The recent controversy concerning Canada's ban on allowing Serbian-American academic Srdja Trifkovic to enter the country should highlight the need to address the question of whom self-described "anti-jihadists" should regard as their allies.
This issue needs to be raised because Trifkovic, author of the book Sword of the Prophet, is often upheld as a serious scholar with a genuine interest in promoting the cause of human rights in the face of jihadist ideology. For instance, he was interviewed in the documentary Islam: What the West Needs to Know and is described by Robert Spencer as having run "afoul" of the "busy propaganda arm" that forms part of the "jihad in the Balkans."
Unfortunately, however, such adulation fails to take into account many of Trifkovic's despicable views. Most notably, his fans often remain unaware of his anti-Semitic views, as articulated in an "Alternative Right" symposium asking, "Is the Alt Right Anti-Semitic?" In this discussion, Trifkovic shared a platform with Taki Theodoracopulos, who asked rhetorically, "Why shouldn't we be anti-Jewish, especially now, with 1.2 million dead following the Iraq disaster that was hatched up by people like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, and cheer-led by the men I just mentioned?"
Trifkovic himself asserted the following as part of his response to the symposium's question:
It is true, however, that the traditional Right is inevitably antipathetic to certain modes of thought and feeling, to a peculiar Weltanschauung and the resulting forms of public and intra-communal discourse, which are quite properly perceived as specifically Jewish.
Historically, Talmudic Judaism's insistence on the Jews' racial uniqueness -- emphasized by the ritual and dietary laws of Talmudic Judaism and on its view of Christians as idolaters -- has ensured that a Jew steeped in his own tradition could not view traditional European or American conservatism with sympathy. His tradition was a form of elaborate survival mechanism based on the zero-sum view of a world divided into "us" and "them." The Gentile was "the Other" ab initio and for ever.
In addition, since the late 1800's the Jews have had a disproportionate impact on a host of intellectual trends and political movements which have fundamentally altered the civilization of Europe and its overseas offspring in a manner deeply detrimental to the family, nation, culture, racial solidarity, social coherence, tradition, morality and faith. Spontaneously or deliberately, those ideas and movements -- Marxism (including neoconservatism as the bastard child of Trotskyism), Freudianism, Frankfurt School cultural criticism, Boasian anthropology, etc. -- have eroded "the West" to the point where its demographic and cultural survival is uncertain. The erosion is continuing, allegedly in the name of propositional principles and universal values, and it is pursued with escalating ferocity.
How could this be viewed as anything other than anti-Semitism? Though Trifkovic himself has given speeches in Israel and declared his support for the country, it should be remembered that these are tactics employed by many far-right nationalists to win Jewish support.
A case in point is the British National Party (BNP). Although BNP leader Nick Griffin claims that the party stood unambiguously behind Israel during the conflict with Hamas in Gaza, a trip to any BNP "cultural event" will reveal an affinity for Nazism amongst the rank-and-file of the party. For example, the use of symbols associated with the SS, the wearing of swastika tattoos, and the presence of shirts with the numbers 18 (for "Adolf Hitler") and 88 (for "Heil Hitler") are all too obvious. Sadly, as Mary Jackson points out, there are a number of commentators at Jihad Watch who take at face value the BNP's claims to be a force against Islamism and its supposed aim to uphold the liberal-democratic system of Britain. Mary goes on to note that "almost without exception, those posters who cheer for the BNP do not actually live in the UK. None has any direct experience or knowledge of the BNP, and their views are taken entirely from the party's sanitized self-presentation on its website." Robert Spencer himself, however, has been clear about his stance on the BNP, affirming that the argument for supporting the BNP on the grounds of its anti-Islamist position is no sounder "than the claim that we must support Hizballah because it builds schools and runs charities when not lobbing rockets at Israeli civilians."
The same goes for Trifkovic. True, he has condemned Slobodan Milosevic on many occasions, but he defends both Karadzic and Mladic, both of whom have been indicted by the U.N. on sixteen counts of genocide and war crimes regarding the Bosnian War of 1992-1995. Trifkovic also appeared as a defense witness for Milomir Stakic in March 2003 at the Hague tribunal. Stakic was later convicted on numerous counts of deportation, murder, and persecution. The Stakic case is of great importance, as it concerns the mass execution and expulsion of Bosniak Muslims, Catholic Croats, and moderate Serbs at the hands of Serb militias during the war. This highlights a central problem with Trifkovic: his attempts to portray the Bosnian War as a case of Serbs being the victims of supposed jihadist aggression do not constitute legitimate historical revisionism countering an imagined Islamist "propaganda arm" in the Balkans, but rather pseudo-history, pure and simple.
The fact is that the Serb militias, like jihadists today, justified their aggression against those who did not support their aims of a Greater Serbia as self-defense and protecting Orthodox Christianity. Such goals involved ethnic cleansing and massacres directed primarily against Bosniak Muslims and Catholic Croats. Of course, such aggression has an historical context -- discrimination against Serbs during the era of the Ottoman Empire and the fact that many Bosniaks and Croats collaborated with the Nazis in WWII against Serbs -- but the Bosnian War overwhelmingly consisted of Serb aggression, even though Croat and Bosniak militias were sometimes guilty of atrocities, too.
Spencer has assured me that he "despises" Trifkovic and is merely supporting Trifkovic's right to free speech. I trust him, but none of that is apparent in the Jihad Watch posting on the denial of entry to Trifkovic. Instead, Trifkovic is portrayed as a brave advocate of truth in the face of jihadist propaganda.
Opposition to jihadism, which highlights the broad elements of traditional Islamic theology that justify the jihadists' aims, deserves a voice in the political mainstream. Yet such an objective cannot be achieved by aligning with Trifkovic, the BNP, and others with dubious agendas just because they happen to oppose the same ideology. In addition, no one should automatically assume that any conflict between groups of Muslims and non-Muslims involves a case of jihadist aggression and thereby reflexively side with the non-Muslims. There are some cases where the analysis holds (e.g., Sudanese Civil War), but others where it does not (e.g., Bosnian War). Most importantly, as Spencer himself stresses, anti-jihadism and opposition to Islamism must be based on "a positive vision of defense for the human rights of all people." That includes defending the human rights of Muslims. Anti-jihadists would therefore do well to disassociate themselves unequivocally from Trifkovic and those like him.
UPDATE: Fortunately, Spencer did make an important update to his post at Jihad Watch regarding Trifkovic whilst this article was being reviewed by the editors at the American Thinker. He declares unequivocally that he does not endorse Trifkovic as regards his views on Jews and Judaism, which is reassuring news. Accordingly, I forwarded it to the editors via Larrey Anderson, suggesting that alterations should be made to the original submission. Unfortunately, the article was not altered in time for publication. On the other hand, Spencer makes no attempt to distance himself from Trifkovic's pseudo-historical views concerning the Bosnian War.