Kolbe should rescind invitation to controversial speaker

2013-06-24T22:00:00Z 2013-07-03T11:46:20Z Kolbe should rescind invitation to controversial speakerNathan Lean Napa Valley Register
June 24, 2013 10:00 pm  • 

During the last weekend in July, The Kolbe Academy, a Catholic homeschool program located in Napa, will host a conference in Sacramento where educators and home school instructors will gather to discuss how they can “engage the culture in a year of faith.”

Ordinarily, such a program would come and go unnoticed. But this year, featured amongst a lineup of distinguished speakers, is a controversial anti-Muslim blogger who civil rights organizations have labeled a “hate group leader.”

His scheduled appearance casts a negative light on what should be a positive event. It also raises questions about why a man whose writing was cited thirteen dozen times by the Norway terrorist Anders Breivik, a man who slaughtered 77 youth campers in Oslo in 2010, was ever invited to speak about youth education in the first place.

Robert Spencer, a Catholic deacon from New Hampshire and director of the blog Jihad Watch, is set to appear as part of a speaking lineup that includes prominent clergy and educators from all across the United States. Once the director of Kolbe Academy, where he also served as a classics teacher, his publications include “Classical Education in the Contemporary World” and “How to Introduce Your Child to Classical Music in 52 Easy Lessons.”

In recent years, though, his focus on Bach, Beethoven and the teachings of St. Ignatius have given way to a more pernicious fixation: “creeping Sharia,” “stealth jihad,” and the supposed threat of radical Muslims in the United States.

Spencer’s imbalanced writings on Islam, which focus entirely on violence, and his work alongside anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller, have led the federal government to reject the trademark application for his hate group, Stop the Islamization of America.

The ruling states that the group disparages Muslims. Given that one board member once recommended burning all mosques and sending Muslim immigrants “back to their countries,” it’s not hard to see why.

Spencer has argued that there is no distinction between American Muslims and radical, violent jihadists and, to that end, he’s marshaled public stunts that seek to advance that wild claim.

He and Geller were behind the raucous Park 51 protests in Manhattan in 2010, and the duo recently took their battle to metro and bus stops in major metropolitan cities, including Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and New York.

Controversial advertisements sponsored by the pair equated Muslims with savages and presented violent acts of notorious terrorists like Osama bin Laden as normative of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims.

At a recent town forum on Muslim civil liberties in Tennessee, their supporters shouted down speakers and verbally abused police officers. Now, ahead of a scheduled trip to Woolwich, London, where they plan to team up with the English Defence League, a European street gang with a long history of criminal activity, the British government’s homeland secretary is considering a travel ban.

All of this begs very obvious questions: Is this the type of person with whom the Kolbe Academy and Catholic homeschoolers in California want to be associated? What could Spencer possibly say about classical education or Catholic values that would eclipse his stature as man listed alongside the KKK and neo-Nazi groups on hate watch lists?

And more importantly, did the Kolbe Academy know of Spencer’s background. If so, why did they proceed with a speaking invitation?

If any religious group in the United States understands the harmful effects of prejudice, it is Catholics. Throughout the 1900s, they were on the receiving end of the same stereotypes and associations that Spencer aims at Muslims today.

The Santa Rosa Diocese, which governs the Kolbe Academy, should follow the actions of the Boston Diocese, which rescinded Spencer’s invitation to speak at a men’s conference in Massachusetts in March. Hate speech has no place in any religious institution, Islamic, Christian, Jewish, or otherwise, and it is incumbent on leaders in all faith communities to reject it.

Most certainly, hate speech has no place in the education of our young people. Whether a private homeschool academy like Kolbe, or a public institution, the voices in our society that seek to magnify our religious differences and convince us that those who believe differently are suspicious and even violent must not be offered prominent platforms for their rhetoric.

This is not a time for excuses or for justifications. It is an occasion for principled action and for a commitment to a future where hate group leaders cited by world terrorists don’t set the tone of our conversations about education, religion, or any topic.

The Kolbe Academy should do the right thing and rescind Robert Spencer’s invitation to speak at their upcoming conference.

Lean is the editor-in-chief of Asian Media, and a researcher at Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(33) Comments

  1. kevin
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    kevin - June 24, 2013 10:41 pm
    Thank God for Kolbe academy and people like Robert Spencer who are not afraid to warn Americans of the danger of Islam and Sharia Law.

    I guess Nathan and his ilk must have missed that whole 9/11 thing...
  2. rocketman
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    rocketman - June 25, 2013 6:41 am
    We have identified bad guys teaching anti-social behavior all over in esteemed colleges. Should we just make a "new Law"?
  3. publiusa
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    publiusa - June 25, 2013 8:22 am
    Maybe this writer would prefer it if they featured Torquemada as a speaker who would give an exposé on the Catholic church's inquisition and burning people at the stake, or its battle with Arianism, or its persecution of women as witches, or a cozy little Auto de Fe torture session, or the slaughter of the Cathars, or spreading its religion with the sword?
  4. Marty
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    Marty - June 25, 2013 8:24 am
    We have Muslim students on camera supporting the rounding up of Jews and killing them. Why aren't they listed as hate groups by the civil rights organizations???? Our freedom of speech comes from our United States Constitution. Muslims in America, as well as in Israel, have more rights than they do in any other country. I wonder how many of them would like to live in Iran or the Middle East. I know I wouldn't.
  5. Marty
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    Marty - June 25, 2013 8:27 am
    They didn't miss it, remember all the celebrating in the Middle East. ---www.thereligionofpeace.com
  6. Marty
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    Marty - June 25, 2013 8:50 am
    I don't see my first post, editor are you censoring us???
  7. Marty
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    Marty - June 25, 2013 9:23 am

    Some headlines from Jihad Watch. 1.Mother, two daughters honor murdered over video of them enjoying the rain. Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide. 2.German police foil Muslim jihad plot to use remote controlled aircraft filled with explosives as guided missiles.There were arrests of jihadis in France today as well. One might almost get the idea that there is a jihad against Europe -- naaah, that would be "Islamophobic." 3.Syrian rebel commander: "Islam must be the single source of authority of the state" 4."Hezbollah and Hamas are coming to You Spencer." 5.Iraq: Sunni Muslims explode 10 car bombs, killing 39 on eve of Shi'ite celebration But do not dare explore the bloody ideology that fuels this conflict. To do so would be "Islamophobic." 6.France: Six Muslims arrested for "planning to commit terrorist acts targeting well-known figures" 7.Egypt: Pro-Morsi mob chants in favor of Islamic law and martyrdom.
  8. Marty
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    Marty - June 25, 2013 9:31 am
    Nathan, you call the English Defence League a European street gang, what do you call people who go around murdering people and yelling Allah Akbar? People should check out this site. -- www.thereligionofpeace.com Also, check out the Muslim student with David Horowitz. She thinks it will be easier to kill all the Jews as they return to Israel. I'm pretty sure that is a hate crime. Nathan, do you think she should speak at this event???... ---http://dailycaller.com/2010/05/13/muslim-student-association-member-admits-she-wants-jewish-genocide-video/
  9. Marty
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    Marty - June 25, 2013 9:48 am
    Nathan, you call the English Defence League a European street gang, what do you call people who go around murdering people and yelling Allah Akbar? People should check out this site. -- www.thereligionofpeace.com Also, check out the Muslim student with David Horowitz. She thinks it will be easier to kill all the Jews as they return to Israel. I'm pretty sure that is a hate crime. Nathan, do you think she should speak at this event???... ---http://dailycaller.com/2010/05/13/muslim-student-association-member-admits-she-wants-jewish-genocide-video/
  10. Old Time Napkin
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    Old Time Napkin - June 25, 2013 9:50 am
    Looks like the writer of this article fails to see the Kolbe Academy has the right to practice the First Amendment. .
  11. Marty
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    Marty - June 25, 2013 10:17 am
    There is no First Amendment under Islam. That's the problem. Do we follow the U.S. Constitution or Islamic law? There is no freedom of speech, press or religion under Islam.
  12. Marty
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    Marty - June 25, 2013 10:36 am
    Lean is editor-in chief at Aslan media. http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2013/06/aslan-media-chief-nathan-lean-threatens-california-catholic-school-to-drop-robert-spencer-from-confe.html
  13. Dr_Faustus
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    Dr_Faustus - June 25, 2013 10:50 am
    Yeah. NVR is still one of the few newspapers left on Earth who insist on "approving" the internet.

    Anyone care to guess the ages of Lee Enterprises' board-members?
  14. glenroy
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    glenroy - June 25, 2013 2:16 pm
    This is ridiculous….
    If it were not for the Catholic Church there would not be a liberal Western World as we live it today. Liberal until recently, the last 125 years, stood for individual rights and individual liberty…there wouldn’t be woman’s rights without the Catholic Church today….or education for females….slave trade would still exist around the globe as it exists in the Middle East today.
    The best thing for future generations is lay it all on the line, to teach history is it was, not as these liberal revisionists wrote history…Kolbe Academy should be commended for their efforts.
    Just remember this…so few in our leftist dominated media, 90% of them call themselves liberal, have a clue as to what is at stake here…they just retype the jingo then start labeling those among us who know more then they....
  15. colonel32
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    colonel32 - June 25, 2013 2:33 pm
    It must suck to live in fear of Muslims.
  16. Gary Orton
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    Gary Orton - June 25, 2013 2:36 pm
    Some of the comments to this post (following Robert Spencer’s playbook) characterize Islam, and impliedly all its practitioners, as dangerous; some lump all Muslims together as jihadists. Regardless of whether Kolbe decides to listen to the fear-mongering, inflammatory Spencer, we need to practice tolerance and put an end to harmful stereotyping in our comments here and in the community..

    Stereotyping and demonizing people help create an atmosphere often exploited by hate groups. A 2005 U.S. Department of Justice study estimated there are about 191,000 hate crime incidents per year. Currently, there are 1,007 known hate groups operating across the country, a 67 percent increase since 2000. Race and religion inspire most hate crimes, and in recent years there has been a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a leader in educating about anti-hate measures, has more information. (http://v.gd/S6LCmr) (http://v.gd/xRlSbL )
  17. whoa cowboy
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    whoa cowboy - June 25, 2013 4:37 pm
    It's my understanding that Mr. Spencer was engaged to speak on the topic of classical education in the home, a subject that he is well qualified to speak on being a prior educator and author on the subject. It is a sad day in America when the bullying, intimidation, and personal vendetta of one man, Mr. Nathan Lean, can be enough silence a man with whom he disagrees.
  18. kevin
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    kevin - June 25, 2013 5:20 pm
    As opposed to being blind to the very real threat of Islam? It's not fear to know who your enemies are and to challenge them...
  19. kevin
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    kevin - June 25, 2013 5:22 pm
    Somehow Marty's arguments are much more persuasive...
  20. gettingreal
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    gettingreal - June 25, 2013 6:01 pm
    There's a simple way for peace loving Muslims to correct their problem. Condemn Sharia and eject the radical jihadists from among them. This should be easy to do if there are as few as they claim. Anti-Muslim hate crimes are few and far between here in the US. Look how Christians are treated in Egypt. That's a different story.
  21. Marty
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    Marty - June 25, 2013 7:08 pm
    Colonel, how do you think the hundreds of people who were maimed by the Boston Islamic terrorists feel? I know they don't worry about the Tea Party blowing them up. The further a society drifts from Truth, the more it will hate those who speak it. I'm not afraid of Muslims, communists, or any other group the tries to shut down freedom of speech, press or religion.
  22. Marty
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    Marty - June 25, 2013 7:12 pm
    Here's some more truth. Young women in Europe are dying their hair black to help them avoid being raped. ---http://www.barenakedislam.com/2011/11/06/norway-rape-epidemic-of-norwegian-girls-direct-result-of-muslim-immigration/
  23. Marty
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    Marty - June 25, 2013 7:37 pm
    Mohammad created Islam, tried to convert others in Mecca to accept it. When they didn't he went to Medina, grew an army and went back to Mecca and murdered all who wouldn't follow him.(around 600-700 people) Today, no non-Muslims are allowed in Mecca or Medina. Interesting the far left radicals like to call Israel Aparthied for putting up a wall to stop Islamic suicide/homicide bombers but say nothing about Mecca or Medina. Educate yourselves people, it's all online. I've already received one death threat, more don't scare me.
  24. SlowhandKev
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    SlowhandKev - June 25, 2013 7:40 pm
    If Mr. Lean spent any time with any of the terrific Kolbe Academy staff or families he would be embarrassed to have made such a wild association and accusation. It has to be a lot safer than trying to push his agenda to the many intolerant Muslim factions that through their actions prove they live only to bring down Western Civilization.
  25. alucawanza
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    alucawanza - June 25, 2013 9:22 pm
    We're in America. That's the answer to your question. Old Time Napkin hit the nail on the head. Everyone also has the freedom to NOT attend this program.. Hopefully this letter has drawn attention to the background of this speaker to potential audience members.
  26. rocketman
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    rocketman - June 26, 2013 7:15 am
    ..........and now that you have read the response by the speaker, do you care to respond?? Is this a guilty before proven innocent????
  27. BobSmith101
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    BobSmith101 - June 26, 2013 7:41 am
    Unfortunately for the world, the truth about Islam is not PC.

    Robert Spencer speaks the truth about Islam.

    Nathan Lean is an apologist for radical Islam.
  28. glenroy
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    glenroy - June 26, 2013 7:42 am
    What does age have to do with it and how does that change the facts?

  29. glenroy
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    glenroy - June 26, 2013 7:45 am
    Gee....if you hadn't noticed that's all modern era liberal's do besides milk the system and drive the productive people out of Blue state...
  30. glenroy
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    glenroy - June 26, 2013 10:12 am
    ... better hope you don’t get what you’re hoping for...if someone actually reads his work, not what liberalism takes out of context and edits for their political benefits, which, btw is to keep the jingo alive while burying the facts so when it is written it will be one sided, left.
    Spencer claimed in the mid/late 90's al Qaeda would attack the WTC, again with airliners; he pointed out, which most knew if one followed politics not jingo. Clinton’s response was to gut the intelligence agencies instead of real ‘investing in our future’ by upgrading security…the liberal sideshow then was to distract by promoting the Clinton/Gore Safe for Americans to fly again barnstorm tour, we learned just how effective those C&G procedures were on 9/11.

    All of this is a uniquely liberal btw, an art perfected by socialist liberals trying to hide the reality of FDR’s depression failures, even a larger task….Btw…Spencer’s record on events that threaten the West going back decades is stellar...
  31. Yusuf
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    Yusuf - June 26, 2013 6:03 pm
    Most of the comments I read associated with this oped are clearly written by people who have been mislead about what Islam teaches by the likes of Robert Spencer and websites like "religionofpeace". That is precisely why he should not be invited to speak to new audiences. His presentation is based on distorted (or just plain mistaken) interpretations of Qur'anic verses and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (may God's Peace and Blessings be upon him). Why should anyone listen to Robert Spencer to learn about Islam? Has he had any formal training from an Islamic university in Islamic jurisprudence? Why does he think he can interpret the Qur'an better than Islamic scholars? The truth is he can"t. And he further disables himself by having a negative agenda about Islam. He is NOT TRYING to interpret Islam correctly. He is trying to turn people against Islam and all Muslims. That is why he should not be listened to. That is why he should not be invited to speak.
  32. gettingreal
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    gettingreal - June 27, 2013 8:03 am
    In Egypt, Coptic Christians are not allowed a work permit. They resort to recycling trash just to survive. Given the chance Muslims would treat Christians here the same way.

  33. whoa cowboy
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    whoa cowboy - June 27, 2013 11:02 am
    Yusuf--In this case, he's not speaking about Islam or Muslims. He is scheduled to speak on classical education, a subject on which he is well qualified to speak about. Should he not be allowed to speak on this subject because you disagree with his opinions on Muslims?
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