After the New Zealand mosque attacks, pointing fingers of blame
Editor's Note: Melanie Phillips’ article on the reactions to the Christchurch mosque attack provides yet more evidence, as if such were needed, that progressivism has moved from the absurd into the surreal. At a vigil in New York for the victims of the attack, Chelsea Clinton was accused of being responsible for the killings “because of the rhetoric you put out there,” in the words of a Muslim student. Clinton had responded critically to tweets by Rep. Ilhan Omar that suggested that pro-Israel groups were pushing congressmen to pledge allegiance to Israel. Apparently, Clinton can share the blame with many others, including Bill Maher, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and – naturally – Donald Trump. Meanwhile, in the UK, Philips herself was deemed responsible for the attacks. Hadn’t she written the book Londonistan in 2006? Strangely, those blaming the “Islamophobia” of Clinton, Phillips and others of provoking the likes of Brenton Tarrant to perpetrate a massacre don’t have anything to say about whether fiery preaching and extremist literature at some mosques might play a role in pushing susceptible people to jihad. As Philips writes, there is a lethal spiral when the jihadi motives behind Islamist attacks are ignored by authorities while those calling them out are blamed instead; the inaction of the authorities results in violence against Muslims by fringe groups, which increases the witch-hunt against Islam-critics, which encourages more Islamic attacks and promotes more white racist violence. Unfortunately, based on past experience, we can expect more official hysteria about Islamophobia in Canada.
Much of this Orwellian frenzy is part of the campaign to silence all criticism of the Islamic world through character assassination of its legitimate and necessary critics. It’s not often that I find myself in the same boat as Chelsea Clinton. At a vigil in New York for the 50 Muslims slaughtered by a gunman at two New Zealand mosques, Clinton was accused by students of being a cause of the massacre. The reason for this ludicrous charge was staggering. It was that she had criticized the anti-Semitic tweet by Rep. Ilhan Omar suggesting that Jews use their money to suborn American politicians in the interests of Israel. “Forty-nine people died because of the rhetoric you put out there,” an astounded Clinton was told by Muslim student Leen Dweik. Clinton was not alone. In the United States, the mosque attacks were blamed on TV personality Bill Maher, philosopher Sam Harris, anti-jihadi ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali and U.S. President Donald Trump (of course).
Chelsea Clinton was one of many public personas to be blamed for the two mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019.
And in Britain, along with various other high-profile conservative and anti-jihadi writers, they were blamed on me. When I wrote a blog post expressing horror at the attacks, I was engulfed by a Twitter storm. After all, I’d written the 2006 book Londonistan warning that Britain was sleepwalking into Islamization, and much that was similar since. Never mind that I’ve always stressed that all Muslims must not be tarred with the extremist brush, that most victims of Islamist terror are Muslims, and that we should support courageous Muslim reformers. All that was ignored. I was accused of inspiring the massacre by promoting hatred of Muslims and Islam. And I was accused of hypocrisy for having said that Islamophobia wasn’t a real prejudice at all. Media commentators and politicians joined the baying mob. In the House of Commons, Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi accused me and other journalists of encouraging “anti-migrant sentiment, anti-Muslim sentiment and anti-black and minority ethnic community sentiment.” After the mosque shootings, pictures circulated of the machine gun on which the terrorist suspect had inscribed the names of white-supremacist icons. One particular tweet then depicted a mockup of the machine gun which bore instead the names of myself and other anti-jihadists. That tweet has been reported to the police for incitement to hatred or violence. Much of this Orwellian frenzy is part of the campaign to silence all criticism of the Islamic world through character assassination of its legitimate and necessary critics. Anyone who calls attention to Muslim anti-Semitism, for example, is promptly tarred by “intersectionality” ideologues as a hate-criminal. Thus, the New York students ranted: “Chelsea hurt our fight against white supremacy when she stood by the petty weaponizers of anti-Semitism.” Certainly, there are people who are truly bigoted against Muslims, as against Jews or other minorities. Bigotry is based on falsehoods or irrational feelings. But much “Islamophobia” merely consists of a rational fear of the terrorism that is inspired by Islam and validated by the most authoritative religious leaders in the Islamic world; or a rational fear of the Islamization of the West which the Muslim Brotherhood has declared as its aim. The New Zealand mosque atrocity was the result of fanatical hatred of Muslims; the campaign to outlaw “Islamophobia” is intended to stifle acknowledgement of fanatical hatred by Muslims. Those accusing anti-Islamists of promoting hatred have form in this regard. In 2014, my Commons accuser, Yasmin Qureshi, was forced to apologize for vile comments in which she drew parallels between the Holocaust and Israel’s activities in Gaza. The NYU students who barracked Chelsea Clinton referred to Ilhan Omar “speaking the truth about the massive influence of the Israel lobby in this country.” Other aspects of this mob onslaught are, however, even more disturbing. For it constitutes an opportunistic weaponizing of tragedy not just against anti-Islamists but also against conservatives. Opposing the jihad is said to be a “far-right position,” which is used as a synonym for white supremacism. (So much for Muslim, Hindu or Sikh resistance to the jihad.) An elision is then made between the right, far-right and white supremacists. But there may be nothing “right-wing” about murderous racists or anti-Semites. The New Zealand terror suspect is said to be “far-right” because he hates Muslims. But among his influences listed in his “manifesto” are not only the deceased British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley, but also the People’s Republic of China and a videogame called “Spyro the Dragon.” As for what he believes, he claims to be anti-conservative, may or may not be a Christian, and may or may not be a Communist. What he is, he says, is an “eco-fascist” who wants to reduce the world’s population to save the environment. This is hardly a “right-wing” individual. A racist, certainly; maybe a nutcase, or someone who looks for any for outlet for his unfathomable sources of hatred; a nihilist, perhaps. For his “manifesto” suggests his main aim was to incite social conflagration. He hoped his massacre would spark further attempts at gun control, which he believed would lead to civil war and the best opportunity to destroy the American “melting pot.” And he claimed that his “true inspiration” was Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass-murderer who in 2011 detonated a van bomb in Oslo, killing eight people, and then shot dead 69 young people at a summer camp on the island of Utoya. The link with Breivik takes us back to the attack on me. For after Breivik’s atrocity, I was the victim of an identical witch-hunt. In Breivik’s own incoherent 1,500-page “manifesto,” in which he quoted hundreds of thinkers and commentators going back hundreds of years, he twice mentioned my work. Regardless of the fact that also among his citations were Thomas Jefferson, the U.S. constitution, Mahatma Gandhi, Fidel Castro and Al-Qaeda, I and others who write about the progressive disintegration of Europe and Western civilization were obscenely singled out as having caused him to perpetrate the massacre—a charge recycled against me after the mosque attacks. Yet the mainstream media never reported that at his trial, Breivik said he wanted to provoke a witch-hunt against moderate conservatives to increase repression, polarization and radicalization; and that this had worked very well in the light of how many conservatives and Islam critics were then treated. Like me. In other words, those who weaponize such atrocities against “the right”—that is, against everyone who doesn’t think like them—are useful idiots doing these terrorists’ dirty work for them. They are also morally twisted. While white racist attacks are on the rise, they are still greatly outnumbered by Islamist outrages. Last month alone, there were at least 150 deadly Islamist terror attacks in 22 different countries. Yet these received scant attention. When such Islamist attacks do provoke comment, there are instant attempts to excuse the perpetrators, who are variously described as mentally disturbed, under the influence of drugs or the victims of online brainwashing. They are never apparently influenced by their Islamic culture. Yet when white racists commit atrocities, they are said to be wholly motivated by their culture, and their actions blamed on conservatives and anti-Islamists who are said to be, like the white terrorists, motivated by “Islamophobia.” This, in turn, provides cover and encouragement for Islamists to ramp up their verbal and physical attacks on the West. Thus the Turkish Islamist leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan leapt on the bandwagon after the mosque attacks to claim that “Western media” had actually prepared the suspected terrorist’s “manifesto” and “handed it to him.” Years ago, disturbed by the West’s failure properly to address Islamist extremism, I observed there was a risk of a lethal spiral of interconnected violence. Islamist extremism and attacks would be ignored and excused by the authorities, while those calling them out would be blamed instead; this failure to act against Islamist extremism would result in fringe groups becoming violent against Muslims; such violence would increase the witch-hunt against anti-Islamists, which would, in turn, embolden and encourage more Islamist attacks, provoking in turn more white racist violence. So, alas, it may now be proving. Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a column for JNS every two weeks. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which has also published her first novel, “The Legacy,” released in April 2018. Her work can be found at her website, www.melaniephillips.com.
This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 21, 2019, and can be viewed on their site by clicking here.