Anti-Shariah and Anti-Semitism: Old Wine in New Bottles

Anders Breivik’s “European Declaration of Independence" (pdf) marshaled scores of writers who argued that Communism, multiculturalism, feminism, and even environmentalism have been using Islam to weaken and destroy the foundations of the Christian West. “The cultural Marxist bourgeois experiment will end as catastrophically as Stalin’s social experiments,” wrote the man who went on to murder 77 Norwegians this July 22 because he thought their political party was facilitating massive Muslim immigration. “The difference is that this time, we will not only be bankrupt and suffer 50 million casualties. This time we have the added risk of being enslaved under a brutal and retarding Sharia reign.”

To me, as a long-time student of right-wing conspiracism, there was an eerily familiar quality to the 1500-plus pages of Breivik’s manifesto, which made accusations of global conspiracy that were remarkably similar to those traditionally leveled against Jews. “Think carefully of the successes we arranged for Darwinism, Marxism, Nietzsche-ism,” declared the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a document forged more than a century ago that purported to expose secret Jewish plans to weaken and then take over the Gentile world. “To us Jews, at any rate, it should be plain to see what a disintegrating importance these directives have had upon the minds of the Goyim."

The Protocols is the most notorious, but you could fill a whole library with books that explain the alleged nexus between Judaism and Marxism—and that illustrate the “true” nature of Judaism with shocking quotes from sacred scripture. “Why is the Talmud kept so unknown to non-Jews?” the anti-Communist activist Elizabeth Dilling asked in her much-reprinted book The Plot Against Christianity (1964), which claimed to expose the Jewish holy book’s “pornographic, anti-Gentile and anti-Christian doctrines.” “Talmudic Judaism,” she went on to explain, “is the progenitor of modern Communism and Marxist collectivism as it is now applied to a billion or more of the world’s population.”

Breivik quoted extensively from the writings of the American anti-jihadist writer Robert Spencer: “The Islamic texts starting with the Qur'an, but not limited to the Qur'an, the Islamic texts including the Hadith, Islamic tradition, Islamic theology, Islamic law, the traditions of the interpretation of the Qur'an throughout history, and Islamic history itself, all bear witness to the fact that Islam has a developed doctrine, theology and law that mandates violence against unbelievers.” Breivik also drew extensively from the blogger Fjordman, whom he regarded as the “most talented right wing essay writer in Europe” (and who just came out of the woodwork to condemn Breivik).“At the end of the day,” Fjordman declared, “what counts isn’t the difference, if any, between moderate Muslims and radical Muslims, but between Muslims and non-Muslims.”

It’s déjà vu all over again, as the saying goes. Back in the 1920s, Henry Ford brushed off Jewish complaints about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. “There is a serious snare in all this plea for tolerance,” he argued. “There can be no tolerance until there is first a full understanding of what is tolerated.”

If Judaism back then or Islam today are believed to be religions whose followers are striving to take over the world, then tolerance is just surrender. If Shariah, the body of Islamic religious law, is defined, as Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy does, as “an alien legal system hostile to and in contravention of the U.S. Constitution” — then it follows logically that “those who seek to establish shariah in America … can be said to be engaged in criminal sedition, not the protected practice of a religion.”

You’d think that Breivik’s terrible deeds would have given the loudest and angriest of the anti-jihadists pause—that they might have stopped to reflect about whether their own overheated rhetoric might have helped push him over the top.

But just as anti-Semites after World War II found ways to blame the Jews for the Holocaust (insisting that they had exaggerated it, invented it, or deliberately brought it on themselves), the anti-jihadists are doubling down as well. “If anyone incited [Breivik] to violence, it was Islamist supremacists,” says Pam Geller, who leads Stop Islamization of America with Robert Spencer. (Geller was cited once by Breivik, while Spencer was quoted more than 60 times.)

Another harsh American critic of Islam, Frank Gaffney (who complained last winter that the right-wing Conservative Political Action Conference had been infiltrated by jihadists), puts his faith in conspiracy theory. Breivik’s manifesto–and Breivik himself—might very well have been a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood, Gaffney opined the other day to Think Progress. “It cries out for a thorough investigation as to whether it was in fact an authentic piece of his own creation, whether it’s a false flag operation, whether it actually was meant to do anything other than to contribute to Sharia’s efforts to suppress criticism and awareness of its agenda.”

The truth, of course, is that there was nothing to the idea that Jews in countries around the world were members of a conspiracy meant to weaken, destroy and ultimately conquer Christian societies — just as there is nothing to the claim that there is a global plot to impose Islamic Shariah, or religious, law on the United States and Europe. The Protocols were entirely the creation of people who meant to do the Jews harm. In the case of Shariah law, it may well be that some of the people pushing conspiracy theories about Muslim plans for world domination believe what they’re saying.

Unfortunately, so did the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.