This is the second installment of a four-part series. Previously: Part 1.
Keeping a Close Eye on the Right Wing
Part 2: The Transatlantic Connection
As mentioned in the introduction to this series, the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) held a conference in London on March 13 to study the “New Far Right” in Europe, with a special focus on the English Defence League. Paul Weston has described the event as preparation of the virtual battlefield in advance of a takedown of the EDL by Prime Minister David Cameron and the British government.
Based on the conference report, “A Neo-Nationalist Network: The English Defence League and Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement”, the EDL was indeed the major focus of the ICSR event. But was the conference convened to launch the report? Or was the report commissioned in advance to help justify a predetermined conclusion, namely that the EDL needs to be banned?
In either case, the paper fails to provide meaningful documentation of any dangerous tendencies in the English Defence League and its allies. The authors seem to be of two minds, analyzing the EDL using loaded terms, yet providing a great deal of material that is intended to be positive. The result of their efforts is a schizophrenic document.
As you will see, they pay the necessary lip service to their concerns in the form of vague misgivings about what lies behind the EDL’s actions. Despite the public endorsement by police and the official statements, they seem to feel there may yet be some sort of secret crypto-fascism behind the European Counterjihad and the EDL. Even so, the examples presented in the report are almost all quite positive, and take pains to show how much the movement overlaps mainstream political discourse.
This is important for all of us, because their insights will enable a civil discourse to be engaged on the issues and policies. It may help put aside the ad hominem attacks so beloved by extremist groups such as UAF and Antifa, and their close allies among doctrinaire Islamists such as Anjem Choudary.
If Hope not Hate, under the umbrella of ICSR, has come around to a more sensible view of Tommy Robinson and the English Defence League, then more power to them! Despite the report’s reflexive scowl at the EDL and all it represents, the actual data presented reflect quite positively on Tommy Robinson, Kevin Carroll, and the European Counterjihad.
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Now let’s get down to the report itself, which has been posted as a 72-page pdf at the ICSR website. It’s too large for a complete analysis here, even in three parts, so readers are advised to download it and read the entire thing. Be warned, however: much of it is written using the mind-numbing academic jargon so typical of government-funded research papers.
As mentioned above, the report appears schizophrenic in its approach to the topic, as if it is somehow subverting the ostensible intent of the document, or as if there were two very different authors. And the report does indeed have two authors, Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Hans Brun.
I don’t know anything about Hans Brun, but Mr. Hitchens (the son of the late Christopher Hitchens) seems not be a shill for the Multicultural Left. He has contributed to The Weekly Standard — hardly an organ of the Left — and is considered enough of a right-wing ideologue to merit his own Powerbase entry. In other words, he’s not someone you would expect to be viewed positively by Hope not Hate.
Although its ostensible focus is on the EDL, the report devotes more attention to activists and websites of the American Counterjihad than it does to Tommy Robinson. Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Gates of Vienna (blush) and other Americans and their sites receive massive coverage in this document. Try searching on “Geller”, “Atlas”, “Spencer”, “Gates”, and so on, and you’ll see what I mean.
This transatlantic focus is part of the ongoing effort by the Left to depict anti-Islamization movements in Europe as somehow instigated and/or directed by American agitators, who are seen as behind-the-scenes funders and pullers of strings for their European protégés.
My analysis below will focus mainly on those parts of the American and European Counterjihad with which I’m most familiar, which means that I will omit coverage of much of the text on the EDL. That task will be left to one of our British correspondents, and will appear as Part 3 of this report.
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According to Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Hans Brun, the European Counter-Jihad Movement (ECJM — I like that acronym) is spearheaded by “Defence Leagues” modeled on the EDL and coordinated by Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller from across the Atlantic. On page 24 the authors note:
The ECJM has begun to implement this model in its European operations. Defence leagues inspired by the EDL have emerged throughout Scandinavia and are organising joint rallies and conferences, helped on by so-called ‘ideas people’, including Robert Spencer, who provides much of the ideological fuel, and Pamela Geller, whose organisational skills the ECJM has employed to some effect.
And on page 52:
Above all others, two names in particular are legend within the ECJM: Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. Through their respective blogs, Jihad Watch and Atlas Shrugs, they have helped inspire the Counter- Jihad movement in Europe.
It’s good to see credit given where credit is due. Yet the implication is that the Counterjihad in Europe lacks indigenous roots, and is largely instigated by American operatives.
How true is that?
I’ve been working every day for more than seven years with European anti-sharia activists. They were there before I joined the scene, they were there when I came onboard, and they were there when Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller first became involved in October 2007. The movement is hardly an American creation; it was and remains a spontaneous European phenomenon.
The authors may be forgiven for their misplaced emphasis on the American element, however, since such a wealth of material is available from American sources, in English. To make a proper investigation of the full range of Counterjihad activities in Europe, they would have had to read the extensive material available in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, German, Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, etc. That’s a daunting task — it’s much easier to concentrate on the English-language archives of sites in the UK and the USA.
Hence the Anglocentric focus.
Taking into account the transatlantic bias, let’s see what the report has to say about the “Neo-Nationalist Network” of “Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement”. From the Executive Summary (page 1):
While the ECJM uses tactics that are reminiscent of traditional incarnations of the European far-right, it also has a message that identifies a new and supposedly existential threat to Europe: Islam and Muslim immigration. Unlike most other far-right organisations, however, the ECJM is a one-issue movement, and has yet to show an interest in expanding its scope to cover other popular concerns. [emphasis added]
This is reasonably accurate. Yet the weasel-word “supposedly” telegraphs the Multicultural orthodoxy behind the analysis. Is the existential threat only “supposed”? Or does it really exist?
And will the authors investigate the latter possibility?
Strangely enough, and perhaps unintentionally, they do — by quoting and summarizing so much of what the “Islamophobes” have to say. They are fairly scrupulous (although somewhat superficial) in their précis of Counterjihad writings, so the existential threat may be inferred from the material they collect.
Next they discuss what they describe as “cultural nationalism”:
The ECJM is not a conventional far-right movement. While other farright strands in Europe are usually defined by their adherence to forms of racial or ethnic nationalism, the ECJM espouses an assertive cultural nationalism. Some of its views and concerns overlap considerably with those voiced by commentators on the left and right of mainstream politics. This means that taken at face-value the movement is less extreme and feels less threatening than the traditional far right, making it harder to categorise, and also allowing it to be more amorphous and transnational.
The authors of this report have categorised the ECJM’s nationalism as a form of cultural nationalism, according to which the nation and its citizens are defined primarily in terms of a shared culture and history. The movement’s self-proclaimed mission is to ensure the survival and prosperity of that culture, which might be represented by its fundamental principles such as free speech and equality before the law. [emphasis added]
This is actually a fair characterization of what we say. And it acknowledges something that the European Union and many national political leaders in the EU would prefer to deny: There is a common European culture, shared by the individual nations of Europe and the European diaspora. This is what we strive to preserve.
The authors obviously noticed that the values cherished by that culture and its defenders — free speech, equality before the law, etc. — are not easy to depict as scary “Nazi” characteristics. Messrs Hitchens and Brun find it “awkward” (I would have said “embarrassing”) to deal with this aspect of our movement, since to oppose us they must make common cause with murderous ideologies that consider those same values anathema.
However, we must be opposed, so that circle must be squared:
It becomes awkward to categorise a group positioning itself in defence of liberal enlightenment values as “far-right” or extreme but this report demonstrates that the ECJM’s cultural nationalism does indeed manifest itself as a form of far-right extremism in its portrayal of Muslims as a threat to European culture, an “enemy within”, and in its proposed, highly illiberal responses to this perceived threat.
In other words:
“It’s ‘awkward’ to try to square this circle and call the defense of classical liberal principles ‘far-right extremism’, but we must do it anyway: THE CIRCLE IS SQUARE.”
The defenders of free speech and equal rights for women are “far-right extremists”, because they propose (unspecified) illiberal responses to a threat that only they can perceive. Thus, they must be dangerous and pose a threat.
And what would that threat be? Three guesses:
The ECJM poses three serious problems:
i) Though it does not specifically call for violence, the sensationalist character of the ECJM narrative, which includes a paranoid tendency towards conspiracy-theory, can act as inspiration for violent terrorist attacks like those carried out by Breivik, who emerged from the ECJM’s ideological milieu; ii) the movement can serve to incubate, protect and add a veneer of plausibility and acceptability to traditional forms of far-right xenophobia and extremism; iii) its amorphous nature and ability to tap into popular concerns about immigration, religion, terrorism and the economy increases the likelihood of violent confrontation and jeopardises Europe’s social fabric.
Yes, that’s right: the threat is another Anders Behring Breivik. Ever since July 23, 2011, there has been no other threat. Everyone who holds “xenophobic” opinions like ours is and forever will be a “potential Breivik”.
No evidence is required: they just know it’s true. QED.
Now it’s time to look at the dangerous, threatening, xenophobic “rock stars” of the movement: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Tommy Robinson:
Since its emergence, the EDL has garnered support from prominent Counter-Jihad figures in the United States. The popular American Counter-Jihad activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, for example, have praised the emergence of the group and are currently assisting in the organisation of a coherent, pan-European movement.
With their help, the EDL has inspired the creation of a number of other “defence leagues” around Europe, with a specific focus on Scandinavia. EDL leader Tommy Robinson now holds almost legendary status within this nascent movement, and is considered the “rock star” of the ECJM.1 In the last year, the EDL has made a concerted effort to spread the defence league concept throughout Europe, using both online networking and organised, on-the-ground demonstrations.
This is the basic thesis of the entire ICSR report: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Tommy Robinson, and other transatlantic agitators are working together to stir up trouble across the whole of Europe, trouble that would not exist without their insolent meddling.
There is one thing in the Executive Summary, however, with which I find myself in complete agreement:
The ECJM is a loosely-organised, decentralised network of sympathetic groups and political parties that have used the internet to coalesce into a more effective and international anti-Islam movement.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
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The body of the report is too extensive to analyze in its entirety. I will concentrate on those portions which are most relevant to our mission here at Gates of Vienna and cover material with which I am sufficiently familiar.
The first thing to note is that the report seems, generally speaking, accurate in most of the factual points it presents. The authors make some errors, but they are not huge. Tendentious descriptions that support the predetermined conclusions are widespread in the text, of course, but a surprising amount of information is presented in a fair and neutral manner.
Unfortunately, the authors’ knowledge of their material seems to be shallow and superficial, as if they had acquired most of it by reading the some of major mainstream Counterjihad websites, attending a couple of Defence League events, and interviewing Tommy Robinson.
Part 1, the Introduction, begins on page 7:
With commentators and analyst offering descriptions ranging from populist street movement to racial-nationalists and fascists, it is clear that a great deal of uncertainty remains regarding the true nature of the English Defence League (EDL) and its European affiliates. The rise of this self-described “Counter-Jihad” movement in Europe, which seeks to combat the perceived threat of “Islamisation” through Europe-wide protests and awareness and advocacy campaigns, has added a new and complex element to the study of the far-right in Europe.
Putting keywords in quotes is a time-honored method of deprecating your opponent’s position. It’s an effective way of indicating that there is some doubt about whether his concepts have any objective meaning outside his own (presumably deluded) mind. I’ve been known to employ the technique myself from time to time…
But there is no “uncertainty… regarding the true nature” of the EDL unless one takes all of one’s information from The Guardian and other mainstream British outlets that refuse to write about the EDL in honest terms.
People who are part of the movement, who hang out in the same circles and are involved in its activities, are in no doubt about its “true nature”. Only someone in a state of permanent denial about what is happening in Britain could be.
On page 8 we read:
…The primary research goal of this study is to provide an insight into the thinking of the movement’s core leadership by focusing on its history, tactics and intellectual background. As such, the report does not claim to analyse the views or inspirations of rank-and-file followers and supporters.3
How can the motives of the leaders be understood without understanding the motives of those who follow them? The imperative behind this report requires the authors to reach certain conclusions that cannot be justified by any facts they might uncover. Therefore they cannot really provide any “insight into the thinking of the movement’s core leadership” without addressing the motives of the followers, which, as mentioned in the referenced footnote (#3), they are unable to do:
Due to the lack of anything beyond anecdotal data on followers of ECJM groups it has been very difficult to reach any firm conclusions about their inspirations and motivations.
So, in effect, Messrs. Hitchens and Brun are acknowledging from the start that they cannot do what they say they are attempting to do, that they are unable to accomplish their self-declared “primary goal”.
Therefore the rest of the report may be considered boilerplate and filler used to flesh out the conclusions they are required to reach.
Part 2 (pages 9-15) covers a lot of ground on “The EDL’s History and the International Network”. It touches on material with which I am insufficiently familiar, and will leave to our British correspondent to tackle in Part 3 of this series.
The section includes an account of the formation of British Freedom and Paul Weston’s stint as the leader of BF. It’s obvious that the ICSR is worried by Paul Weston — as they well should be, since he is intelligent, articulate, well-educated, effective, and cannot be dismissed as just another “fascist street thug”.
Gates of Vienna comes into their sights due to its long history of featuring the writings of Paul Weston:
Weston, the architect of BF’s shift away from racial-nationalism, is also a regular contributor to the Gates of Vienna blog, one of the leading websites of the ECJM and home to well-known ECJM blogger Fjordman (whose real name is Peder Nøstvold Jensen). Under Weston’s stewardship, the Islamisation issue was placed at the top of the BF agenda.
So far, so good: that is clear, factually accurate, and neutral in tone. If the entire report were written in this fashion, one could only commend it.
Quibbles can be made here and there, however. In the section on the influence of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer on the Defence Leagues, footnote #6 (page 9) tells us this:
This is led by Robert Spencer, who runs the popular anti-Islam blog Jihad Watch, and Pamela Geller, who rose to prominence as the head of a campaign to stop the building of an Islamic centre near the site of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center
As far as I am aware, Pamela Geller “rose to prominence” long before the Ground Zero Mosque issue entered the news. She was featured on national network television during the Rifqa Bary case, the disputes over bus ads, and on other occasions too numerous to note, extending back several years at least.
But we’ll let that one go; it’s a minor issue.
On page 17-19 we encounter details on a topic I know well, namely this blog:
The EFI and the European defence leagues were not in fact the first European Counter-Jihad network; rather, they have joined on to and to a large extent co-opted a pre-existing movement. An earlier attempt to create such a network was made in 2006 in the form of the 910 Group which began with an article posted on 26 September 2006 on the Gates of Vienna blog by an individual using the pseudonym Baron Bodissey (later revealed to be Edward S. May, one of the operators of the blog). The author argued that the internet, and particularly the blogosphere, was a potential source of ‘enormous power,’ while also complaining that one major weakness of other existing Counter-Jihad blogs was their solely reactive character.53 He therefore suggested a change of direction: the creation of a web-based anti-Islam activist group that was able to organise physical gatherings and events in order to apply pressure on governments to act against the perceived Islamisation threat.54 Blogs and other forms of new media were becoming weapons with which the movement could fight its cultural civil war within Europe:… [emphasis added]
This is a partially accurate presentation of how the 910 Group came into being. But the weasel-word “perceived” has been appended to the “threat”, denying the concept any objective validity. And notice the loaded terminology used in the last part of the paragraph: what I described as an information war to take back the culture has morphed into “weapons” that wage a “cultural civil war”.
Thus we return to Anders Behring Breivik. Since Mr. Breivik is known to have read this blog, what I said must be shoehorned into a “narrative” that supports the contention that Mr. Breivik got some of his ideas from me.
Spurious reasoning and tendentious rewording in order to reach false conclusions: that’s typical of leftists when they mischaracterize the thinking of non-leftists.
Yet much of the presentation is factually accurate and neutral in tone. So what’s going on here? The schizophrenic nature of the ICSR report manifests itself yet again.
Or was the neutral wording of the draft report carefully rewritten by the editors to achieve the necessary semantic result?
A year later, in 2007, the 910 Group renamed itself the Centre for Vigilant Freedom (CVF) and under the directorship of Edward S. May sought to build international partnerships. It claimed to have a presence in seven countries, including the UK, US, Thailand and Australia.58 It also began to organise international meetings and conferences, with the first of these taking place in Copenhagen on 14 April, 2007. Reports claim that activists from Norway (including the aforementioned Fjordman), Denmark, the UK, the US, and Sweden were present, as well as ‘members of a Swedish political party,’ which, though unnamed, is likely to be the Swedish Democrats, a far-right nationalist anti-Islam and anti-immigration party.59 [emphasis added]
The bolded text in the paragraph above is factually false. CVF was never under my “directorship”. I was listed as one of the officers in the incorporation papers, but I was never the director. I never had any control, nor would I have wanted any — what a ghastly job that would have been.
Then comes another inaccuracy:
Months later, on 18 October, a second more expansive conference took place in Brussels organised under the auspices of Belgium’s Vlaams Belang…
Closely involved in organising both of these conferences was a Dane named Anders Gravers, who in 2007 founded Stop the Islamisation of Denmark (SIOD) in his native country…
Anders Gravers played no role in the organization of the first Brussels Conference in 2007. That event was organized entirely by CVF.
On pages 22 through 24 the report presents a fairly lucid account of my writings about distributed networks (although I would take issue with the insertion of the word “prosperity” into the description, since I have always maintained that such structures require little or no funding — but perhaps the authors envisaged a more generalized form of prosperity):
A Decentralised Distributed Network in Europe
The creation of the above mentioned defence leagues in Europe is part of the EDL’s strategy, with assistance from its allies in America, to internationalise the Counter-Jihad movement and the defence league framework in particular. It appears that they are helping to create a decentralised network of groups based upon a model provided by an entry on the Gates of Vienna blog (an important information and analysis hub for the ECJM) in June 2009, which called for the implementation of a form of the distributed network model to ensure the survival and prosperity of the ECJM.
At this point Messrs. Hitchens and Brun couldn’t help themselves; they just had to put some more words in my mouth:
For the purpose of avoiding accusations of incitement to violence, the article does not use the term “leaderless resistance”, and the author instead opts for the term ‘distributed network’,81 a term usually applied to computer and telephone networks… [emphasis added]
I “avoid accusations of incitement to violence” by not inciting violence. That’s easy for me to do, since I don’t advocate violence and never have — unlike, say, Anders Behring Breivik. Violence is the outcome that my efforts aim to avoid.
That’s why I didn’t use the term “leaderless resistance”, which is not something that I would ever have thought of, but has now been welded into the text to suit the purposes of ICSR. Nice going, guys!
I called it a “distributed network” because that’s exactly what it is. My background is in systems analysis, so it’s only natural that I think in such terms. But the authors need to fit Breivik into all this, so my words have been reshaped.
The rest of the paragraph and the following two present an accurate précis, and even provide a footnote with references to authoritative sources on distributed networks:
…The major benefit of this type of network is that without a set command and control hierarchy, no single node is indispensible and thus the network has no single point of failure.82 As envisaged by ECJM strategists, such a model can be applied to multiple Counter-Jihad groups and individuals in different countries and regions, allowing them to act relatively independently of one another while pursuing the same overarching strategy and agenda.
These groups and individuals act as the nodes in the network, the author explains, with certain nodes acting as gateways to country or region-specific networks which are also connected to the wider international movement. Each of these nodes can fulfil specialised functions such as event-organising or multimedia creation, or simply offer general support to the movement. According to the author, the most specialised function is that of the ‘idea man’; individuals who ‘contribute components of the ideological framework that guides the entire network.’83
The internet also plays a crucial role in this model, allowing for the rapid spread of ideas, and the planning of gatherings and protests at short notice. Indeed, it is the internet which is the primary connector for the multiple nodes of the network throughout Europe, and as demonstrated above some of the defence leagues have identically designed websites created and managed by the same people.
But then I start “claiming” things — presumably “perceived” things:
The article gives three reasons for the importance of a Counter-Jihad distributed network model, claiming that:
i) The political elite and the governments in the Western world are repressive of Counter-Jihad organisations; ii) a number of left-wing groups exercise unofficial repression, violently attacking Counter-Jihad followers with tacit government support; iii) there is a substantial risk of being attacked by militant Muslims.84
Yes, those are indeed things that I “claim”. But are they accurate? Does such repression actually take place? Are Counterjihad activists ever physically attacked by militant Muslims?
Well, the attempted assassination of Lars Hedegaard in Copenhagen may have occurred too recently to be mentioned in this report. However, the attacks on Lars Vilks in Sweden — including the firebombing of his house by Muslim “youths” — occurred several years ago. And the attempted murder of Kurt Westergaard was not only early enough to warrant inclusion in the report, it targeted someone who is not at all a Counterjihad activist, but simply a guy who drew a cartoon.
Alas, the authors of the report appear uninterested in the “mere facticity” of anything I say. To suit their purposes, my statements must remain “claims”, and thus lie beyond any possible verification.
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Section 3 of the report is entitled “Finding a Place for the Movement”. On page 25 we read:
The ECJM’s apparent obsession with preserving European culture is not, on its own, sufficient reason to define the movement as ultranationalist, and therefore far-right… [emphasis added]
Once again, the insertion of the derogatory word “obsession” denies the legitimacy of what we say. When concerns become “obsessions”, otherwise conscientious citizens are given permission to ignore those who voice them.
However, the explanation that follows — distinguishing nationalism per se from fascism — is quite reasonable, providing additional evidence that at least two minds were working at cross-purposes to produce the report.
The section goes on to characterize the BNP, populism, and the Far-Right. On page 30 it provides this important nugget of information:
The authoritarianism often found in far-right groups revolves around a reactionary desire to “preserve” society through the imposition of arbitrary and highly restrictive laws incompatible with individual rights that underpin liberal democracies.113
Why is “preserve” in quotes? Is it abnormal or undesirable to want to preserve a society?
And it’s true that some authoritarians seek “the imposition of arbitrary and highly restrictive laws incompatible with individual rights that underpin liberal democracies”. But where is there any indication that this is the goal of the English Defence League, Paul Weston, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, or any other activist mentioned in the report?
Anything can be mentioned in juxtaposition with anything else — but are the two things connected?
There has to be a term for this method of defamation. Could we call it “association through mentioning”?
The pervasive schizophrenia of the authors appears again in the following description:
Xenophobia (Greek for “fear of the foreigner/stranger”) refers to a strong, usually irrational belief that an exogenous or otherwise new social group is a serious threat to the society it has entered… In many sections of the ECJM, and particularly visible in its very active online community, there is a clear trend towards demonising Islam and Muslims, and presenting them as the source of the West’s ills. [emphasis added]
I find it interesting that the authors chose to modify the adjective “irrational” with the adverb “usually”.
This is an implicit acknowledgement that the fear of Islamic supremacy is NOT irrational.
That is, that “Islamophobia” may not be a “phobia” after all!
This is an important concession by Messrs. Hitchens and Brun, a sign that their research into what the leaders of the ECJM say has subliminally altered their opinion about the “perceived” threat.
But then, on page 33, they return to the prepared script:
At first glance, it would appear that the ECJM exhibits elements of at least three of the aforementioned identifiers for fascism:
- the inflammatory and divisive nature of ECJM marches and speeches suggests little concern for the societal consequences of their actions and a glorification of force associated with fascism;
- it has an irrational view of Muslims in Europe as an “enemy within”;
- its devotion to cultural nationalism contains an authoritarianism which calls for actions that are in direct conflict with Europe’s liberal institutions and can be defined as a form of populist ultra-nationalism.
Once again, this is proof-by-assertion: “These organizations are fascistic in nature because we say they are.”
No proof is adduced; but then, no proof is required.
The authors describe “Cultural Nationalism” on pages 33-34:
The nationalism of the ECJM is characterised by an aggressive integrationism that requires immigrants and any other foreigners to conform to a set of cultural and political values including, but not limited to women’s rights, human rights, freedom of speech, and democracy. Indeed, the movement couches many of its activities in such liberal terms in order to counter accusations of far-right extremism.
The EDL has also recently adopted the motto ‘Protecting our Culture’. Similarly, its ally BF describes itself as a British cultural nationalist party. The authors will argue here that the ECJM’s nationalism is a form of cultural nationalism which is endemic to the current political climate in Europe.
These are good things. ICSR has done the EDL a service by pointing out that it supports women’s rights, freedom of speech, and other civil liberties.
Or does ICSR oppose these things?
And there’s even this:
It should be noted here that the desire to protect and promote certain values, whether they be thought of as specifically British cultural imperatives or “shared values” is not the preserve of the far-right.
I consider this a major concession on the part of the authors. It’s generous of them to acknowledge that the preservation of cultural values is not just a right-wing preoccupation, but the concern of many people of divers political views who happen to love their country and their culture.
But do the authors share that concern themselves?
There is more, much more on cultural nationalism, much it difficult to read because of the pervasive jargon.
On page 41 the report moves on to Part 4, “The Islamisation Conspiracy”, quoting Anders Gravers and Nicolai Sennels, and describing the “Islamisation narrative”. From there they continue to Sharia and Taqiyya.
They state this about Robert Spencer:
Robert Spencer’s blog, Jihad Watch, which has provided much intellectual guidance for the ECJM, argues that Islam is unique among religions in that it ‘includes a mandatory and highly specific legal and political plan for society called Sharia.’
This is an accurate account of what Mr. Spencer says, and it’s good to see it presented here.
A long section beginning on page 43 describes “The Coming Civil War in Europe”, and this is where we get into the meat of the imagined (“perceived”?) connections to Breivik. After that come synopses of Bat Ye’or’s work on Eurabia — described as a “conspiracy theory”, naturally.
On page 51, under “The Demographic Threat”, the report tackles the writings of Mark Steyn:
Steyn, like many in the Counter-Jihad movement and beyond, holds that although there are moderate Muslims, there is no moderate Islam. The four main schools of Islamic thought cannot accommodate, he argues, Muslims who wish to follow liberal values and reject violence.
Once again, this is simply presented in neutral terms, which is good. The authors are letting Mr. Steyn have his say.
Allowing Counterjihad writers to have their say — without inserting weasel-words or rewriting their sentences — is a good thing, and Messrs. Hitchens and Brun are to be commended for doing it.
It’s a pity they couldn’t have done the same thing throughout their paper — then they would have been making our case for us. But that’s the peculiar thing about this report: it seems to be the product of a house divided against itself.
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Before I close out this analysis, a few interesting and amusing notes are in order.
The ICSR report includes “sidebars”, narrow-gauge features on a grey background with thumbnail sketches about various topics. One of them attempts to summarize Gates of Vienna, and actually misquotes the motto on the header of this blog (and even includes a footnote as a reference):
At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are now in a phase of a very old war
Scroll up to the top of this page to see the correct version.
The new WordPress version of our blog features the motto as an image, but the old Blogger blog (almost certainly the one used by the authors, based on their footnotes) had a text header. It could easily have been copied and pasted into the report to ensure accuracy. Why the authors neglected to do this remains a mystery.
On page 64, the report has this to say:
A favourite reference point for the ECJM on this subject is Turkish Prime Minister Reccip [sic] Tayyip Erdogan’s quoting the following line from a famous Islamic poem while he was an opposition figure in the 1990s:
The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers.261
The line, an unremarkable piece of aggressive bluster from a politician seeking to shore up his Islamist support-base, …
How do the authors know that Mr. Erdogan’s words were “an unremarkable piece of aggressive bluster”, and that his intention was “to shore up his Islamist support-base”?
Are they that well-versed in the intricacies of Turkish domestic politics?
Or are they simply recycling the received wisdom of the Western Left, which seeks to minimize what the Turkish prime minister said and deflect attention away from it?
Is it possible that Recep Tayyip Erdogan meant exactly what he said, and quoted the poem with full Islamic fervor?
If we rely on the research conducted by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, we’ll never learn the answer to that question.
Finally, on page 67 the authors reach Part 6, their “Conclusion”:
The ECJM’s application of terms like dhimmi to refer to cultural “traitors” signals the creation of a dangerous terminology which is reminiscent of neo-Nazi references to “race traitors”…
This was the predetermined conclusion. This was what the report was commissioned to “discover”. The authors — or the editors — delivered the goods and sealed the doom of the European Counterjihad Movement by bringing in the dreaded N-word.
Yet in the preceding 66 pages, the paper manages to present much of the case made by the EDL and other Islam-critical actors, without exaggeration and without transforming them into “neo-Nazis”.
If you toss aside the weasel-words, and screen out some of the inserted text, the Counterjihad is allowed to make its case in the ICSR report.
Was that inadvertent? Or was it what the authors intended?
Next: The British Counterjihad Movement