract thinking has been Spencer’s greatest stumbling block.

As for Robert Spencer’s shifting more fully into the orbit of Pamela Geller, this is a step in the wrong direction. The woman is needlessly shrill and yet another right-liberal that has continued to shy away from calling for an end to Muslim immigration. She does some good work exposing what Muslims are doing in the West and she deserves credit for standing up to the Stalin of the blogosphere, Charles Johnson. Aside from that she lacks the intellectual coherence and emotional stability to offer actual solutions to end and reverse the Islamization of the West and is not the person to lead a meaningful anti-jihad movement. But this is all territory that has been covered before.

In the end we will have to see where this feud is headed.

LA replies:

Why criticize Geller for not being what she is not? She’s an activist, and she makes things happen. Take that bus ad in Florida that she and Spencer ran, inviting people who were fleeing Islam to call a number for help. Now I personally don’t see the long term usefulness of such a campaign, because the implication is that we allow Muslims into our country and then we try to save a few individual Muslim apostates from Islam, in the process losing our country to Islam as a whole. But that’s where Geller is at, she’s a libertarian/right-liberal, meaning that she sees everything in terms of individuals, not of groups, and she’s not going to go beyond that. She’s never going to call for the exclusion of Muslims or Islam as such. Yet nowithstanding what I see as the long term uselessness of such a campaign, in the short term it is accomplishing something. CAIR had put up aggressive ads on buses inviting people to become Muslims. It’s not possible for non-Muslims to attack the Muslim religion as such. So Geller and Spencer did the next best thing: in response to Muslims inviting non-Muslims to become Muslims, Geller and Spencer put up an ad inviting Muslims to become non-Muslims. A local judge ordered the ads be taken down, David Yerushalmi as lawyer for Spencer and Geller ‘splained things to the judges or other local honchos, and the ban on the ad was immediately lifted. In liberal America, an ad such as Geller-Spencer’s is the most that is possible. So I respect what they’ve done.

I’ve meant to post someting on the bus ad issue, but hadn’t gotten around to it.

Lydia McGrew writes:

One of your readers suggests that it’s unfortunate for Robert Spencer to be moving more into the orbit of Pamela Geller. You said, I think quite fairly, that we shouldn’t criticize Geller for not being something she’s not. I agree with both of you. I think the problem with Spencer’s moving more into Geller’s orbit is not that Geller needs to be something other than a right-liberal, but that Geller is extremely intolerant of dissent, more so than is Spencer. She’s a hothead who tends to think of any critic, however mild and however much in agreement with her generally, as the enemy. I don’t know anything about the falling out between Spencer and Bostom, but it certainly would not surprise me greatly if Geller fanned the flames between Spencer and anyone else who criticizes or disagrees with him or with her. Spencer is far more of an intellectual than Geller, far more careful and scholarly in his approach to issues, and usually more willing to allow differences of opinion among anti-jihadist allies. I do not think that her increasing influence on him can be a good one.

LA to Mark Jaws:
Thanks for this.

Mark Jaws replies:

I spent a good two years learning Russian at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) and at the National Security Agency so I could become a “voice intercept operator” at an intercept site in West Germany. Those were the days when we had a worthy enemy and we could define victory. BTW, it was at DLI that I met the incomparable Lady Jaws.

April 27

Daniel S. writes:

I only mention Pamela Geller and her faults as it relates to Robert Spencer and his growing collaboration with her, as well as her role as one of the leading American anti-jihadists. As I noted, she does have attributes for which she is to be praised, but she also deserves some heavy criticism considering her prominent role in the anti-jihad movement. Hence why I brought her up.

As far as the Spencer-Bostom dispute goes, I never realized that Dr. Bostom has such a nasty manner when dealing with those who he disagrees with. Be it Spencer, Bostom, or Geller, none of them seems capable of responding to criticism in a calm, dispassionate, and civil manner. They take everything so personally and respond in an over-emotional and often insulting manner, especially toward their critics on the right. Again, I suspect this dispute might get quite ugly, considering the personalities involved. I hope it doesn’t, as a back and forth between Spencer and Bostom serves no benefit to the anti-jihad movement and it will be pounced upon by the assorted left-liberal opponents of efforts to thwart the Islamization of the West (I can see Charles Johnson grinning with glee over this). As one of your other commentators suggested, perhaps both men could come to you for mediation and perhaps a little intellectual clarity?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 26, 2010 08:05 PM | Send

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