Stanford students walk out on talk from author they say is 'racist, Islamophobic'

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Minutes after author Robert Spencer started to speak, the packed room cleared out.

"You are all little totalitarians and neo-grouchers, a stain on Stanford University and academia in general," Spencer said, directing his attention to students in the audience.

It was an orchestrated move by students who opposed Spencer's presence on campus. The university's Young Republicans sponsored the event.

Many students expressed outrage that Spencer, the director of the website Jihad Watch, was invited.

"Racism, bigotry isn't welcome. Those espousing hatred can't have a platform on this campus," said student Jana Kholy.

When asked if he was racist or Islamophobic, Spencer responded with laughter. "I'm neither one. Islam is not a race. Mass murder is not a race."

Though Bruin Hall was nearly empty after the walkout, Spencer supporters weren't allowed in. Organizers insisted that Spencer was invited to create a dialogue.

"This isn't about preaching to the choir," said Amy Lutz of the Young America's Foundation. "It's about educating students on another perspective on the issue."

In the meantime, 200 or so students gathered nearby in support of what they say the true Stanford is about.

"I will not continue hate speech on this campus," said one student.

Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.