Robert Spencer

Anti-Muslim Fear Mongering

A piece in Wired has highlighted how fringe organisations stoke up fear with ant-Muslim sentiment in the US:

“A study published by a sociologist has revealed that fear-mongering non-governmental anti-Muslim organisations have been heavily influencing US media since 9/11, their messages seeping into news articles and television reporting and drawing their ethos from the fringes, straight into the mainstream.

What’s perhaps most troubling about the results is how these minor groups, which would ordinarily receive little or no air time, have gained an element of respect that has led to them receiving more funding and coupling with influential bodies. Their influence is such that they have even been able to paint mainstream Muslim organisations as radical, says the study.

“The vast majority of organisations competing to shape public discourse about Islam after the September 11 attacks delivered pro-Muslim messages, yet my study shows that journalists were so captivated by a small group of fringe organisations that they came to be perceived as mainstream,” the paper’s author, University of North Carolina assistant professor of sociology Christopher Bail, told Wired.co.uk. “

I can’t say I am surprised given the activities of Pam Geller and Robert Spencer, which I have covered before.

In Britain, MAMA is the organisation to contact in the event of racism or bigotry towards Muslims. They can be contacted at, phone: 0800 456 1226, text: 01157070007, email info@tellmamauk.org or on Twitter at @tellmamauk.

The original paper from Dr. Bail, “The Fringe Effect: Civil Society Organizations and the Evolution of Media Discourse about Islam,” American Sociological Review, 77(7) is available as a PDF here.

Pam Geller, Robert Spencer In The Company Of Neofascists

Matthew Goodwin has graciously provided the line up of assorted misfits, bigots and neo-fascists attending a “Global Counter Jihad” rally in Stockholm on 4th August 2012:

I doubt this is the first occasion Pam Geller and Robert Spencer have found themselves in the company of neofascists (Lennon, Carroll, etc) or that it will be their last.

It shows that once you start down the road to bigotry you will often end up in the company of some very unsavoury types, normally on or about the Far Right.

Update 1: Thanks to TellMama UK for pointing out this piece by SPLC:

“Speakers, according to Geller’s blog, will include some of Islamophobia’s most influential and vicious voices. In addition to herself, Geller lists Robert Spencer, a colleague and self-taught “expert” on Islam who is greatly admired by Anders Breivik, the Oslo terrorist who in July 2011 slaughtered 77 people he thought were enabling Muslim immigration into Norway; Steven Lennon and Kev Carrol of the EDL; Anders Gravers of SIOE; and a host of European and Australian Islamophobes whose names are less well-known in America. Noteworthy among them is Richard Abrahamsson (also known as Richard Abrams), a leader in the Swedish Defence League (SDL) who, according to Islamophobia Watch, has blogged about a plan to “reclaim the Swastika,” writing, “If you want US to respect OTHER cultures, you must also respect OUR culture and its symbols.”

Update 3: Richard Bartholomew is typically thorough:

Abrams’ website is for the most part macabre and disturbing: among weird occultic images we find statements such as “I will be remembered as the one who beheaded presidents in righteous wrath”. He is also a musician, sometimes using the fuller name “Richard Isak Abrams”. According to a blurb for his band on LastFM:

Iblis Industries (or 1blis 1ndustries) is a Swedish project created in 2005 by Richard Abrams (also in Sitra Ahra and Hypothermia.)

The music released so far consists of a variey of elements such as; Neoclassical, Downtempo, Black metal, Industrial and Noisestep.

The themes of Iblis Industries is mainly cultivated in a search for the divine embers.

Of course, a provocative interest in the grotesque and and the dark is par for the course with this kind of music, and it is unclear how far one can extrapolate from stage persona to political identification. However, for an organisation seeking wider credibility, the impression given by Abrams’ site is unattractive. And given the links between the self-described “Counter-Jihad Movement” and elements of the Christian Right, such an association is likely to be awkward.

” [My emphasis]

Having looked at Richard Abrams’ site I can confirm that he has serious hangups with the swastika.

Update 4: This is a bunch of EDL members and supporters who were very keen on the swastika so much so they had it tattooed on their chests, watch them giving the Nazi salute:

LoonWatch, How Not To Combat anti-Muslim bigotry

I have been asked for my view of LoonWatch and feel it might help to air these issues.

I think the issue of anti-Muslim bigotry is a real problems in Western societies. In Britain and Ireland, it is often a mutated form of racism which previously targeted Asians. Now it is used against those from North Africa, the Middle East, their descendants or those seen to have different customs.

Not sure if that descriptions does it full justice, but I imagine my more astute readers will see what I am getting at.

On Twitter

In the past I use to followed LoonWatch on Twitter.

Good Material

Anyway, I wanted to keep up with the extent of racism and bigotry towards Muslims and LoonWatch certainly covers it with vigour.

On their web site, LoonWatch, they publish some commendable articles and posts on anti-Muslim bigotry.

This one on Sweden’s Jews, Muslims Face Web Hate Rise: Study is a good example. As is this Dean Obeidallah: Sacha Cohen’s Movie a Minstrel Show.

Also, they have excellent material on cooperation between Jews and Muslims.

However

Less so their defence of Gunter Grass.

I could put that down to a matter of opinion and give them a pass, but I find their attitude towards anti-Jewish racism a bit unsatisfactory.

I could, without much trouble, find examples of their posts which have questionable language for antiracists to use. Often their comments boxes contain sneering and snide comments, either directly or indirectly aimed at Jews, Israelis or “Zionists”

Conspiracy Theories

I am sure that some of the smarter authors at LoonWatch would recognise that conspiracy theories are integral too many of the Far Rights’ attacks on Muslims. Further, that conspiracy theories are the key to a hardened forms of anti-Jewish racism, such as the Protocols, etc etc

Then to publish a piece which indulges in conspiracy theories and broadbrush demonisation of “Zionists” shows a clear lack of introspection and insight into the issues surrounding racism. Readers with access the Internet will be able to confirm that “Zionist” is a common Far Right euphemism for Jew.

Sensitivities

So there is a need for sensitivity in this area, and I find Loonwatch wanting in that respect.

Having said that, I think there is a dire need for web sites to combat anti-Muslim bigotry, but such sites need to be aware of certain sensitivities, not to cross certain lines, not to invoke, even by stealth, conspiracy theories.

Nevertheless, I did enjoyed their cover of the awful Pam Geller and terrible Robert Spencer.

In short, there is a need for insight and that is what I find lacking at LoonWatch.

I wish them well in their work to combat anti-Muslim bigotry. I just wish they would think a bit more, reflect on what they are getting at, and not generalise as much. If they wish to combat racism they should avoid such practices, as that is what racists and bigots tend to do.

Perhaps they might want to tidy up their comments boxes too?