Last week a post-doctoral researcher at a major British university emailed me to ask whether I was willing to be interviewed as part of “a cross European project looking at populist politics”. As he described it, “the project is looking at different manifestations of populism across Europe, and as part of the UK section we’re hoping to interview some writers from a number of conservative websites that deal with the UK and Europe more widely.”
After an exchange of emails, I consented to do a written interview. My conditions were that I would not answer any questions until any potentially loaded terms were defined to my satisfaction, and that I would publish the questions and my responses at Gates of Vienna. He agreed, provided that I refrain from identifying him, or his university, or the sponsors of his project.
I was expecting the usual terminology employed by leftist academics — “Islamophobia”, “xenophobia”, “racist”, “right-wing extremist”, etc. — which is why I insisted on having any such terms defined in advance. But when the questions finally arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find them largely neutral in tone. The only phrase that needed to be defined was “far-right”, as used in the following question:
“GoV has been criticised in the past as promoting a counter-jihadist narrative that in turn promotes far-right violence (see attached report: Kundnani, 2012: 6). Do you think this is a valid or fair criticism? How would you respond to claims like these?” [emphasis added]
I wrote back and asked the interviewer: “What do you (or your sponsoring organization) mean by ‘far-right’?”
While I’m waiting for his definition (and working on the answers), let’s take a look at the attached report to get an idea of the quagmire into which the baronial boot has just stepped.
“Kundnani 2012” refers to a research paper entitled “Blind Spot? Security Narratives and Far-Right Violence in Europe” by Dr. Arun Kundnani. It is similar to other papers discussed in this space, such as the report the by International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), which has been dealt with at length here previously.
But this one seems to be even further to the left than the ICSR report. The author is a former fellow at the Open Society Foundations, that is, the heart of George Soros’ operations. The sponsoring organization is International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague, which describes itself as “an independent knowledge centre that focuses on information creation, collation and dissemination pertaining to the preventative and international legal aspects of counter-terrorism.”
In his abstract of the paper, Dr. Kundnani says this:
This paper discusses the challenges of countering far-Right political violence in the wake of the terrorist attack carried out by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway in July 2011. With brief case studies of Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium, it argues that classic neo-Nazi groups are being supplemented by new ‘counter-jihadist’ far-Right movements, which use various modes of political action, including participation in elections, street-based activism and terrorist violence. Building on recent interest among scholars and practitioners in the role of narratives and performativity in counter-terrorism, this paper argues that official security discourses tend to hinder efforts to counter far-Right violence and can unwittingly provide opportunities for counter-jihadists to advance their own narratives. When leaders and officials of Western European governments narrate issues of multiculturalism and radical Islamism in ways that overlap with counter-jihadist ideology, it suggests a need for reflection on the unintended side-effects of their security discourse. The paper concludes with a discussion of how governments can rework their security narratives to oppose far-Right violence.
As you can see, standard mind-numbing academic jargon pervades the script, with “narratives” and “discourse” playing important roles. Not to mention “performativity” — whatever the heck that is.
The obvious intention is the same one that has become so drearily familiar to us over the past two years: to make non-violent opponents of Islamization somehow responsible for the deeds of Anders Behring Breivik, no matter what intellectual gymnastics are necessary to shoehorn the facts into the desired “narrative”.
In the paper itself, Robert Spencer, Ba’et Yor [sic], and Fjordman are described as “conspiracy theorists”. Gates of Vienna draws some brief attention, as do David Horowitz, The Brussels Journal, and other Islam-critical writers and outlets with which most readers are already familiar.
As I skimmed the report, I noticed near the end (in Part 5, the “Annex”, on page 33) a list of “major incidents of far-Right violence in Europe since 1990”. The author tells us that “Based on the following cases, it can be provisionally estimated that 249 persons have been killed in Europe as a result of far-Right violence since 1990.”
In other words: If we look at the pre-Breivik figures, from 1990 to 2011 — a period of more than two decades, and as determined by a left-wing organization that might be expected to dig up every single relevant incident that could possibly be found — 172 people were killed in acts of right-wing violence.
To put this figure into perspective, consider this: In a single day in 2004, a single Islamic terrorist attack killed 191 people in Madrid. That is, one isolated Islamic terror attack in Spain killed 19 more people than all the (lefty-defined) right-wing terror attacks in Europe for more than twenty years.
It would in fact be hard to track all the deaths caused by Islamic violence in Europe since 1990, because there have been so many. They include not just terror attacks and individual murders such as that of Theo Van Gogh, but also “honor” killings and other forms of lethal violence that accompany Islam wherever it migrates.
And you can bet that ICCT isn’t even attempting to calculate this number. It’s much more important to them to monitor all those Nazis and fascists — those nasty “far-right” villains who are poised to assume power the moment the dedicated disciples of the Left relax their vigilance for even a moment.
So this is the milieu that we’re up against. I harbor no illusions that I’ll be changing anybody’s mind.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“But, Baron,” you say, “why are you even talking to this fellow? You know what the final paper will look like, after all the ‘research’ is done. Why set yourself up?”
That’s a valid question. I’m aware of what we’re up against. And I realize that when you sup with the devil, you need a long spoon.
But if the outcome has been decided in advance, why not expose the process by which it is contrived to the light of day?
The report will arrive at the conclusions with which we are all familiar. We will in some manner be held responsible for what Anders Behring Breivik did, regardless of anything we might say or do. There’s nothing that can be done to change that.
So Gates of Vienna readers might as well have a look at the questions I am asked, and the answers I give, before the research paper is ever drafted or published.
I agreed to respect the confidentiality of the people and institutions doing the research, but that really doesn’t matter. Any major British university “looking at populist politics” is going produce more or less the same results. When you see a paper of this sort emerge from the academic cloisters of the UK, you may assume that the method of producing it was similar to the one that will be revealed here.
We’ll just take this as an opportunity to peek behind the scrim and see how these things are done. The flavor of the sausage is pre-determined, but a look at the sausage-making process may well be instructive.