Warriors of truth will be needed in the war to come
This recent article at Newsweek abut the PEGIDA phenomenon spreading across Europe is just bizarre.
Its headline is: "ANTI-ISLAM ORGANIZATION PEGIDA IS EXPORTING HATE ACROSS EUROPE".
And yet, despite this inflammatory and misleading headline, the article itself takes nowhere near as hostile a tone throughout (although don't get me wrong, it's still rather hostile), and fails to substantiate the premise it sets out at the beginning.
The author's attempts to prove that PEGIDA are a far-right hate-filled group fall short every time he tries. Take this paragraph describing the recent PEGIDA rally that took place in the UK:
It’s not often you see the words “Trump is right” on protest banners in Britain, whose Parliament recently debated banning the Republican front-runner from entering the country. But as the freezing rain drives down on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Birmingham, what stands out above a huddled mass of silent marchers are dozens of iterations of Donald Trump’s lurid visage, born aloft and plastered with the slogan. Another popular banner reads, “Protect our children.” A third: “Nazism=Islamism.”
If we assume that the "Trump is right" banners were referring to his call for a moratorium on Muslim immigration to the West, then as I have written here before, that call had absolutely nothing to do with racism or bigotry against Muslims, and everything to do with national security concerns. Trump was indeed right. And what about "Protect our children"? Even the mainstream media could not sink so low as to declare that sentiment "far right", could they? As for "Nazism=Islamism", the two ideologies do indeed share a close ideological affinity, dating back to Adolf Hitler himself. I plan to write in more detail about this here some time in the not-too-distant future.
In other words: no, there is nothing "far-right" about any of this. It is all simply the truth.
The article later quotes Tommy Robinson - who seems to be regaining his anti-jihad credentials after an ill-advised flirtation with the Great Enigma Maajid Nawaz - thusly: “I’m not far-right. I’m just opposed to Islam. I believe it’s backward and it’s fascist,” Robinson, 33, says. “The current refugee crisis is nothing to do with refugees. It’s a Muslim invasion of Europe.”
Again: all true (Islam as a totalitarian ideology - see here; the "refugee crisis" as an invasion of Muslim economic migrants - see here), not hateful, and not far-right.
Another of PEGIDA’s leaders in Britain, Anne Marie Waters, is also quoted, and Newsweek shamelessly editorializes that she is "keen to present [PEGIDA's] arguments as almost moderate. [emphasis mine]"
“It is what we share as Europeans, as Westerners. Democratic civilization, that is what we’re there to defend,” she says.
"Almost moderate"???? Still Newsweek has not demonstrated that anything about PEGIDA's UK branch is anything but moderate and democratic. It simply presents the words of the group's leaders as if they are self-evidently extremist - and implies that even when what they say is perfectly reasonable and harmless, well, that's just what they want you to think. Thus it quotes an "expert on the far-right" as saying that “They immediately make themselves look more legitimate.”
Maybe that's because they are legitimate, and not "far-right"? Newsweek doesn't want you to consider the possibility.
Anyway, we also get a summary of some of Robinson's other positions:
Robinson, meanwhile, is keen on segregating Britain’s male prisons into Muslim and non-Muslim inmates; he has alleged that during his own prison stay, Muslim inmates threatened and physically assaulted him. He also wants to close down any Islamic courts operating in Britain. (No legally binding Sharia courts exist in Britain, but an estimate in 2009 by British think tank Civitas said there were at least 85 Sharia bodies offering religious guidance, family mediation and other services.) Rather than try to prevent British jihadis from leaving for Syria and Iraq, Robinson would cheerily wave them off: “Send them all, mate. I'd be chartering jets for ’em.”
Clearly, the death camps are just around the corner.
The piece adds near its conclusion: "One quiet protest does not make a revolution, or even a Trump-sized political movement. But PEGIDA hopes that a new wave of anti-Islam dissent will swing the political conversation its way and attract the moderate supporters that a traditional far-right group could never hope to gain."
Maybe that's because PEGIDA is not a traditional far-right group, or in fact a far-right group at all. But Newsweek doesn't want you to consider that.