Melanie Phillips

29 June 2013

A hysterical and ignorant response

Published in: Melanie's blog

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I am rubbing my eyes at the hysterical responses to my blog post on the British government’s banning order against anti-jihadi activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. People will have to read what I wrote, alongside  the attacks on me by Ms Geller and Mr Spencer, to decide for themselves whether their responses were proportionate -- or could even be considered an accurate or fair representation of what I wrote.

Unlike the two of them, I have no wish to indulge in such ad hominem  -- and counter productive – vitriol. I would just make the following points.

First, you would hardly think from their reaction that I actually opposed – and in the strongest terms – the order banning them from Britain. Furthermore, I spoke of them merely as ‘anti-jihadis’ and gave unambiguous credit to Robert Spencer’s scrupulous scholarship. The only aspect on which I said in this piece that I parted company with them was over their endorsement of

‘groups such as the EDL and others which at best do not deal with the thuggish elements in their ranks and at worst are truly racist or xenophobic.’

I did not call the EDL racist or neo-Nazi. I do, however, believe it contains thuggish elements.

Its leader, ‘Tommy Robinson’, has criminal convictions for assault and football hooliganism.

He is a former member of the unquestionably racist British National Party. Some members of the EDL have been pictured making Nazi salutes at rallies. The EDL exploits the very real threat of jihad, as well as the often violent attacks against its own members, to mask its own demonstrably yobbish behaviour. You can see examples of such behavior, throwing bottles at the police, here or here, where Tommy Robinson decided to go on a bender in Luton and started gratuitously throwing missiles at the police from a distance, boasting he would ‘hit a police officer on the … head’.

It targets mosques indiscriminately for its demonstrations, threatening Muslims regardless of whether they are extremists or not. Robinson has personally threatened:  

‘The Islamic community will feel the full force of the EDL if we see any of our citizens killed maimed or hurt’.

It stages provocative stunts like this one to defy the police in order to pose as martyrs to ‘sharia law’, while actually provoking violence of which it then claims to be the victim (look closely to see how the punch that is thrown comes in response to being pushed).   

To represent a refusal to be associated with all this as some kind of snobbish sneering at the lower classes is therefore demonstrably ridiculous. That claim, moreover, reflects a belief in a comic book caricature of Britain which is startlingly ignorant and prejudiced, as well as the arrogant assumption that people in the US know better than the British what is actually taking place on British streets.

By ‘other racist or xenophobic groups’, by the way, I was referring to the Vlaams Belang, a Belgian party which was formed when its predecessor the Vlaams Blok -- whose former vice-president cast doubt on the Holocaust -- disbanded after being convicted of racism, and alongside whose frontman, Filip Dewinter, Ms Geller and Mr Spencer participated in a ‘counter-jihad’ conference in Brussels  in 2007.

Ms Geller refers to a claim by Jamie Glazov at Front Page Magazine, where Robert Spencer’s JihadWatch is housed, that I have

‘hit two freedom fighters when the chips are down’.

Hmmn – ‘hit’ Ms Geller and Mr Spencer by strongly opposing their banning order, right?

He then states:

‘The strategy and tactics of battle that she [Melanie] is distancing herself from and that she sees as lowbrow is precisely the mentality that has helped spawn the UK’s surrender to Sharia and Jihad -- and is, in turn, precisely why Lee Rigby was recently murdered -- and why Muhammad al-Arifi, Abu Qatada and Anjem Choudary are welcome in the UK and why Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer are not.’

You’d never think from this, would you, that I wrote the book Londonistan, and have been viciously and repeatedly attacked for ‘Islamophobia’ on account of my warnings against Britain’s systemic failure to acknowledge the religious nature of the Islamic jihad against the west. You’d never realise from this, would you, that in my piece about the banning order I specifically condemned the UK government for allowing into the country inflammatory Islamic extremists while banning Ms Geller and Mr Spencer. No, all this is simply brushed aside  -- because I do not think common cause should be made with thugs and neo-Nazis.

One of the surreal aspects of this brouhaha is that I currently find myself accused of anti-Islamic bigotry and supporting ‘extremists’ by opposing the banning order against Ms Geller and Mr Spencer -- while simultaneously being accused of selling the pass to Islamisation and mounting an ‘appalling’ attack upon Ms Geller and Mr Spencer.

It would be comic, were it not a tragic illustration of the west’s inability correctly to identify just who are its enemies and who are its true defenders.

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

Read full biography

Books

  • The World Turned Upside Down
  • Londonistan
  • The Ascent of Woman
  • America's Social Revolution

Contact Melanie

Melanie Phillips
Daily Mail
Northcliffe House
2 Derry Street
London W8 5TT

Contact Melanie