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Melanie Phillips’ Friendly Fire

Posted By Robert Spencer On June 28, 2013 @ 3:07 pm In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 86 Comments

Sign the petition asking that we be allowed into the UK here.

Here is the second piece today (the first is here) from an “ally” rushing to our defense while hastening to assure the world that she is not at all like us — a position that is self-defeating no matter what one may think of us.

“The British government’s jihad against free thought,” by Melanie Phillips, June 27:

By banning from the country as extremists the American anti-jihadis Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, the Home Secretary Teresa May has not only made herself look ridiculous but has sent the enemies of the United Kingdom the message that they have it on the run.

Indeed. But here comes the kid-gloves caveat:

I do not support the approach taken by either Geller or Spencer to the problem of Islamic extremism. Both have endorsed groups such as the EDL and others which at best do not deal with the thuggish elements in their ranks and at worst are truly racist or xenophobic.

Note in the first place that the letter from the Home Office barring me from the UK said nothing at all about the EDL or “others.” (What others?) It quoted a statement of mine that Islam has a doctrine mandating warfare against unbelievers — a statement that is demonstrably true. So Melanie Phillips’ bringing up the EDL here is completely gratuitous, designed to distinguish her work from ours, and to show the British elites that she is not tainted with our taint. (Be sure to see Pamela Geller’s response here.)

In fact, the EDL has nothing racist or xenophobic about its platform, and removes such individuals from its ranks when they’re found. It is only “thuggish” in that its members fight back when attacked by Islamic supremacists. Melanie Phillips thinks that the EDL is racist and xenophobic because she has seen a thousand media reports insisting that it is. As someone who has been lied about in the same mainstream media, she ought to be a bit more skeptical of what they report. The people who claim that the EDL are racist and xenophobic are primarily the foes of the counter-jihad movement in general. I’ve seen how they lie about me; why should I believe them about the EDL? Melanie Phillips has seen how they lie about her; why should she believe them about the EDL?

Her fastidious distinguishing of herself from those among the foes of jihad and Islamic supremacism to which she objects will not win her a pass. Every last foe of jihad gets the same treatment. Phillips’ fundamental error is to think that if she distances herself from the EDL (and those shadowy “others”), Pamela Geller, and me, that the Leftists and Islamic supremacists won’t direct their fury on her, and subject her to the same campaign of smears and defamation to which they have subjected us. But they will. There are plenty of foes of “Islamic extremism” who think that if they utter nonsense about “moderate Islam” and “hijacking of religion,” that they will outflank the politically correct narrative. They don’t realize that the purveyors of political correctness really are fascist authoritarians — that is not just Spencer’s rhetorical flourish. They will give Melanie Phillips no quarter, no matter how much she concedes to them. And the more she does concede to them, the more she plays their game, the more she allows them to set the terms of the debate and define the parameters of the narrative, the more she empowers them, and sends the enemies of the United Kingdom the message that they have it on the run. That’s the fundamental problem with her friendly fire.

The result has been a serious blow to the credibility of these two writers, with particular damage being done to Spencer whose scholarship in itself is scrupulous. It has also split the defence against Islamic extremism, and handed a potent propaganda weapon to those who seek falsely to portray as bigoted extremists all who are engaged in the defence of the west against the Islamic jihad.

If anyone has “split the defence against Islamic extremism,” it is those such as Melanie Phillips and The Commentator who are careful to attack foes of “Islamic extremism” even while defending them. And the rest of this is outstandingly naive: the foes of freedom were portraying “all who are engaged in the defence of the west against the Islamic jihad” as “bigoted extremists” long before the EDL existed. What she doesn’t seem to understand is the game the Left and Islamic supremacists play: they pick a target, defame it, smear it, and demonize it, until finally it is completely marginalized. They demand that freedom fighters denounce and distance themselves from the targeted individual. Melanie Phillips is playing along with this game with alacrity. But no one of any position except their own will ultimately be acceptable them. They will just move on from the EDL to the next target, and demonize it as well, until the remaining foes of jihad denounce and distance themselves from the new target as well. Then they will pick another foe of jihad and do the same thing, until there is no one left. The worst thing foes of jihad could do in the face of this game is play it, and allow some individual or group to be destroyed on the basis of unsubstantiated claims and Leftist propaganda. But Melanie Phillips just keeps playing along.

Nevertheless, the decision to ban this duo from Britain is unjustified, oppressive and comes perilously close to lining up the British government alongside those who wish to silence defenders of the west against the jihad, making a total mockery of Britain’s understanding of just who presents a danger to the state.

Nevertheless!

Neither Geller nor Spencer remotely presents such a danger. They intended to come to Britain to join an EDL rally in Woolwich, in the wake of the barbaric murder there of Drummer Lee Rigby by two Islamists last month.Personally, I believe the EDL is not a respectable platform to join. Whether or not its rally is itself a threat to public order is, however, another issue. As far as is known, it is not being banned. It is only Geller and Spencer who have been banned from the country on the grounds that their presence is ‘not conducive to the public good’. The implication is that they will incite violence or disorder. But all the two of them do is criticise Islam, condemn jihadis and warn against the west’s failure to take seriously their machinations.

“Personally, I believe the EDL is not a respectable platform to join.” I am reminded of a time when I was in London, several years ago, and witnessed an uncomfortable scene in which a prominent English writer dressed down some EDL members with a cold fury. His accent was posh, theirs were not, and as he upbraided them it became increasingly clear that he was outraged at their insolence — that these lower class lads would dare to approach him and speak with him as if he were an equal. The impression I got then has been reinforced many times since then: that the foes of jihad in Britain often oppose the EDL for the unspoken reason that it is made up of people from a lower social class, and people of lower social classes simply do not lead acceptable movements. Years ago I knew an Englishman who had emigrated to the U.S., he told me, because Britain was such a class society that there was a certain level beyond which he could not rise, no matter what his accomplishments and abilities. British class distinctions are, I believe, behind much of the sniffing at the EDL, and readiness to accept Leftist/Islamic supremacist propaganda about it on the part of people who would otherwise reject that propaganda.

But I am an American. We don’t have social classes here. Anyone who works for the freedom of speech and equality of rights of all people, and rejects the genuine thuggishness and authoritarianism of the Left and its Islamic supremacist allies, is A-OK with me.

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