Graeme Hamilton’s National Post story is so sloppily written that it refutes itself. Hamilton writes melodramatically that “in the darker corners of the web…alt-right voices cling to the flimsiest evidence to suggest Canadian authorities are covering up what was actually an Islamist attack.” One of those alleged “alt-right voices” is me: “Robert Spencer of the Jihad Watch web site drew on courtroom sketches to imply that the man who was charged Tuesday was not the same one arrested Monday.” I never said that: here is the original post, you can see for yourself. All I said was that he was bald in arrest photos and had a full head of hair in courtroom sketches, suggesting that Canadian authorities were covering something up. But did I say they were covering up what Hamilton calls an “Islamist attack”? No. In fact, I said that it was “likely that this was not a jihad attack,” and Hamilton even quotes me saying this.
So he quotes me saying this was not a jihad attack in an article in which he uses me as Exhibit A in a story about how the “alt-right” is claiming this was a jihad attack. That’s not just sloppy journalism. That’s malicious dishonesty.
And then there is the “alt-right” label. I find it odd to be termed “alt-right,” as I’ve been publishing articles and books since the 1990s, and I never heard the term “alt-right” until 2016. I guess I got grandfathered in to the “alt-right” movement. But since this term is usually used to refer to white supremacists and neo-Nazis, I wrote to Hamilton asking for a public retraction and apology.
Hamilton shot back an email dripping with condescension and contempt, in which he said:
I refer you to the Oxford Dictionaries definition of alt-right https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/alt-right. Oxford defines the alt-right as “an ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints, characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content.” That is the sense of the term that I had in mind in writing my story yesterday. And whatever you may think of “journalists,” I assure you that my goal in everything I write is to be as clear and concise as possible, not to adhere to some code discernible to select readers.
Now, aside from the fact that virtually everyone uses “alt-right” as shorthand for “white supremacist neo-Nazi,” and not in the way Oxford defines the term, I don’t fit into the Oxford definition of the term, either. “Extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints” — which of my viewpoints are “extreme conservative or reactionary”? Is it my contention that societies should protect and defend the principles of the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law? It is likely that Hamilton has in mind my observation that Islam is not a religion of peace: despite its obvious and demonstrable truth, this idea has been so stigmatized and demonized by the likes of Hamilton and his ilk that it is today the third rail in American politics — to touch it is death. But that doesn’t make it any less true, or any more “conservative or reactionary.”
Another part of the Oxford definition of “alt-right” is that it is “characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics.” When did I reject mainstream politics? Have I called for the overthrow of the U.S. government? Hostage-taking at embassies? In reality, I have repeatedly told people to vote, and to try to influence their elected representatives to take a more realistic approach to the jihad threat. That’s a rejection of mainstream politics? This is sheer fantasy, as well as defamation.
Finally, the “alt-right,” says Oxford, is characterized by “the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content.”
“Deliberately” controversial? No, Mr. Hamilton. Nothing I’ve ever said or written should be remotely controversial, if the world were willing to face the uncomfortable truths that “journalists” such as Graeme Hamilton would prefer to ignore or obfuscate.
In the Toronto van attack case, I stand by what I said: it is odd that the attacker had hair the day after he was photographed as bald. I have no explanation. I wish Canadian authorities would have enough respect for their people to provide one. But to claim that I was thereby stating that this was a jihad attack while quoting me saying it wasn’t a jihad attack isn’t remotely journalism by any standard.
The National Post used to be a decent publication. I published some articles there myself, years ago. But more recently it has retreated from its former willingness to tell the truth about the jihad threat into the fictions and fantasies of the dominant Leftist media. If it had any journalistic integrity left, it would retract this article and fire Graeme Hamilton. But it will do neither, because it does not.
“Alt-right uses flimsy evidence to fuel jihad conspiracy theory in Toronto van attack,” by Graeme Hamilton, National Post, April 25, 2018:
When a van plowed into pedestrians over a long stretch of Toronto sidewalk Monday, many immediately assumed it was the work of a terrorist following in the tracks of lone-wolf jihadists in Europe and the United States.
A portrait has since emerged of the accused, Alek Minassian, as someone motivated not by radical Islam but more likely by sexual frustration and social awkwardness.
Yet in the darker corners of the web, where conspiracy theories take hold, alt-right voices cling to the flimsiest evidence to suggest Canadian authorities are covering up what was actually an Islamist attack.
On Tuesday afternoon, Robert Spencer of the Jihad Watch web site drew on courtroom sketches to imply that the man who was charged Tuesday was not the same one arrested Monday. The key for him was that the sketches showed the suspect with hair while the man arrested had appeared bald.
“Was Minassian supplied a toupee in court today? . . . Was he wearing a bald wig yesterday? Or are authorities once again not being honest with us?” Spencer wrote.
“Again, I’m not saying that this is necessarily a jihad attack. But as oddities such as these court sketches multiply, we have to wonder what the Canadian authorities are trying to hide. And what else are authorities hiding when jihad attacks occur?”
In an earlier post, Spencer had written that it is “likely that this was not a jihad attack.” But after being asked on Twitter Wednesday whether he thought the man arrested and the man in court were different people, he replied, “I have no idea. But something very odd is going on.”
The internet provides fertile ground for those inclined to see a jihadi in every corner and a false flag on every ship. American mass shootings from Sandy Hook to Parkland have been fodder for conspiracy theorists, and Canada is not immune….