The Southern Poverty Law Center Is Enabling Islamist Extremism By Smearing Its Most Stalwart Opponents

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By labelling dedicated anti-extremism campaigners like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Majid Nawaz as anti-Muslim extremists themselves, the deluded and morally compromised Southern Poverty Law Centre is doing the Islamists’ work for them

There have been few sadder debasements of once-fine and noble institutions this year than the Southern Poverty Law Center’s decision to stop serving as a fearless searchlight highlighting violent extremism and instead become a trendy-lefty Islamism-denying propaganda outlet.

That might sound harsh, but there really is no other way to describe the SPLC’s fawning, slavish deference to leftist SJW dogma – a philosophy which furiously denies that there is any problem within the Islamic community or with a certain branch of the Muslim faith, and that anybody who disagrees and dares to draw attention to problems within Islam is effectively Hitler.

Last week, in a blaze of publicity, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a list of fifteen individuals singled out by that organisation as holding and disseminating false and extremist information and opinions about Islam.

In the preface to their report, the SPLC declares:

The anti-Muslim extremists profiled here have, between them, claimed that Islamic extremists have infiltrated the CIA, FBI, Pentagon and other agencies; asserted that there are “no-go zones” in Europe where non-Muslims including police are afraid to enter; suggested that there is a Muslim plot to impose Sharia religious law on U.S. courts; and claimed that President Obama is a secret Muslim. These claims, along with many others, have been shown conclusively to be false.

This misinformation and hateful rhetoric have consequences. When huge numbers of Americans believe that a majority of Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, it can hardly be a surprise that some percentage of them engage in hate crime attacks. After all, they learned of the threat they believe Muslims pose from sources who were presented by the media as authoritative experts.

This country faces an array of complex and daunting problems, the threat of terrorism indisputably among them. Let’s not make them worse by allowing self-described “experts” to propagandize our fellow Americans with defamatory and frightening falsehoods. Our media, in particular, has the opportunity to present an objective picture that illuminates, rather than distorts, reality.

So far, so noble, you might think. There is certainty a lot of hyperbolic and often baseless scaremongering about Muslims and Islam in the media, and flagging particularly odious or disreputable sources for media attention is not in and of itself a bad thing. Until you realise who is on the list.

Some of the names are old suspects that one would expect to see. But in news which has provoked widespread outrage, the list also includes the names of entirely innocent and worthy activists fighting against Islamist extremism, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz.

And what is the SPLC’s charge sheet against Maajid Nawaz? What actions classify him as an “extremist”?

In the list sent to a top British security official in 2010, headlined “Preventing Terrorism: Where Next for Britain?” Quilliam [Nawaz’s anti-extremism think tank]  wrote, “The ideology of non-violent Islamists is broadly the same as that of violent Islamists; they disagree only on tactics.” An official with Scotland Yard’s Muslim Contact Unit told The Guardian that “[t]he list demonises a whole range of groups that in my experience have made valuable contributions to counter-terrorism.”

Well, what’s so shocking about that? It as an entirely logical statement on Nawaz’s part. Unless the people at the SPLC are truly dim and do not recognise a difference between Muslims and Islamists then there is no excuse for trying to turn a perfectly obvious point – that some people who support a fundamentalist ideology will choose violence while others do not – into some kind of “gotcha” smoking gun evidence of Nawaz’s secret Islamophobia.

And worse:

According to a Jan. 24, 2014, report in The Guardian, Nawaz tweeted out a cartoon of Jesus and Muhammad — despite the fact that many Muslims see it as blasphemous to draw Muhammad. He said that he wanted “to carve out a space to be heard without constantly fearing the blasphemy charge.”

Was this provocative? Perhaps. But again, Nawaz is himself a Muslim. Who better to judge what is or is not offensive to one’s religious moral code than the person tweeting the image? And even if doing so is “offensive”, are there not times when the offence is a price worth paying to make a broader argument in support of universal free speech? And if the Southern Poverty Law Center is so concerned about the emotional harm that may be inflicted by “blasphemous” acts like this, how do they explain their deafening silence when it comes to Christian beliefs and symbols being mocked in the popular culture?

The SPLC is not taking the side of ordinary Muslims here, some of whom may indeed be quietly offended by depicting Muhammad. They are taking the side of violent Islamists who seek to enforce blasphemy laws in the 21st century.

And then the SLPC really descends into the gutter:

Nawaz, who had described himself as a “feminist,” was “filmed repeatedly trying to touch a naked lap dancer,” according to an April 10, 2015, report in the Daily Mail. The paper apparently got the security film from the owner of a strip club who was incensed by Nawaz’s claims to be a religious Muslim.

And how we have the inevitable SJW identity politics hit job, seeking to ruin Nawaz’s reputation in the court of public opinion by repeating the shocking news that Nawaz has not at all times lived according to the letter of his faith. Well, so what? Sometimes, without thinking, I accidentally eat meat on a Friday during Lent. Does that make me virulently anti-Catholic and unable to fittingly discuss my faith in the media? Of course not. People’s actions diverge from their faith in a myriad of ways, small and large, and this applies just as much to those who got upset about Nawaz’s strip club visit (like the Muslim strip club owner) as to Nawaz himself. None are in a position to judge. Yet the SPLC feels that any divergence from Islamic teaching is sufficient to declare people that they don’t like to be somehow anti-Muslim.

This National Review editorial laments the SPLC’s corruption and decline:

The SPLC is an example of the way in which the Left corrupts and perverts the institutions it controls, from the IRS to the universities. While decrying “conspiracy theorists,” the SPLC itself is obsessed with “Terror from the Right” that is, pardon us for noticing, so rare as to be nearly insignificant. For all of the SPLC’s hysteria about neo-Confederates, skinheads, secret Nazi cabals, and the like, there is very little evidence that these organizations, to the extent that they exist as more than shared social-media fantasies, are actually up to much of anything. Even if we accept the tendentious characterization of SPLC favorite Timothy McVeigh as some kind of right-wing extremist (as with many such figures, his actual beliefs were confused, contradictory, and eccentric), the main organ of white-supremacist nuttery in the United States is prison gangs, which constitute a fairly constrained and peculiar phenomenon with relatively little effect on the outside world.

Not so violent Islamic radicalism, which is a factor in the United States and in practically every country in Europe, Africa, South Asia, and beyond. That is the great irony here: People like Ayaan Hirsi Ali are doing the work the SPLC is supposed to be doing — understanding and countering violent extremists — and the SPLC denounces them for it.

Very strange.

Some of those on the SPLC list are Muslims, former Muslims, and lifelong students of Islam. What they mostly have in common is that they are, broadly speaking, conservatives, people who are influential among conservatives, or writers and activists admired by conservatives. The SPLC is so drunk on its own poisonous ideological brew that it has simply come to conflate conservatism with violent or potentially violent extremism. One of these things is not like the others: A category of social tendencies that includes both Aryan Brotherhood felons in San Quentin and Somali-Dutch atheist women with celebrated literary careers is not an especially useful category.

While Nick Cohen provocatively (but accurately) declares in The Spectator that “the white left has issued its first fatwa” against Nawaz:

It is an organisation that ought to share Nawaz’s values, but because of the crisis in left-wing values does the dirty work of the misogynists, the racists, the homophobes, the censors, and the murderers it was founded to oppose. It does it with a straight face because, as I am sure you will have guessed, the fascism in question is not white but Islamic. And once that subject is raised all notions of universal human rights, and indeed basic moral and intellectual decency, are drowned in a sea of bad faith.

Nawaz is from Essex. He has fought and been beaten up by white British neo-Nazis. He fell in with Hizb ut-Tahrir while he was young. When he ended up in a torture chamber in an Egyptian jail, he abandoned Islamism for liberalism. Since then, he and his Quilliam Foundation have struggled against both the white far right and the Islamist far right. They have defended liberal Muslims and, indeed, all of us from lethal blasphemy taboos and the threat of terrorism. They respect freedom of speech, including the freedom of their enemies to speak.

A significant faction on the left hates them for upholding the values they have forgotten,  and will use any smear to denigrate them. As my secularist friend Faisal Saeed Al Mutar observed, when he, Nawaz and hundreds of others step forward and try to liberalise Muslim communities from within, they are attacked, ‘for being not Muslim enough, not Arab enough, not Pakistani enough, not filled with enough revenge and enough hatred’.

In the liberal orientalist world view the only ‘authentic’ Muslim is a barbarian. A battery of insults fires on any Muslim who says otherwise. They are ‘neo-conservatives,’ ‘native informants,’ and ‘Zionists’: they are as extreme as jihadists they oppose, or, let’s face it, worse.

This searing criticism could not be more accurate. For there is nothing so racist as the tyranny of low expectations in which the fashionable leftist intelligentsia holds the Muslim world, viewing them not as people with moral agency of their own but as little pets to be protected (or overgrown pets to be cowered from), people whose sometime decision to commit violence and murder cannot be condemned because it is supposedly “provoked” by forced beyond their control.

I have personally interviewed Maajid Nawaz, back when he was running as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the London constituency of Hampstead & Kilburn in the 2015 UK general election, and whatever one may think of his domestic political views, this is clearly not somebody who belongs on a list of violent, hateful extremists.

What is concerning is that the Southern Poverty Law Center would actually now prefer the old incarnation of Maajid Nawaz, back in the days when he was a member of a legitimate extremist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir. As such, he would be protected under the umbrella of leftist denial and fawning appeasement, so central to the SPLC’s new dogma, and they would bend over backwards to excuse his fundamentalist beliefs and violent actions.

By contrast, having long since rejected violence and an extremist fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, the SPLC would have us believe that Nawaz is somehow full of hatred and antipathy to normal Muslims, the equivalent of a knight of the Ku Klux Klan. It is absolute nonsense – pure, amoral leftist bilge.

This is also how Western civilisation destroys itself – by furiously denying the existence of opposing forces or in some cases openly bending the knee to them, while attacking those who actually recognise the danger and seek to confront it. In a world where precious few people have a remotely coherent strategy for tackling fundamentalist Islamism, Maajid Nawaz stands out as one of those with genuine understanding of the problem, and a plan for addressing it – and so the debased SPLC must now attack and undermine him at all costs, by pretending that he is an anti-Muslim extremist.

And one can only concur with Nick Cohen’s assessment that it is “heartbreaking” to witness an organisation so integral to the American Civil Rights movement, which bravely shone an unforgiving light on genuine violent extremism where it once existed, now creating McCarthyite lists of people who offend leftist/Islamist dogma and labelling them with the same term of “extremist”.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list too. Why? Because she actively and gleefully foments prejudice and violence against ordinary innocent Muslims? Of course not. The SPLC include Ayaan Hirsi Ali in their leftist collaborationist fatwa because she had the temerity to renounce her faith and speak out passionately for the cause of secularism, thus gravely offending the real extremists to the point where she has to hire bodyguards to ward off assassination attempts.

It takes some twisted morality to come down on the side of those who seek to carry out an execution for the crime of apostasy over their intended victim, but somehow the SPLC has found a way.

Cohen concludes:

Do these jerks not think about the consequences of their rote-learned, pseudo-leftist bombast? Have they not heard that, across the world, lists circulate of ‘apostates’ along with invitations to the faithful to kill them when they can?

Maybe they have but do not care, and it will take drastic action to shake them out of their spiteful stupor.  A court action could do it. If Nawaz sues, SPLC’s work in fighting the white far right will suffer grievously. But, as it is so eager to be on the wrong side in the fight against the religious far right, I think we could call it evens.

It is hard to disagree. Gone, it seems, are the days when the Southern Poverty Law Center could be found seeking justice for the victims of real prejudice, oppression and extremist violence.

Where once the SPLC battled segregation and fought civil cases to ensure that racist lynchings and arson attacks were acknowledged at a time when the criminal justice system did not want to prosecute them, now they can be found patrolling the borders of our language, seeking to excommunicate decent and honest people from polite society for the high crime of having caused “offence” to certain protected groups.

And when an organisation has drifted so far from its founding ethos to the extent that a one-time civil liberties group is now in the business of making McCarthyite-style lists of people whose blasphemy offends Islamist extremists, then the time has probably come to wash our hands of that organisation, sad though it may be.

 

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Top Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 44 – The Suffix “-phobic” Is Now Considered Oppressive Against People With Phobias

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The social justice movement, long ridiculous, has now disappeared so far up its own backside that it is quite simply beyond parody. These warped, self-righteous posers will weaponise anything and infantilise anyone to burnish their own right-on credentials

When faced with the latest example of SJW posturing and weaponised victimhood, one wonders just how much further these baby-faced tyrants can possibly go in policing our language and behaviour to make us conform with their ever-shifting conception of what is good and what is deplorable.

But in truth, they will never be satisfied. In SJW-land, the power and social standing of a Social Justice Warrior activist is derived entirely from “points” that they accrue defending their new orthodoxy and persecuting heretics simply trying to exercise their free speech. A diligent SJW can pick up points for riding to battle against something “offensive” written by a perfect stranger on social media, but they accrue even more kudos within their cult by accusing a fellow member(s) of heresy. We may be the usual targets, but the SJW cultists themselves must always look over their shoulders for fear of attack by an overzealous rival. The social justice / identity politics revolution loves to devour its own.

This manifests itself in all kinds of ways – witness the case of student union official Fran Cowling, who declared in a blaze of self-publicity that she would not share a stage with Peter Tatchell because he dared to take the side of free speech over SJW “no platform” policies designed to shut dissenting viewpoints out of university campuses. Never mind that Tatchell has done more for minority rights in a typical weekend than Cowling will likely manage her entire wretched life – Cowling cynically attempted to position herself as a better and purer cultist, and so leapfrog the many levels separating her own unscrutinised place in history and Tatchell’s far more tangible contribution.

But what if one enterprising SJW found a way to imply that nearly every other social justice cultist in the world is being inadvertently oppressive all the time, while they alone were enlightened enough to recognise the error of their ways? That SJW would then be able to claim the mantle of Most Compassionate Person, and accrue incredible kudos within that ridiculous community.

Well, it turns out that one such SJW – Denarii Monroe, writing at Everyday Feminism, the motherlode of idiotic social justice, victimhood culture nonsense – is attempting that very feat.

Monroe writes:

For years, through to today, we have named these oppressions as homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, or queerphobia. Other movements use phrases such as xenophobia, fatphobia, and Islamophobia.

It’s important to put a name to the systemic structures that marginalize us and have effects on our day-to-day living. This language is essential in the fight for liberation for all marginalized groups. I remember how empowering it was to have a name for the specific experiences and needs of the bi+ (plus) community.

Naming, well, just about anything in life – a spoon, a tree, a breed of dog – allows us to identify it. And in the case of oppression, being able to identify it allows us to tackle it head-on.

Unfortunately, in our quest to do so, we have chosen language that isn’t just problematic, but downright oppressive.

And I get it. Most of us were born into this language. Whether we belong to the communities who use this language or we’re just allies, it has informed much of our experiences – how we began to understand inequality, how we talk about the discrimination we experience, and how we relate to others with similar oppression.

But Islamophobia, transphobia, and other constructions that use “-phobia” as a suffix erase the fact that “phobias” are a real thing that happen to real people. Those of us who use these terms know all too well the damage that erasure can do in the fight to achieve liberation and social equity.

Regardless of good intentions, at the end of the day, it’s not okay to build our righteous movements on the backs of other marginalized people. Further, in choosing inaccurate, inadequate language, we harm ourselves as well.

Original emphasis in bold.

In other words, using the suffix “-phobia” when describing real or imagined acts of prejudice – as in Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia – is itself “oppressive” because apparently it appropriates the language used to describe recognised phobias like claustrophobia, thus somehow erasing or denying the lived experience of claustrophobes, agoraphobes and assorted other phobics.

So according to the new draconian standard set by the Social Justice Warriors, this anti-Donald Trump meme (expressing a sentiment which they would otherwise doubtless support) is itself ableist and oppressive to those who suffer from traditional phobias:

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A year ago, this might have been regarded as an entirely legitimate form of anti-Trump protest. But so far have things moved in the space of twelve months that the cutting edge SJWs of Everyday Feminism would now regard references to “homophobia” as an unconscionable assault on the daily suffering and lived experience of people with medically recognised phobias.

Yes. To speak about Islamophobia or transphobia is now ableist – that is, oppressive towards those with disabilities – because it supposedly makes light of the “disability” of having a phobia. Denarii Monroe has essentially declared that nearly every other Social Justice Warrior, by virtue of still using the suffix “-phobia” as part of their daily activism, are in fact part of the oppressive, neo-colonialist masses. They are all part of the problem. She alone is part of the solution.

This is the social justice equivalent of the launch of HMS Dreadnought back in 1906. With the launch of the steam turbine-powered warship Dreadnought, every other battleship in every navy around the world was instantly rendered obsolete, giving the Royal Navy an immense strategic advantage and setting off a new arms race. And now, in a dismal pastiche of history over a century later, Denarii Monroe is essentially declaring that the language of every other Social Justice Warrior – people who spend their whole day festering in this fetid swamp of identity politics and weaponised victimhood – was oppressive all along, unbeknownst to them.

But why should we go to the effort of completely overturning the language that nearly all of us – not only SJWs – use to talk about prejudice and discrimination?

Phobias aren’t really something you hear much about, except as an exploitative tabloid episode on shows hosted by the likes of Maury Povich and Jerry Springer.

Like all marginalized groups, disabled folks have little representation in the media and in real-life institutions. This is reflected in how we are portrayed, talked about, and treated. Mental disabilities – from schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder to bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder – are particularly notorious for being misconstrued and inaccurately and harmfully portrayed, usually just for ratings (read: money).

[..] Phobias are virtually invisible in society outside of the aforementioned daytime talk show segments.  But the fact of the matter is that we are real.

We exist. We navigate this world, to the best of our abilities, every single day. We’re on disability. We work. We find love and sex, if we desire those things. We have dreams. We struggle.

And our lived experiences and truths deserve dignity and respect, not the further erasure and trivialization that phrases like “-phobia” actively perpetuate.

Good grief. Has any person suffering from a legitimate phobia ever been upset, outraged or “harmed” in any way by the fact that we also use the word for their condition to describe people who are prejudiced against certain groups? Of course not – just as if I were to say (as I believe) that the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics is a cancer on our society, people currently suffering from cancer will not suddenly wince in pain when I hit “publish”. It would be clear to any reasonable person (thus excluding the SJWs) that the cancer I speak of is metaphorical, and entirely different from the actual disease, just as it is clear to legitimate phobia sufferers that nobody is seeking to diminish their suffering when we speak of “xenophobia” or “homophobia”.

And mark this:

The use of “-phobia” as a suffix erodes the dictionary meaning of the word, but more importantly, it is one tool that helps society forget that phobias are real phenomena that affect real people every day, some of whom, like myself and my friends, are queer and trans.

It is as though the author is laying each one of her oppressed identities before us, to add weight to her specious argument.

Queer? Check.

Trans? Check.

Phobic (and thus disabled)? Check.

This is how you win an argument in Social Justice world. Not by appealing to facts, reason or evidence but rather by pointing to your identity in terms of race, gender and sexuality, and trying to claim the highest possible position on the Hierarchy of Oppression. Denarii Monroe knows that few people will be able to outdo the triumvirate of queer, trans, and phobic. And because the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics dictates that those lower on the hierarchy must defer to those who can claim greater victimhood, Monroe has carte blanche to change the terms of discussion and literally remove words from the permitted vocabulary of other SJWs.

Monroe does, however, eventually cut to the chase:

That is to say, while fear is behind much of the oppression we face, it’s not the whole story. It’s not even the primary story. The language we use should reflect that.

When we say what we’re actually talking about, it paints a more accurate picture for our movements and our allies of our needs. It makes our goal clearer, which makes it that much easier to accomplish.

Further, “-phobia” as a suffix ultimately centers the oppressor instead of the oppressed. The language becomes about their fear instead of our struggle.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m quite tired of privileged people being the center of attention.

Ah, there it is. All of this overwrought discussion of language and oppression, when in actual fact this whole article is borne of Monroe’s jealousy that using “-phobia” as a suffix puts the emphasis on the supposedly prejudiced person when in fact it should really be on her. Monroe doesn’t want “privileged people” to be the centre of attention because she doesn’t actually want us to focus on prejudice or do anything meaningful to tackle it – rather, she wants to revel in her own victimhood and be sure that we all acknowledge it so that she remains the centre of attention.

This is a sick, warped way of looking at the world. But it is also absolutely required behaviour among Social Justice Warriors and identity politics cultists the world over, who are intent on turning daily life into one great big collective group therapy session, in which those at the top of the Hierarchy of Oppression are free to unload on those further down, blaming them for their troubles all day, every day.

Denarii Monroe didn’t get so upset that she wrote an article in Everyday Feminism because she has legitimate, heartfelt concerns that saying words like “Islamophobia” or “transphobia” actually causes mental distress to people with real phobias. She wrote the article in triumph because she found yet another way to claim that other people – people on her own side! – were inadvertently transgressing one of the key tenets of social justice. Which, even though everybody was using this language a year ago without issue or complaint, is now a tremendous issue. And as a totally (ahem) unrelated bonus, it also just so happens to give Monroe heightened status and more power over her peers.

To slightly amend something I recently wrote on the same subject:

If all of this seems ludicrous and a million miles away from doing anything which might conceivably affect or help actual black disabled people in America, you would be right. Because at its dark, festering core the Social Justice movement is not about delivering justice, equality or doing any other kind of social good. Social wrongs are merely the fuel which power the machine to perform its true purpose – controlling the language and the thinking of society in order to establish beady-eyed little zealots like Party Island Denarii Monroe as the indispensable clerisy who tell everyone else what to say and do.

Social Justice is, above everything else, about the acquisition and exercising of power. Victimhood is actively sought and eagerly weaponised by members of this Social Justice clerisy in their scramble for status amongst their peers and contemporaries. The legitimate problems and grievances of minority communities become irritating background noise, a distraction from what really matters – this finickity, juvenile, university campus parlour game in which casting oneself as the most vulnerable, oppressed but simultaneously tolerant person imaginable confers tremendous power, while the slightest slip (such as accidentally using the wrong word) can lead to immediate excommunication from the group.

Monroe concludes by lecturing us that we should immediately replace the “-phobic” suffix with the much more clunky “-antagonistic”, as in “trans-antagonistic” or presumably “Islamo-antagonistic”:

From the queer and trans communities to Muslims and fat people, that is literally our experience. Our existence and identities cause the majority culture to be hostile toward us and, as a result, we struggle against them – for our humanity, our dignity, and our liberation.

But we can never be free until we’re all free – and this includes folks with disabilities. So it’s imperative that we begin to deliberately abandon “-phobia” once and for all.

The mind boggles. I would write that the social justice movement cannot possibly lose the plot any more than it presently has, but we all know that in a week’s time I will be back with another piece about some even more outrageous claim to victimhood or demand for censorship. The world record for Most Stupid Thing Said By An SJW is now being broken almost daily.

And this is because at its dark, sulphuric heart, the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics is an arms race, in which cultists have to continually invent new vulnerabilities and injuries just to maintain their position in the social hierarchy.

SJWs have perhaps marked what is happening in Britain, where the National Union of Students decreed that university LGBT societies should no longer allow “white cis gay men” to have their own representation on diversity committees because they are not sufficiently discriminated against. Being a gay man is apparently no longer enough to command even the lowliest of positions in the Hierarchy of Oppression. So all of those SJWs only slightly higher up on the hierarchy are desperately casting around for additional traumas and vulnerabilities that they can plausibly exaggerate just to keep themselves in the game.

Social Justice is about power, plain and simple. And while its cultists may preach rainbows and unicorns and solidarity, in practice it is a brutal club to suddenly find oneself excluded from. This is why the arms race has now decreed that saying “-phobic” is oppressive, and it is why next week we will be back here, marvelling that something even more vacuous and self-indulgent has occurred.

 

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The Pope Is Dangerously Naive To Absolve Islam Of Responsibility For The Islamist Murder Of A Catholic Priest

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Islamist terror alone cannot defeat Western civilisation. Only we have the power to do that – and some of us are doing our darnedest to try

It is difficult to see how Western civilisation and enlightenment values can fight back against the forces of fundamentalist, Islamist terrorism when the spiritual leader of 1.27 billion Catholics worldwide – my spiritual leader – desperately refuses to accept that Islam is connected in any with with Islamist terror attacks, and doggedly insists that there is no real difference between “Catholic violence” and Islamist violence.

From the Huffington Post:

Pope Francis said on Sunday that it was wrong to identify Islam with violence and that social injustice and idolatry of money were among the prime causes of terrorism.

“I think it is not right to identify Islam with violence,” he told reporters aboard the plane taking him back to Rome after a five-day trip to Poland. “This is not right and this is not true.”

Francis was responding to a question about the killing on July 26 of an 85-year-old Roman Catholic priest by knife-wielding attackers who burst into a church service in western France, forced the priest to his knees and slit his throat. The attack was claimed by Islamic State.

“I think that in nearly all religions there is a always a small fundamentalist group,” he said, adding “We have them,” referring to Catholicism.

“I don’t like to talk about Islamic violence because every day when I look at the papers I see violence here in Italy – someone killing his girlfriend, someone killing his mother-in-law. These are baptized Catholics,” he said.

“If I speak of Islamic violence, I have to speak of Catholic violence. Not all Muslims are violent,” he said.

The Pope, like every apologist for Islamist terror, is arguing against a straw man here – nobody but people on the lunatic fringe believes that all Muslims are violent. This is simply not an argument being advanced by any serious person or organisation, yet time and again the forces of denial (particularly strong among the political Left and the church) seem to feel the need to waste precious time reminding us of the fact that most Muslims are immensely peaceful and decent.

Newsflash: we get it. Unfortunately, that does not erase the fact that the small proportion who harbour violent and murderous intentions are called to do so by a highly literal and entirely valid (if not mainstream in the West) interpretation of Islam. To take the actions of Al Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists and strip them of their religious justification is to remove the only context in which they make sense and can be properly understood.

The people who flew airplanes into the twin towers, blew up the London Underground, killed the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, massacred Parisian concertgoers at the Bataclan, used a truck to mow down families celebrating Bastille Day in Nice and who last week slit the throat of an elderly Catholic priest while he celebrated Mass did not commit these barbaric acts because of social isolation or economic deprivation. Other people bear far worse isolation and deprivation stoically, and do so without resorting to mass murder. Religion is the catalyst – in this case, a fundamentalist and literalist interpretation of one religion in particular. To deny this much is insane.

And yet Pope Francis proceeds to do just that. “I think it is not right to identify Islam with violence,” he tells us. Well nobody is seriously suggesting that all Muslims are violent, or indeed that Islam has a monopoly on violence. But to deny the causal factor which links hundreds of deadly terror attacks across the world over several decades is sheer lunacy.

Of course all religions have a fundamentalist sect within them, Christianity included. But in the year 2016 there are no armed groups of fundamentalist Christians seizing sovereign territory and declaring their own theocratic state in which horrendous Biblical punishments are meted out to gay people, adulterers, shellfish eaters, blasphemers, those who work on the Sabbath or those who are rash enough to wear clothing made from more than one type of cloth. And while you might get the odd lone wolf deciding to blow up an abortion clinic, there is no worldwide Christian jihad underway – despite Christianity being less favoured and more under threat in Western societies than has been the case for centuries.

Most concerning, though, is when Pope Francis says “if I speak of Islamic violence, I have to speak of Catholic violence. Not all Muslims are violent”. Firstly, it is not necessary to balance any criticism of Islam with an equal measure of Christian self-flagellation. This isn’t a children’s party game, ensuring that everyone gets equal time is not an important prerequisite. So no, on does not have to speak of Catholic violence when one speaks of Islamic violence.

Francis then goes on to literally equate “someone killing his girlfriend, someone killing his mother-in-law” with Islamist terror attacks. Now, of course murder is murder in God’s eyes, just as all life is sacred. But murder and domestic violence have sadly been with us for as long as humans have existed – since Cain killed Abel, in the Bible. Islamist terror, on the other hand, is not an inherent part of the human condition. It is a political and religious phenomenon which must be closely examined and confronted in isolation, not merely swept up together with all the other violence in the world.

By and large, Catholics who kill do not attempt to use their faith as a pretext or justification for their actions – their faith is incidental to their crime. But with terror attacks and honour killings it is quite the opposite. Islam is placed front and centre as the justification for the crime, not by the evil Islamophobic media but by the expressed words and sentiments of those people who carry out the attacks. It is they who insist that they murder in the name of their Islamic faith. It is they who bring death to those they regard as infidels based on the literal teachings of their holy books. It is they, not the racist and Islamophobic media, who call their organisation the Islamic State.

Why are we so unwilling to take the actions of these mass murderers at face value? If a man turns himself in to a police station and admits killing his neighbour for having an affair with his wife, after corroborating the basic facts we would take the man at his word as to the motive. We would not waste endless days and column inches wringing our hands trying to come up with other, far-fetched reasons why the defendant might have killed the man he caught sleeping with his wife. And so it is with radical Islam.

When Islamist terrorists force an elderly priest to kneel at the altar of his own church before slitting his throat in front of his congregation and do so in the name of the Islamic State, we should accept their sincerity (and their declared religious motive) just as we accepted that those terrorists who brought death to civilians, politicians and soldiers during the Troubles did so because of their desire to bring about a united Ireland. To stubbornly refuse to accept the reality of Islamist terror direct from the mouths of the terrorists is to patronise and condescend to the Islamists, stripping them of agency (and responsibility) for their own actions and turning them into helpless pawns, “forced” to commit their terrible atrocities by dark and mysterious outside forces.

This is dangerous nonsense, which would be bad enough coming from the mouths of cookie-cutter leftist politicians. But coming from the heir to St. Peter and the ultimate boss of the slain Abbé Jacques Hamel – the man who more than anyone should be pained by his murder and determined to confront and root out the violence which caused it – it is doubly depressing. When Islamist terrorists strike, we must take their declared motives at face value just as we would do for any other terrorist or criminal. And then we must harden our resolve to destroy the scourge of fundamentalist Islamism once and for all.

To do anything else is not only to bury our heads in the sand as to the nature and severity of the threat that we face, but it is also to dishonour the memory of the many victims of Islamist terror attacks. For they are casualties in a clash of ideologies and cultures – progessivism versus fundamentalism, moderate Islam versus militant Islam, the enlightenment versus the dark ages – which too many people, nominally on “our” side, seem more than willing to deliberately lose, so long as they can avoid giving offence to certain mystifyingly protected classes and ideas.

 

Postscript: It appears that the Spectator’s Damian Thompson has been thinking along the same lines:

In the 21st-century Middle East, Christianity has been suppressed on an astonishing scale. Countless atrocities have reduced ancient Christian communities to shrivelled and terrified ghettoes or underground churches. Although this persecution has been reported in the West, it is of no great interest to secular politicians or the media. It is, as Neville Chamberlain said in a different context, part of ‘a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing’.

On Tuesday, the blood of a martyr was spilled at the other end of the Channel Tunnel. Now Christians in the West have had a glimpse of what it’s like to be a follower of Jesus in the lands of the Bible and many other countries — not all of them Muslim, but a troubling number of them ‘close allies’ who benefit from British trade deals, foreign aid and general diplomatic brown-nosing.

Will the murder of Father Hamel awake Christendom from its torpor? Let me refer you to the Twitter account of one Dr Austen Ivereigh, hagiographer of Pope Francis and former spokesman for the English Catholic Church. He referred to the ‘pointless banality of the Rouen murder’ and urged us not to glorify it by ‘ascribing religious motives’. There’s your answer.

God help us.

 

Fr Jacques Hamel - Catholic Priest

Top Image: NCR

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No Prosecution For Matthew Doyle, But Free Speech Is Still Diminished

Matthew Doyle - Facebook - Twitter - Brussels Attacks - Muslim Woman - Arrest - Free Speech - Police

No trial for Islamophobic tweeter Matthew Doyle, but the mere fact of his arrest has served to further chill freedom of thought and speech in Britain

Vindication for “mealy-mouthed” tweeter Matthew Doyle, who will not be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred with silly social media messages after the police realised that they vastly overstepped their authority by arresting a man for speechcrime without first consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Guardian reports:

Charges against a man accused of posting tweets likely to stir up racial hatred have been dropped, Scotland Yard has said.

Police charged Matthew Doyle, 46, with a public order offence on Friday amid allegations that he tweeted about confronting a Muslim woman to ask her to “explain Brussels”.

But officers admitted later the same day that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) disagreed with their decision, adding that they did not have the legal power to bring the charges in the first place.

A statement released by police in the early hours of Friday morning said Doyle had been “charged under section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986; publishing or distributing written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, likely or intended to stir up racial hatred”.

[..] But, late on Friday night, the Metropolitan police released a second statement saying that Doyle was “no longer charged with the offence and will not be appearing at court”.

It said: “Police may not make charging decisions on offences under Section 19 of the Public Order Act. There will be further consultation with CPS.”

So Doyle escapes on a technicality, the police (ever eager to respond to busybody public complaints about alleged thoughtcrime but much slower to respond when real crime occurs and your house is burgled) having brazenly overstepped their authority.

No doubt this is a relief for Matthew Doyle, whose initial tweet suggesting that all Muslims bear responsibility for the Brussels attacks, and subsequent inflammatory defence of that tweet, saw his life briefly put on hold and his flat ransacked by the police in their search for “evidence”.

But is this a victory for free speech?

Absolutely not. The fact that these draconian hate speech laws are on the statue book in the first place is an intolerable, long-standing affront to free speech in Britain. And the fact that the Metropolitan Police in London were able to drag a man from his home and hold him in jail when they did not have the authority to do so without suffering any kind of consequence whatsoever – there is certainly no talk of disciplining the officer(s) involved – is despicable too.

We must understand that the battle for free speech is won or lost at the margins. That often means defending the rights of people with truly heinous opinions on all manner of subjects to express themselves, while abhorring what they actually say. In this case, Matthew Doyle is hardly the world’s number one villain. He tweeted something particularly stupid about Muslims in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Brussels, but he was light years away from cheering on such attacks himself (as many others do), or urging reprisals on all Muslims for what the Brussels terrorists did.

Under no reasonable definition of the word did Doyle “incite” anything at all, except in the minds of those joyless thought police who hold such a low view of humanity that they constantly fret that the public are mindless lemmings liable to being whipped up into a violent mob if they ever encounter a slightly controversial ideas. No, Doyle’s only crime was to be ignorant, and to broadcast that ignorance on social media.

Look at Doyle’s Twitter account page now, a full five days after his arrest and release. There is nothing new. Doyle has effectively been silenced, stopped from expressing his sincerely held opinions – opinions which he is fully entitled to hold, no matter how silly or wrong they may be – after the full weight of the criminal justice system came crashing down on his head one sunny afternoon:

Matthew Doyle - Twitter Timeline - 28 March

The online disappearance of a man who was until now a fairly prolific Twitter user is quite poignant. It shows a case of public idiocy being responded to not with rebuttal, debate, correction and forgiveness, but rather with vengeful mob justice backed by the power of the state. It shows a free voice, however ignoble it may have been in this case, being frightened into silence.

Prior to his arrest, Matthew Doyle was more than happy to interact and debate with the army of online critics who mocked and argued with him. That is how free speech is supposed to work. Bad ideas are drawn out into the open, debated, dissected and discarded. Maybe Doyle would never have changed his views in response to his Twitter critics, but others observing the dialogue unfold may have done. And in any case, it added to the infinite tapestry of our social discourse.

Following his release, there are no new tweets. Any future opportunity for learning, debate or correction has been lost. And all because some moralising busybodies with nothing better to do thought that the best response to seeing something they disliked on the internet was to report it to the police. And because the police, who prefer to sit at desks scouring Twitter looking for thoughtcrime rather than getting out and tackling real crime, leapt at the opportunity to show their PC tolerance by arresting a man for his beliefs.

You don’t need to throw people in prison to create a chilly, hostile environment for free speech and free thought – although there are plenty of people languishing in British prisons simply for saying, writing, posting or singing the “wrong” things, “offensive” things.

You can suppress free speech in a society just as effectively by the threat of public shaming, harassment by the police and potential prosecution under draconian but arbitrarily applied laws. And in the case of Matthew Doyle, the message has been received loud and clear:

Think the wrong thoughts or write the wrong thing on social media, and we will come for you. We are watching you, all the time. Give offence to anyone, intentionally or not, and they have the right to make a criminal complaint about your speech. And in response, the police will come to your house in the middle of the night, bundle you into the back of a police van, take you away and leave you to fester in a jail cell for a day before grudgingly releasing you. Your arrest will be made public, and your reputation will be forever stained as the person whose ideas and opinions were so heinous that they got in trouble with the law. Good luck with the rest of your life and career.

This is Britain. In the year 2016. And this is what now happens to people who say the wrong thing or express an unpopular idea in public or on social media.

And you dare to boast that we live in a liberal, tolerant country which respects human rights and free speech?

 

Free Speech - Conditions Apply - Graffiti

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Arrested For Thoughtcrime In Britain Following The Brussels Terror Attacks

Matthew Doyle - Facebook - Twitter - Brussels Attacks - Muslim Woman - Arrest - Free Speech - Police

Britain has become an authoritarian dystopia where the police prefer to waste scare resources scouring Twitter for instances of supposed thoughtcrime, rather than tackling real-world crime

Matthew Doyle of Croydon, south London, was not the first person to say something stupid in the aftermath of the Islamist terror attacks in Brussels yesterday, and he will certainly not be the last. But Doyle does hold the dubious honour of being the first person in Britain to be arrested for thinking and saying – or in this case, tweeting – the wrong thing about the Brussels attacks, the latest victim of Britain’s dystopian hate speech laws.

As with most people whose free speech most urgently needs defending, Matthew Doyle does not come across as a remotely sympathetic character.

The Telegraph explains:

A man who tweeted about stopping a Muslim woman in the street yesterday, challenging her to “explain Brussels”, and lambasted on Twitter for his comments, has responded to the criticism today, insisting he is not some ‘far right merchant’.

Matthew Doyle, partner at a south London-based talent & PR agency, posted a tweet on Wednesday morning saying: “I confronted a Muslim woman in Croydon yesterday. I asked her to explain Brussels. She said ‘nothing to do with me’. A mealy mouthed reply.”

He was later arrested.

His tweet referred to yesterday’s bomb attacks on the Belgian capital’s main airport and Metro system that left at least 34 people dead and 198 injured. His comment went viral, being retweeted hundreds of times before he eventually deleted it.

Mr Doyle told the Telegraph he had no idea his tweet would be the “hand grenade” it has proven to be – and that Twitter’s 140 character limit made the encounter sound vastly different to how he thought it went.

Now there is a good case to be made that Matthew Doyle is something of an idiot – in a follow up tweet, he later exclaimed “The outrage I felt was real. I cannot understand why I decided to ask the nearest Muslim I ran into”, which certainly suggests that perhaps we are not dealing with a world class mind here.

Matthew Doyle tweet

And his subsequent tweets veered firmly toward the knuckle-dragging bigot end of the spectrum, when he retorted “Who cares if I insulted some towelhead??”

Matthew Doyle tweet - 2

But let’s be clear – even if we apply the most unforgiving interpretation of Matthew Doyle’s tweet, and his subsequent account of the conversation, it should not be enough to land a citizen of a supposedly free democracy in trouble with the law.

Even if Doyle literally sought out the first Muslim-looking person he could see on the high street, approached them unbidden and asked them to account for the terrorist actions in Brussels yesterday, no country calling itself free should drag that man through the criminal justice system.

It may be incredibly ignorant and offensive to suggest that all Muslims share responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Brussels this week. It may be astonishingly stupid. But stupidity and lack of manners should not be enough to earn someone a knock on the door from the police.

In this case, the initial response of the Twitterverse was (for once) exactly what should happen – society’s self-righting mechanism kicking in against the actions of a conspicuous idiot. Doyle said something irretrievably stupid which was then widely retweeted, and he found himself on the end of thorough, fully deserved mockery from complete strangers online. Many of the subsequent parody tweets effectively (and wittily) exposed the total lack of logic behind Doyle’s sentiments and actions.

So why is confrontation, rebuttal and mockery not enough in twenty first century Britain? Why can we not simply go to bed content that a self-declared idiot has had his idiocy widely exposed, refuted and mocked, without wanting to twist the knife further? Why is it now also necessary to compound his punishment by heaping an arrest, a trial and a possible criminal conviction on top of the self-inflicted public shaming?

As Alex Massie recently lamented when looking at the public’s response to Donald Trump’s comments about Britain, cases like these only prove his how snarlingly authoritarian and illiberal a place modern Britain can be once the sunny, progressive façade is peeled back:

It is always depressing to discover that there are vastly fewer liberals in this country than you might wish there to be. But that discovery should no longer surprise us.

This is the true attack on British and European values, and it comes from within. I am far less worried about the slim possibility that I will find myself standing next to a suicide bomber on my morning commute, and far more concerned that every single day I am apparently rubbing shoulders with people who smile and appear friendly at first glance, but who would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the criminal justice system crashing down upon my head if I happen to one day say the wrong thing (defined by British law as anything which gives them offence).

As a political blogger with sometimes forceful and controversial views, I am less worried that my writings may earn me a punch in the face from a stranger (I couldn’t be less famous, and my reflexes are quick – though I am probably playing with fire when I criticise our national religion, the NHS) and far more worried that someone will read something that I write, take massively overinflated exception to it, and – with a few clicks of a mouse or a quick telephone call – report me to the police, who would then be obliged to investigate me under Britain’s oppressive hate speech laws.

In the age of Islamo-fascist terror, my liberty and wellbeing is far more under threat from the Public Order Act 1986, the Communications Act 2003 and the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 than it is from the terrorist’s bomb or the bullet. Not because I ever incite racial or religious hatred – indeed, I abhor those who do so – but because under the same laws that put Matthew Doyle in a jail cell, my “guilt” would depend entirely on the perception of the supposed “victim”. Anybody at any time can read anything that I write, claim to be alarmed and distressed by the ideas that I express, and have me carted off to prison.

They can do this to idiots like Matthew Doyle. They can do it to political bloggers like me. And they can do it to you. Sitting at your computer right now, you can get yourself arrested and cautioned, convicted and even sent to prison just by typing fewer than 140 characters on your keyboard. In Britain. In the year 2016.

In case the government actually cares, this is how the terrorists really win. They’ll never make Britain part of a radical Islamic Caliphate, but they can certainly help to ensure that we become such a snarlingly authoritarian, freedom-hating society that our country is changed irrevocably for the worse.

And as the freedoms and liberties which distinguish Britain from more benighted parts of the world – including primitive quasi-medieval regimes like the Islamic State – are shot to pieces, it is our own hand on the trigger. No one else’s. We do this to ourselves.

 

Postscript: What remains unclear at this time is whether Matthew Doyle was arrested for the content of his original tweet, his subsequent tweets (some of which were actually far more offensive) or the real-world act that his initial tweet described.

It may seem an arcane detail, but it will be interesting to discover whether the woman accosted by Doyle made the complaint, or whether it was a foot soldier in Britain’s growing army of professional online offence-seekers who took offence on her behalf. I would bet a very large sum of money that it is the latter, and that while the “victim” herself probably shrugged off the incident, Doyle’s prosecution is being urged most strongly by other people who are completely unconnected with the incident and who were not adversely affected in the slightest by his tweet.

 

CCTV - Police State

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