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ICSR Report And Its Implications For Civil Liberties And Human Rights :: Liberties Alliance

ICSR Report And Its Implications For Civil Liberties And Human Rights

By • on April 4, 2013

The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) recently produced a report entitled “ “A Neo-Nationalist Network: The English Defence League and Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement” [pdf].  Gates of Vienna has put together an excellent 4 part series, with an additional post as An Afterword.   This series is entitled “Keeping A Close Eye On The Right Wing” and takes a close look at the ICSR report.  The analysis suggests that  this report potentially has profound implications for many of the freedoms that have been taken for granted in the West.

What follows below is the entire series presented in order.  The original posts can be found at Gates of Vienna as follows:

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: The Transatlantic Connection

Part 3: The British Counterjihad Movement

Part 4: Academic Vs. Academic

Afterword

Keeping a Close Eye on the Right Wing

 

TheRightWing

Part 1: Introduction

Towards the end of the 18th century, an English social theorist named Jeremy Bentham designed a new type of institutional structure dubbed the “Panopticon”. The model was intended mainly for use in prisons, but the designer believed the same principle could as easily be applied to schools, hospitals, and other social institutions.

Bentham’s concept was simple: the architecture of the institution would be constructed so that those in charge — wardens, doctors, headmasters, etc. — would be able to observe all inmates under their charge at any time, without those observed knowing whether or not they were being watched. The designer believed that this would train the residents of such institutions to be on their best behavior at all times, and so induce positive social change.

In the early 21st century we are far closer to realizing the Panopticon than Bentham could ever have imagined, using technologies that he could never have dreamed of. With satellites in orbit monitoring our residences and our vehicles, drones tracking our movements via thermal imaging, two-way GPS devices in our cars and hand-held devices, TVs that can look back at us and identify us as individuals, and all our electronic communications digitally recorded and stored in a gigantic database — with all this, we are already under near-constant observation.

Or we might be — who can tell? You’d better behave, just in case!

Many of the surveillance capabilities acquired by our governments over the past dozen or so years were added to their toolboxes to prevent “terrorism”. Needless to say, in order to be fair and inclusive and to avoid “profiling”, our wardens in their digital eyries are required to spend at least as much time and money observing “right-wing extremists” as they do monitoring Muslim mujahideen or radical Greens. Anything less would be evidence of discrimination.

Therefore, if you’re an “Islamophobe”, you may as well get used to being watched. Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano has made it clear that she regards people like you and me as potential terrorists, and the European Union has long considered nationalists and immigration-critics to be de facto enemies of the state. Anders Behring Breivik only served to confirm that position. In the minds of the elites, it has been proved that anybody who opposes Islamization may become dangerously violent at any time, and thus needs to be carefully monitored.

To supplement the state security agencies, numerous quasi- or non-governmental organizations have been set up to keep an eye on “right-wing extremism”, and are often generously funded by the state or its cut-outs. One such group is the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR).

According to its website, ICSR was founded in 2008 with the support of five academic institutions: King’s College London; the University of Pennsylvania; the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (Israel); the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy; and Georgetown University. It is also affiliated with the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi and the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies in Islamabad.

Not a reassuring masthead for those of us who are “Islamophobes”. Herzliya, however, is a decent organization, and over the past five years ICSR has at least tried to take a look at Islamic radicalism. So this is a serious organization, and not just another cardboard cutout erected by the hard Left.

Like virtually all its sister “observatory” organizations, in the wake of Breivik’s massacre ICSR gave priority to investigating nationalism and anti-immigration movements in European, so that the next wave of right-wing terrorism could be detected in advance. To that end ICSR seems to have secured funding, commissioned a couple of investigators (and presumably a staff of researchers to help them), and spent the past eighteen months compiling a report. Then, a couple of weeks ago, it convened a conference to showcase the results.

The conference was not announced publicly beforehand, but at the beginning of this month ICSR sent out the following invitation to a select private list:

What Is the New Far Right?

ICSR Conference and Report Launch

At this major conference, experts, analysts and policymakers from across Europe will discuss the evolving threat from a new breed of far right extremists, the so-called “Counter-Jihad” movement.

When: Wednesday, 13 March, 10am-5pm
Where: War Studies Meeting Room, War Studies Department, King’s College London
RSVP: Reply with name and institutional affiliation to Katie Rothman at katie.rothman@icsr.info. We will then contact you to confirm attendance.

The event will also launch ICSR’s latest policy report, “The Neo-Nationalist Network: The English Defence League and Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement”, written by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Hans Brun.

A keynote speech will be delivered by James Brokenshire MP, Home Office Minister for Crime and Security.

Other speakers include:

  • DCS Christopher Greany, National Domestic Extremism Unit
  • Matthew Collins, Hope not Hate
  • Professor Roger Griffin, Oxford Brookes University
  • Jamie Bartlett, Demos
  • Maria Margaronis, The Nation
  • Magnus Ranstorp, Swedish National Defence College

The sessions will be moderated by Professor Peter Neumann and Dr. John Bew of ICSR.

This conference is hosted by ICSR in partnership with the Community Security Trust (CST), the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies (CATS) and the Swedish National Defence College.

So what is ICSR? Who considers it important?

Well, our newly-installed Secretary of Defense does — if you look at the “Patrons” page, you’ll find former Senator Chuck Hagel prominently listed there.

Knowledgeable readers may also be interested in some of the names listed on the Board of Advisors and among the Associate Fellows of ICSR.

And then there’s Matthew Collins of Hope not Hate, an organization to which most Gates of Vienna readers need no introduction.

It all seems so predictable — Chuck Hagel, Pakistanis, Saudi sheikhs, and Hope not Hate. But then there’s Herzliya — what’s it doing in there with all the rest?

It’s quite perplexing.

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The event went off as scheduled on the 13th. The final speakers’ list was somewhat different from that sent out with the invitation, adding DCLG and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and dropping the National Domestic Extremism Unit:

A keynote speech was delivered by James Brokenshire MP, Home Office Minister for Crime and Security.

Other speakers included:

  • Ian Bradshaw, Tackling Extremism & Hate Crime Division, DCLG
  • Matthew Collins, Hope not Hate
  • Professor Roger Griffin, Oxford Brookes University
  • Jonathan Birdwell, Demos
  • Maria Margaronis, The Nation
  • Magnus Ranstorp, Swedish National Defence College
  • Vidhya Ramalingam, Institute for Strategic Dialogue

The sessions were moderated by Professor Peter Neumann and Dr. John Bew of ICSR.

This conference was hosted by ICSR in partnership with the Community Security Trust (CST), the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies (CATS) and the Swedish National Defence College.

Those who were not privileged to attend the event may see videos of highlights at the ICSR website.

The 72-page report launched by the conference — “A Neo-Nationalist Network: The English Defence League and Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement” is of some interest, and will be covered in a fair amount of detail in Parts 2, 3, and 4 of this analysis.

A final note: the institutional sponsors of the report are not listed on the ICSR website, but their names and logos appear at the bottom of the report itself:

Of those five sponsors, only the Regional Centre on Conflict Prevention has no website. ICSRhas this information on its director:

Hasan Al Momani is Director of the Regional Centre on Conflict Preventiion [sic] at the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy. Specailizing [sic] in conflict resolution, particularly international negotitations [sic], Dr Al Momani held various senior academic positions at the Faculty of International Studies at the University of Jordan, including Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Coordinator of the Conflict Management Programme and Chairman of the Department for International Studies. He holds a PhD in International Relations from Keele University (UK).

And the organization seems to have a Facebook page, which provides the following information:

Mission

The main mission of the RCCP is to conduct research promoting conflict prevention as well as conflict management. This includes research on potential (hidden and latent) conflicts, causes of conflicts, mechanism and tools on conflict prevention as well as methods of conflict management and peacebuilding particularly in the Middle East.

Description

The Regional Centre on Conflict Prevention (RCCP) aims to create awareness as a means for early detection of possible conflict between states of the region or within one state, and to prevent disputes from erupting into violence. The RCCP also works to build capacity to resolve such conflicts peacefully, and to reach the root causes of problems in order to resolve them.

To achieve these objectives, the RCCP develops mechanisms for public policy management in the context of possible crises and conflicts, by conducting specialized academic activities for conflict resolution, and making the conclusions and recommendations that result from these activities available to decision makers, researchers, and interested parties.

All this humdrum boilerplate from an Arab think tank about “conflict resolution” and “conflict prevention”… hmm…

So, among the sponsors we have four prestigious transatlantic Western institutions. They employ experts with top-notch credentials and have expensive professionally-designed websites. One of them is Israeli, and is thought to be generally conservative.

And then we have an obscure Jordanian think tank with no web presence to speak of. It churns out vague feel-good bromides about resolving conflicts and helping everyone get along with each other and all the rest of that wonderful peace-loving tolerant inclusive stuff.

It makes me wonder who funded the whole operation — which must, after all, have cost a pretty penny.

I don’t have the answer to that question. However, in Parts 2 through 4 of this analysis we’ll take a fairly close look at the report itself. 

Transatlantic

Part 2: The Transatlantic Connection

As mentioned in the introduction to this series, the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) held a conference in London on March 13 to study the “New Far Right” in Europe, with a special focus on the English Defence League. Paul Weston has described the event as preparation of the virtual battlefield in advance of a takedown of the EDL by Prime Minister David Cameron and the British government.

Based on the conference report, “A Neo-Nationalist Network: The English Defence League and Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement”, the EDL was indeed the major focus of the ICSR event. But was the conference convened to launch the report? Or was the report commissioned in advance to help justify a predetermined conclusion, namely that the EDL needs to be banned?

In either case, the paper fails to provide meaningful documentation of any dangerous tendencies in the English Defence League and its allies. The authors seem to be of two minds, analyzing the EDL using loaded terms, yet providing a great deal of material that is intended to be positive. The result of their efforts is a schizophrenic document.

As you will see, they pay the necessary lip service to their concerns in the form of vague misgivings about what lies behind the EDL’s actions. Despite the public endorsement by police and the official statements, they seem to feel there may yet be some sort of secret crypto-fascism behind the European Counterjihad and the EDL. Even so, the examples presented in the report are almost all quite positive, and take pains to show how much the movement overlaps mainstream political discourse.

This is important for all of us, because their insights will enable a civil discourse to be engaged on the issues and policies. It may help put aside the ad hominem attacks so beloved by extremist groups such as UAF and Antifa, and their close allies among doctrinaire Islamists such as Anjem Choudary.

If Hope not Hate, under the umbrella of ICSR, has come around to a more sensible view of Tommy Robinson and the English Defence League, then more power to them! Despite the report’s reflexive scowl at the EDL and all it represents, the actual data presented reflect quite positively on Tommy Robinson, Kevin Carroll, and the European Counterjihad.

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Now let’s get down to the report itself, which has been posted as a 72-page pdf at the ICSR website. It’s too large for a complete analysis here, even in three parts, so readers are advised to download it and read the entire thing. Be warned, however: much of it is written using the mind-numbing academic jargon so typical of government-funded research papers.

As mentioned above, the report appears schizophrenic in its approach to the topic, as if it is somehow subverting the ostensible intent of the document, or as if there were two very different authors. And the report does indeed have two authors, Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Hans Brun.

I don’t know anything about Hans Brun, but Mr. Hitchens (the son of the late Christopher Hitchens) seems not be a shill for the Multicultural Left. He has contributed to The Weekly Standard — hardly an organ of the Left — and is considered enough of a right-wing ideologue to merit his own Powerbase entry. In other words, he’s not someone you would expect to be viewed positively by Hope not Hate.

Although its ostensible focus is on the EDL, the report devotes more attention to activists and websites of the American Counterjihad than it does to Tommy Robinson. Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Gates of Vienna (blush) and other Americans and their sites receive massive coverage in this document. Try searching on “Geller”, “Atlas”, “Spencer”, “Gates”, and so on, and you’ll see what I mean.

This transatlantic focus is part of the ongoing effort by the Left to depict anti-Islamization movements in Europe as somehow instigated and/or directed by American agitators, who are seen as behind-the-scenes funders and pullers of strings for their European protégés.

My analysis below will focus mainly on those parts of the American and European Counterjihad with which I’m most familiar, which means that I will omit coverage of much of the text on the EDL. That task will be left to one of our British correspondents, and will appear as Part 3 of this report.

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According to Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Hans Brun, the European Counter-Jihad Movement (ECJM — I like that acronym) is spearheaded by “Defence Leagues” modeled on the EDL and coordinated by Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller from across the Atlantic. On page 24 the authors note:

The ECJM has begun to implement this model in its European operations. Defence leagues inspired by the EDL have emerged throughout Scandinavia and are organising joint rallies and conferences, helped on by so-called ‘ideas people’, including Robert Spencer, who provides much of the ideological fuel, and Pamela Geller, whose organisational skills the ECJM has employed to some effect.

And on page 52:

Above all others, two names in particular are legend within the ECJM: Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. Through their respective blogs, Jihad Watch and Atlas Shrugs, they have helped inspire the Counter- Jihad movement in Europe.

It’s good to see credit given where credit is due. Yet the implication is that the Counterjihad in Europe lacks indigenous roots, and is largely instigated by American operatives.

How true is that?

I’ve been working every day for more than seven years with European anti-sharia activists. They were there before I joined the scene, they were there when I came onboard, and they were there when Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller first became involved in October 2007. The movement is hardly an American creation; it was and remains a spontaneous European phenomenon.

The authors may be forgiven for their misplaced emphasis on the American element, however, since such a wealth of material is available from American sources, in English. To make a proper investigation of the full range of Counterjihad activities in Europe, they would have had to read the extensive material available in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, German, Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, etc. That’s a daunting task — it’s much easier to concentrate on the English-language archives of sites in the UK and the USA.

Hence the Anglocentric focus.

Taking into account the transatlantic bias, let’s see what the report has to say about the “Neo-Nationalist Network” of “Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement”. From the Executive Summary (page 1):

While the ECJM uses tactics that are reminiscent of traditional incarnations of the European far-right, it also has a message that identifies a new and supposedlyexistential threat to Europe: Islam and Muslim immigration. Unlike most other far-right organisations, however, the ECJM is a one-issue movement, and has yet to show an interest in expanding its scope to cover other popular concerns. [emphasis added]

This is reasonably accurate. Yet the weasel-word “supposedly” telegraphs the Multicultural orthodoxy behind the analysis. Is the existential threat only “supposed”? Or does it really exist?

And will the authors investigate the latter possibility?

Strangely enough, and perhaps unintentionally, they do — by quoting and summarizing so much of what the “Islamophobes” have to say. They are fairly scrupulous (although somewhat superficial) in their précis of Counterjihad writings, so the existential threat may be inferred from the material they collect.

Next they discuss what they describe as “cultural nationalism”:

The ECJM is not a conventional far-right movement. While other farright strands in Europe are usually defined by their adherence to forms of racial or ethnic nationalism, the ECJM espouses an assertive cultural nationalism. Some of its views and concerns overlap considerably with those voiced by commentators on the left and right of mainstream politics. This means that taken at face-value the movement is less extreme and feels less threatening than the traditional far right, making it harder to categorise, and also allowing it to be more amorphous and transnational.

Cultural Nationalism

The authors of this report have categorised the ECJM’s nationalism as a form of cultural nationalism, according to which the nation and its citizens are defined primarily in terms of a shared culture and history. The movement’s self-proclaimed mission is to ensure the survival and prosperity of that culture, which might be represented by its fundamental principles such as free speech and equality before the law. [emphasis added]

This is actually a fair characterization of what we say. And it acknowledges something that the European Union and many national political leaders in the EU would prefer to deny: There is a common European culture, shared by the individual nations of Europe and the European diaspora. This is what we strive to preserve.

The authors obviously noticed that the values cherished by that culture and its defenders — free speech, equality before the law, etc. — are not easy to depict as scary “Nazi” characteristics. Messrs Hitchens and Brun find it “awkward” (I would have said “embarrassing”) to deal with this aspect of our movement, since to oppose us they must make common cause with murderous ideologies that consider those same values anathema.

However, we must be opposed, so that circle must be squared:

It becomes awkward to categorise a group positioning itself in defence of liberal enlightenment values as “far-right” or extreme but this report demonstrates that the ECJM’s cultural nationalism does indeed manifest itself as a form of far-right extremism in its portrayal of Muslims as a threat to European culture, an “enemy within”, and in its proposed, highly illiberal responses to this perceived threat.

In other words:

“It’s ‘awkward’ to try to square this circle and call the defense of classical liberal principles ‘far-right extremism’, but we must do it anyway: THE CIRCLE IS SQUARE.”

The defenders of free speech and equal rights for women are “far-right extremists”, because they propose (unspecified) illiberal responses to a threat that only they can perceive. Thus, they must be dangerous and pose a threat.

And what would that threat be? Three guesses:

The Threat

The ECJM poses three serious problems:

i) Though it does not specifically call for violence, the sensationalist character of the ECJM narrative, which includes a paranoid tendency towards conspiracy-theory, can act as inspiration for violent terrorist attacks like those carried out by Breivik, who emerged from the ECJM’s ideological milieu;
ii) the movement can serve to incubate, protect and add a veneer of plausibility and acceptability to traditional forms of far-right xenophobia and extremism;
iii) its amorphous nature and ability to tap into popular concerns about immigration, religion, terrorism and the economy increases the likelihood of violent confrontation and jeopardises Europe’s social fabric.

Yes, that’s right: the threat is another Anders Behring Breivik. Ever since July 23, 2011, there has been no other threat. Everyone who holds “xenophobic” opinions like ours is and forever will be a “potential Breivik”.

No evidence is required: they just know it’s true. QED.

Now it’s time to look at the dangerous, threatening, xenophobic “rock stars” of the movement: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Tommy Robinson:

Since its emergence, the EDL has garnered support from prominent Counter-Jihad figures in the United States. The popular American Counter-Jihad activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, for example, have praised the emergence of the group and are currently assisting in the organisation of a coherent, pan-European movement.

With their help, the EDL has inspired the creation of a number of other “defence leagues” around Europe, with a specific focus on Scandinavia. EDL leader Tommy Robinson now holds almost legendary status within this nascent movement, and is considered the “rock star” of the ECJM.1 In the last year, the EDL has made a concerted effort to spread the defence league concept throughout Europe, using both online networking and organised, on-the-ground demonstrations.

This is the basic thesis of the entire ICSR report: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Tommy Robinson, and other transatlantic agitators are working together to stir up trouble across the whole of Europe, trouble that would not exist without their insolent meddling.

There is one thing in the Executive Summary, however, with which I find myself in complete agreement:

The ECJM is a loosely-organised, decentralised network of sympathetic groups and political parties that have used the internet to coalesce into a more effective and international anti-Islam movement.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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The body of the report is too extensive to analyze in its entirety. I will concentrate on those portions which are most relevant to our mission here at Gates of Vienna and cover material with which I am sufficiently familiar.

The first thing to note is that the report seems, generally speaking, accurate in most of the factual points it presents. The authors make some errors, but they are not huge. Tendentious descriptions that support the predetermined conclusions are widespread in the text, of course, but a surprising amount of information is presented in a fair and neutral manner.

Unfortunately, the authors’ knowledge of their material seems to be shallow and superficial, as if they had acquired most of it by reading the some of major mainstream Counterjihad websites, attending a couple of Defence League events, and interviewing Tommy Robinson.

Part 1, the Introduction, begins on page 7:

With commentators and analyst offering descriptions ranging from populist street movement to racial-nationalists and fascists, it is clear that a great deal of uncertainty remains regarding the true nature of the English Defence League (EDL) and its European affiliates. The rise of this self-described “Counter-Jihad” movement in Europe, which seeks to combat the perceived threat of “Islamisation” through Europe-wide protests and awareness and advocacy campaigns, has added a new and complex element to the study of the far-right in Europe.

Putting keywords in quotes is a time-honored method of deprecating your opponent’s position. It’s an effective way of indicating that there is some doubt about whether his concepts have any objective meaning outside his own (presumably deluded) mind. I’ve been known to employ the technique myself from time to time…

But there is no “uncertainty… regarding the true nature” of the EDL unless one takes all of one’s information from The Guardian and other mainstream British outlets that refuse to write about the EDL in honest terms.

People who are part of the movement, who hang out in the same circles and are involved in its activities, are in no doubt about its “true nature”. Only someone in a state of permanent denial about what is happening in Britain could be.

On page 8 we read:

…The primary research goal of this study is to provide an insight into the thinking of the movement’s core leadership by focusing on its history, tactics and intellectual background. As such, the report does not claim to analyse the views or inspirations of rank-and-file followers and supporters.3

How can the motives of the leaders be understood without understanding the motives of those who follow them? The imperative behind this report requires the authors to reach certain conclusions that cannot be justified by any facts they might uncover. Therefore they cannot really provide any “insight into the thinking of the movement’s core leadership” without addressing the motives of the followers, which, as mentioned in the referenced footnote (#3), they are unable to do:

Due to the lack of anything beyond anecdotal data on followers of ECJM groups it has been very difficult to reach any firm conclusions about their inspirations and motivations.

So, in effect, Messrs. Hitchens and Brun are acknowledging from the start that they cannot do what they say they are attempting to do, that they are unable to accomplish their self-declared “primary goal”.

Therefore the rest of the report may be considered boilerplate and filler used to flesh out the conclusions they are required to reach.

Part 2 (pages 9-15) covers a lot of ground on “The EDL’s History and the International Network”. It touches on material with which I am insufficiently familiar, and will leave to our British correspondent to tackle in Part 3 of this series.

The section includes an account of the formation of British Freedom and Paul Weston’s stint as the leader of BF. It’s obvious that the ICSR is worried by Paul Weston — as they well should be, since he is intelligent, articulate, well-educated, effective, and cannot be dismissed as just another “fascist street thug”.

Gates of Vienna comes into their sights due to its long history of featuring the writings of Paul Weston:

Weston, the architect of BF’s shift away from racial-nationalism, is also a regular contributor to the Gates of Vienna blog, one of the leading websites of the ECJM and home to well-known ECJM blogger Fjordman (whose real name is Peder Nøstvold Jensen). Under Weston’s stewardship, the Islamisation issue was placed at the top of the BF agenda.

So far, so good: that is clear, factually accurate, and neutral in tone. If the entire report were written in this fashion, one could only commend it.

Quibbles can be made here and there, however. In the section on the influence of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer on the Defence Leagues, footnote #6 (page 9) tells us this:

This is led by Robert Spencer, who runs the popular anti-Islam blog Jihad Watch, and Pamela Geller, who rose to prominence as the head of a campaign to stop the building of an Islamic centre near the site of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center

As far as I am aware, Pamela Geller “rose to prominence” long before the Ground Zero Mosque issue entered the news. She was featured on national network television during the Rifqa Bary case, the disputes over bus ads, and on other occasions too numerous to note, extending back several years at least.

But we’ll let that one go; it’s a minor issue.

On page 17-19 we encounter details on a topic I know well, namely this blog:

The EFI and the European defence leagues were not in fact the first European Counter-Jihad network; rather, they have joined on to and to a large extent co-opted a pre-existing movement. An earlier attempt to create such a network was made in 2006 in the form of the 910 Group which began with an article posted on 26 September 2006 on the Gates of Vienna blog by an individual using the pseudonym Baron Bodissey (later revealed to be Edward S. May, one of the operators of the blog). The author argued that the internet, and particularly the blogosphere, was a potential source of ‘enormous power,’ while also complaining that one major weakness of other existing Counter-Jihad blogs was their solely reactive character.53He therefore suggested a change of direction: the creation of a web-based anti-Islam activist group that was able to organise physical gatherings and events in order to apply pressure on governments to act against the perceived Islamisation threat.54Blogs and other forms of new media were becoming weapons with which the movement could fight its cultural civil war within Europe:… [emphasis added]

This is a partially accurate presentation of how the 910 Group came into being. But the weasel-word “perceived” has been appended to the “threat”, denying the concept any objective validity. And notice the loaded terminology used in the last part of the paragraph: what Idescribed as an information war to take back the culture has morphed into “weapons” that wage a “cultural civil war”.

Thus we return to Anders Behring Breivik. Since Mr. Breivik is known to have read this blog, what I said must be shoehorned into a “narrative” that supports the contention that Mr. Breivik got some of his ideas from me.

Spurious reasoning and tendentious rewording in order to reach false conclusions: that’s typical of leftists when they mischaracterize the thinking of non-leftists.

Yet much of the presentation is factually accurate and neutral in tone. So what’s going on here? The schizophrenic nature of the ICSR report manifests itself yet again.

Or was the neutral wording of the draft report carefully rewritten by the editors to achieve the necessary semantic result?

A year later, in 2007, the 910 Group renamed itself the Centre for Vigilant Freedom (CVF) and under the directorship of Edward S. May sought to build international partnerships. It claimed to have a presence in seven countries, including the UK, US, Thailand and Australia.58 It also began to organise international meetings and conferences, with the first of these taking place in Copenhagen on 14 April, 2007. Reports claim that activists from Norway (including the aforementioned Fjordman), Denmark, the UK, the US, and Sweden were present, as well as ‘members of a Swedish political party,’ which, though unnamed, is likely to be the Swedish Democrats, a far-right nationalist anti-Islam and anti-immigration party.59 [emphasis added]

The bolded text in the paragraph above is factually false. CVF was never under my “directorship”. I was listed as one of the officers in the incorporation papers, but I was neverthe director. I never had any control, nor would I have wanted any — what a ghastly job that would have been.

Then comes another inaccuracy:

Months later, on 18 October, a second more expansive conference took place in Brussels organised under the auspices of Belgium’s Vlaams Belang…

[…]

Closely involved in organising both of these conferences was a Dane named Anders Gravers, who in 2007 founded Stop the Islamisation of Denmark (SIOD) in his native country…

Anders Gravers played no role in the organization of the first Brussels Conference in 2007. That event was organized entirely by CVF.

On pages 22 through 24 the report presents a fairly lucid account of my writings about distributed networks (although I would take issue with the insertion of the word “prosperity” into the description, since I have always maintained that such structures require little or no funding — but perhaps the authors envisaged a more generalized form of prosperity):

A Decentralised Distributed Network in Europe

The creation of the above mentioned defence leagues in Europe is part of the EDL’s strategy, with assistance from its allies in America, to internationalise the Counter-Jihad movement and the defence league framework in particular. It appears that they are helping to create a decentralised network of groups based upon a model provided by an entry on the Gates of Vienna blog (an important information and analysis hub for the ECJM) in June 2009, which called for the implementation of a form of the distributed network model to ensure the survival and prosperity of the ECJM.

At this point Messrs. Hitchens and Brun couldn’t help themselves; they just had to put some more words in my mouth:

For the purpose of avoiding accusations of incitement to violence, the article does not use the term “leaderless resistance”, and the author instead opts for the term ‘distributed network’,81 a term usually applied to computer and telephone networks… [emphasis added]

I “avoid accusations of incitement to violence” by not inciting violence. That’s easy for me to do, since I don’t advocate violence and never have — unlike, say, Anders Behring Breivik. Violence is the outcome that my efforts aim to avoid.

That’s why I didn’t use the term “leaderless resistance”, which is not something that I would ever have thought of, but has now been welded into the text to suit the purposes of ICSR. Nice going, guys!

I called it a “distributed network” because that’s exactly what it is. My background is in systems analysis, so it’s only natural that I think in such terms. But the authors need to fit Breivik into all this, so my words have been reshaped.

The rest of the paragraph and the following two present an accurate précis, and even provide a footnote with references to authoritative sources on distributed networks:

…The major benefit of this type of network is that without a set command and control hierarchy, no single node is indispensible and thus the network has no single point of failure.82 As envisaged by ECJM strategists, such a model can be applied to multiple Counter-Jihad groups and individuals in different countries and regions, allowing them to act relatively independently of one another while pursuing the same overarching strategy and agenda.

These groups and individuals act as the nodes in the network, the author explains, with certain nodes acting as gateways to country or region-specific networks which are also connected to the wider international movement. Each of these nodes can fulfil specialised functions such as event-organising or multimedia creation, or simply offer general support to the movement. According to the author, the most specialised function is that of the ‘idea man’; individuals who ‘contribute components of the ideological framework that guides the entire network.’83

The internet also plays a crucial role in this model, allowing for the rapid spread of ideas, and the planning of gatherings and protests at short notice. Indeed, it is the internet which is the primary connector for the multiple nodes of the network throughout Europe, and as demonstrated above some of the defence leagues have identically designed websites created and managed by the same people.

But then I start “claiming” things — presumably “perceived” things:

The article gives three reasons for the importance of a Counter-Jihad distributed network model, claiming that:

i) The political elite and the governments in the Western world are repressive of Counter-Jihad organisations;
ii) a number of left-wing groups exercise unofficial repression, violently attacking Counter-Jihad followers with tacit government support;
iii) there is a substantial risk of being attacked by militant Muslims.84

Yes, those are indeed things that I “claim”. But are they accurate? Does such repression actually take place? Are Counterjihad activists ever physically attacked by militant Muslims?

Well, the attempted assassination of Lars Hedegaard in Copenhagen may have occurred too recently to be mentioned in this report. However, the attacks on Lars Vilks in Sweden — including the firebombing of his house by Muslim “youths” — occurred several years ago. And the attempted murder of Kurt Westergaard was not only early enough to warrant inclusion in the report, it targeted someone who is not at all a Counterjihad activist, but simply a guy who drew a cartoon.

Alas, the authors of the report appear uninterested in the “mere facticity” of anything I say. To suit their purposes, my statements must remain “claims”, and thus lie beyond any possible verification.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Section 3 of the report is entitled “Finding a Place for the Movement”. On page 25 we read:

The ECJM’s apparent obsession with preserving European culture is not, on its own, sufficient reason to define the movement as ultranationalist, and therefore far-right… [emphasis added]

Once again, the insertion of the derogatory word “obsession” denies the legitimacy of what we say. When concerns become “obsessions”, otherwise conscientious citizens are given permission to ignore those who voice them.

However, the explanation that follows — distinguishing nationalism per se from fascism — is quite reasonable, providing additional evidence that at least two minds were working at cross-purposes to produce the report.

The section goes on to characterize the BNP, populism, and the Far-Right. On page 30 it provides this important nugget of information:

The authoritarianism often found in far-right groups revolves around a reactionary desire to “preserve” society through the imposition of arbitrary and highly restrictive laws incompatible with individual rights that underpin liberal democracies.113

Why is “preserve” in quotes? Is it abnormal or undesirable to want to preserve a society?

And it’s true that some authoritarians seek “the imposition of arbitrary and highly restrictive laws incompatible with individual rights that underpin liberal democracies”. But where is there any indication that this is the goal of the English Defence League, Paul Weston, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, or any other activist mentioned in the report?

Anything can be mentioned in juxtaposition with anything else — but are the two things connected?

There has to be a term for this method of defamation. Could we call it “association through mentioning”?

The pervasive schizophrenia of the authors appears again in the following description:

Xenophobia (Greek for “fear of the foreigner/stranger”) refers to a strong, usually irrational belief that an exogenous or otherwise new social group is a serious threat to the society it has entered… In many sections of the ECJM, and particularly visible in its very active online community, there is a clear trend towards demonising Islam and Muslims, and presenting them as the source of the West’s ills. [emphasis added]

I find it interesting that the authors chose to modify the adjective “irrational” with the adverb “usually”.

This is an implicit acknowledgement that the fear of Islamic supremacy is NOT irrational.

That is, that “Islamophobia” may not be a “phobia” after all!

This is an important concession by Messrs. Hitchens and Brun, a sign that their research into what the leaders of the ECJM say has subliminally altered their opinion about the “perceived” threat.

But then, on page 33, they return to the prepared script:

At first glance, it would appear that the ECJM exhibits elements of at least three of the aforementioned identifiers for fascism:

  • the inflammatory and divisive nature of ECJM marches and speeches suggests little concern for the societal consequences of their actions and a glorification of force associated with fascism;
  • it has an irrational view of Muslims in Europe as an “enemy within”;
  • its devotion to cultural nationalism contains an authoritarianism which calls for actions that are in direct conflict with Europe’s liberal institutions and can be defined as a form of populist ultra-nationalism.

Once again, this is proof-by-assertion: “These organizations are fascistic in nature because we say they are.”

No proof is adduced; but then, no proof is required.

The authors describe “Cultural Nationalism” on pages 33-34:

The nationalism of the ECJM is characterised by an aggressive integrationism that requires immigrants and any other foreigners to conform to a set of cultural and political values including, but not limited to women’s rights, human rights, freedom of speech, and democracy. Indeed, the movement couches many of its activities in such liberal terms in order to counter accusations of far-right extremism.

[…]

The EDL has also recently adopted the motto ‘Protecting our Culture’. Similarly, its ally BF describes itself as a British cultural nationalist party. The authors will argue here that the ECJM’s nationalism is a form of cultural nationalism which is endemic to the current political climate in Europe.

These are good things. ICSR has done the EDL a service by pointing out that it supports women’s rights, freedom of speech, and other civil liberties.

Or does ICSR oppose these things?

And there’s even this:

It should be noted here that the desire to protect and promote certain values, whether they be thought of as specifically British cultural imperatives or “shared values” is not the preserve of the far-right.

I consider this a major concession on the part of the authors. It’s generous of them to acknowledge that the preservation of cultural values is not just a right-wing preoccupation, but the concern of many people of divers political views who happen to love their country and their culture.

But do the authors share that concern themselves?

There is more, much more on cultural nationalism, much it difficult to read because of the pervasive jargon.

On page 41 the report moves on to Part 4, “The Islamisation Conspiracy”, quoting Anders Gravers and Nicolai Sennels, and describing the “Islamisation narrative”. From there they continue to Sharia and Taqiyya.

They state this about Robert Spencer:

Robert Spencer’s blog, Jihad Watch, which has provided much intellectual guidance for the ECJM, argues that Islam is unique among religions in that it ‘includes a mandatory and highly specific legal and political plan for society called Sharia.’

This is an accurate account of what Mr. Spencer says, and it’s good to see it presented here.

A long section beginning on page 43 describes “The Coming Civil War in Europe”, and this is where we get into the meat of the imagined (“perceived”?) connections to Breivik. After that come synopses of Bat Ye’or’s work on Eurabia — described as a “conspiracy theory”, naturally.

On page 51, under “The Demographic Threat”, the report tackles the writings of Mark Steyn:

Steyn, like many in the Counter-Jihad movement and beyond, holds that although there are moderate Muslims, there is no moderate Islam. The four main schools of Islamic thought cannot accommodate, he argues, Muslims who wish to follow liberal values and reject violence.

Once again, this is simply presented in neutral terms, which is good. The authors are letting Mr. Steyn have his say.

Allowing Counterjihad writers to have their say — without inserting weasel-words or rewriting their sentences — is a good thing, and Messrs. Hitchens and Brun are to be commended for doing it.

It’s a pity they couldn’t have done the same thing throughout their paper — then they would have been making our case for us. But that’s the peculiar thing about this report: it seems to be the product of a house divided against itself.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Before I close out this analysis, a few interesting and amusing notes are in order.

The ICSR report includes “sidebars”, narrow-gauge features on a grey background with thumbnail sketches about various topics. One of them attempts to summarize Gates of Vienna, and actually misquotes the motto on the header of this blog (and even includes a footnote as a reference):

At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are now in a phase of a very old war

Scroll up to the top of this page to see the correct version.

The new WordPress version of our blog features the motto as an image, but the old Blogger blog (almost certainly the one used by the authors, based on their footnotes) had a text header. It could easily have been copied and pasted into the report to ensure accuracy. Why the authors neglected to do this remains a mystery.

On page 64, the report has this to say:

A favourite reference point for the ECJM on this subject is Turkish Prime Minister Reccip [sic] Tayyip Erdogan’s quoting the following line from a famous Islamic poem while he was an opposition figure in the 1990s:

The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers.261

The line, an unremarkable piece of aggressive bluster from a politician seeking to shore up his Islamist support-base, …

How do the authors know that Mr. Erdogan’s words were “an unremarkable piece of aggressive bluster”, and that his intention was “to shore up his Islamist support-base”?

Are they that well-versed in the intricacies of Turkish domestic politics?

Or are they simply recycling the received wisdom of the Western Left, which seeks to minimize what the Turkish prime minister said and deflect attention away from it?

Is it possible that Recep Tayyip Erdogan meant exactly what he said, and quoted the poem with full Islamic fervor?

If we rely on the research conducted by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, we’ll never learn the answer to that question.

Finally, on page 67 the authors reach Part 6, their “Conclusion”:

The ECJM’s application of terms like dhimmi to refer to cultural “traitors” signals the creation of a dangerous terminology which is reminiscent of neo-Nazi references to “race traitors”…

This was the predetermined conclusion. This was what the report was commissioned to “discover”. The authors — or the editors — delivered the goods and sealed the doom of the European Counterjihad Movement by bringing in the dreaded N-word.

Yet in the preceding 66 pages, the paper manages to present much of the case made by the EDL and other Islam-critical actors, without exaggeration and without transforming them into “neo-Nazis”.

If you toss aside the weasel-words, and screen out some of the inserted text, the Counterjihad is allowed to make its case in the ICSR report.

Was that inadvertent? Or was it what the authors intended?

 UK-Demonstration

Part 3: The British Counterjihad Movement

As reported here last week, the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) held a conference in London on March 13 to study the “New Far Right” in Europe, with a special focus on the English Defence League.

The featured event of the conference was a report entitled “A Neo-Nationalist Network: The English Defence League and Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement” [pdf], which focuses on the history of the English Defence and related movements across Europe, tracing what it considers the crucial transatlantic connections with these groups.

Aeneas of the International Civil Liberties Alliance has compiled an analysis of the ICSR report from the perspective of the British Counterjihad.

The British Counterjihad Movement
by Aeneas

The ICSR report, “A Neo-Nationalist Network: The English Defence League and Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement”, by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Hans Brun, was obviously intended to damage the English Defence League, perhaps with an eye to supporting an eventual ban on it. To that end, it missed no opportunity to warn about possible ‘fascist’ characteristics and the potential for the emergence of ‘neo-Nazis’ in the group. Yet it is unable to present any evidence for such ‘tendencies’, merely offering vague warnings about bad things that somehow, someday, just might happen.

In contrast, by quoting from relevant EDL documents and other sources of information, it repeatedly presents evidence that the EDL is classically liberal, law-abiding, non-violent, and open to the inclusion of racial and other minorities. By showing the positive side of the movement, it has done the EDL and the European Counterjihad a great service.

This peculiar inconsistency — an obvious prejudice against the EDL accompanied by hard evidence that portrays the organisation in a good light — is hard to explain. Yet such contradictions appear repeatedly in the report.

The ICSR paper is too large to cover in its entirety. In my brief analysis below, I shall just touch upon some of the more important points.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

In its discussion of the EDL’s Mission Statement, the report engages in the most desperate circumlocutions to find ways to criticise the EDL’s warm embrace of ethnic minority communities. In this and other analyses, the authors seem to be suggesting that it is illiberal to oppose the illiberal.

Conversely, it does not address those aspects of Islam that the Counterjihad is concerned about; it just glosses over them. It pretends these crucial issues — involving real violence and real oppression — are due to misunderstanding, yet it never gives the Counterjihad any similar benefit of the doubt. Instead, it does what it can to demonise and delegitimise it.

Nationalism and ‘Cultural Nationalism’

The report places far too much emphasis on nationalism in its analysis of the Counterjihad. Nationalism is important to many supporters, but that is not the main thrust of Counterjihad, which is based firmly on the bedrock of tradition Enlightenment freedoms.

Part 3 puts forward the idea that the EDL is essentially a nationalist movement, and again ignores the central components of Counterjihad ideology that helped to shape the group. In many respects the EDL has a supranational vision. It is an organisation that seeks to unite people of all races and nationalities. It should come as no surprise that the EDL has attracted admiration across Europe, North America, and even as far away as non-Western India. It has been able to do this because it has cross-cultural appeal, something that a purely nationalist group would be incapable of achieving.

Much of the report focuses on what it considers the main preoccupation of the Counterjihad, the issue of ‘preserving European culture’. While this may be one of the goals of many EDL supporters, it is not the essence of its being. Its broader focus is reflected in the initiatives that the EDL has undertaken, including the establishment of the Jewish, Sikh, and LGBT Divisions and the way it actively encourages the participation of ethnic minorities. The EDL has even stated that it is a multicultural organisation.

This tendency is also reflected in its international diplomacy. It has been successful in its dealing with foreign organisations because its main focus has been Enlightenment values rather than nationalism. The vast majority of its work has focused on freedom of expression, equality before the law, women’s rights, the rights of the LGBT community, and animal cruelty, etc. It has been criticised for not being ‘nationalist’ by organisations that are demonstrably nationalist. The press and academia prefer to portray the EDL as ‘nationalist’ because that gives them the greatest opportunity to criticise it.

The report appears to claim that the EDL’s non-emphasis of nationalism is just a smokescreen, so desperate are its authors to depict the EDL as beyond the pale. Academics, politicians, and the media do not judge the EDL by its statements, its official policies, or its actions. They reach their conclusions based on what they have already decided about it, their own ideas about what such an organisation must be like.

If one cannot judge an organisation on the basis of what it says and what it does, then how can one possibly make a rational assessment of it?

The ‘Far Right’

The report includes standard references to the ‘far right’, Breivik, or the BNP — conflating all of them, and connecting all of them with the EDL.

Yet in their own selections of quotes and references, the authors repeatedly demonstrate that the EDL has nothing in common with these groups and individuals. On page 11:

It is worth noting that, even at this early stage in the group’s evolution, there was at least an acknowledgement that the majority of Muslims are not extremists, and an apparent disavowal of racist politics.

That hardly seems the ideology of the ‘far right’!

On page 14:

Under Robinson and Carroll there has been a clear and mostly effective drive to remove the lingering street-fighting and neo-Nazi elements from the group’s street demonstrations.

It goes on to quote a favourable comment from a senior police officer about the EDL’s efforts to cooperate with the police in order to avoid violence at demonstrations, which reflects well on Tommy Robinson and his supporters.

The report fails to note something that would have made the EDL look even better: almost all of the violence at demonstrations was instigated by members of radical leftist organisations, who did so to try to make the EDL look bad.

Yet the fact that the ICSR report is willing to include a positive evaluation from the police about the EDL proves that the authors are doing more than creating the typical smear job. Intentionally or otherwise, they have provided a favourable account of the EDL from British law-enforcement and other sources.

The EDL’s critics have commented on the declining numbers at their demonstrations. However, in the early days the EDL had had problems with Nazis/left wing provocateurs infiltrating demonstrations. The positive achievement of removing neo-Nazis is reflected in the following (inadvertently positive?) passage from the article:

The removal and alienation of the neo-Nazi and many of the street fighters has also resulted in a decline in the numbers of people that EDL rallies can attract.

This is clear evidence that the English Defence League have sacrificed numbers at demonstrations in order to actively rid the organisation of racists. This has helped bring the British Counterjihad closer to its libertarian and humanitarian roots as referred to earlier. The public statements made by EDL leader Tommy Robinson have always reflected these roots:

Through numerous interviews with mainstream media outlets he [Tommy Robinson] has attempted to present a clear, non-violent and ostensibly moderate message concerning the threat of radical Islam.

In the above quote, arbitrary prejudgement of the EDL is reflected in the addition of the words ‘attempted’ and ‘ostensible’ to throw into doubt the sincerity of his words. Academics and members of the media have their own prejudices that result in serious errors. In so doing they completely ignore the fact that the Counterjihad was solidly founded on liberal values. That the EDL has managed to capably steer itself back to that stance, despite the efforts of the provocateurs, should come as no surprise.

The ICSR paper seems to deliberately cast doubt on the fact that the decisions to establish its position was sincerely based on the liberal foundations of Counterjihad ideology. Yet the authors present the evidence for exactly that.

The report places a great emphasis on associations with the British National Party (BNP) — again as a tool to demonise the Counterjihad. The constant references to the BNP represent the time-honoured tactic of guilt by association.

Even so, the paper states on page 7:

…it is clear that a great deal of uncertainty remains regarding the true nature of the English Defence League (EDL) and its European affiliates.

This “uncertainty” about the EDL does not seem to deter the legacy media, who continue their standard demonization of the organisation’s ideals, its people, and its works, without any actual evidence.

Paul Ray, aka “Lionheart”

A key problem with the report is that it places far too much emphasis on Paul Ray. It draws attention to his utterances, such as those stating that the EDL is “against all devout Muslims”, as though they are representative of what the EDL is. In the end, Ray was side-lined by the EDL leadership because he was regarded as too extreme, and as such an embarrassment to the emerging organisation.

Ray’s subsequent assertion that the EDL had been taken over by neo-Nazis was without a doubt caused by their rejection of his approach, rather than what was happening in reality. Of course, the legacy media were desperate to believe his rantings, because his interpretation fit with their own warped views and false assumptions.

The authors make the ridiculous assertion that the British Counterjihad movement had its origins in Paul Ray’s ramblings on his “Lionheart” blog. Back in 2007, many in the Counterjihad community actually regarded his blog as too extreme and too focused on Crusader symbolism.

In reality, the British Counterjihad movement was established around the issue of freedom of speech. A key event in that process took place on Saturday 25 March, 2006. This was the March for Free Expression (MfFE), which was organised around a blog established for that purpose in the aftermath of the Danish Cartoon riots. That blog can be found atwww.marchforfreeexpression.blogspot.co.uk.

Blogs such as Up Pompeii, Western Resistance, and Harry’s Place, along with internationally-orientated blogs such as Infidel Bloggers Alliance, played a far more influential role in the early days than the Crusader stance of Lionheart and similar blogs.

The Counterjihad, in contrast to the Lionheart meme, was founded around mainstream issues of concern to broad swathes of the public. It was not founded simply in opposition to Islam; rather it arose specifically to protect liberal Western values that have since been significantly worn down due to pressure from Islamists, the radical Left, and opportunistic politicians.

European Freedom Initiative

The ICSR paper seems to miss the point when it discusses the European Freedom Initiative (EFI). The EFI was founded to protect freedom of expression, a fact the report fails to mention.

The EFI represented a broadening of Counterjihad efforts. It was established specifically to manage a demonstration in Amsterdam that was intended to bring together free speech activists from across Europe. The EDL were an important — though not a central — part of this effort. The EDL were one group amongst many at that event, and participated due to the commitment that they shared a common goal: to defend freedom of expression.

The first event staged by the EFI was actually organised in large part by members of the Dutch Defence League. It was also quite specifically focused, like the MfFE before it, on the issue of freedom of expression. In particular, it concerned the censorship of Geert Wilders when he was denied access to speak in the United Kingdom.

The EFI’s point about the threat to freedom of expression was underlined by the actions of the Mayor of Amsterdam, who moved the demonstration to a remote location at the last minute in order to make it less effective. The same point was made by the actions of the left wing Antifa mob that threatened serious violence in the run-up to the event.

Summary

The ICSR report makes an error in judgment when it assumes that the Counterjihad is based on a belief in an idealised past.

In reality the Counterjihad is based on a vision of a liveable future. In this way it is not looking to the past, but is moving forward. It is not concerned about losing what has been gained in the past, but about building the future on the foundations of the Enlightenment. Its focus on Islam rest on concerns about threats to these foundations.

 

Academic

Part 4: Academic vs. Academic

As reported in this space last week and yesterday, the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) held a conference in London on March 13 to study the “New Far Right” in Europe, paying special attention on the English Defence League. The conference launched a report entitled “A Neo-Nationalist Network: The English Defence League and Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement” [pdf], which examines the history of the English Defence and related movements in Europe.

Regular readers are familiar with JLH, who works tirelessly to translate so much material from the German. Before he became a volunteer translator for Gates of Vienna, JLH spent a number of years on the faculty of an American university.

As mentioned earlier in this series, much of the ICSR report is couched in dense academic jargon that hinders any easy understanding. However, JLH — given his distinguished academic record — was undaunted by the esoteric scholastic idiom used in the report, and spent a considerable time examining it with a jaundiced eye.

His report is below. As he remarked in the email accompanying his response: “Sending me the ICSR report activated my old academic glands and provoked my Islamic antibodies at the same time. I was unable to help myself; I had to tackle it.”

Academic vs. Academic
by JLH

The ICSR report is a nice example of 21st century political scholarship:

  • Careful research which does not support the main thesis, but lends credibility to the “look”.
  • Citations of numerous scholars who specialize in five-syllable words.
  • The assumption that readers will be in agreement with the authors’ point of view, because any sensible person thinks that way.
  • Nationalism is bad; dissolution of nations and cultures in the name of universality is good. Xenophobia is bad because it is the unreasoning fear of the “other” but what might be called autochthonophobia — hatred and fear of the less refined members of your own society — is fine.

“What do those damned Neanderthals expect? When they are all gone, only the best of all lands will remain. We are the world!”

Below are some selected gems of the authors’ wisdom followed by my irascible comments.

ABOUT ICSR

The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) is a unique partnership in which King’s College London, Georgetown Univesity [sic], the University of Pennsylvania, the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (Israel) and the Regional Center for Conflict Prevention Amman (Jordan) are equalstakeholders. [emphasis added]

That is, grants have been granted — possibly from governments.

CATS — Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies

Nice how they use a term developed to describe terrorist violence and apply it to non-violent movements of a country’s citizens.

Executive Summary

…henceforth referred to collectively as the European Counter-Jihad Movement (ECJM)…

OH, GOOD! Initials and a collective title — it must be real!

The ECJM poses three serious problems:

i) Though it does not specifically call for violence, the sensationalist character of the ECJM narrative, which includes a paranoid tendency towards conspiracy-theory, can act as inspiration for violent terrorist attacks like those carried out by Breivik, who emerged from the ECJM’s ideological milieu;
ii) the movement can serve to incubate, protect and add a veneer of plausibility and acceptability to traditional forms of far-right xenophobia and extremism;
iii) its amorphous nature and ability to tap into popular concerns about immigration, religion, terrorism and the economy increases the likelihood of violent confrontation and jeopardises Europe’s social fabric. [emphasis added]

Pardon me — while the ECJM are not calling for violence, what are the antifas, militant Islamists and friends doing?

Are they proclaiming universal peace and brotherhood? Or, by any chance… calling for violence?

Page 7:

 

1. Introduction

The second section of the report is devoted to evaluating a number of the different categories into which analysts have hitherto placed the ECJM, and arguing for the use of a previously ignored categorisation: cultural nationalism. This section will also explain how and why the ECJM can justifiably be referred to as “far-right”, even as it claims to fight for liberal enlightenment values and many of its core concerns overlap with those of mainstream political parties. [emphasis added]

The sine qua non of “scholarship”: a neologism. Or, how to call a thing anything you want, and justify it by vaguely claiming it is lying about its own motives.

Despite their irrationality, these beliefs have begun to coalesce into an identifiable “Islamisation ideology”, which holds that the current terrorist threat from extremist Islamists is not a modern political phenomenon but merely the latest manifestation of a centuries-long and ongoing effort by Muslims to conquer Western civilisation.

So you don’t believe this view of Islam? Why?

Is it because you have been listening carefully to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mohamed Morsi, Hamas, and your favorite, Anjem Choudary?

No, maybe not…

2. History and Network

The EDL: A Turbulent and Murky History

Paul Ray

This first foray by Ray and his allies was short-lived as the police quickly shut it down, but this was the beginning of what would become the EDL. [emphasis added]

“Turbulent and murky” — I look forward to the proof of that — or am I being too optimistic?

“The beginning of what would become”…Is this a romance novel?

The lengthy histories of Ray and the BNP serve no real purpose in explaining the EDL, but doadd a lot of prejudicial quotations.

Page 22:

During interviews with defence league leaders in Åarhus [sic — should either be “Århus” or “Aarhus”], the authors found that the EDL, NDL and others, for example,claim to accept the premise that most Muslims are not extremists, whereas SIOE reject the notion of a moderate Muslim entirely. [emphasis added]

Well, when you’re part of the far-right, you have to lie a lot…

For the purpose of avoiding accusations of incitement to violence, the article does not use the term “leaderless resistance”, and the author instead opts for the term ‘distributed network’,81 … [emphasis added]

And they just can’t wait to become violent, when no one is watching. Right?

Page 26:

3. Finding a Place for the Movement

According to Roger Griffin’s concise definition of fascism, it is ‘a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultra-nationalism’ which seeks to provide a bridge between a nation’s apparently glorious (and often ancient) past and its future. [emphasis added]

It’s always a good idea to invent new gobbledygook.

However, within this genus there are various different species. Due to multiple past incarnations, most notably in mid-20th-century Italy, Spain, Germany and Japan, fascism can manifest itself differently depending on where inspiration is drawn from.Upon analysing the academic literature on the subject, however, it is possible to provide a loose set of identifiers of fascist ideology. [emphasis added]

How loose?

And are we going to discuss the permutations of innocent, well-meaning Communism?

  • fascism has a revolutionary desire to transform society which is driven by irrationality and political myths.94

Communism and Islam, of course, do not…

The term palingenesis as applied by Griffin translates from Greek as “re-birth” and in this context refers to fascistic desires to “reset” or regenerate society (often through revolution) after a period of perceived decline due to a variety of different factors, often associated with an “enemy within”.

Please, read the Koran and the Hadith! You might find something you recognize.

Page 30:

The authoritarianism often found in far-right groups revolves around a reactionary desire to “preserve” society through the imposition of arbitrary and highly restrictive laws incompatible with individual rights that underpin liberal democracies. [emphasis added]

How “authoritarian” was it to jail the leader of EDL for months for a passport violation committed against American authorities?

How is “preserving” society seen as “reactionary”?

Is anything we have worth preserving?

Or do the only permitted activities involve the “reinvention” of society? Or even its revolutionary destruction?

p. 36 According to the Routledge Companion to Fascism and the Far-Right, cultural nationalism is a ‘form of nationalism in which the nation is defined in terms of culture, language, race and history.’131 Hutchinson describes the primary aim of cultural nationalists as ‘to revive what they regard as a distinctive and primordial collective personality which has a name, unique origins, history, culture, homeland, and social and political practices.’132 In essence, it defines the nation primarily in terms of a shared culture, and its adherents’ mission is to ensure the survival and prosperity of that culture. While race is often a factor, it is not considered by many cultural nationalists to be the defining feature of a nation. [emphasis added]

Well, if Routledge (whoever he is) said it, it must be true.

How about removing the “race” from the list and agreeing that “nation = common culture, language and history”?

If you don’t like any one of those, what are you doing here?

Page 37:

This passage typifies the rhetoric of the ECJM. It is a stance based on the assumption that Islam is not a religion, but a supremacist political ideology.

So, how do you define it?

And on what evidence? The statements of prominent leaders?

Reading the religious documents themselves?

Possibly consulting the work of other hothouse scholars?

Page 39:

The desire to ban a certain group of people from entering Europe as immigrants purely on the basis of their religion, and the denial of their place in a European country on this basis is inarguably xenophobic.

If we had been a little more welcoming, Attila might have settled in Spain and enriched the Visigothic culture.

Page 41:

The article posits that there are three forms of Islamisation currently in progress in the West:

  • The removal of Christian or Jewish symbols from the public sphere so as to avoid offending the Muslim population;
  • the imposition of Islamic traditions on non-Islamic societies;
  • the creation of “no-go” areas in Western cities, which are predominantly made up of Muslims and enforce forms of sharia law.151 [emphasis added]

And besides the evidence that this is in fact happening, what other evidence would you like?

Concessions to Muslims in Europe, such as allowing Sharia courts to settle civil disputes, are seen as the thin end of the wedge. The ECJM believe that allefforts to bring the status of Islam closer to that of Christianity and Judaism (where in the UK and other parts of Europe the latter are also allowed their own form of religious arbitration through the Beth Din system) are part of the Islamisation conspiracy. [emphasis added]

So, allowing sharia to replace indigenous law is a way of “bringing the status of Islam closer to that of Christianity and Judaism?

How does that work, exactly?

Do we return to a literal reading of the Old Testament — no longer practiced by Jews or Christians — and institute an eye-for-an-eye justice?

Shall we return to stoning as a punishment for adultery?

I guess we are never too old to learn.

Page 47:

The Eurabia theory has been criticised by academics as well as conservative and liberal commentators.179 Walter Lacquer [sic], for example, has questioned the essentialist view of Muslims in Europe which is the premise of Ye’or’s book. He notes that:

The great majority of Muslims in Britain are not Arab but Pakistani or Bangladeshi in origin. In Germany, the Turks greatly outnumber all other Muslims. In France, the majority is North and West African. In Belgium, Turkish and Moroccan, and so on. These are not minor, pedantic issues because traditions, culture, language and even the forms of Islam practised differ considerably in Europe. [emphasis added]

I’ll overlook the fact that these hot-shot academics can’t even spell the name of one of their fellow academics correctly (it should be Walter Laqueur). Instead, consider this ultimate sophistry: using a name that arises from an original bargain between European and Arab partners to “discredit” the monolithic character of Islam’s aims in Europe.

Ha ha, they aren’t all Arabs! So it’s OK that the present leader of Turkey sees himself as the leader of a new Caliphate [which would in fact be an echo of the Sublime Porte which once “threatened Vienna”] and calls upon “his” citizens in Germany to make that country Turkish.

And of course the Islamic terrorism and civil war in Nigeria and Mali are just local, unrelated events.

Move along; nothing to see here.

Page 49:

The idea that all Muslims operate together as a uniform block, unanimously planning their conquest of Europe, is the foundation of another of the ECJM’s central concerns: demographics.

Possibly Muslims are connected in the same way as concerned Europeans of the EDL and Freedom parties.

As a counter to ECJM, may “posit” thee EPJM (European Pro-Jihad Movement).

Page 52:

In his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, Spencer argues that all of the violence, repression and intolerance found in theocracies such as the Saudi monarchy or in Afghanistan under the Taliban, is mandated by Islam as represented by the Koran and Hadith. The problem, he says, is not extremist Islam, but Islam itself. ‘Traditional Islam,’ he writes, ‘is not moderate or peaceful… It is the only major world religion with a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers.’206 According to this reading of Islam the ultra-violence and terrorism of al-Qaeda is an ideal expression of the religion and the views of many of its adherents. Spencer often uses examples from the history of Islam to make his case that modern Islamist terrorism is simply a continuation of a centuries-old war against the West. [emphasis added]

How about some proof to the contrary instead of a sanctimonious assumption that Spencer is wrong?

Pages 60-61:

Concerns about the welfare of ritually slaughtered animals have been voiced by mainstream groups, including the RSPCA which, along with the European Union, has also called for clearer labelling of ritually slaughtered meat.242 The ECJM, on the other hand, is opportunistically co-opting the animal-rights argumentin order to broaden its appeal, framing halal as another part of the conspiracy to Islamise Western society. [emphasis added]

Hey, no fair using a legitimate concern recognized by others. We know you don’t really care about the animals.

Maybe you could convince a few celebrities to strip to protect innocent animals from the halal butchers…?

Pages 62-63:

The main grievance, however, is found a few lines further down: ‘why is the word “Muslim” so conspicuously absent?’253 Muslims, he argues, who hold a ‘religiously inspired cultural perspective that is incompatible with British society,’ must be kept in a separate category of their own and not be confused with other South-Asians.254Similar to Fjordman and Robert Spencer’s Muslim rape-wave articles, the core message is that sexual attacks on Western women and girls that are carried out by Muslims are a specifically Islamic phenomenon, characteristic of a culture that has no place in the West [emphasis added]

Could it be that they are right about the “rape wave” [cf the recent, long overdue investigations and trials in the UK], and that the government has created the term “Asians” to imply that Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists are just as likely to commit violent crimes?

Possibly you are unaware of incidents in which Muslim rapists have said it’s OK to abuse kufr women, because they are unclean and inferior…?

Page 65:

If the core message of the “Ground Zero Mosque” protest was that it would be an insult to build a mosque so near the site of the World Trade Center, the implication throughout was that the plan was in fact an act of Islamic triumphalism, the attempted erection of a monument to the first blow in Islam’s takeover of the West.In an article earlier in 2010, Spencer had placed the “Ground Zero Mosque” in a spurious historical context:… [emphasis added]

“Spurious”? Did you note the proposed name for the Ground Zero Mosque (“Cordoba”) and its predecessor’s history?

Have you ever read Erdogan’s 1998 description of mosques?

”The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…”

Oh, wait, you have — it’s on page 64. But that doesn’t matter — it’s all just colorful, figurative language, unlike the really scary stuff from the counter-jihadists.

Page 67:

The ECJM’s application of terms like dhimmi to refer to cultural “traitors” signals the creation of a dangerous terminology which is reminiscent of neo-Nazi references to “race traitors” [emphasis added]

And it does not matter that this term comes from the Islamists in all countries with Muslim majorities, and increasingly in others.

Conclusion

The ECJM is, without doubt, a far-right, populist movement that is gathering momentum in Europe. As this report has demonstrated, however, this description alone does little to explain the movement’s motivations or ideological positions. Although it continues to attract people from across the far-right spectrum, including racial nationalists, its ideology is not concerned with race.

Recasting the movement as representing an extreme form of cultural nationalism should contribute to a clearer, more nuanced and concise understanding of this issue and helps to accurately place groups like the EDL within the ranks of Europe’s far-right. [emphasis added]

Yes, forcing them into a mould that makes them sound as scary as possible definitely increases the “accuracy” of your scholarly analysis.

And it will probably also guarantee funding for the next round of “research”. But that couldn’t possibly be a consideration, could it?

 

Afterword

An Afterword on the Fisking of the ICSR Report

We’ve just completed a four-part analysis of the report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) entitled “A Neo-Nationalist Network: The English Defence League and Europe’s Counter-Jihad Movement” [pdf], which attempts to make the case that the EDL and similar organizations exhibit “fascist” or “neo-Nazi” characteristics. (See the bottom of this post for links to all four parts of the ICSR series.)

As Paul Weston pointed out, it seems likely that the ICSR was tasked by its funders with the preparation of the political battlefield for an eventual takedown of the EDL by Prime Minister David Cameron and his “Conservative” government. Yet the ICSR operation is obviously aimed at a larger set of targets than just those in the United Kingdom. Its affiliation with the Swedish Ministry of Defence, the current US secretary of defense, several American universities, Saudi sheikhs, and a think tank in Jordan are indicative of a broad set of goals on the part of the Islamic world and its dhimmi allies in the West. One must presume that this coalition of interests is preparing for a larger crackdown in various countries on both sides of the Atlantic.

And let’s face it — if the Powers That Be decide that any individuals or groups need to be neutralized, then they will be neutralized, very quickly and easily. Laws against “terrorism” that give government agencies almost unlimited power are already on the books in the United States and Europe. The SWAT teams are on call; legions of prosecutors and lawyers stand ready to do whatever it takes to protect citizens from “terrorists” — which in the USA now include patriots and Tea Partiers, and in Europe anyone who actively opposes Islamization and mass immigration.

The political moment is not yet right, however — hence the need for learned and credentialed academics to do “research” and provide reports that prove the need for repressive action against persons and groups that have been pre-determined to be “fascists”, “neo-Nazis”, or otherwise represent proscribed categories that place them beyond the pale of polite Multicultural society.

Notwithstanding its laughable shortcomings, the ICSR report is intended to provide a façade of academic legitimacy for illiberal state action. It creates a minuscule fig leaf in an attempt to cover the grotesque distended genitals of government repression.

The paper produced by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence is just the latest in a series of sober, scholarly, footnoted academic reports about the dangers of “Islamophobia”, “xenophobia”, “racism”, “intolerance”, and “fascism”. They are issued at regular intervals by various think tanks, NGOs, quasi-government agencies, governments, and supra-national entities such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the United Nations.

Back in February we reported on the machinations of the Alliance of Civilizations, which is an arm of the United Nations and lavishly funded by the OIC. Check the OIC archives for accounts about the AoC’s iron fist in an oh-so-velvet glove. Like the OIC itself, the AoC is taking aim at our freedom of speech by pushing the implementation of Islamic blasphemy laws throughout the West.

The same set of archives provides details on the Istanbul Process, which was cooked up two years ago by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Turkey, and the OIC. Ms. Clinton aimed to keep her Sunni allies sweet by turbo-charging the implementation of UN Resolution 16/18, thereby bringing the outlawing of “blasphemy” that much closer to realization in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe.

Then there’s the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Various Islamic groups under the umbrella of the OIC have set their sights on the co-optation of the OSCE for the purposes of stopping “Islamophobia”. Were it not for the tireless efforts of Counterjihad activists such as Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and Henrik Ræder Clausen, the subtle machinations of Muslims at the OSCE would have caused scarcely a ripple in the awareness of the West.

The learned savants and government functionaries who hold forth in these organizations form the smiley-face peace-loving wing of the Islamization vanguard. They gather for chin-wags and prepare insomnia-curing academic papers, presenting an opposition to “Islamophobia” that no one could object to.

Playing Bad Cop to their Good Cop are all the bully-boy “anti-racist” outfits such as the Antifas and Unite Against Fascism in Europe, and the Occupy movements in the United States and Canada. These groups — largely staffed by young people from the anarchist Left — act as the Brown Shirts for respectable NGOs and socialist political parties. The think tanks prepare serious, learned white papers while the Antifas and UAF throw bricks and bottles at the EDL, the Sweden Democrats, and Pro-NRW.

What the latter have in common with the respectable groups is lavish funding — and often from the same sources. Together they form the face of the counter-Counterjihad.

Such are “anti-fascist” politics as practiced during the twilight of Western Civilization in the early 21st century.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Many activists in Counterjihad circles hold that true democracy no longer operates in the nations of the West. Regardless of the opinions of their constituents, virtually all major political parties support globalist policies promoting Multiculturalism, the abolition of state borders, and mass immigration from the Third World, especially from Muslim countries. Left or right; it makes no difference — political parties that cycle through the revolving door of state power are all but indistinguishable from one another on these important issues.

It seems that our countries are now managed as oligarchies by those who hold the levers of power in the existing political structure. However, the class of people who act as oligarchs is a large one, numbering in the hundreds of thousands (or perhaps millions) across the entirety of the West.

And therein lies our hope.

The people at the top of the hierarchy are beyond our reach. Whatever their motives — ideological ambition, lust for power, or simple venality, corruption, and greed — they are far outside our range.

But most of what I call the oligarchs are minor functionaries of various sorts, both inside and outside of government. They are academics, journalists, mid-level administrators, and managers of subsidized enterprises. In other words, they are the people who write reports like the one produced by ICSR, and attend conferences like the one hosted by ICSR. They include people who report on such events, and people who make policy decisions based on the ideas and conclusions contained in the policy papers produced by such events. They are commonly known as the “political class”.

A certain critical mass of oligarchs is necessary before any new policy can gain traction and be implemented by legislators and governments. There have to be enough of them onboard before any political decision that runs contrary to the status quo can imposed, whether through legislation or by administrative fiat.

This is why think tanks produce papers like the ICSR report: to provide a foundation of legitimacy and academic justification for new policies that one or more factions within the political class would like to see enacted. An impressive policy paper with all those footnotes and citations lends gravitas to the ideas it represents.

The paper itself has to meet only a minimal standard of competence, as was amply demonstrated by the ICSR report that the Gates of Vienna team just finished fisking. Lavish funding and years of effort do not necessarily produce a result that holds any real academic merit. A policy paper only has to be good enough — it must look authoritative and definitive. It must be larded with the right kind of academic jargon. It must present conclusions that the political class mostly already accepts, in a fashion that cements those conclusions as Truth. After it is presented and discussed, it may be consigned to a drawer and forgotten, its purpose having been served.

Or such was the case before the Internet. Over the course of the past two decades, everything has changed. People who are smarter and better educated than the drones who write these reports can now access them, take them apart, and critique them publicly in a way that was formerly impossible.

As we have seen, the ICSR report couldn’t stand up to the light of day. The skeleton of facts — which an unpaid independent Counterjihad researcher could have compiled in less than 1% of the time that it took the authors to do the job — has been supplemented with loaded phrases and unjustified conclusions. To make its case, the paper had to assign motives to people that they do not have and put words in their mouths that they do not speak. If the result had been subjected to any real academic rigor, it would have been laughed into the dustbin of history before you could say “Tommy Robinson”.

None of this matters, however, if no one reads the report (or its fisking) outside of the hallowed cloisters of academia and NGO-world. Within those precincts, the matter has already been decided — the paper is not meant to be read; it is just there to provide a citable “authority”. The fact that it consists of tendentious nonsense is neither here nor there.

For this reason, I urge anyone who reads these words to help the viral spread of the fisking of this report and others like it. Not that you need to copy or excerpt our efforts — you can read the report yourself and do your own critique, if you prefer. Any reasonably intelligent person can reduce the paper to rubble with a minimum of effort.

But the more widely such reasoned critiques are spread, the more probable it is that people in the political class will read them and pay attention. Yes, I know that the mind of any individual oligarch is unlikely to be changed. Yet changeable minds do exist within this class — Bjorn Lomborg proved that there are reasonable people among the elite who can be convinced to alter their opinions by real evidence.

Most people who function as lower-level oligarchs are not particularly evil or corrupt. They are ordinary people who hold sinecures. They are time-servers. They go along to get along. They think what everyone else around them thinks.

But minds can be changed, if enough well-reasoned, clear, non-polemical evidence is presented. If we wish to avert increased political repression, we must strive to change them.

Therefore I say unto you: Go forth into the world and fisk!