Below are the video and transcript of Robert Spencer’s Keynote speech at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2015 Restoration Weekend. The event was held November 5-8th at the Belmond Charleston Place Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina.
Robert Spencer from DHFC on Vimeo.
Robert Spencer: Good morning. This is going be very easy because the topic is, “Do we have the will to defeat ISIS or the Islamic State?” Obviously, the answer is “no.” So enjoy your breakfast. But there’re actually some reasons for that, and very simply, in the first place, in order to defeat the Islamic state, airstrikes alone are not going to do it.
In the history of air warfare, it has never been known that a country was conquered solely from the air, and the Islamic State is going to be no exception. There’re going to have to be significant ground forces. Nobody wants to send ground forces back to Iraq. And even if we did send ground forces back to Iraq, we would probably make the same mistakes we made the first time in engaging in Wilsonian nation building projects instead of actually trying to win the war and the whole thing would be foredoomed. The idea that wars are to be fought in order to aid the enemy, instead of to defeat the enemy, is actually a new concept that has come about in the last few decades and is really a core of the problem of why the west, at this point, does not have the will to defeat the Islamic State.
The core of the concept was actually summed up, I think, recently in a New York Times piece that was called 27 Ways to be a Modern Man. And it was a wonderful piece because the New York Times, of course, is the adjudicator of acceptable opinion, the arbiter of style and the guide and for the perplexed and they set it all out for us: what does it mean to be a modern man? And I thought, well, I want to be a modern man. I’m going to read this. And so, I found out actually that the modern man listens to Wu Tang at least once a week. Now, I had to look that up. I found out actually that Wu Tang is an American hip–hop group from New York City originally composed of East Coast rappers RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Now, of course there’re plenty of us still alive, but the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard is somebody who I think sums up a lot of the problem here that modern man doesn’t seem to care about the societal decay that his musical tastes represent.
Modern man doesn’t seem to have much of any moral compass. And one of the things that we’re also told by the New York Times about the modern man is that he has no use for a gun. He does not own one and does not need one. And I thought, well, I understand that he might not want to own one, but how does modern man know that he doesn’t ever need one? Because he even says, “the modern man lies on the side of the bed closer to the door. If an intruder gets in, he will try to fight him off so that his wife has a chance to get away.” Well, it’s interesting enough that modern man has a wife at all, but he has no use for a gun; so how, exactly, is he going to fight off this guy? Well, we understand that the modern man always has a melon baller on hand to make sure that his cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew are uniformly shaped. And so that obviously, he can use to fight off the intruder. The modern man, also, we’re told, cries. He cries often. And I think one of the reasons why there’s going to be more and more crying in the West is because modern man is in charge of the United States government at this time.
Barack Obama is a modern man. John Kerry is a modern man. And the core assumption, in all seriousness, is that they think we’re beyond all that: we’re beyond wars, we’re beyond fighting. There is no conflict in the world that cannot be solved by sitting down and negotiating because everybody else is a modern man as well. See, that’s why the modern man doesn’t need a gun, because if the guy comes in with a gun, they can just sit down and talk about it and they’ll reach some accord. And they really believe that this is true. Barack Obama and John Kerry showed that they were quintessential modern men when they thought well we have the Ayatollah Khamenei, he’s somebody just like us. Well, sure, he shouts death to America a few times but really he has the same aspirations for peace, the same desire to join the harmonious community of nations and so we can do business. And they did. The biggest obstacle that the modern man faces, however, is that there are some people in the world who are not modern men. Khamenei, of course, is one very much so and the leader of North Korea, the caliph of the Islamic State, all of them old–fashioned guys. And old–fashioned guys, they understand that there is tribalism, there are ancient hatreds, there is warfare and there are some things that you just can’t settle by means of talking things out.
Now, what’s very interesting nowadays is that we see the confrontation of the modern man with the old–fashioned man in many, many arenas nowadays. And it’s always a very interesting confrontation. For example, there is a very courageous individual, Canon Andrew White. He’s known as the vicar of Baghdad and he is an Anglican clergyman from the UK who has remained in Baghdad and in Iraq as it has become a war zone and as the Christians have been victimized by the hundreds and thousands, and he has stayed there. But Canon White showed the other day that he still has a bit of modern man in him because he contacted the leaders of ISIS as they were getting close to Baghdad and invited them to dinner. And I thought wouldn’t that be amazing if Winston Churchill had written to Hitler and said, hey, come on to dinner. But, of course, Neville Chamberlain did just that. He accepted Hitler’s invitation and went to Munich. Neville Chamberlain was a modern man. Churchill understood there’s no talking to this guy. There is no talking to him (that is going to solve anything) and we’re just going to have to go to war. But Canon White, he invited the leaders of the Islamic State to dinner and they very graciously responded, “We’ll be glad to come to dinner and we’ll cut off your head.” That’s the confrontation between modern man and the old–fashioned man.
Another one that was very interesting, just the other day, was in regard to Faisal Mohammad. Faisal Mohammad was a young man who, on the University of California Merced campus, just recently stabbed four people and seriously wounded them. And it has come out that he left a manifesto that has not yet been published in full, but we have heard that, in the manifesto, he praised Allah and he had a step–by–step plan for what he was going to do when he carried out the stabbings including to sit down and sing the praises of Allah after he’d carried out the stabbings, and that it has been further revealed by a television station in Merced itself that he was on a terror watch list and had an ISIS flag in his possession. And Vern Warnke who is a police investigator in Merced at this time said he conceded these facts and then said but this has nothing to do with his religion. This has nothing to do with Islam, whatsoever. He didn’t kill anybody. He stabbed these people because he was disgruntled about being kicked out of a study group and that’s all it’s about.
Now, that’s quintessential modern man. The modern man is not annoyed by reality. He is not troubled by reality. Reality is not something that the modern man is interested in at all. But here again, in reality keeps impinging upon who he is and what he wants to do.
Just a few days ago also in Hamtramck, Michigan near Detroit, for the first time in the history of the United States a majority Muslim City Council (8:42 in video) was elected in Hamtramck and all the while that the Muslim candidates were running, this was celebrated as something that would be a triumph of diversity in multiculturalism. So as soon as they were elected, at the celebration party, one of the new city councilmen in Hamtramck said, “We showed the Polish and, everybody else, Hamtramck having been a historically Polish city. And this sent shockwaves through the local community and a lot of the people including some of the defeated candidates said, “Well, you know he’s speaking in a way that’s not really consistent with diversity and multiculturalism. He shouldn’t be wanting to show the Polish or show them up or rebuke them in any way. We’re all working together in harmony here, aren’t we?” Well, no. But that what happens when modern man meets reality.
Now, the disjunction, I think, is society wide between reality and the modern man. You take for example Ben Carson and Barack Obama, and Ben Carson recently, of course, ignited a firestorm by saying that he wouldn’t want to see a Muslim president. And lots of people said wait a minute. He doesn’t even know the constitution. There’s no religious test for candidates in the constitution (and he ought to be aware of that). He wasn’t saying that, however. This was a misinterpretation, probably willful, of his words. What he was pointing out was that Islamic law of Sharia has numerous aspects that are incompatible with constitutional freedoms. Denies the freedom of speech, denies the freedom of conscience, denies the equality of rights of women, denies the equality of rights of non–Muslims. These things, obviously, are not compatible with constitutional principles such that, as Dr. Carson pointed out, a presidential candidate if he were a Muslim would have to either adhere to the constitution or Sharia but he couldn’t do both; and he would have to renounce aspects of Sharia in order to adhere to constitutional principles and he might be doing that honestly or dishonestly. And this is a problem that is probably going to recur. And, of course, this was a terrible thing and Dr. Carson was widely denounced as an Islamophobe. Now, on the other hand, you have Barrack Obama, who of course has said Muslims are part of the fabric of this nation and have contributed to it since its founding. And, of course, you remember all the Muslim generals in the Revolutionary War and the Muslims among the founding fathers, the Muslim signers of the Declaration of Independence, and so on.
And so, we have to admit he has a point, but here again, modern man is untroubled by reality, and the idea that Barack Obama could say that and could say the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam which is a direct attack on the First Amendment, a direct attack on the freedom of speech and on the idea that even if something considered to be slander of the prophet of Islam, Americans ought to be free to say it. That ought to have ignited the firestorm, but of course, there was nothing because modern man is in control of the mainstream media as well as in control of the government.
And so, what all this makes clear, in brief, is that what we need in the government of the United States as we approach the new election cycle are some old–fashioned men and women who understand that we’re not beyond all that at all and that modern man, going into the confrontation with the ancient old–fashioned men represented by the caliph al–Baghdadi and Ayatollah Khamenei and so on, is absolutely outmanned, is absolutely out classed and has no chance of defeating him. And as a matter of fact, of course, defeat is not even something that he’s interested in pursuing. You may recall as a matter of fact that we went into Afghanistan 13 years ago, or 12 years ago, in order to defeat the Taliban and now the Pentagon and the United States government are announcing that the Taliban are an integral part, an important aspect of the post–war situation and the new harmonious and peaceful Afghanistan. Can you imagine if we had said, “Well we have to have the Nazis in the post World War II German government.” But course, modern men weren’t in charge during World War II. And what we have to do is turn them out now and insist that we elect people who are patriotic and who are aware of reality, who are aware of the reality of the Islamic Jihad against the west, who are aware of the reality of Islamic law and the implications that that has for the American polity as well as for international relations and people who will confront these facts realistically and formulate strategy on the basis of them rather than as, Barack Obama and John Kerry and all the other modern men are trying do, reshape reality into the image that they wish it to be, the glorious multicultural future in which there’s no nationality and no boundaries and no standards for anything and we’re all just together in this one glorious mosaic. It’s unfortunately true that, when these kinds of fantasies are applied to reality, then disaster ensues and that is what we are unfortunately heading for unless we get the modern man out of office and so that should be our primary objective for 2016. Thank you.
Audience member: That was great, Robert.
Robert Spencer: Thank you, Nina.
Audience member: I wanted to ask, “Is Jihad Watch going to do a compendium of kind of, how do you say, grave missteps in the same regard as you just documented, the conflict with the First Amendment to get sort of the contrast out there?”
Robert Spencer: Yeah, that’s a good idea. Thank you. And I think absolutely so, yes. People aren’t aware of the nature of Islamic law (and it’s widely obfuscated). A few years back there were nationwide attempts to outlaw Sharia in various states and the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Islamic advocacy group with links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, they fought fiercely against these initiatives and were able to get activist judges to overturn them where they were passed in most of the places where they were passed. Now, they said that you can’t outlaw Sharia because Sharia is simply Islamic religious law and so you would be forbidding Muslims to practice Islam. And this was taken as axiomatic by the judges who overturned the statutes. But obviously, the point needs to be made, people aren’t concerned about Sharia because Muslims are reading the Koran or getting married according to Islamic rights or something of that kind or setting out their wills in accord with Islamic law and so on. Nobody’s concerned about that. People are only concerned about Islamic law, about Sharia, insofar as it does conflict with the principles and the freedoms that are guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. And so that ought to be the focus of these anti–Sharia initiatives and I hope that they’ll be able to be revived on that basis.
Audience member: That was really brilliant, Robert. I’m wondering since all of this in this room are not modern men and women, but dinosaurs –
Robert Spencer: Neanderthals.
Audience member: – proud dinosaurs and Neanderthals, I’m wondering as a case study, since you’re one of us, you’re one of the dinosaurs and you’re a very brave one, what CAIR and other organizations have personally done to you and whether or not you have had fatwas put out on your head and how you’ve managed to deal with that.
Robert Spencer: Well, yeah, I have a lot of death threats in terms of that. I don’t know if I have any formal fatwas but a death threat is a death threat, whether it’s got an official stamp from a Muslim cleric or not. I’m not concerned about death threats. Obviously, if I’m speaking in a public place where it’s been announced and there are likely to be people who are just coming in from wherever, then I generally have security with me and the great Floyd is right here. And that’s always a consideration but I’m not really concerned about it. It’s not as if I’m going to be immortal if I don’t do this work. And so, at a certain point you just have to make a decision to go ahead. As far as CAIR goes, it’s much more important. What CAIR does is, and it’s not only with me but anybody, anyone and everyone who speaks the truth about these issues CAIR will target and try to discredit and silence and marginalize. And they have done this for years such that they tar with the charges of racism, bigotry and islamophobia. Anyone who speaks about this in any forum, and I see it all the time, I get the CAIR mailing every day and they are asking some place to cancel some speaker or asking that some city officer somewhere resign because he wrote something anti–Muslim on his Facebook page. And the anti–Muslim statement was really about how we need to resist the jihadis but of course CAIR tries to obstruct that. The idea is to intimate Americans into silence and make people afraid to speak out about this because they think, well I don’t want to be charged with racism and bigotry and so I’ll just keep quiet about this. And it’s been an extraordinarily effective campaign, the Fort Dix jihad plot. There are six Albanian Muslims were going to go into Fort Dix and shoot as many American soldiers as possible before they themselves were killed and went to the virgins. That was foiled by a 17 year old boy because he was working in a video store and the jihadis went into the video store and they asked him to transfer all their gory jihad tapes from VHS to DVD. And so he was watching all this and he was alarmed. But this is the key point. He went to his manager and he said, “Dude, I’m watching all this weird stuff on the screen. Should I go to the police or would that be racist?” Would that be racist? See, that I think sums up right there where he’s worried would it be racist to turn in some blood thirsty jihadis to the police? That shows how successful the CAIR campaign has been, that this teenager, he’s internalized all that.
Audience member: Next question’s right here, Robert.
Audience member: Thank you for your analysis of –
Robert Spencer: Thank you.
Audience member: – the character. Because this is something that our enemies always do. We always used to read about how the soviets paid so much attention to what our leaders were like and indeed Putin has done that for Obama. He is inside his head as somebody said. And we never do it.
Robert Spencer: Rent free, yeah.
Audience member: And that was a really perfect thing using that modern man.
Robert Spencer: Thank you.
Audience member: One thing I want to ask you about is tribalism, connected with that. Because one of the great achievements of not modern man, but modern civilization in America is that we have tried to overcome tribalism. We pursued integration. We broadened rights to everybody. And it seems to me that what our modern men and the left is doing is to bring back tribalism. So when those jihadis said we got the Polish (that just seems like an omen of things to come). If you were always attacked for who you are, you’re going to be tribal after a while.
Robert Spencer: Yeah, absolutely. I think, well of course, many people have observed that the multiculturalist imperative is all cultures are equal except our own and all cultures are good except Judeo–Christian western culture which is to be rejected and despised in every possible way. And so the idea of multiculturalism does encourage tribalism because it encourages you to take on your cultural identity even and especially in the west and especially in the U.S. at the expense of the mainstream culture. And so, yeah, at a certain point, it’s going to result in atomization and conflict. There’s no way that it can’t. It’s just like the Austria–Hungary empire with all its constituent nationalities and the more that they began to press for their national identities, the more it became inevitable that the empire was going to dissolve and these constituent parts would be independent. Now, in the United States, it’s going to be actually much messier and bloodier because it’s not a regional thing or a matter of different nationalities together in one, but these different cultural identities that are being reinforced and often in a manner that is quite hostile to the mainstream. So yes, it’s not going to end well.
Audience member: Question in the back, hold on, Robert.
Audience member: Thank you. Is there enough drive or purpose behind the movement to get the Muslim Brotherhood designated as a terrorist organization?
Robert Spencer: Well, the purpose is to stop the Obama administration from favoring the Muslim Brotherhood. The Obama administration solicitude for the Muslim Brotherhood is so extreme that when the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt was being toppled, by the Egyptian people, millions and millions of Egyptians out on the streets, demonstrating against the Brotherhood regime in 2013, they were holding up signs saying, “Obama stop supporting terrorists.” And it was all about Obama’s supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Even after the Brotherhood regime has been toppled, he has met with Brotherhood representatives in Washington and sent American representatives over to speak to the Brotherhood in Cairo while snubbing and giving the cold shoulder to the AsSisi regime that is against the Brotherhood. So the idea of designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terror group would be to try to end this Muslim Brotherhood influence and they decided pro–Muslim Brotherhood slant of the Obama administration. Excuse me.
Audience member: Okay. Right here, right here Rob.
Audience member: So I was in class and I was defending Dr. Carson’s statements because the United States was founded on Judeo–Christian values and not Islamic values and I had a teacher tell me that Judeo–Christian was a term made up to get votes from republic Christians. Is that the case, which I know it’s not, but how could I defend against that in class?
Robert Spencer: Well, you can point out that there are people you can point to who were Jews and who were Christians who really were participating in the founding of the United States. And there were Jews who were participating in the American Revolution right from the beginning. As a matter of fact there was a very significant, I believe his name was Haym Salomon, a very significant figure in the political career of George Washington and the ability of the Continental Army to sustain itself was this supporter who was Jewish. And so you have Jews and Christians from the beginning of the United States. You don’t have any Muslims there (contrary to Obama’s fantasy). So the idea that there is something newly minted and manipulative or propagandistic about the Judeo–Christian is simply flying in the face of the facts. There really has been Jewish and Christian cooperation and a congruence in seeing the principles of the United States as worth founding and worth defending and a Jewish and Christian presence here, obviously, all through the history of the United States and Jews having been persecuted all over the world found this to be the most welcoming nation probably in the history of the world for the Jewish people, whereas Muslims were never present here at all. And when they came here, have been supremacist and antagonistic from the beginning, in demanding special privileges and so on that other groups are not accorded. So the claim that your professor is making is just more of this ahistorical modern man fantasy really.
Audience member: Okay. This will have to be the last question.
Robert Spencer: Okay.
Audience member: Well, it’s not a question, just an add–on to an excellent observation. There were of course synagogues during the colonial times and the first mosque in the United States was established, when? Does anybody know? Anybody in the room know? 1928 Omaha, first masque, first synagogues, George Washington Times. Thank you very much.
Robert Spencer: Thank you. Thank you, very much.
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