Guest speaker at Gettysburg College with controversial views on Islam delivers presentation; opponents demonstrate peacefully

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - A guest speaker at Gettysburg College who drew calls for boycott because of his views on Islam, as well as a larger police presence because of anticipated protests, was allowed to make his presentation.

Robert Spencer, author and director of Jihad Watch, made light of the controversy during his talk to students, saying they were not going to get the sideshow they may have been looking for, but rather his assessment of Islam and what he calls the dangers of the faith.

“What we have in this situation is actually a very determined effort to make it so that the point of view that I represent is not examined,” Spencer said.

The Young Americans for Freedom group at Gettysburg College invited Spencer to speak and were approved even as the college brought in an opposing speaker earlier this week and amid calls from the college president to boycott the event.

“I think it's very important to have this kind of perspective on every campus,” Scott Moore, the chapter’s president, said. “It's obviously an issue that the entire country and the entire world is going to be facing and has already faced for decades.”

But there was a different vibe from what has happened across the country in response to conservative speakers on college campuses. Students held a “Muslim Solidarity Rally” to demonstrate support for Muslims in the community, featuring speakers and music.

“The way that we would counter this is by just having a celebration basically of Islamic culture,” Davis Healy, one of the rally’s organizers, said. “We just wanted to bring people out and have people be together because that's what we think is the best way to show what we think in response to Mr. Spencer.”

Demonstrators say they hoped to counter the negative views of Islam from Spencer with greater cultural awareness.

“I hope that the Muslim community knows that we are with them and we support them,” Caroline Kinne, a rally organizer, said. “For everyone else here, it's just a great opportunity to come together and show that we support each other.”