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In Norway, for example, TV2’s coverage of the Breivik trial has included fawning interviews with a representative of Hope Not Hate and screen shots of that appalling masthead. (On the authority of Hope Not Hate, TV2 has labeled Jihad Watch a “radical right” website.)
TV2 isn’t alone. In the U.S., MSNBC treated Hope Not Hate’s “report” as gospel. Here’s how MSNBC’s reporter, Kari Huus, began her story about it: “Anti-Islamist groups and individuals like those that inspired Norwegian Anders Berhing Breivik to launch his bloody attacks in Norway last July are growing in number, reach and interconnectedness, according to a new report published in Britain.”
Huus described the “report” as arguing “that the 9-11 attacks by Islamic extremists provided fuel for counter-jihad extremists — themselves provoking violence by individuals like Breivik.” Note Huus’s use of the word extremist to equate, in essence, the jihadists who murdered three thousand people on 9/11 with writers who have simply sought to clarify those jihadists’ ideology.
The Guardian, too, was glad to lend legitimacy to Hope Not Hate’s “report.” Its headline: “Far-right anti-Muslim network on rise globally as Breivik trial opens.” For the Guardian, the question of whether critics of Muslim “inspired” Breivik to murder dozens of people wasn’t even a question: “The international network of counter-jihadist groups that inspired Anders Behring Breivik,” read the lede on Mark Townsend’s story, “is growing in reach and influence, according to a report released on the eve of the Norwegian’s trial.”
Hope Not Hate’s “Counter-Jihad Report” is, quite simply, a full-frontal assault on truth. It’s Orwellian. It turns reality on its head. It takes on people who have spent years monitoring and alerting the public to a clear and present danger and represents them as constituting the danger. Meanwhile, the people who really are the danger all but disappear from the picture.
None of which would matter much, except for the fact that the mainstream news media are eating it up. They love this. They’d prefer not to discuss Islamic terrorist networks in the West. And they definitely don’t want to talk about the kind of “soft jihad” that leads to a man like Lars Hedegaard being put on trial in Denmark for criticizing Islam. Hedegaard has warned for years that Islam is a threat to free speech; the fact that he’s now on trial for speaking his mind only proves him right. Yet the mainstream news media don’t want to go near such uncomfortable facts; they’d much rather have an excuse to depict Hedegaard, and all those who share his concerns, as dangerous extremists.
If there were any doubt about the determination of some people to use the Breivik trial to demonize critics of Islam, Hope Not Hate has removed that doubt entirely. Just check out what a Norwegian blogger associated with the organization wrote the other day: “The trial [of Breivik] is a lawful assize against the mass murderer of Oslo and Utøya, but in our minds it should be more than that: a tribunal to condemn the criminal thoughts that turned an insignificant young man into a mass killer.”
That’s what it’s all about, folks: putting “criminal thoughts” about Islam – thoughtcrimes, to use Orwell’s increasingly useful word – on trial. The depressing news is that all too many members of the Western cultural elite, from the judiciary to the media, have proven themselves more than eager to join groups like Hope Not Hate in prosecuting the case.
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