Left Foot Forward Says “Melanie Phillips is inspiration behind Tea Party anti-Muslim leader”

I expect that Left Foot Forward will get into trouble for this article.

In it, Joss Garman argues:

Left Foot Forward has learned that Geller’s inspiration is none other than the British Daily Mail and Spectator columnist, Melanie Phillips

It then goes on to link to a quote by the lunatic bigot Pamela Geller, in which she calls Melanie Phillips “a great intellect and truth teller, a woman I greatly admire”. So, in a limited technical sense, it is true to say that Melanie Phillips is an inspiration to Geller. Much in the same way that Jodie Foster was an inspiration to John Hinckley, for example.

But how has Melanie Phillips “inspired” Pamela Geller. Joss Garman gives this example:

Phillips has written defensively of the English Defense League in the past, writing of one clash between EDL and anti-fascist protesters:

“In any street altercation like this, the anti-Islamist demonstrators must be aggressors and those who confront them must be either their victims or heroic anti-fascists.”

“The Islamists have an incentive to provoke a violent reaction by white groups calling themselves names like English Defence League — simply in order to produce yet more demonisation of the anti-Islamists.”

In fact, if you read the column in question it is very clear that Melanie Phillips is attacking the EDL for its bigotry and links with the BNP. She is also making the more general point that extremists are present in the EDL’s main opponents, Unite Against Fascism:

This is where it gets messy. The so-called ‘anti-fascists’ include a number of Islamic fascists, not to mention far-left boot-boys. As for the ‘far right’, the EDL furiously protests that it has no connections with the BNP and stands against them.

But one or two individuals in the EDL have been associated with the BNP in some form or other. Most tellingly of all, EDL leaders have admitted that it is opposed not only to Islamist extremism but to ‘all devout Muslims’ — a BNP-style pitch.

Joss Garman also charges:

She has criticised former Communities Secretary John Denham for not ‘critically engaging’ with the EDL …

No, actually, she doesn’t. She criticised Denham for “engaging” with Islamists with vicious and far Right views – and gave, as an example of the absurdity of such a policy, the absurdity of “engaging” with the BNP or EDL:

This is the same John Denham who told a fringe meeting at the Labour party conference that there was a need for ‘critical engagement’ with lawful groups with whom one disagreed.

Would Denham ‘critically engage’ with the BNP or EDL? Hardly. He’s apparently still fighting them at Cable Street.

But he would, it appears, engage with jihadis who endorse the Islamisation of Britain, death to gays and apostates, the destruction of Israel and the second-class status of women. It is this kind of cravenness and moral inversion that makes people despair of mainstream politicians and sends them towards the BNP.

We’re not on the same wavelength as Melanie Phillips on this website on a large number of matters – but one thing she most certainly is not is an anti-Muslim bigot. She is very careful to limit what she has to say to those individuals and groups which are engaged in Islamist and Jihadist politics, and not to Muslims or Islam as a whole. It is a serious matter to imply otherwise.

In summary, Geller is a supporter of the EDL and other far Right outfits. Melanie Phillips, by contrast, is an opponent of the EDL. Yet Josh Garman suggests that she supports and defends the EDL, when in fact she deplores and attacks them.

If you look in the comments section of this piece, you will see that the misleading article has now been retweeted by about forty different bloggers.

You might want to bring this error, in a comradely way, to the attention of the editor of Left Foot Forward.