Getting to the truth of Bostom’s charge against Spencer

Diana West has performed a service by looking carefully at the substance of Andrew Bostom’s charge of plagiarism against Robert Spencer. She finds one instance in which Spencer recently quoted a statement by the 12th century Jewish scholar Moses Maimonides that appeared in a long footnote written by a contributor to Andrew Bostom’s collection The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism. She concludes, and I agree with her:

Just the donkey-work alone that went into putting that Maimonides quotation within easy reach, I think, makes clear the case for attribution….

Granted, it is Spencer’s role to streamline his material but a reference to the academic basis for his quotations—something like, “as summed up in Bostom’s The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism”—is in no way reader-unfriendly.

So Spencer was guilty of a failure or refusal to make an attribution he should have made, and probably his egotism was at work: he recently ended his friendship with Bostom and therefore in his familiar petty and vindictive way he didn’t want to credit him, though he should have.

At the same time, his failure to do so is not plagiarism. It’s not even in the same class as plagiarism. Spencer was not presenting Bostom’s words or ideas as his own. He was quoting Maimonides, who had been quoted by a contributor to Bostom’s book. Therefore, assuming that what Diana has presented is the totality of the wrongdoing of which Bostom accuses Spencer and that there are no further issues that are still to be brought forward, Bostom’s plagiarism accusation was completely out of line. The way for this incident to end is for Bostom to admit he was wrong, state that he was acting under emotional stress (or whatever), or perhaps say that he misunderstood the meaning of plagiarism, and retract the accusation.

- end of initial entry -

May 3, 2010

LA writes:

This entry is linked and quoted by Spencer at Jihad Watch. Spencer introduces my paragraph, where I say that he did not do anything remotely like plagiarism, by saying:

Actually, Lawrence Auster, who has no love for me, shows that Diana West’s vicious attack is utterly without substance…

After he quotes my passage, which concludes with my urging Bostom to retract the plagiarism charge, Spencer continues:

Bostom will never apologize, but I hope that people of good will and good judgment will see his and Diana West’s smear campaign … for what it is.

Spencer’s description of Diana’s article (which I repeat actually clears him of the plagiarism charge and is the basis for my own statement clearing him of the charge) as a “vicious attack” on himself and as part of a “smear campaign” against himself is completely bizarre. Equally strange is Spencer’s notion that I was somehow rebutting Diana’s “vicious attack” on him, when, in reality, my defense of Spencer proceeded directly from her presentation of the facts. One can only assume that, just as Bostom’s plagiarism charge against Spencer must have been motivated by some personal quarrel between them of which we know nothing and which had nothing to do with supposed plagiarism, Spencer’s description of Diana’s objective examination of the evidence as a “vicious attack” on himself is also motivated by some quarrel between them of which we know nothing and which has nothing to do with the matter under discussion. The “vicious attack” remark is thus a perfect illustration of the pettiness and vindictiveness for which Spencer is well known and which I referred to in the original entry. Once a person has displeased Spencer or somehow punctured his narcissism, in no matter how slight a way, Spencer becomes henceforth incapable of dealing with that person in an honorable and honest manner.

* * *

Here are the VFR entries on this issue:

Bostom and Spencer: a parting of the ways

Andrew Bostom’s plagiarism charge against Robert Spencer: still no beef

Getting to the truth of Bostom’s charge against Spencer

West clears Spencer of plagiarism charge; in return, Spencer accuses West of “viciously attacking” him

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 30, 2010 06:51 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):