Keeping a Close Eye on the Right Wing
Part 4: Academic vs. Academic
As reported in this space last week and yesterday, 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, paying special attention on the English Defence League. The conference launched a report entitled “A Neo-Nationalist Network: The English Defence League and Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement” [pdf], which examines the history of the English Defence and related movements in Europe.
Regular readers are familiar with JLH, who works tirelessly to translate so much material from the German. Before he became a volunteer translator for Gates of Vienna, JLH spent a number of years on the faculty of an American university.
As mentioned earlier in this series, much of the ICSR report is couched in dense academic jargon that hinders any easy understanding. However, JLH — given his distinguished academic record — was undaunted by the esoteric scholastic idiom used in the report, and spent a considerable time examining it with a jaundiced eye.
His report is below. As he remarked in the email accompanying his response: “Sending me the ICSR report activated my old academic glands and provoked my Islamic antibodies at the same time. I was unable to help myself; I had to tackle it.”
Academic vs. Academic
The ICSR report is a nice example of 21st century political scholarship:
- Careful research which does not support the main thesis, but lends credibility to the “look”.
- Citations of numerous scholars who specialize in five-syllable words.
- The assumption that readers will be in agreement with the authors’ point of view, because any sensible person thinks that way.
- Nationalism is bad; dissolution of nations and cultures in the name of universality is good. Xenophobia is bad because it is the unreasoning fear of the “other” but what might be called autochthonophobia — hatred and fear of the less refined members of your own society — is fine.
“What do those damned Neanderthals expect? When they are all gone, only the best of all lands will remain. We are the world!”
Below are some selected gems of the authors’ wisdom followed by my irascible comments.
The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) is a unique partnership in which King’s College London, Georgetown Univesity [sic], the University of Pennsylvania, the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (Israel) and the Regional Center for Conflict Prevention Amman (Jordan) are equal stakeholders. [emphasis added]
That is, grants have been granted — possibly from governments.
CATS — Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies
Nice how they use a term developed to describe terrorist violence and apply it to non-violent movements of a country’s citizens.
…henceforth referred to collectively as the European Counter-Jihad Movement (ECJM)…
OH, GOOD! Initials and a collective title — it must be real!
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. [emphasis added]
Pardon me — while the ECJM are not calling for violence, what are the antifas, militant Islamists and friends doing?
Are they proclaiming universal peace and brotherhood? Or, by any chance… calling for violence?
The second section of the report is devoted to evaluating a number of the different categories into which analysts have hitherto placed the ECJM, and arguing for the use of a previously ignored categorisation: cultural nationalism. This section will also explain how and why the ECJM can justifiably be referred to as “far-right”, even as it claims to fight for liberal enlightenment values and many of its core concerns overlap with those of mainstream political parties. [emphasis added]
The sine qua non of “scholarship”: a neologism. Or, how to call a thing anything you want, and justify it by vaguely claiming it is lying about its own motives.
Despite their irrationality, these beliefs have begun to coalesce into an identifiable “Islamisation ideology”, which holds that the current terrorist threat from extremist Islamists is not a modern political phenomenon but merely the latest manifestation of a centuries-long and ongoing effort by Muslims to conquer Western civilisation.
So you don’t believe this view of Islam? Why?
Is it because you have been listening carefully to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mohamed Morsi, Hamas, and your favorite, Anjem Choudary?
No, maybe not…
2. History and Network
The EDL: A Turbulent and Murky History
This first foray by Ray and his allies was short-lived as the police quickly shut it down, but this was the beginning of what would become the EDL. [emphasis added]
“Turbulent and murky” — I look forward to the proof of that — or am I being too optimistic?
“The beginning of what would become”…Is this a romance novel?
The lengthy histories of Ray and the BNP serve no real purpose in explaining the EDL, but do add a lot of prejudicial quotations.
During interviews with defence league leaders in Åarhus [sic — should either be “Århus” or “Aarhus”], the authors found that the EDL, NDL and others, for example, claim to accept the premise that most Muslims are not extremists, whereas SIOE reject the notion of a moderate Muslim entirely. [emphasis added]
Well, when you’re part of the far-right, you have to lie a lot…
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 … [emphasis added]
And they just can’t wait to become violent, when no one is watching. Right?
3. Finding a Place for the Movement
According to Roger Griffin’s concise definition of fascism, it is ‘a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultra-nationalism’ which seeks to provide a bridge between a nation’s apparently glorious (and often ancient) past and its future. [emphasis added]
It’s always a good idea to invent new gobbledygook.
However, within this genus there are various different species. Due to multiple past incarnations, most notably in mid-20th-century Italy, Spain, Germany and Japan, fascism can manifest itself differently depending on where inspiration is drawn from. Upon analysing the academic literature on the subject, however, it is possible to provide a loose set of identifiers of fascist ideology. [emphasis added]
And are we going to discuss the permutations of innocent, well-meaning Communism?
- fascism has a revolutionary desire to transform society which is driven by irrationality and political myths.94
Communism and Islam, of course, do not…
The term palingenesis as applied by Griffin translates from Greek as “re-birth” and in this context refers to fascistic desires to “reset” or regenerate society (often through revolution) after a period of perceived decline due to a variety of different factors, often associated with an “enemy within”.
Please, read the Koran and the Hadith! You might find something you recognize.
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. [emphasis added]
How “authoritarian” was it to jail the leader of EDL for months for a passport violation committed against American authorities?
How is “preserving” society seen as “reactionary”?
Is anything we have worth preserving?
Or do the only permitted activities involve the “reinvention” of society? Or even its revolutionary destruction?
p. 36 According to the Routledge Companion to Fascism and the Far-Right, cultural nationalism is a ‘form of nationalism in which the nation is defined in terms of culture, language, race and history.’131 Hutchinson describes the primary aim of cultural nationalists as ‘to revive what they regard as a distinctive and primordial collective personality which has a name, unique origins, history, culture, homeland, and social and political practices.’132 In essence, it defines the nation primarily in terms of a shared culture, and its adherents’ mission is to ensure the survival and prosperity of that culture. While race is often a factor, it is not considered by many cultural nationalists to be the defining feature of a nation. [emphasis added]
Well, if Routledge (whoever he is) said it, it must be true.
How about removing the “race” from the list and agreeing that “nation = common culture, language and history”?
If you don’t like any one of those, what are you doing here?
This passage typifies the rhetoric of the ECJM. It is a stance based on the assumption that Islam is not a religion, but a supremacist political ideology.
So, how do you define it?
And on what evidence? The statements of prominent leaders?
Reading the religious documents themselves?
Possibly consulting the work of other hothouse scholars?
The desire to ban a certain group of people from entering Europe as immigrants purely on the basis of their religion, and the denial of their place in a European country on this basis is inarguably xenophobic.
If we had been a little more welcoming, Attila might have settled in Spain and enriched the Visigothic culture.
The article posits that there are three forms of Islamisation currently in progress in the West:
- The removal of Christian or Jewish symbols from the public sphere so as to avoid offending the Muslim population;
- the imposition of Islamic traditions on non-Islamic societies;
- the creation of “no-go” areas in Western cities, which are predominantly made up of Muslims and enforce forms of sharia law.151 [emphasis added]
And besides the evidence that this is in fact happening, what other evidence would you like?
Concessions to Muslims in Europe, such as allowing Sharia courts to settle civil disputes, are seen as the thin end of the wedge. The ECJM believe that all efforts to bring the status of Islam closer to that of Christianity and Judaism (where in the UK and other parts of Europe the latter are also allowed their own form of religious arbitration through the Beth Din system) are part of the Islamisation conspiracy. [emphasis added]
So, allowing sharia to replace indigenous law is a way of “bringing the status of Islam closer to that of Christianity and Judaism?
How does that work, exactly?
Do we return to a literal reading of the Old Testament — no longer practiced by Jews or Christians — and institute an eye-for-an-eye justice?
Shall we return to stoning as a punishment for adultery?
I guess we are never too old to learn.
The Eurabia theory has been criticised by academics as well as conservative and liberal commentators.179 Walter Lacquer [sic], for example, has questioned the essentialist view of Muslims in Europe which is the premise of Ye’or’s book. He notes that:
The great majority of Muslims in Britain are not Arab but Pakistani or Bangladeshi in origin. In Germany, the Turks greatly outnumber all other Muslims. In France, the majority is North and West African. In Belgium, Turkish and Moroccan, and so on. These are not minor, pedantic issues because traditions, culture, language and even the forms of Islam practised differ considerably in Europe. [emphasis added]
I’ll overlook the fact that these hot-shot academics can’t even spell the name of one of their fellow academics correctly (it should be Walter Laqueur). Instead, consider this ultimate sophistry: using a name that arises from an original bargain between European and Arab partners to “discredit” the monolithic character of Islam’s aims in Europe.
Ha ha, they aren’t all Arabs! So it’s OK that the present leader of Turkey sees himself as the leader of a new Caliphate [which would in fact be an echo of the Sublime Porte which once “threatened Vienna”] and calls upon “his” citizens in Germany to make that country Turkish.
And of course the Islamic terrorism and civil war in Nigeria and Mali are just local, unrelated events.
Move along; nothing to see here.
The idea that all Muslims operate together as a uniform block, unanimously planning their conquest of Europe, is the foundation of another of the ECJM’s central concerns: demographics.
Possibly Muslims are connected in the same way as concerned Europeans of the EDL and Freedom parties.
As a counter to ECJM, may “posit” thee EPJM (European Pro-Jihad Movement).
In his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, Spencer argues that all of the violence, repression and intolerance found in theocracies such as the Saudi monarchy or in Afghanistan under the Taliban, is mandated by Islam as represented by the Koran and Hadith. The problem, he says, is not extremist Islam, but Islam itself. ‘Traditional Islam,’ he writes, ‘is not moderate or peaceful… It is the only major world religion with a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers.’206 According to this reading of Islam the ultra-violence and terrorism of al-Qaeda is an ideal expression of the religion and the views of many of its adherents. Spencer often uses examples from the history of Islam to make his case that modern Islamist terrorism is simply a continuation of a centuries-old war against the West. [emphasis added]
How about some proof to the contrary instead of a sanctimonious assumption that Spencer is wrong?
Concerns about the welfare of ritually slaughtered animals have been voiced by mainstream groups, including the RSPCA which, along with the European Union, has also called for clearer labelling of ritually slaughtered meat.242 The ECJM, on the other hand, is opportunistically co-opting the animal-rights argument in order to broaden its appeal, framing halal as another part of the conspiracy to Islamise Western society. [emphasis added]
Hey, no fair using a legitimate concern recognized by others. We know you don’t really care about the animals.
Maybe you could convince a few celebrities to strip to protect innocent animals from the halal butchers…?
The main grievance, however, is found a few lines further down: ‘why is the word “Muslim” so conspicuously absent?’253 Muslims, he argues, who hold a ‘religiously inspired cultural perspective that is incompatible with British society,’ must be kept in a separate category of their own and not be confused with other South-Asians.254 Similar to Fjordman and Robert Spencer’s Muslim rape-wave articles, the core message is that sexual attacks on Western women and girls that are carried out by Muslims are a specifically Islamic phenomenon, characteristic of a culture that has no place in the West [emphasis added]
Could it be that they are right about the “rape wave” [cf the recent, long overdue investigations and trials in the UK], and that the government has created the term “Asians” to imply that Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists are just as likely to commit violent crimes?
Possibly you are unaware of incidents in which Muslim rapists have said it’s OK to abuse kufr women, because they are unclean and inferior…?
If the core message of the “Ground Zero Mosque” protest was that it would be an insult to build a mosque so near the site of the World Trade Center, the implication throughout was that the plan was in fact an act of Islamic triumphalism, the attempted erection of a monument to the first blow in Islam’s takeover of the West. In an article earlier in 2010, Spencer had placed the “Ground Zero Mosque” in a spurious historical context:… [emphasis added]
“Spurious”? Did you note the proposed name for the Ground Zero Mosque (“Cordoba”) and its predecessor’s history?
Have you ever read Erdogan’s 1998 description of mosques?
”The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…”
Oh, wait, you have — it’s on page 64. But that doesn’t matter — it’s all just colorful, figurative language, unlike the really scary stuff from the counter-jihadists.
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” [emphasis added]
And it does not matter that this term comes from the Islamists in all countries with Muslim majorities, and increasingly in others.
The ECJM is, without doubt, a far-right, populist movement that is gathering momentum in Europe. As this report has demonstrated, however, this description alone does little to explain the movement’s motivations or ideological positions. Although it continues to attract people from across the far-right spectrum, including racial nationalists, its ideology is not concerned with race.
Recasting the movement as representing an extreme form of cultural nationalism should contribute to a clearer, more nuanced and concise understanding of this issue and helps to accurately place groups like the EDL within the ranks of Europe’s far-right. [emphasis added]
Yes, forcing them into a mould that makes them sound as scary as possible definitely increases the “accuracy” of your scholarly analysis.
And it will probably also guarantee funding for the next round of “research”. But that couldn’t possibly be a consideration, could it?