Norway, Free Speech, and the Counterjihad

Ever since the heinous murders in Norway, we have been subjected to an unrelenting campaign of vilification.  It appears that the Norway mass murderer Anders Breivik cited us, along with John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Barack Obama and a host of others, in his lengthy cut-and-paste manifesto; despite that manifesto's ideological incoherence, his citations of our work have led to an international campaign to blame us for the massacre.  The New York Times, NBC, the BBC, CNN, the Washington Post, many European publications, and a host of others have claimed that we are responsible for creating a climate of "hate" in which a Breivik was inevitable. This is not only false, but such charges against us challenge fundamental principles of the freedom of speech.

We submitted this present article defending ourselves to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the New York Post, National Review, the American Spectator, the London Spectator, the Guardian, and the Wall Street Journal.  Most ignored the submission altogether; National Review and the New York Post were the only ones who bothered to inform us that they were turning down the piece.  The mainstream media was ready and eager to demonize us, but not so willing to give us a fair hearing and a chance to rebut their false charges.

In the first place, the claim that we are engaged in focusing hatred upon or engaged in demonizing any group is false.  In fact, it is more true of our opponents' attacks on our own work than it is of anything we have said or done.  We stand and have always stood against the evil of using violence for political and religious goals, and against all political and religious fanaticism.  We stand and have always stood against the use of violence to advance any political agenda.  We have stood consistently and still stand for the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law.  Anyone who sincerely upholds and wishes to defend those principles, whatever his creed or background, we count as an ally.

Those who claim that we have incited hatred that leads to violence are using an argument that can be used against themselves.  Critics of American and NATO foreign policy should note that there have been numerous terror attacks committed by people who oppose that foreign policy.  Are such critics responsible for creating a climate of hatred that led such people to commit terror attacks?  In the 1960s, the Ku Klux Klan blamed Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Watts riots.  King was steadfastly nonviolent, but he agreed with the political perspectives of the rioters.  Was he then responsible for creating a climate of hatred that led to the riots?  Was his righteous cause delegimitized by the fact that some departed from his express wishes and resorted to violence?

What's more, the media outlets that have blamed us for the Norway murders are practicing a double standard.  Just days ago, a Muslim soldier in the U.S. Army, Pfc. Naser Abdo, was arrested with bomb materials.  He admitted to plotting another jihad terror mass murder spree at Fort Hood in Texas, in support of Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan, who murdered thirteen Americans in a jihad attack there in November 2009.  There have been dozens of such plots thwarted in recent years, and tens of thousands of jihad attacks worldwide.  Yet there has been nothing remotely comparable to the intense and obsessive mainstream media coverage that we witnessed immediately after the Norway massacre.  There has been no media attempt to determine the motivation behind this explosive plot at Fort Hood or the other jihad attacks.  Why aren't Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the BBC, and all the rest just as consumed as they were with the Norwegian killer's supposed motivations?  Why aren't they investigating the ideology that incited this Muslim soldier to prepare a jihad attack, especially in light of his stated intent last year to fight "Islamophobia" and promote Islam as a "peaceful religion"?

Ultimately, the arguments that have been used to blame us for the Norway attacks can be used against anyone of any ideological perspective, and strike at the very heart of the freedom of speech.  By their logic, no one should be critical of anything, for fear that some evil person will misunderstand that criticism and commit violence because of it.  The mainstream media itself can be seen as inciting violence in its sharp criticism of our perspective: the murders of Theo van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn, as well as the multiple threats against Geert Wilders, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and both of us, amply demonstrate that criticism of anti-jihadists can and does often lead to violence.  Should that criticism thus be muted?

The constitutional protection of the freedom of speech is designed to protect controversial speech, including political dissent.  Innocuous speech needs no protection.  The truths that we enunciate are inconvenient for many to acknowledge, and the principles of freedom for which we stand are increasingly assailed.  For that reason alone, the international media should be more circumspect in its demonization of us and our perspective; otherwise they may find, after having silenced all dissenting voices, that there is no one left who is able to stand up for the freedoms they now enjoy.

Pamela Geller is the publisher of and the author of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War On America (Simon & Schuster).  Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad (both Regnery).

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