Douglas Murray of the Henry Jackson Society obviously fancies himself a very clever man, typically affecting a tone of patrician disdain towards those of his opponents – pretty well all of us, it would seem – whom he regards as his intellectual inferiors. But when it comes to the subject of Islam, Murray’s blinkered right-wing bigotry destroys any capacity he might have for intelligent thought.
Murray posted a particularly stupid piece on his Spectator blog last week exploiting the attempted shooting of notorious Danish Islamophobe, Lars Hedegaard, in order to attack the mainstream anti-extremist organisation Hope Not Hate, which Murray bizarrely describes as a “far left group” (though from the standpoint of an English Defence League admirer, I suppose HNH probably does appear extreme left). The indignant Murray took exception to HNH’s Counter-Jihad Report in which Hedegaard is listed among the “top dozen players” in the self-styled counter-jihad movement.
Murray complained: “Among the list of reasons they include him in their list is the fact that Hedegaard is: ‘Founder and President, Danish Free Press Society’. I do not see why this should warrant ‘Hope not Hate’ placing his picture alongside that of the mass-murderer Anders Breivik.”
Let us try and explain this to Murray.
First of all, HNH gives a number of reasons for placing Hedegaard on its list of leading figures in the counter-jihad movement, not least of which is that he was a featured speaker at the inaugural CounterJihad conference in Brussels in October 2007. As for the DFPS, HNH notes that it spawned the International Free Press Society, which among other initiatives has championed the cause of Dutch anti-Muslim fanatic and counter-jihadist hero Geert Wilders. HNH notes that the IFPS “launched an international campaign, petition and Defence Fund on 21 January 2009 for Wilders in support of his freedom of speech to criticise Islam and also co-sponsored his speaking tour of major cities across the United States from February-April 2009”.
Providing as it does only a brief summary of his role in the movement, the HNH report omits to detail the many other links between Hedegaard and his fellow counter-jihadists – his close relations with Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer could have been mentioned, for example. And since the publication of the report, Hedegaard has appeared as a leading participant at last July’s counter-jihad conference in Brussels, where he received a “Defender of Freedom” award and shared a platform with English Defence League leader Stephen Lennon. That Hedegaard occupies a prominent and influential place in the international counter-jihad network is, in short, beyond dispute.
As indeed is the inspiration that this movement provided for Anders Breivik. He enthusiastically adopted their paranoid fantasies about Europe falling victim to an aggressive policy of “Islamification” in which the Muslim hordes are intent on imposing their cultural and demographic domination over non-believers, and echoed their angry denunciations of the “dhimmi” politicians, liberal commentators and leftist advocates of multiculturalism who are acting as collaborators in the Islamic conquest of the West. Indeed, the ideological affinity between the author of the mass murders on Utøya and his fellow counter-jihadists has been detailed in numerous studies (see for example Liz Fekete, Breivik, the conspiracy theory and the Oslo massacre, IRR Briefing Paper No.5).
Breivik himself made no secret of his admiration for the counter-jihad movement (which he dubbed the “Vienna school of thought” in tribute to the Gates of Vienna blog) or of its role in encouraging the violent hatred he developed towards the Muslim community and its allies. Breivik’s manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, which he published on the eve of the Utøya massacre as a justification for his acts of terrorism, contains 64 references to Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer and 114 references to Spencer’s writings. Breivik’s manifesto also reproduces several articles by his great hero, the Norwegian counter-jihad blogger Fjordman, in which Lars Hedegaard is held up as a leading authority on Islamisation.
In the first of these articles (“How the feminists’ ‘war against boys’ paved the way for Islam”) Fjordman cites Hedegaard’s thesis that western women tend to hold a positive view of Muslim migrants because the latter can offer the sort of sexual domination that is no longer provided by non-Muslim men (which Fjordman attributes to the undermining of western masculinity by feminism). As Fjordman puts it:
Writer Lars Hedegaard in Denmark does not buy into the theory that women approve of Muslim immigration out of irrational naivety or ideological conviction. He thinks they simply want it, as he writes in a column entitled “The dream of submission.” He does notice, as I do, that women are more likely than men to support parties that are open for more Muslim immigration.
Hedegaard asks a provocative question: Are women more stupid and less enlightened than men, since they in such great numbers are paving the way for their own submission? He comes up with an equally provocative answer: “When women are paving the way for sharia, this is presumably because women want sharia.” They don’t want freedom because they feel attracted to subservience and subjugation.
The English author Fay Weldon has noted that “For women, there is something sexually very alluring about submission.” And as Hedegaard dryly notes, if submission is what many women seek, the feminised Danish men are boring compared to desert sheikhs who won’t allow you to go outside without permission.
A second Fjordman piece reproduced by Breivik (“What does immigration cost Europe?”) draws on a 2002 article co-written by Hedegaard and veteran US Islamophobe Daniel Pipes, which Fjordman summarises as follows:
Third-world immigrants – most of them Muslims from countries such as Turkey, Somalia, Pakistan, Lebanon and Iraq – constituted less than 5 percent of the population but consumed upwards of 40 percent of the welfare spending. What’s worse, however, is that Muslims were only 4 percent of Denmark’s 5.4 million people but made up a majority of the country’s convicted rapists, an especially combustible issue given that practically all the female victims were non-Muslim.
A third article (“From the death of multiculturalism”) opens with Fjordman admitting that he is inclined to “agree with Hedegaard that we have already passed the point of no return for serious conflicts caused by Muslim immigration”, while a fourth (“Europe heading for civil war”) quotes Hedegaard’s views, as reported by Bruce Bawer, on the impending civilisational conflict in Europe provoked by the establishment of Muslim communities of recent migrant origin:
“It’s going to be war. Like Lebanon,” with some enclaves dominated by Christians and others by Muslims. There will be “permanent strife,” and no one will have the “power to mollify or mediate… It will be more gruesome than we can imagine.” When the horror comes, he warned, the journalists who helped to bring it about will “wag their heads and flee – and leave it to those who can’t flee to fight it out.”
The congruence between Hedegaard’s views and those espoused by Breivik scarcely require underlining.
Admittedly, the counter-jihad movement is not a membership organisation but rather a loose network of extreme Islamophobes, ranging from sophisticated ideologues like Hedegaard, through demented bloggers like Geller and gangs of racist street thugs like the EDL, to the terrorist killer Anders Breivik. Hardly any of the other counter-jihadists openly supported Breivik’s slaughter of Norwegian Labour Party youth – though Geller’s response came close – but few informed observers would deny that Breivik shared and took his inspiration from the same basic world-view held by people like Hedegaard. Except, of course, Douglas Murray.
Having ignored the well-established connections between Breivik and the counter-jihad movement, Murray goes on to suggest that Hedegaard’s inclusion in the HNH Counter-Jihad Report might well have provided a motive for his would-be assassin: “if you were an ignorant person would it not be eminently possible to be persuaded by slurs of this kind to believe that Lars Hedegaard might be the next Anders Breivik?” Murray finds it significant that “On the very same day that the assassins knocked on Lars Hedegaard’s door, ‘Hate not Hope’ [sic] were running a day-long conference investigating the ‘Counter-Jihad’ movement.”
Murray provides no evidence that any proponents of violence, Islamist or otherwise, have been inspired by HNH’s exposure of the counter-jihad network, for the simple reason that none exists. A moment’s reflection would reveal the absurdity of the idea that Muslim extremists (clearly the prime suspects in the attack on Hedegaard) might take their cue from HNH, which spends much of its time denouncing Islamist groups like Anjem Choudary’s as posing an equal threat to that of the racist far right. I think it would be reasonable to assume that the readership of HNH’s publications in jihadi circles is approximately nil.
It is also obvious that Hedegaard himself, given his history of making offensive and provocative comments about Islam and its followers, has provided sufficient motive for last week’s attack without any assistance from HNH. A lengthy court case, in which Hedegaard faced hate speech charges arising from his 2009 comments about Muslim rapists (“When a Muslim man rapes a woman, it is in his right to do so”), attracted considerable publicity in Denmark and eventually resulted in his acquittal on a technicality by the Supreme Court in April last year. You can understand why this verdict might cause outrage.
So what we have here is Murray strenuously denying that Hedegaard and the counter-jihad movement inspired Anders Breivik, closing his eyes to all the studies showing that this was in fact the case. But at the same time he accuses Hope Not Hate of inciting an attack on Hedegaard, in the absence of any evidence whatsoever to substantiate that charge. Perhaps it’s time for Murray to reassess the high opinion he holds of his own intelligence.
Published on Islamophobia Watch in February 2013