“The far right thrives on global networks. They must be fought online and off,” writes Julia Ebner in the Guardian. By “far right” she means, of course, Pamela Geller and me.
Julia Ebner is a senior researcher at the Quilliam Foundation, which is supposedly dedicated to countering “extremism” and defending human rights. Quilliam is supposed to be an exponent of moderate Islam, but there are some anomalies. It is named for Abdullah Quilliam (1856-1932), who rather than being “moderate” himself, called for a worldwide caliphate under the rule of Sharia. And it is headed by Maajid Nawaz, a self-proclaimed “former extremist” who has said many accurate things about Islam’s jihad doctrine, but has also endorsed Muslim Brotherhood-linked Congressman Keith Ellison, an odd thing for a “moderate” to do. Nawaz also seems bent on exaggerating or fabricating outright a threat of “right-wing extremists” as the non-Muslim equivalent of Islamic jihadists, despite the manifest absurdity of likening a few political activists and analysts with those who have perpetrated 30,000 lethal attacks worldwide since 9/11. This libelous hit piece in Britain’s execrable Guardian is an example of Nawaz’s smear tactic.
Ebner’s astonishingly dishonest piece begins with some sly guilt by association:
“Muslims are like cockroaches. An infestation that needs to be eradicated. Immediately. Permanently”, reads the tweet by one of thousands of anonymous far-right Twitter accounts that spread hate against ethnic and religious minorities each day.
Farther down, several of my colleagues and I are brought into this piece. Although none of us has ever spoken in this way, Ebner is attempting to use comments such as this one to discredit us by association, even though the association is entirely spurious. Ebner continues:
Meanwhile, National Action calls for a “White Jihad”, right next to a tweet about their Miss Hitler 2016 competition. After National Action became Britain’s first far-right group to be banned, its web page was taken down. Yet, until a few days ago its official Twitter profile has been operative and hosts an arsenal of dangerous propaganda.
Once again, Ebner is deliberately conflating actual neo-Nazis with foes of jihad terror. This is an oft-used tactic, chiefly employed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, but it is no less defamatory for being common. Even though there is no connection between our work and the Nazis, and real Nazis actually oppose us and often support the jihad, particularly against Israel, Ebner hopes that her readers will take us all as neo-Nazis and shun us accordingly. The end result of this would be the silencing of all critics of Islam and jihad. Here again, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to escape the conclusion that she and Quilliam want to smear and marginalize foes of jihad terror so that jihad terror can advance unimpeded. Is that what a “moderate Muslim” organization should really be doing?
Ebner then comes out against the freedom of speech:
The home affairs committee’s new report released today, called Hate Crime: Abuse, Hate and Extremism Online harshly condemns social media companies for their failure to identify and remove illegal content. They are “shamefully far from taking sufficient action” to safeguard online users from harassment, abuse and promotion of violence, it warns. The report comes at a crucial time. Our research at Quilliam into far-right extremism and hate crimes, which contributed to the report’s findings, shows that the far right has gained influence on all levels: from far-right populism to white supremacist terrorism, from alt-right movements to neo-Nazi groups.
See? She continues talking about white supremacists and neo-Nazis. She will drag us in later, having rhetorically completed the association, as spurious as it is. And note the thuggery behind it all: she starts speaking about social media companies not acting against online abuse. What she wants is that we be censored, shut down, not allowed to speak. Her agenda is ultimately authoritarian.
Not content to endorse fascist speech controls, Ebner then falsely claims that the “far-right” is as dangerous as the global jihad:
The British far-right landscape is increasingly splintered and leaderless. But low membership numbers of street protest movements such as the EDL and Pegida UK are hardly comforting. Some of their former cohort have joined smaller, more militant groups while others have focused their efforts on spreading hate online. Increasingly, far-right movements show signs of collective learning and create powerful multiplier effects for their messages. As early adopters of new technology, they have been exceptionally good at using social media to widen their echo chambers and foster ties with like-minded groups abroad.
British “counter-jihadis” have stepped up their cooperation with American alt-righters, French and Austrian “identitarians” and even German and Polish neo-Nazis. This is the paradox of modern-day nationalists: they capitalise on the opportunities of globalisation to spread their anti-globalist views globally.
It is within this context that EDL founder turned Pegida UK leader Tommy Robinson features prominently on Alex Jones’s conspiracy theory show, Infowars, and receives support from American alt-right leaders Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. Platforms such as Gates of Vienna, the FrontPage Mag and Jihad Watch provide outlets for all of them.
After all this talk of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, we get dragged in. The defamatory intent is patently obvious. And Pamela Geller and I are “alt-right leaders”? I never even heard the term “alt-right” until it began to be used during the presidential campaign. Generally it is used to denote racist, neo-fascist xenophobes. Here again, the defamatory intent is clear.
Ebner drones on and on in this vein, but you get the idea. If she, Maajid Nawaz, and Quilliam have an ounce of integrity, they will retract the claims that Pamela Geller and I are “alt-right leaders,” and apologize for associating us with white supremacists and neo-Nazis. But they won’t. Ebner and Nawaz have ignored my repeated requests for a retraction and apology. And that in itself is telling.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.
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