UPDATE November 10, 2008: For important new developments on this issue, see here.
Some people may notice that in this thread I have removed some comments relating to Little Green Footballs and the ongoing controversy over the European parties Vlaams Belang and the Sweden Democrats.
These posts involved personal attacks on the illustrious Charles Johnson. Charles has been a friend for years and an immense help to Jihad Watch in innumerable ways. I usually don’t have time to read the comments here, but I will always remove offensive ones when they’re brought to my attention, and these were. So they’re gone.
What we have in this controversy is the spectacle of people I love and have loved for years having a bitter falling out. I have tried to maintain good relationships with everyone involved, as I continue to believe, despite the bitterness of the controversy, that everyone involved has good intentions, good motives, good hearts. All want to resist the jihad, all want to save Europe if it can be saved. All are trying to defend what is good in Western civilization, even as they might conceive of that good in different ways. That’s why I’ve removed the personal attacks on Charles here, and will remove personal attacks on anyone involved in this if they appear here and are brought to my attention.
Now. What about the larger controversy? My position has been clear and consistent from the beginning — in fact, since long before the beginning of the controversy. For years now Hugh Fitzgerald and I have written about the unfortunate fact that the European mainstream parties have completely failed to address the problem of European Islamization — a problem that of course they have, in many cases, abetted. Hugh and I have both in many separate posts lamented that those mainstream parties have thus left the field open to neo-fascist and neo-Nazi parties, like the Holocaust-denying white supremacist BNP and Haider’s party in Austria, and to noxious characters like LePen in France. Those types have in several European countries become the only ones addressing the issue of jihad and Islamic supremacism.
This is unfortunate for several reasons. It allows the European elites and the political and media mainstream to continue to marginalize the counterjihad resistance as simply racist reactionism, rather than a legitimate concern. So their own abdication and complicity are reinforced by the character of the reaction to it — a logjam that only a new Churchill could break, and there is no such person on the horizon at this point.
The neofascist character of the anti-jihad parties in Europe also keeps many decent people from joining the counterjihad movement, when they otherwise would. This is the great weakness of the argument that, well, there is no one else fighting this fight, so we have to join forces with people we would otherwise regard with distaste: some people simply will not and will never do that, and it limits the power of the movement and its ability to grow.
So then we come to Vlaams Belang and the Sweden Democrats. The controversy has revolved around the sincerity of their break with the past: their supporters maintain that they have broken with Nazi links in their pasts, and they are undeniably pro-Israel. The counterjihad conference that touched all this controversy off — since VB and SD reps attended it — was openly pro-Israel, featuring an address by the decidedly non-dhimmi Israeli politician Aryeh Eldad. There was nothing white supremacist or neo-Nazi about it, and in fact it seemed to herald a new phase of cooperation between European and American anti-jihadists, although its genuine work has been completely overwhelmed by the ensuing controversy. In any case, did VB and SD reps meet with Bat Ye’or, Eldad and others in order to deceive people as to their true intentions, or did they do so in order to herald a clean break with their pasts?
If it was a clean break, it needs to be a completely clean break. The VB in particular has many clear-eyed and sensible supporters in the U.S., including many people I respect very highly. But much has come to light since the conference — much of which I was unaware before I went, and of which I think most people in the U.S. were unaware. Charles’ points in his post on Fjordman’s piece yesterday are well taken: “Nothing” — that is, in Fjordman’s article — “about the White Power symbols in the Vlaams Belang youth magazine, nothing about the connections between unrepentant Nazi collaborator Leon Degrelle and top Vlaams Belang officials, nothing about the top VB leaders who fought with police in order to lay flowers on the graves of SS soldiers, nothing about the White Power symbol on Filip DeWinter’s bookshelf, nothing about DeWinter’s calls for a ‘white Europe.'”
Fjordman argues that the indigenous peoples of Europe are being overwhelmed by an elite-driven attempt to render them minorities in their own countries, and that is a point well taken also. But there is cultural defense and then there is a white supremacism that is based on some idea of racial superiority and inferiority, and has via Hitler a historical link to genocide. They are not the same thing, and a distinction needs to be made between the two. If VB and SD have really made a clean break with the past, make it a complete one: let them deal with the ties to LePen and Haider, and make a distinction between cultural defense and white supremacism that is completely clear and distinguishes their position from the neo-fascists.
On this, despite the acrimony, Fjordman and Charles agree: Fjordman announces his distaste for the VB alliance with LePen in his latest piece about the controversy. If the VB would and could distinguish itself from such forces, perhaps this horrible rift could be healed.
Am I, as an American, being too demanding in this, and manifesting a misunderstanding of European politics? Maybe. But that is beside the point, because there are many Europeans also — not the elites, but ordinary citizens — who will have nothing to do with any party with such ties unless and until they do make such a break. There is no one else in Europe who is fighting the fight? Very well — that in itself is part of the problem. I think the conference itself was a sign that the VB and the SD want to enter the mainstream, and take positions that will allow more Europeans to join the counterjihad. I know their representatives are much more concerned right now with politics in their own countries than with a blogger fight, and that is entirely reasonable and to be expected. But I hope they will eventually address the concerns that have been raised. And until they do, there is nothing unreasonable at all about approaching them with extreme reservation.
I am pronouncing no anathemas, although I repeat: I completely disavow and repudiate any neo-Nazi or white supremacist individual or group. I am just watching and waiting for what VB and SD will do now, and I hope that tempers will cool on both sides and we can all continue to work together against the jihad and Islamic supremacism. There are few enough of us as it is.