It Didn’t Start with The Federalist
I was canceled before cancellation was cool.
Everyone is all upset about Google pole-axing the Federalist and Zero Hedge, and rightly so. Twitter is full of warnings from conservatives that if this silencing of dissenting voices isn’t stopped, the freedom of speech will be a dead letter, free society will be a thing of the past, and America will swiftly become a totalitarian state.
I’m sympathetic, but must point out that I’ve been sounding this warning for years, while establishment conservatives, the ones who are feeling the heat now, paid no heed (and the Left celebrated). What has happened now to the Federalist and Zero Hedge is nothing new at all: Google banned me and other foes of jihad violence and Sharia oppression of women several years ago. I was also banned by GoFundMe, PayPal (briefly), Patreon, MasterCard, Indiegogo, Amazon Smile, Amazon’s Associates program, and probably others I’ve forgotten. When all that happened, there was no reaction from mainstream conservatives who professed to oppose the progressive Leftist silencing of voices that oppose them.
Why was there no reaction? Because years ago, the establishment right accepted the “Islamophobia” narrative. Leftist organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) told the world that to oppose jihad violence and Sharia oppression was ipso facto “Islamophobic” and hateful. Islamic advocacy groups such as the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) relentlessly insisted that all opposition to jihad was “bigotry,” while the establishment media passed on these claims uncritically, never informing the public about CAIR’s unsavory ties. Meanwhile, Dinesh D’Souza told conservatives that unnamed “conservative Muslims” were their natural allies and partners, ignoring the fact that Osama bin Laden, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the like are “conservative Muslims.” George W. Bush told them that Islam was a religion of peace.
Others insisted to conservatives that the entire resistance to jihad was “racist” unless it was led by moderate Muslims who claimed that when properly understood, Islam was indeed a religion of peace as Bush said, and that it was wrong to discuss how Islamic jihadis used the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and make recruits among peaceful Muslims. A few years ago I sat in a meeting with some of the heads of the leading counter-terror groups in the country, and we discussed a joint initiative. Then one of those leaders pointed out that we were all white men and that our efforts would have no legitimacy unless a moderate Muslim led them. I, on the other hand, thought the truth was true no matter who stated it, but that was distinctly a minority view; everyone else agreed not only that it was prudent to play the Left’s identity politics game in order to gain more mainstream attention and avoid charges of “racism” and “bigotry,” but that it was right to do so, and somehow improper for non-Muslims to want to defend themselves against jihad violence. Those moderate Muslims meanwhile convinced many conservatives that the moderates, that is, a handful of people with tiny organizations, represented a genuine force for reform within the Islamic world, and that this reform was the only hope.
But the primary driving force, as is so often the case, was fear. Establishment conservatives, including the Republican Party, Fox News, National Review, the whole panoply, were terrified of being labeled “racist,” “bigoted,” and “Islamophobic.” To prevent that, they were willing to mute, censor, and cover with euphemisms their response to jihad violence and Sharia oppression. In doing so, they gutted their own effectiveness, because they no longer spoke (if they ever did speak) about the true nature and magnitude of the threat. Instead, they focused narrowly on one aspect of the problem -- terrorist attacks -- while ignoring or denying the goal of jihad, other forms of jihad, the nature of Sharia, the oppression of whole populations under Sharia, and more.
Fear and cowardice being the hallmarks of American establishment conservatism, foes of jihad were thrown to the wolves. I’ve repeatedly tried to sue the Southern Poverty Law Center for defaming me as a white supremacist, a bigot, and all the rest of it, but I only ever found one lawyer who would take the case. Most others were afraid to go up against the SPLC money machine. The one who was willing wanted $500,000, which I do not have and cannot raise since GoFundMe and the rest are closed to me. Meanwhile, establishment conservative organizations don’t dare to feature me or other foes of jihad terror, as they know what will ensue: a firestorm of protest from the establishment media and the Left, and they’re just not willing to stand up against that. Last November I spoke up in New Hampshire for a local Republican Party group. The local media ginned up hysteria, the state Democratic Party chairman, Raymond Buckley, libeled me as a “white supremacist” and refused to retract, other Democrats called for my cancellation, and several venues did cave in to the pressure. The worst aspect of the whole thing, however, was that the local Republicans obediently fell into line. They fired the local party chairman who had invited me, and replaced him with state Rep. Steven Smith, an embarrassing invertebrate who apologized for my appearance even though he hadn’t attended, hadn’t viewed the video, and had no idea what I said. He just knew that the Democrats were angry, and so he jumped to appease them. And he is, of course, not alone. He should be elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, because the whole thing is as small, weak, and spineless as he is.
All that being said, I am neither complaining nor asking anyone for anything. The ship has sailed; there is no one to ask. I’m merely posting these observations as a record, for as long as it lasts, of how we got here, and a signpost to what is certain to happen next. Just as I have warned many times, the Left is now coming for the establishment conservatives who thought they would be spared if they threw me and others who were targeted by the Left under the bus. That was never true, and everyone knows that now. Nonetheless, probably never-Trump conservatives and others still think they won’t be targeted. They’re wrong. But by the time they find that out, it will be far, far too late.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.