What to do when confronted with bad news? Kill the messenger, of course. The report broke last Friday that in Britain, Muslim rape gangs were “ignored by police for fear of stoking racial tensions.” One police inspector explained: “With it being Asians, we can’t afford for this to come out.” “Asian” is British media code for “Muslim”; for years, those who called attention to this rape gang activity were vilified as “far-right extremists.” So now that it has come out that the “far-right extremists” were unfairly derided and were, in fact, right all along, an even newer report has called for the forcible silencing of those tarred with this label.
The UK’s Independent reported Monday that the new report from the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), which in the past enjoyed an unearned reputation as a conservative group, claims that “ministers’ failure to ban far-right extremist groups is undermining the fight against online propaganda.” The report charges that “posts by non-proscribed groups may not be properly monitored or taken down by social media companies.”
Nikita Malik, director of the HJS’s Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism, complains about “the lack of far-right groups subject to proscription in the UK, when compared to Islamist groups,” and says that “the government will need to keep this situation under review in a fast-moving online world, where offending causes real and significant harm.”
There are several problems with this. First is that it continues the left’s practice of equating words with deeds, while discounting actual violence from hard-left groups such as Antifa. In reality, whatever “real and significant harm” results from “offending” online, none of it could possibly be as “real and significant” as actual wounds inflicted by genuine thugs, and the preponderance of those in the political realm are on the left these days.
“The report, which was commissioned by Facebook, proposed a ‘harm classification system’ to improve consistency across different kinds of extremism.” How will this “real and significant harm” be classified? Lowest level is feeling annoyed, highest level is being moved to tears? And what if someone lashes out online at the perpetrator of the online harm – is the “harm” negated? It’s ridiculous.
The second problem with the HJS analysis is that it continues the practice of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in the U.S., of tarring with the “far-right extremist” label people who are not neo-Nazis or Klansmen, and whose only crime is to oppose jihad violence and Sharia oppression of women, gays, and others. The report, says the Independent, “also named extremists, such as anti-Islam figures Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who had been prevented from entering Britain because of extremist concerns but are allowed to remain on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.”
What makes us “extremists”? The Independent doesn’t bother to explain; after all these years of defamation, it takes the label for granted. In reality, all our work has been in defense of the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, the equality of rights of all people before the law, and individual rights. We have never advocated, called for, or condoned any violence. What makes us “far-right extremists” in the eyes of the HJS and the Independent is the fact that years ago, leftist and Islamic supremacist groups began to tar anyone and everyone who dared to speak about the motivating ideology behind jihad terror with that label, and their campaign, in this careless and credulous age, has been remarkably successful.
But even if you hate our work, you should see this HJS report as ominous. Even the HJS itself should see it that way, as they have been called “far-right” themselves more than once. The HJS of all organizations should realize the danger of smearing individuals and groups with this label and then forcibly silencing them on the basis of those labels, with no recourse, no appeal, no way to mount a case in their own defense.
That is the way totalitarian states, not free societies, behave. Nevertheless, it looks as if the British government is going to go with the HJS report. A government spokesperson said: “The Online Harms White Paper detailed our intention to establish in law a new duty of care on companies, overseen by an independent regulator.”
Who will be this independent regulator? The Muslim Council of Britain? Whoever it is, its judgments will be entirely subjective, reflecting its own biases and prejudices and limiting the freedom of speech accordingly.
If the British government does indeed adopt its recommendations, the HJS report will be one more step on Britain’s way to cutting its own throat and becoming the kind of totalitarian state it fought against so valiantly in World War II. The Orwellian language of this from the Independent is ominous: “The report comes after the Commission for Countering Extremism called for the government to adopt a proposed definition of ‘hateful extremism’ in order to standardise efforts across different ideologies while protecting freedom of speech.”
Protecting the freedom of speech while destroying it. One would think the British would have learned their lesson from the free hand given to the Muslim rape gangs, and not dare to silence any more voices that are speaking unpopular and unwelcome truths. But from the looks of the HJS report, no such luck.
Pamela Geller is the President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), publisher of The Geller Report and author of the bestselling book, FATWA: Hunted in America. Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad.