Daniel Greenfield: In Defense of Robert Spencer

I have long admired the work of Daniel Greenfield and am grateful for his thoughtful and well-reasoned defense at FrontPage this morning:

No tragedy goes long without exploitation, and the atrocities in Norway are no exception to that rule. The media is hard at work accusing researchers who monitor and warn about Islamic radicalism and terrorism of being responsible for the actions of an extremist and a terrorist.

Is silencing researchers who have put years of effort into exposing networks of radicals the right response to a terrorist attack? No reasonable person would think so. But that is exactly what media outlets like the New York Times and the Atlantic are trying to do.

Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic goes so far as to call a prominent researcher into Islamic terrorism, Robert Spencer, a jihadist. The Washington Post admits that Spencer and other researchers are not responsible for the shootings, but sneers nonetheless. And the New York Times and a number of other outlets have picked and touted the “64 times” that Spencer was quoted in the shooter’s manifesto.

Breivik’s manifesto of over 1,500 pages pasted in countless articles, essays and documents. It takes in everything from historical overviews to his gaming habits “” particularly one game, Dragon Age, which features a Knights Templar character “” a role that Breivik tried to take on. No one is suggesting that the game’s publishers should be held accountable for Breivik’s decision to impersonate a modern-day Templar Knight, and neither should any of the researchers he quoted while studying up on that role.

The “64 times” cited by the Times and its imitators reflects lazy research since the majority of those quotes actually come from a single document, where Spencer is quoted side by side with Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice.

Many of the other Spencer quotes are actually secondhand from essays written by Fjordman that also incorporate selections of quotes on Islam and its historical background. Rather than Breivik quoting Spencer, he is actually quoting Fjordman who is quoting Spencer.

Quite often, Robert Spencer is quoted providing historical background on Islam and quotes from the Koran and the Hadith. So, it’s actually Fjordman quoting Spencer quoting the Koran. If the media insists that Fjordman is an extremist and Spencer is an extremist “” then isn’t the Koran also extremist?

And if the Koran isn’t extremist, then how could quoting it be extremist?

The New York Times would have you believe that secondhand quotes like these from Spencer turned Breivik into a raging madman.

It’s very important to understand that the Koran is not arranged chronologically; it’s arranged on the basis of the longest chapter to the shortest.

Breivik was using sources to build a picture of Islam. And it’s unsurprising that he would have cited one of the most prominent authorities on the topic. But it is often clear that he did not understand what he was citing.

For example, Breivik incorporated some of Spencer’s attempts to demystify the history of the Crusades, without understanding Spencer’s initial warning about the danger of false ideas about the Crusades being used to spread violence today.

As Robert Spencer commented, “What exactly is “˜hate speech” about quoting Qur’an verses and then showing Muslim preachers using those verses to exhort people to commit acts of violence, as well as violent acts committed by Muslims inspired by those verses and others?”

Tellingly, this citation is absent from the New York Times piece and other articles. While Spencer and other researchers have painstakingly shown the connection between incitement to violence and violence “” no similar effort has been made by those attacking him.

The complete absence of quotes in which Robert Spencer calls for anyone to commit acts of terrorism reveals just how empty the media’s case against him is. Instead, the New York Times props up its argument by citing the infamous “64 quotes,” many of them from the same document, others quoted secondhand and none of them calling for violence against Muslims.

And even this is irrelevant because Breivik did not carry out violence against Muslims. Instead, like the Columbine shooters, his main target was a facility with children.

If Breivik was motivated by Islamophobia, then why did he not attempt to kill Muslims? Why did he not open fire inside a mosque?

Breivik was driven by fantasies of seizing power, combined with steroid abuse and escapism. He used quotes from researchers into terrorism to pad out his schizophrenic worldview, combined with fantasies of multiple terrorist cells and an eventual rise to power.

This is not so different from lunatics who picked up a copy of “Catcher in the Rye” and then set off to kill a celebrity. A not uncommon event, for which J.D. Salinger bears no responsibility whatsoever.

Not only did Breivik not target Muslims, but he considered collaborating with Muslim terrorists.

“An alliance with the Jihadists might prove beneficial to both parties,” Breivik wrote. “We both share one common goal.”…

There is more.

Spencer on the BBC answers the Norway murder smears
Horowitz: The Character Assassination of Robert Spencer
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  1. says

    Excellent article.

    Robert, your friends, followers and admirers are all still with you and will not be swayed by leftist propaganda. You’re still the BEST ! ! !



  2. says

    IN THE CASE OF Respectable Opinion versus Robert Bruce Spencer, inter alia, WE, YOUR SOCIAL BETTERS, find the Defendent(s) GUILTY by reason of NON SEQUITUR; GUILTY of being a Social Pariah, to wit: GUILTY of the greater charge of innumerable counts of Thought Crime; and Guilty, also, of the lesser charge of being Indecorously Impolitic

  3. says

    On the issue of what caused Breivik to carry out terrorist attacks, his lengthy “manifesto” contains his own account of how this came about originally. This of course doesn’t justify anything at all. We are dealing with the issue of causes, and his account does suggest some relevant causes and motivations. He doesn’t mention blogs and Islam critics; he mentions significant events and realizations for example in 2002, 1999, and earlier. He was already intending to carry out militant/violent-type of actions by the 1999 to 2002 period. Not clear how much of this is a true account of his actual views and experiences, but it does seem odd (though not surprising to us here) that the media are ignoring this information and focusing on the Islam-critical bloggers. The mainstream media is obviously in a conflict of interest in their coverage of this, because Breivik blames them, among others who are part of the system he opposes, as motivating his attack. I have a hunch that the media would rather direct blame and scrutiny on Islam-critical authors, and so forth instead of on themselves. The relevant information comes from much later in the document; see under these headings for his answers:

    “Your personal life and convictions
    Q: How did you first get involved in your current activities?”

    “Q: What tipped the scales for you? What single event made you decide you
    wanted to continue planning and moving on with the assault?”

    And see this, for example:

    “Paying the price for multiculturalism – My personal experiences – 8 unprovoked assaults and multiple threats and attempted robberies by Muslims in Oslo,

  4. says

    “Not only did Breivik not target Muslims, but he considered collaborating with Muslim terrorists.

    “An alliance with the Jihadists might prove beneficial to both parties,” Breivik wrote. “We both share one common goal.”…

    Makes one wonder how this can be not seen, along with himself stating his “faith” as not Christian, nor right wing as well, but evolution.

    Read his “book”, this guy hurts everything he says he stands for.

  5. says

    “An alliance with the Jihadists might prove beneficial to both parties,” Breivik wrote. “We both share one common goal.”…

    Very, very important point-among many from Daniel Greenfield.

    Whatever else the vile mass-murderer Anders Breivik might be, he *is not* an anti-Jihadist. He has, as noted, expressed his desire to work with the very worst Jihadists”Al-Qaida, Al-Shebab, the Mullahs of Iran’to kill his fellow Europeans.