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The list reads, in large part, like an honor roll of courageous truth-tellers. In the U.S., people like David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, Ibn Warraq, Mark Steyn, Robert Spencer, and Andrew McCarthy. In Canada, Ezra Levant. In the U.K., Roger Scruton. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders. In Denmark, Lars Hedegaard. And so on.
But no, this isn’t meant as an honor roll. It’s a list of individuals – and organizations, too, among them the David Horowitz Freedom Center – that, according to a new “Counter-Jihad Report” by a British group called Hope Not Hate, make up a nefarious network of Islamophobic extremists who inspired the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring-Breivik.
It’s no coincidence that this “report” was issued to coincide with the beginning of Breivik’s trial, which started on Monday. For the people at Hope Not Hate seek to draw an explicit cause-and-effect connection between writings by various critics of Islam and the atrocities of July 22.
One thing’s clear: Breivik has been a terrific gift to those who, for whatever reason, have long been eager to shift focus away from the danger of Islam and to argue that it’s the criticism of Islam that’s the real danger.
It hasn’t been easy for these folks. Over the last decade, as a result of one brutal jihadist atrocity after another – 9/11, Madrid, London, Beslan, Bali, Mumbai, etc., etc. – Islam has been associated in the Western mind with bloodthirsty slaughter. Then, on July 22 of last year, a single man, acting alone, killed dozens of people, purportedly in the name of anti-jihadism. His actions provided everyone who’d like to whitewash Islam with an opportunity to associate not Islam, but its critics, with savage violence.
The people at Hope Not Hate didn’t let this opportunity pass them by. So – voilà, the “Counter-Jihad Report,” the implicit premise of which is that to be opposed to jihad is, by definition, not only a bad but a downright dangerous thing.
Not that the “report” actually addresses the subject of jihad – no, jihad itself is left almost entirely out of the equation. Indeed, to read this thing, you’d almost think that jihad were some fantasy cooked up by “counter-jihadists” in order to smear Islam.
I won’t mince words: the “report” is a thoroughly repulsive piece of work. One repulsive thing about it is that it brings together the names of serious, respectable, and well-informed critics of Islam – individuals and organizations that are profoundly concerned about the rise of Islam in the West because they recognize it as a threat to freedom and human rights – with the names of neo-Nazis. Also repulsive is the masthead on this page, on which pictures of David Horowitz and Geert Wilders are juxtaposed with a photo of Breivik, in full faux-military regalia, aiming his gun.
In a sane world, such a juxtaposition of images would be more than enough to make it clear that Hope Not Hate is a despicable organization and that its “report” is not to be taken seriously. Yet this isn’t, alas, a sane world. Issued only a few days ago, the “report” has already been embraced by the international media, and the formerly obscure Hope Not Hate is suddenly being treated as if it were a definitive source of objective information.
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