President Janet Morgan Riggs responds to open letter from alums on Robert Spencer

Photo Credit: Gettysburg College Communications and Marketing

Photo Credit: Gettysburg College Communications and Marketing

Editor’s Note: The following letter is a response from College president Janet Morgan Riggs to the open letter sent by 375 alums urging President Riggs to not allow Robert Spencer to speak on Wednesday.

By Janet Morgan Riggs, Gettysburg College President

I want to begin by thanking those who signed the petition requesting that we rescind our invitation to Robert Spencer for caring enough about Gettysburg College to speak out. To say this is a complex situation would be an understatement.

Many Gettysburgians have expressed perspectives about whether or not Robert Spencer should be permitted to speak on our campus. Some think we should have denied YAF’s request to invite him and that we should have over‐ruled Student Senate’s thoughtful deliberations which led them to make the decision to approve this event. I have also heard from many who believe that allowing Robert Spencer to speak is the right thing to do, despite the fact that they find his views to be offensive and/or abhorrent.

I don’t know if our alumni who signed the petition have seen the letter I sent to campus about this, but you can find it here:‐25‐17.pdf

This letter was intended to provide some information to members of the campus community about the decision‐making process, the challenge of balancing our values, and the additional speaker that was invited.

We are concerned for the Muslim members of our community and have met with Muslim students to talk about what we might do to support them. We have also reached out to Muslim members of our faculty and staff, and some faculty members have reached out to our Muslim students to offer their personal support. Discussions are being held in classes, and students are planning a solidarity rally to be held at the same time that Spencer will be speaking—not as a protest of the speech, but as a way of showing their support for the Muslim community.

I appreciate the passion that our alumni have expressed on both sides of this controversy. It’s quite clear that our alumni are not united in their viewpoints.  In one of the letters I received supporting the decision to allow Robert Spencer to speak, one of our graduates quoted American Civil Liberties Union National Legal Director David Cole: “For the future of our democracy, we must protect bigoted speech from government censorship. On college campuses, that means that the best way to combat hateful speech is through counter‐speech, vigorous and creative protest, and debate, not threats of violence or censorship.”

This is an extraordinarily complicated and challenging situation, one that is being played out on college campuses across the nation. I can assure you that we are giving this a tremendous amount of thought and attention, and I am pleased that our alumni care enough about Gettysburg College to voice their perspectives.


Janet Morgan Riggs' Signature




Janet Morgan Riggs


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Author: Jamie Welch

Jamie Welch '18 served as editor-in-chief of The Gettysburgian from May 2016 to May 2018. Jamie also served as the webmaster and as a staff writer for the features and news sections. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a minor in Business. Follow him on Twitter @welchjamesk.

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  1. The president of Egypt has called for the reform of Islam. That process begins with shining light on it. I hope the University does not back away from this opportunity.

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    • Hello Mr. Hayes — Reform of Islam is currently a major area of discussion by some Muslims in the United States (do a Google search of “Muslim Reform Movement” to find the writing of Asra Nomani).

      By the way, the intended speaker at the May 3 campus event, Robert Spencer, put up a reply about the open letter of president Riggs. You can find it by going to his blog — www [dot] jihadwatch [dot] org.

      For those of us who seek comprehensive factual information about Islam, here are 2 resources I strongly recommend: www [dot] citizenwarrior [dot] com, and www [dot] inquiryintoislam [dot] com.

      They contain a wide array of historical and contextual posts — best read when we are not multitasking, and have the time to really absorb and consider the implications of what they say.

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    • Reforming Islam? By shining a light on a religion that was fabricated by a pedophile? The religion was started by horrible person, no peace be upon him. It like reforming Nazism! Did we defend that with political correctness. People need to learn the truth about Muhammad, and Islam. Robert Spencer tells the truth. Muslims who deny this are either practicing Taqiyya, or they don’t know the Quran, and the Hadith. People have to get their heads out of the sand, look around and see what devote Muslims do. Then maybe they can piece 2 and 2 together. Political correctness, and leftism will be the death of freedom.

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      • And hello to you, Mr. Nazeum. Yes, everything in your comment is seconded by me. I discovered Robert Spencer’s writing in roughly 2011, being a clueless person who knew nothing relevant to Islam’s essential message of subjugation — and violence upon those who resist.

        Asra Nomani chose an impossible goal. A faithful, orthodox member of the “religion” created by Muhammad will correctly observe that the Qur’an (in Sura 9) contains Allah’s commands telling Muslims how to behave against infidels and heretics.

        So the hopeful Ms. Nomani and her associates at MRM essentially toss Sura 9 out the window or would have us drastically alter what its verses clearly require. As the superb bow-tie wearing Tennessean Dr. Bill Warner remarked in one of his excellent videos, “How can you reform something that is perfect?”

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      • I highly suggest we stop mentioning the ”pedophile” when referring to the ideal man of Islam. This has been repeated ad nauseum and no longer has any effect.
        It would be best to speak of his barbarity. Many good Muslims are unaware of this. And those Muslims who know don’t want it repeated.

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        • Hello Sassy — Yes, the child-bride fact may have lost its effect, because privilege guilt Western nation citizens reply with “It was the 7th century. How many other tribes around the world did the same thing?”.

          So let us move on to another slice of pathology from The Religion Of Shredded Pieces:

          Defenders of Islam often say that being critical is a “racist” attitude of people who are contemptuous of blacks.

          Here is a video by Dr. David Wood (“Muhammad — the White Prophet with Black Slaves”) — easily found by a YouTube search.

          David includes abundant quotes from the Qur’an and Hadith, to establish his assertions, and his impish jibes shredding taqiyyists and deniers of the obvious.

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          • Wood and Spencer are both factual and great for the doctrine. There are at least five excellent websites and I always triple-check with Islamic websites. This is not a pretty story.

      • Most don’t know the hadiths. I’ve had more than a few conversations with Muslim friends about Mohamed and they blow up in rage when I prove my statements or they change the subject. As to non-Muslims (Infidels aka Kufars), they are stunned.

        When you speak to people, you have to personalize it, keep it simple.

        Examples: What do you think of a man that ordererd brushwood be lit on the chest of a 70-year old man to find out where the wealth was hidden? OR What kind of man would be pleased that a 75-year old woman was tied by her arms and legs to two camels whipped in opposite direction because she criticized him?

        Mohamed’s last ten years of his life are rich in atrocities, how can anybody venerate this individual as their ideal human being to emulate?

        BTW: No Mohamed, no Qur’an.

        MS. Janet Morgan has homework to do.

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        • Thank you for this brief conversation, and I will now close my side of the thread on a positive note about our fellow Americans’ increasing awareness of truth. Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, David Wood, Bill Warner, Nonie Darwish, Jamie Glazof, Brigitte Gabriel, Frank Gaffney, Andrew Harrod, (and many others whose names I omit) are dedicated counter-jihad resources for the well-intended “Western values perspective” among us in the U.S — who do not yet understand Islam’s essential core: submit or die.

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    • Al-Azhar Institute (university) backed away from El-Sisi’s request.

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  2. It’s so easy today to denigrate individuals through falsehoods and fear tactics. All one needs is a small group of people that brainwash the others.
    I expect more from our young people, at the very least a sense of curiosity and willingness to explore critical thought.
    Never forget one day, you also will be a victim of denigration based on lies.

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  3. Kids today, at least these fascist thugs, faculty and administrators, are too lazy and too stupid to find out the facts about Islam for themselves. This dumb-ass construction worker routinely takes these idiots on, challenging them to read some of the many articles, essays and books that I’ve read. Never get a response. I challenge both Muslims and liberals to take me on when it comes to Islamic history and the “holy” Koran. No takers. This is six years folks. Not One Single Person has ever responded to my challenges. Not One.

    Probably because they know that I’d “wipe the floor” with them. This is a phrase I got from some libetards commenting on the debate between Alan Dershowitz and Norman (The Fink) Finkelstein. They said that The Fink “wiped the floor with Dershowitz”. And there, again, I couldn’t get one single response telling me exactly how this was done. They were debating his brilliant book The Case for Israel.

    FrontPage Magazine is my new “morning paper”. They have some terrific articles about the state of our colleges and universities. My next stop is the Gatestone Institute, then the Middle East Quarterly, then Jihad Watch. Unlike liberals and most Muslims, I study the issues. I read articles, essays and whatever from Muslim theologians and historians. A liberal won’t know the significance of having several translations of a Koran. But people who study Islam do.

    Again, I’m nobody. Dumb as a rock when it comes to most things. Truly; I’m really not very bright. A few years ago this idiot printed out hundreds of articles on one side of the paper from the printer because I was too lazy and too stupid to figure out how to print on both sides. Duh.

    So here I’ve got hundreds of articles filling hundreds of files stuffed into filing cabinets. With only one page filled. But I read the articles.

    I don’t know how to take notes. I sometimes literally smother the articles with pink and yellow high-lighting and can’t figure what points I wanted to high-light. But I read the articles.

    I know who Bat Ye’or is. I know who Andrew Bostom is. I know who Robert Wistrich is. I know who Joan Peters is. I know who Efraim Karsh is. I know who Martin Kramer is. I know who Raymond Ibrahim is. I know who Anne Mayer is. And hundreds of others. Because I’ve read their books and articles.

    Liberals have no idea who these people are, let alone ever read their books or articles. That’s why not even these “professors” and “academics” will take on a dumb-ass construction worker when it comes to the issues.

    And the reason is that the “professors” and “academics” and administrators like this fascist Janet Morgan Riggs who claim that people like Robert Spencer is a “racist” and “hate-monger” can never seem to come up with any actual examples of anything he’s ever said or written that has been remotely “racist” or “hateful”. Or dare debate him him in an open forum.

    Like Milo. I just got turned on to him a few months ago. And ended up spending the whole day doing a Milo Marathon of his videos. The guy’s addicting. I think what defines people like Milo and Spencer are the words “common sense”. Even the village idiot and town drunk can understand what they and the writers at FrontPage are saying. Try reading the garbage from “academics like Finkelstein and Richard Falk. And compare it to the writings of Soeren Kern, Raymond Ibrahim, Cinnamon Stillwell, Andrew Harrod, Efraim Karsh, Denis MacEoin, Khaled Abu Toameh, Andrew G. Bostom, Frank Gaffney, Martin Kramer, Alan Dershowitz, David Horowitz, Daniel Greenfield, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Ingrid Carlqvist, Dr. Wafa Sultan, Patrick Poole, Caroline Glick, Phyllis Chesler, Hugh Fitzgerald, Ralph Sidway, Bat Ye’or and others

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  4. What will it take for this woman to digest the 1,400 years of Islamic barbarity?

    She works in education, but is totally oblivious to history?

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  5. I have followed Robert Spencer for many years: his blog, books and videos. Conclusions:
    1. He is not a bigot. He makes a clear distinction between Muslims as people and Islam as ideology
    2. He is very knowledgeable about Islam.
    3. He consistently stresses his aims: to pursue freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and the rights of women and minorities.
    4. He should be permitted to speak. For those who don’t agree with him let them come along and tell him why.
    The issue of his alleged bigotry should have been completely irrelevant.
    This issue should not have been “extraordinarily complex and difficult” as made out by the President. Her line should have been: “I don’t know about Mr Spencer or his views. In the interests of free speech, I will let him speak and you are free to *not* attend his speech or attend and challenge him if you disagree.” End of.

    Forse in Hong Kong

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  6. Here are my questions Ms. Riggs. Is it “Islamophobic” to point out that, apart from what Spencer says, most Islamic terrorists are quite eager to justify their actions with (accurate) citations to Islamic scripture? Is it OK to point out that the Taliban, Al Quaeda, Boko Haram and the 5000+ other Islamic terrorist organizations consistently andconfidently quote Islamic scripture in justification of their actions? That while it is not (and should not be) the role of any college (or politician) to decide what is “true” Islam, is it appropriate for a college to engage in intellectually honest inquiry, and critically examine whether the Taliban, AlQuaeda et al offer up a plausible interpretation of the Islamic faith? By the way, Ms. Riggs, what’s the difference between Saudi Islam and ISIS Islam? And if there is little or none, can a college student ponder the implications of that conclusion?

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  7. In Janet’s letter, she said:

    “This issue is difficult because it pits two core institutional values against one another:
    • the free and open exchange of ideas and the exploration of their ethical and spiritual dimensions; and
    • the commitment to a diverse and inclusive learning environment. ”

    So, a commitment to a “diverse and inclusive learning environment” is at odds with the free and open exchange of ideas? In other words, a diverse and inclusive environment should only include the ideas you are comfortable with. How is that “diverse”?

    Then, Janet said:

    “I have great confidence in the ability of our students, faculty, and staff to listen to and debate thoughtfully a point of view that may not only be counter to theirs, but which they might also find to be offensive. We understand that this is a particularly challenging time for the Muslim members of our community, and I trust that we will offer them our reassurance, encouragement, and support.”

    Robert Spencer said:

    “At Todd Green’s lecture Sunday, Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs said: “My fantasy is that we will have four or five people sitting in a room with Robert Spencer, and the other 2,500 members with Jerome at his rally. I think that’s what we can do to counter the fear that a speaker like this can bring to this community.”

    What happened to the “great confidence” to listen to a point of view counter to theirs? And, WHY is it a “challenging time” for muslim members of the community? Instead of complaining about Robert Spencer stating facts, shouldn’t they be concerned about the ongoing terrorist attacks and other atrocities committed in the name of their religion?

    So, let’s hear it – 1) why is it a challenging time for muslim students? Why do they need reassurance, encouragement, and support?
    2) How is the free and open exchange of ideas at odds with a diverse and inclusive learning environment?
    3) What “fear”, exactly, does Robert Spencer bring to the community?

    4) What, exactly, is so “challenging” about this?

    Particularly, I’d like to hear the answer to #1 and #3. It’s easy to say these things, but is there any basis in reality for them? Go.

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  8. King Abdullah of Jordan removed the teaching of the Jihadist verses from school curriculums. It’s not difficult to understand why.
    ““About 40 percent of the curriculum about Arabic language and Islam have been changed, including the removal of all reference to jihad and opposing the occupation of Palestine,” she charged, adding that “325 verses and 75 Islamic texts have been removed.”

    French President Macron and 300 leaders of France exhorted Islam, via letter, to remove the hate speech from the Koran. Again easy to understand why. Robert Spencer does a service by educating the public regarding those aspects of Islam that shock many in the West.

    The West was built on debate. In Islam not so. The Saudi King just imposed blasphemy laws that include prison and an $800,000 fine for criticizing Islam. But a few women have the right to drive a car.

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