Trifkovic vs. Spencer: Another Neocon Purge
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March 11, 2011

Recently I received news from Srdja Trifkovic, author of the controversial work Sword of the Prophet, concerning the beating he's taken from  the director of Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer (who, despite his Anglo name, is a practicing Melkite Greek Catholic who says his grandparents were forced to emigrate from what is now Turkey).

Although Spencer himself has editorialized against militant Islam, he has been straining to dissociate himself from European nationalist and from conspicuously Christian opponents of Muslim immigration into Europe. The groups that the squeamish Spencer is now briskly moving away from include just about every right-of-center anti-immigration force in Europe, including the now very mainstream-looking Vlaams Belang.

From the material Srdja sent me, it would seem that Spencer is sympathetic to a British-based writer called Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, who on March 5 seemed to be defending recent, successful attempt to bar Srdja from addressing a friendly academic audience in Vancouver. [Anti-Jihadism and Unholy Alliances, March 05, 2011, by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi.]

The Canadian government, which is quickly moving in the direction of an East German Communist standard of civil liberties despite the smashing good grades it receives for protecting liberty from the neoconservative Freedom House, unexpectedly would not allow Trifkovic to speak on its sod. It seems this fervently patriotic Serb might have insulted the Muslim minority in Canada, which enjoys special protection for its privileged sensibilities. (Insulting Christians is fine and dandy in diversitarian Canada and is not likely to land anyone in court.) Srdja Trifkovic, author of Sword of the Prophet, barred from Canada was posted on JihadWatch, by Robert Spencer on February 25, 2011. On March 1, 2011 he posted an update in response to Al-Tamimi's complaint, asking if he "endorsed the following statements by Trifkovic", following it, in the usual style, with clippings from a symposium on AltRight, in which I also participated.

Spencer profusely assured Mr. Al-Tamimi, that he "despises" Trifkovic and all his bigoted work. Despite Trifkovic's "pro-Israel activity," Spencer said, he was disturbed by some recent " antisemitic statements" from this critic of the Muslim world.[Robert Spencer Responds to Aymenn Jawad, American Thinker, March 6, 2011]

The " antisemitic statements" in question were posted on AltRight (July 29, 2010) and were so terribly shocking that presumably Spencer is taking Prozac to calm his jangled (gentile) nerves. (See Is the Alt Right Anti-Semitic? A Symposium, By Paul Gottfried, Taki Theodoracopulos, & Srdja Trifkovic, July 29, 2010)

Having been part of the same symposium discussion and having already seen these comments, I would have to conclude that what is being attacked is eminently defensible; nor is there any reason to assume that there's anything noticeably "anti-Semitic" about Trifkovic's answers.

Trifkovic was being asked to explain the tension between traditional conservatives and Jewish political and cultural attitudes. In his observations about Jewish ethnic sensibilities and the antagonistic relations of European and American Jews to Christian civilization, Trifkovic was saying what seemed to me obvious, albeit in need of further clarification. Trifkovic should have pointed out that some European countries treated Jews quite badly, which had the effect of aggravating the tension being described. But in any case this anti-Christian animus has survived despite the absence of persecution, which explains why Jews so often pop up on the anti-Christian Left.

Although Trifkovic notes that Jews have cultivated a sense of "racial uniqueness" reinforced by "the ritual and dietary laws of Talmudic Judaism," (this is the same language used by the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia) he is also aware that this way of life by itself would not have produced dislike for the Christian "Other." It was a negative view of Christians going back to the first and second centuries, strengthened by being badly treated by a daughter religion, which inspired the Jewish repugnance for an identifiably Christian world. Jews living in the Near East under Muslims also kept to themselves, but have shown no special aversion to Christians.

Over the years, I have disagreed with my Serbian friend on a variety of issues, ranging from the outbreak of World War One to the accountability of Serbs for certain atrocities, some of them noted by Al-Tamimi. Moreover, I do not share his Slavic nationalism or his reservations about Croats or for Turks.

But Srdja has always been exceedingly gracious and well mannered in conversation. Even more relevant, the charge of anti-Semitism being leveled at him is malicious and totally untrue.

Indeed I suspect that Spencer, who owes fealty to neoconservative impresario David Horowitz as an employee of Horowitz's Freedom Center, was expressing his anger on cue. There was absolutely nothing in Trifkovic's statements that could justify Spencer's degree of outrage. The offending Christian comes from a country that has never persecuted Jews. When the Second World War comes up in conversation, Trifkovic, like other Serbs, rages against German Nazis, and he does so with the same ferocity as Abe Foxman and Alan Dershowitz. If this guy is an anti-Semite, then no goy (save possibly for a neocon employee) stands above suspicion of being one.

This of course is the crux. For a few months now some of the neocons, and most obstreperously Horowitz, have been annoyed that some spokesmen for the right (who are naturally kept off the Fox network) have been calling for an end to foreign aid—and most particularly to its main recipient, Israel. Last month Horowitz had it out with Ron Paul-backers and other libertarians at CPAC and landed up calling those he was arguing with anti-…you finish it.

After all, it is important for the neocons to make sure that followers follow.

Last week on Fox, former governor Youbetcha was asked whether she agreed with Rand Paul that we should stop giving foreign aid. Sarah jumped in before the question was completed to let us know that we should never stop giving lots of aid to "this strong democratic ally that we have there in the Middle East.". [Palin Says 'No!' on Cutting US Aid to Israel, By Gil Ronen, Arutz Sheva, March 6, 2011.]

Sarah answered that question as she should—with the same predictability with which Minne, my female Dachshund, begs for table scraps.

There is a second reason that Horowitz's employee came down on Srdja like a ton of bricks: The neoconservatives don't want the anti-Muslim cause in Europe to get out of hand.

Rightwing or decidedly non-leftist anti-Islamic organizations like Gates of Vienna, Pro-Köln, or even the Vlaams Belang, may be too edgy—and in any case don't focus enough on global democratic values and human rights ideology.

Although most of these groups, like Trifkovic, cannot really be accused of anti-Israeli stands, they nonetheless do not show the proper ideological gestalt. These groups are not sufficiently pro-feminist or pro-gay rights; or in the German case, they may not be sufficiently anti-German and "anti-fascist".

A safe Muslim critic, from the neocon point of view, is someone like Somali feminist activist and crusading atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This critic of reactionary societies, who has been showcased by AEI, makes all the right noises. She is a militant secularist and pro-global democracy, and in no way associated with traditional nationalist groups in Europe.

During the time she spent in Holland before coming to the US, this suitably swarthy Third Worlder was a member of the Dutch "Worker's Party" and involved in—among other causes—feminism. No one outside a loony bin would accuse her of being rightwing.

Another safe anti-Muslim, until he took gravely ill, was NR favorite Christopher Hitchens. Although Hitch has a nasty habit of besmirching with obscenities Mother Theresa's memory and spewing hatred on all theists, (including Jewish ones) he is good on the things that count, being firmly for Israel and against Muslim theocrats. What else Hitch believes doesn't matter, as long as he's not a "rightwing extremist."

But Trifkovic and his friends just don't meet this standard and therefore have to be purged from the anti-Islamic front.

The neoconservatives undertook a similar mopping-up operation when they reshaped the American conservative movement. They're just moving their operation overseas. 

Paul Gottfried (email him) is Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College, PA. He is the author of After Liberalism, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt and The Strange Death of Marxism.

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